Kentucky, Tennessee now open to elk hunting
By Dennis Sherer
The last time Jeff Patterson went elk hunting, he spent 25 hours behind the wheel driving to the Rocky Mountains.
He hopes to be able to go elk hunting this fall or winter a little closer to home – about 350 miles from Florence.
Patterson is among thousands of hunters throughout the country who have applied for a permit to go elk hunting in Kentucky.
“It’s exciting to think I might be able to hunt elk only five or six hours from here,” he said. “It would be really neat if I am able to kill one that close to home.”
Since being released in 1997, elk have proliferated throughout the eastern Kentucky mountains.
Dave Baker, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said the agency will issue 1,000 elk permits this year. In 2008, only 400 were issued.
The cost to apply for an elk permit is $10. Those selected in the lottery-style drawing must then pay $365 for a permit for non-residents to go elk hunting in Kentucky.
Baker, editor of the agency’s magazine, Kentucky Afield, said 250 of the permits issued for upcoming elk season will be to harvest bulls. The remainder will be for harvesting cows. The reason for increasing the number of permits is to stabilize the state’s elk herd, which is the largest east of the Rocky Mountains. Elk hunting was first allowed in 2001.
Baker said Kentucky’s elk population has grown quicker than expected. Baker said grassy areas left when strip mines are refilled created prime habitat for elk. The mild weather of the Bluegrass State allows the animals to grow more rapidly than Elk living in western states where deep snow often covered grazing areas during the winter.
“There is a tremendous amount of food available to the elk. They grow very rapidly and the bulls get really big,” Baker said. “We’ve already had several Boone and Crockett-class bulls harvested here.”
Gabe Jenkins, a wildlife biologist for the agency, said many hunters who harvest elk in Kentucky had never hunted anything larger than a white-tailed deer before being selected to receive an elk permit. He said most are amazed by the size of the elk.
“When somebody asks me how big the elk are, I tell them to imagine a horse,” Jenkins said. “They are as big as horse.” Click link below for full story!