Elk Restoration Update and Hunting
Kentucky began restoring elk in the winter of 1997-98 to counties in the
southeastern part of the state. Over the next few years about 1,500 animals were trucked in
from Kansas, Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon and Arizona.
Today, eastern Kentucky is home to 5,700 free-ranging elk, the largest
herd east of the Mississippi River. The
goal is to reach a herd size of about 10,000 animals and maintain that population
within the zone. In addition to the
important achievement of returning a native wildlife species to Kentucky after a
150-year absence, this project offers viewing, as well as hunting opportunities
no one alive has ever had in the Bluegrass State.
In collaboration with the University of
Kentucky, many different research projects have been completed or are underway
to document the elk project, to examine the possible effects of elk on other
species, and elk – habitat relationships.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Shikar Safari, University of Kentucky
and Cyprus-Amax Coal were among the major partners in this historic effort by
Counties in the elk restoration zone include Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Floyd,
Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary,
Perry, Pike, Whitley. Elk hunting within these counties is by quota hunt only.
Outside these counties, any legal deer hunter who carries an elk
out-of-zone permit from the KDFWR can take an elk.
quota elk hunts occur in October and December. To apply, you must purchase
an elk application permit between December 1 and July 31 for a cost of $10.00.
An individual hunter may apply only one time.
Permits are available from all license outlets, by phone at
1-877-598-2401, and over the internet at fw.ky.gov. Remember, the deadline to get in the draw is July 31.
Drawing results will be posted by August 20 on this website, or can be
obtained by calling the KDFWR at (800) 858-1549 weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Eastern. You must have your permit
number to check whether you were drawn.
For 2006, a total
of 200 elk permits will be issued by random computer drawing. Two additional
bull permits are awarded annually to conservation organizations that agree to
auction the permits to raise money for wildlife conservation in Ky.
Permits will be drawn electronically from the pool of permit buyers.
Successfully drawn hunters will be assigned to either limited-entry areas or
zone-at-large, and will be selected for either a cow or bull permit.
Hunters can not choose what type of permit or area they want to apply
for. Hunters drawn for a
zone-at-large permit may hunt during the firearm season for elk, or during the
archery/crossbow season to fill their permit.
Limited-entry area hunters have only the 7-day season to hunt and hunters
may use any legal weapon for elk during that season.
will be required to have a valid annual Kentucky hunting license when the hunt
begins. They will also be required to purchase an elk tag prior to hunting. Cost
of a resident elk tag is $25.00, non-resident is $300.00.
nonresidents are eligible to apply. Applicants
must provide their social security or driver’s license number. Hunters may
apply at any license outlet, over the internet
or toll free by phone at 1-877-598-2401.
Season for all firearm hunts within the zone is:
Bulls – Limited Entry Areas and Zone-at-Large - 7 days starting the 1st Saturday in October. (Oct. 7-13, 2006)
Cows – Limited Entry Areas - 7 days starting the 2nd Saturday in December. (Dec. 9-15, 2006)
Zone-at-Large - 14 days beginning 2nd Saturday in December (Dec. 9-22, 2006)
Hunter orange clothing law applies during these periods within the
restoration zone. Any equipment
legal for deer is permitted on these hunts with a few exceptions noted in the
hunting guide (e.g. minimum rifle caliber is .270).
Hunters may take two other individuals with them on the limited entry
area hunts to assist or guide. Other
than providing on-site check in for successful hunters in limited-entry areas,
KDFWR personnel will not be involved in the hunt.
elk harvested, whether on a Limited Entry Area, zone at large, or outside the
restoration zone, must be telechecked. In addition, all elk harvested from a limited entry area must be checked with KDFWR
staff on site.
drawn for a zone-at-large quota elk hunt, which is anywhere inside the zone,
except a limited-entry area, may also use Archery/Crossbow equipment legal for
deer beginning the 1st Saturday in October through 3rd
Monday in January (Oct. 7 – Jan. 15). There
will be no separate muzzleloading firearm season.
entry areas are as follows:
Limited Entry Area
– Begins at the intersection of Rte. 1098 and 80 near Softshell, KY. The
boundary proceeds west along 1098 to the junction of Rte 1098 and Rte 15. The
boundary then goes south along Rte 15 to the junction of 15 and Rte 476 near
Lost Creek, KY. It then turns east along 476 to the intersection of 476
and Hwy 80, then east on Hwy 80 to 1098 at Softshell
completing the boundary.
Begley WMA /
Redbird Limited Entry Area –
Beginning at the intersection of Rte. 2058 and 421 near Helton/Manchester
boundary proceeds south along 421 to the intersection of 421 and Ky Rte
221. It then proceeds west along 221 to the intersection of 221 and Ky Rte 66.
The boundary then goes north following 66 to the intersection of 66 and Rte.
1850, then east along Rte. 1850 to the intersection of 1850 and 1780 at
Warbranch. It then proceeds south on 1780 to intersection of 2058 near
Spruce Pine, then east on 2058 back to 421 at Helton.
taken in limited entry areas must be checked in at the following
- Starfire Limited Entry Area -- Robinson Forest Camp
- Begley Limited Entry Area -- Begley WMA
It is highly
recommended that harvested elk be immediately field-dressed.
Elk will spoil quicker than deer.
Elk Hunting Outside the Restoration Area
deer hunters are permitted to take either sex elk from counties outside the elk
restoration area, as long as they possess an elk application permit.
have to have the appropriate hunting license and deer permit as well, to be
legal to take elk, and use the equipment allowed for deer at the time you hunt.
There is a season bag limit of one (1) on
Out-of-Zone elk and they must be telechecked. Hunters are no longer
required to call KDFWR CO's/biologists to check out-of-zone elk on-site.
YOUTH QUOTA ELK HUNT
For the 2007-2008 season,
there will be a special youth-only quota elk hunt during the regular elk
seasons. Persons 15 years old or younger at the time of application may
enter the special youth draw. Two (2) tags will be drawn (one antlered and
one antlerless), and the tags will be valid for use in the elk restoration
zone at large. The application process and fee will be the same as for the
regular elk quota hunts. The special youth elk quota hunt application
permit will be available for purchase from Dec. 1, 2006 to July 31, 2007.
THOSE YOUTHS NOT DRAWN FOR THE SPECIAL YOUTH TAGS WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE
ENTERED INTO THE REGULAR ELK QUOTA HUNT DRAWING.
There are no separate youth elk tags available for the 2006-2007 season,
however youngsters can enter the regular elk quota hunt.