Tennessee Elk Hunt Begins Today

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After much anticipation, the time is near for Tennessee's first-ever managed elk hunt. Set for the North Cumberland Wildlife Management area, the hunt officially begins Oct. 19 and five hunters will have through Oct. 23 to harvest the first elk in the state since the 1860s.

The five hunters have been invited to attend an elk camp complete with wall tents, campfires, meals, and entertainment. The elk camp is being held on private property near the North Cumberland WMA Elk Viewing Tower. The hunters will gather this weekend to begin scouting their respective zones. The hunt officially begins Monday morning.

Four of the hunters were selected as a result of a computer drawing from almost 13,000 entries for the elk hunt. Those participants, who were announced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in June, were Craig Gardner (Parrotsville), Charles Ray Flynn (Rockford), Ronald L. Woodard (Oak Ridge), and Jeffrey L. Moses (Cleveland).

The fifth and final permit was awarded to Franklin resident Andy Miller. Miller was high bidder in an auction that benefits the state’s elk restoration program. TWRA donated a permit for the fifth participant to a Non-Governmental Organization which was the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation. The TWRF conducted an eBay auction in July and Miller won with a $17,700 bid.

For the hunt, the North Cumberland WMA is being divided into five elk hunting zones, each about 8,000 acres. The division helps ensure the harvest is spread over the entire core of the elk zone. Each hunter has been assigned a zone through a random hand-held drawing. Proceeds from the event go to benefit Tennessee's elk restoration program. Studies have proven that the elk herd is seeing an annual growth rate of 13-15 percent. The TWRA has worked to make habitat improvements at North Cumberland WMA to aid the elk in adapting to their new home since the first arrival of 50 animals in December 2000, the first elk to be in Tennessee since they were reported in Obion County in 1865.

Over the past two years, TWRA has introduced small shipments of elk and the herd total is calculated at more than 300 strong. A decision was made by TWRA personnel that five bull elk could be harvested without any negative impact on the herd. In February 2009, the TWRC put into law the groundwork for the first elk hunt in almost 150 years.

The hunters will be allowed to use their hunting implement of choice and can be accompanied by up to two individuals who can participate in all aspects of the hunt, except for the harvest.