If you have always wanted to hunt elk but your budget is in worse shape than the coffers at WildIndiana.com, there is a way: Kentucky Elk hunting.
Kentucky was one of the first eastern states to re-establish elk and the program has been so successful that for the past several years hunting opportunities, even for non-residents, are growing by leaps and bounds.
To apply, you must purchase a $10 lottery permit. Winners will be notified later in the year at which time you must purchase an elk license. The non-resident tag runs between $500-600 but is comparable to those in Colorado and other western states. When you consider that the license is relatively inexpensive, prime hunting territory is only six hours away by car and most of the land in the elk range is publicly-owed, it makes sense to apply.
However, the deadline is looming. All applications must be purchased online at fw.ky.gov by midnight (Eastern time) April 30.
More information from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife:
New this year, hunters may apply for up to two of four permit types: bull firearms, bull archery or crossbow, cow firearms and cow archery or crossbow. Hunters may not, however, apply twice for one permit type.
“Offering separate permits is in response to hunter requests,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “In the past, a significant number of hunters who drew cow permits chose not to hunt. Since hunters will now be able to apply for a cow permit, we feel like more of these will be filled.”
Lottery applications are $10 for each permit sought.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will issue 800 permits in its general hunt lottery to successful applicants, including 80 permits for antlered elk (archery or crossbow); 120 permits for antlered elk (firearms); 240 permits for antlerless elk (archery or crossbow) and 360 permits for antlerless elk (firearms).
Additionally, hunters who will be younger than 16 years old on the first day of the hunt may apply for the youth-only quota elk hunt at Paul Van Booven Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and adjacent private lands (with landowner permission) for the weekend of Sept. 24-26. Five permits for either a bull or cow elk will be awarded in the youth-only drawing.
Also new this year, there will be a two-week archery-only (no crossbows) bull elk season Sept. 17-30.
Youth under 16 years of age, seniors 65 years of age and older, and persons with a crossbow exemption may hunt with a crossbow during the entire elk archery season.
Firearms hunters may only hunt during the seven-day firearms season for which they were drawn; they may not hunt with archery gear or crossbows outside of that week. An archery or crossbow hunter may not hunt during the four weeks of firearms elk hunts.
Only individuals, not groups of hunters, may apply for Kentucky’s elk lottery. A random computer drawing will be held in early May to select hunters for the quota hunts.
Hunters drawn for a bull elk permit will be blocked for three years from applying for another bull elk permit. For example, hunters drawn for a 2011-12 season bull permit are ineligible to apply for another bull permit until the 2015-16 elk season. Youth drawn for the youth-only elk hunt at Paul Van Booven WMA will be permanently blocked from applying for that hunt again.
The 16-county elk zone is 4.1 million acres and is divided into 10 Elk Hunting Units (EHUs) with a total of 576,994 acres open to public hunting. The EHUs have been established to manage the elk herd, spread out hunting pressure and provide hunters with a high chance of success.
Kentucky’s elk herd was first hunted on Oct. 6, 2001. Last season, hunters took 540 elk, including 198 bulls and 342 cows.
For elk season dates and other information on elk hunting in Kentucky, visit http://fw.ky.gov/elkfaq08.asp on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website.