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Time running out to apply for a Kentucky elk hunt

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Time is running out to apply for the most coveted elk hunt in the eastern United States.

Hunters have until midnight (Eastern time) on Tuesday, April 30, to apply for Kentucky’s quota elk hunt. Applications are available online at fw.ky.gov.

Hunts are open to Kentucky residents and non-residents. Adults and youth may apply. The cost is $10 per application. Although hunters can apply for multiple permits, they may only be drawn for one.

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to hunt the largest herd east of the Rocky Mountains – an estimated 13,000 free-roaming elk in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. Last year, nearly 36,000 people applied for the hunt.

“Our herd is healthy and growing,” said Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Hunters in 2018 experienced an uptick in overall success rates over the 2017 season. Time spent scouting and preparing for the hunt will greatly increase the hunter’s chances for success.”

Three different permits are available for adult hunters. Choices include a firearms permit for bulls, a firearms permit for cow elk and an archery/crossbow permit good for a bull or cow elk.

Hunters ages 15 and younger also can apply for the youth-only quota hunt during the same application period as the general elk quota hunt drawing. They may apply for the general quota elk hunt drawing as well, but cannot be drawn for both in the same year.

Kentucky will offer 594 elk permits through its quota drawing for the 2019 season. This total includes 175 archery/crossbow permits for a bull or cow; 150 firearm permits for bulls; 244 firearm permits for cows; and 25 youth permits. The number of nonresidents drawn may not exceed 10 percent.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife splits elk seasons to spread out hunting pressure. Gun hunters are drawn for one of two of the firearms seasons. The 2019 seasons include:

Firearms
Bull Hunt 1: Sept. 28-Oct. 2
Bull Hunt 2: Oct. 5-9
Cow Hunt 1: Nov. 30-Dec. 4
Cow Hunt 2: Dec. 28-Jan. 1 (2020)

Archery/Crossbow
(Bull or cow)
Early season: Sept. 14-27
Late season: Dec. 7-13

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has a number of online resources available to hunters wishing to learn more at fw.ky.gov. Search under the keyword, “elk.” Resources include the Kentucky Elk University, an overview of elk hunting in Kentucky, elk hunting tips, how to enter the elk drawing, public lands available for hunting, regulations and more.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will issue permits through a random computer drawing conducted in early May by the Kentucky Commonwealth Office of Technology. Results will be available to applicants on the department’s website at fw.ky.gov later in the day on May 18.

Hunters wishing to get a jump on who gets drawn can visit the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg May 18. The city is hosting a special event during which the names of drawn hunters will be announced prior to the names being released through the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website.

A landmark restoration effort re-established an elk herd in the state’s scenic southeastern region and created one of the most sought-after hunting opportunities east of the Rocky Mountains. Kentucky’s elk herd is now larger than all the states east of the Mississippi River combined. The state’s 16-county elk restoration zone is larger than Yellowstone Park.