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FRANKFORT, Ky. – Elk season in Kentucky will open this year on Saturday, Sept. 17, with a new 14-day hunt for the 80 archers who were awarded bull permits.
“The early archery season will open during the peak of the rut,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We expect bulls to be bugling and rounding up harems of cows. It will be interesting to see what the success for this hunt will be.”
The total of 800 permits awarded by lottery drawing for this year’s quota elk hunts also includes 240 archery cow permits, 120 firearms bull permits and 360 firearms cow permits. This season hunters were able to apply for up to two of the four tag types, but not twice for one tag type.
Also new this year, hunters with bull permits may take any elk with visible antlers. Hunters with archery/crossbow permits may not hunt during the four weeks of firearms elk seasons. Those awarded permits to hunt elk with firearms may not hunt during archery/crossbow elk seasons.
The 2011-12 quota elk hunt dates in Kentucky are: Firearms (Bull) Week 1, Oct. 1-7, and Week 2, Oct. 8-14; Archery (Bull)Sept. 17-30, Oct. 15–Dec. 9, Dec. 24-31, and Jan. 1-16, 2012; Crossbow (Bull) Oct. 15-16, Nov. 12-Dec. 9, and Dec. 24-31;Firearms (Cow) Week 1, Dec. 10-16, and Week 2, Dec. 17-23; Archery (Cow) Oct. 15-Dec. 9, Dec. 24-31, and Jan. 1-16, 2012, and Crossbow (Cow) Oct. 15-16, Nov. 12-Dec. 9, and Dec. 24-31.
Hunters are reminded that anyone hunting any species inside the elk zone during a firearms quota hunt for elk must comply with Kentucky’s hunter orange law.
Kentucky’s elk herd, first hunted on Oct. 6, 2001, was restored by a six-year stocking program which began in 1997. The 2011-12 season will be the 11th year that an elk hunt has been held in Kentucky.
Hunters bagged a total of 540 elk (198 bulls and 342 cows) last season. Of that total, archers took 28 elk and hunters using crossbows harvested just nine elk.
Initially, the lottery drawing for elk permits was open to residents only. Kentuckians hunted elk for the first three seasons, but, beginning in 2004, non-residents could apply for permits. No more than 10 percent of the permits are awarded to non-residents.
Because such a low percentage of permits are allocated for non-residents, Kentucky residents have always had a much better chance of being drawn to hunt.
Consider what happened this year when about 61,500 applications were submitted by 35,359 hunters for 800 elk permits. The odds of a non-resident being drawn for a bull firearms permit were 1 in 742, and 1 in 568 for a bull archery permit.
By contrast, Kentucky residents had much better odds of being drawn for a permit: 1 in 185 for a bull firearms permit and 1 in 91 for a bull archery permit.
Kentucky’s 16-county elk zone is 4.1 million acres, and is divided into 10 Elk Hunting Units (EHUs) with a total of 567,714 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.
Hunters are required to possess an annual Kentucky hunting license and out-of-zone elk permit to take elk outside the 16-county elk zone, unless license exempt. The season bag limit on elk is one per hunter per season, regardless of the permit type.
For more information on elk hunting in Kentucky visit the department’s website: fw.ky.gov.
Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.