Kentucky Increases Permit Numbers for Elk Season

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Hunters have a 50 percent better chance to be drawn for an elk hunt this year. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will issue 300 elk permits to lucky applicants for the 2007-08 elk hunting season, compared to 200 permits last year.

Kentucky began restoring elk in the winter of 1997-98. Today, the eastern part of the state is home to about 6,500 free-ranging elk, the largest herd east of the Mississippi River.

Elk hunting returned to Kentucky in 2001, after an absence of 150 years. Since that first modern day hunt, the number of permits has steadily increased as the elk population has grown. Not only are there more permits available this year, but the amount of public land available for elk hunting has increased, too.

"Kentucky Fish and Wildlife continues to acquire more public land for hunter access," said Tina Brunjes, big game program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "These efforts and a growing elk herd mean more opportunity for both hunting and wildlife viewing."

Results from last year's hunt and ongoing research projects show that Kentucky's elk herd is extremely healthy. Hunter success remains high, even as the number of permits has increased from 12 during the 2001 hunt.

Hunters enjoyed a record season in 2006. Franklin Scott of Floyd County took the new state record typical bull elk, a 7x7 bull that officially scored 361 4/8 in the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system. The bull was also Kentucky's first elk to score high enough for entry in the Club's three-year Awards Program. Andy Kidd of McCreary County took Kentucky's new state record non-typical bull elk, a 7x8 bull that officially scored 349 3/8.

The number and size of mature bulls continues to increase. Kentucky elk have the potential to grow even larger than elk in the western U.S., due to the state’s longer growing season, better habitat and the absence of natural predators.

"Reclaimed coal mines provide excellent habitat for elk," Brunjes said. "Eastern Kentucky has proven to be an ideal location for elk restoration."

Kentucky's quota firearms elk hunts occur in October and December. To apply, you must purchase a $10 Elk Lottery Application before July 31, 2007. Elk Lottery Applications are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, by phone at 1-877-598-2401, and over the Internet at fw.ky.gov. Residents and nonresidents are eligible to apply.

After July 31, 300 hunters will be drawn randomly from the pool of applicants. Hunters will be assigned to hunt either a bull or cow elk, and will be permitted to hunt either in the Zone At-Large (the entire 16-county elk restoration zone) or in a Limited Entry Area. Applicants cannot choose the sex of the elk or the area they wish to hunt.

Kids 15 years old or younger at the time of application are automatically entered into a special youth drawing when they buy an Elk Lottery Application. Two permits are drawn for kids, and the application process and fee are the same as for the regular drawing. Kids who aren't drawn for the youth permits are automatically entered into the regular drawing.

Winners will be posted on fw.ky.gov beginning August 20. Those drawn to hunt elk will be required to have an annual Kentucky hunting license by the hunt date, and also an elk quota hunt permit.

"Kentucky elk hunters have a much higher success rate than in many areas out West," said Brunjes. "Previous hunters tell us it's the best hunt they've ever experienced."

For complete information on elk hunting in Kentucky, pick up a copy of the upcoming 2007-08 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, available in early July wherever hunting licenses are sold, or call Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-858-1549.