Kentucky’s elk hunts have grown so popular over the past 10 years that residents of every state in the country have paid the $10 application fee in the hopes of a trip to southeastern Kentucky.
Kentucky has more elk than all the states east of the Mississippi River combined. The state’s 16-county elk restoration zone encompasses more than 4 million acres, nearly twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. More than 575,000 acres are open to public hunting for elk in Kentucky.
This year, five youth hunters and 800 general hunters will win the quota lottery for this opportunity. And what an opportunity they will enjoy: Typically, more than 90 percent of bull elk hunters have a successful trip.
Kentucky’s trophy bull potential grows every year as well. Since 2006, hunters have taken three elk large enough to qualify for trophy status in the international Boone and Crockett Club scoring system. Deer hunters are often surprised about the sheer size of elk antlers. Even the rack from Kentucky’s state record white-tailed buck could fit easily between the antlers of a medium-sized bull elk.
Kentucky’s successful elk restoration program, which began in 1997, imported elk from six western states until the restocking program was completed in 2002. The trophy potential of a bull elk increases with age. Kentucky’s ample food supplies and relatively mild winters as compared to western states allow elk to grow large at a faster pace.
This year, hunters can choose from among four different elk permits. A person can chose to hunt a bull or a cow elk, and pick gun or archery/crossbow hunting. While hunters may apply for two different permits, they can only be drawn for one of those permits. Each application costs $10.
This could be your year for the hunt of a lifetime. But you can’t be drawn if you don’t apply. Go online now at fw.ky.gov for more information and to apply for a Kentucky elk hunt.