Kentucky Bull Elk Season Ends

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Kentucky's 2008 bull elk firearms quota hunt ended Oct. 11, with hunters taking 115 bulls in the southeastern part of the state.

"Hunters had an 88 percent success rate, and most of those bulls were taken within the first four days of the season. This level of success is outstanding," said Tina Brunjes, big game program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "It would not be possible without the hard work of our biologists and officers in the elk zone. Most of our hunters at some point speak to a Fish and Wildlife employee, who gives them information on where to hunt, both public and private land."

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife issued 131 bull elk tags this year, including regular lottery drawings, landowner permits, special Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission conservation permits and one youth tag. Kentucky's elk herd now numbers about 8,500 animals.

This year, the department divided the 16-county elk restoration zone into six Elk Hunting Units (EHUs), hoping to spread out hunting pressure and provide hunters with a high chance of success.

"It seemed to achieve that. I was impressed with how quickly everybody seemed to adapt to the EHU system," Brunjes said. "The harvest numbers everyone had in the first few days across the units is a good indicator that people are finding access in different places."

At least two hunter-harvested bulls received preliminary scores that challenge Kentucky's current state record for a non-typical elk. An 8x8 bull elk taken in Knott County on opening day by Larry Holland of Perry County green-scored in the 390 class in the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system.

"I killed it about two miles from where I was born and raised," said Holland, who took the elk at 242 yards with one shot from his .300 Winchester Short Magnum rifle. "I was just excited to kill the bull – it wasn't about the size. To possibly have the state record, I'm thrilled."

Clay County's Kelvin Jackson also took a 7x8 bull in Harlan County, which green-scored in the 370 class. Both of these preliminary scores are higher than the current non-typical state record of 349 0/8 held by Andy Kidd of McCreary County. However, official scoring cannot take place for 60 days after the animal is taken, during which time the antlers may shrink slightly due to drying.

"We saw a lot of 320-class bulls come in, fairly young bulls," said Brunjes. "That's a good indication that they're getting a lot of good nutrition and shows a lot of potential to get really big as they get older."

Department officials have not received notification that any typical bull elk taken by a hunter this year might challenge the current state record of 371 0/8, held by Greg Neff of Kenton County. However, some large bulls may not have been reported, and archery season for bull elk continues through Jan. 19, 2009. Kentucky's cow elk firearms season runs Dec. 13-26.

Elk lottery applications for the 2009-10 quota hunts go on sale beginning Dec. 1. Hunters have until April 30, 2009 to purchase one of the $10 applications. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife awarded 402 elk tags this year through the lottery system, and will issue more for next year's hunt as the elk population increases.