Elk Hunting


 
NEW THIS YEAR 

 

  • Including hunters drawn for the 2017 elk season, hunters drawn for an elk quota hunt will be blocked from re-applying for three years.
  • Landowners or lessees who allow Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to capture elk on their property for restoration and restocking purposes are eligible to earn an  Elk Restoration Permit (ERP). 
 
 
 
DATES, RESTRICTIONS AND HOW TO
 
apply
 
  

See "Other Elk Info" for elk maps, history, videos and more 

Current Season Dates - Searchable Application

Bull (antlered): 

Firearms:

  • Bull Hunt 1:  Seven consecutive days beginning the last Saturday in September 
  • Bull Hunt 2:  Seven consecutive days beginning the first Saturday in October

Archery:

  • Beginning the third Saturday in September through December 31

Note:  Archery seasons closed during all elk firearms seasons

 

Crossbow:

  • Beginning the fourth Saturday in September through December 31
Note:  Crossbow seasons closed during all elk firearms seasons 

 
Cow (antlerless)

Firearms:

  • Cow Hunt 1:  Seven consecutive days beginning the second Saturday in December
  • Cow Hunt 2:  Seven consecutive days beginning the third Saturday in December

Archery:

  • Beginning the second Saturday in October through December 31

Note:  Archery seasons closed during all elk firearms seasons

 

Crossbow:

  •  Beginning the second Saturday in October through December 31

Note:  Crossbow seasons closed during all elk firearms seasons


Youth-only Quota (either sex)

  • May hunt any of the listed seasons above

Note:  Hunters must follow deer season regulations and use only the legal elk hunting equipment described on this page to take elk from any county not included in the 16-county elk zone (out-of-zone), and must have an Out-of-Zone Elk Permit.

 


GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE ELK QUOTA HUNT

  • Frequently Asked Questions about the Elk Hunt Drawing
  • Applications go on sale Jan. 1 for the next year’s Kentucky elk quota hunts. Hunters must buy their elk quota hunt applications before midnight Eastern time on April 30.   How to apply for the 2017 Elk Hunt Drawing
  • Elk quota hunt applications can only be purchased online. A person who does not have access to the department’s website to apply for any quota hunt may contact the department toll free at 1-800-858-1549 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) for assistance.  
  • Residents and nonresidents are eligible to apply for each of the four permit types (bull or cow firearms, bull or cow archery/crossbow) but can only be drawn for one.
  • Each application costs $10. Only individuals may purchase elk applications, not a party of hunters together.
  • Hunters 15 years of age and younger may apply for a youth-only quota hunt during the same application period as for the regular elk quota hunt drawing.
  • Applicants for the youth-only hunt may also purchase elk applications for the regular elk quota hunts. A youth may not be drawn for the youth-only quota hunt and the regular quota hunt for elk in the same year, and if drawn for the youth-only hunt, will be permanently blocked from applying for the youth-only hunt again.
  • A random computer drawing is held in May to select the drawn hunters. Applicants may check to see if they were drawn here in May.
  • It is the hunter’s responsibility to find a place to hunt in the area they choose or are assigned to hunt. Hunters must get landowner permission to hunt on private land.
  • There is no limit to the number of assistants an elk hunter may take into the field, but only the permit holder is allowed to hunt.
  • Quota elk permits must be purchased prior to hunting.
  • The Levisa Fork LEA encompassing Fishtrap​ Lake in Pike County is designated as an Active Restoration Area and is off limits to elk hunting.
  • Unless license exempt, hunters drawn for a quota elk permit are required to buy an elk quota hunt permit in addition to an annual hunting license.
  • Including hunters drawn for the 2017 elk season, hunters awarded an elk permit will be blocked from reapplying for three years.
  • Up to three drawn hunters may apply for their LEA choices as a party.

HOW APPLICANTS ARE DRAWN FOR THE ELK QUOTA HUNT

Applicants have the opportunity to apply for each of the four different elk permits (antlered firearm, antlered archery/crossbow, antlerless firearm, and antlerless archery/crossbow). This means that a hunter may apply for up to four different elk permits. Under this system, there is a separate applicant pool for each permit type. Some permits have historically received more applications than others; antlered firearm tags have received the most applications annually, followed by antlered archery/crossbow, antlerless firearm, and then antlerless archery/crossbow.

To account for this difference in popularity between permit types, the elk lottery system has been designed to draw applicants for antlered firearm permits first, antlered archery/crossbow permits second, antlerless firearm permits third, and antlerless archery/crossbow permits fourth. This maximizes the likelihood (odds) that an applicant will draw a more desirable permit, if he/she has applied for multiple permit types. Since a person can receive only one Kentucky elk permit per year, individuals who are drawn from a particular applicant pool are automatically removed from any other applicant pools they may have entered. It is important to note that an applicant can only be drawn from an applicant pool to which they applied. For example, if someone applied only for the antlered firearm permit and was not drawn for that permit, their name would not be automatically placed into any other applicant pool.

QUOTA HUNTS WITHIN THE ELK ZONE

The elk zone includes the following 16 counties: Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Perry, Pike and Whitley. Inside this zone, elk may only be taken by hunters drawn for a quota hunt as previously described. All elk hunters must display a department-issued hang tag in their vehicles while hunting.

HUNTING ZONE DESCRIPTIONS

The Kentucky elk zone is divided into two types of elk hunting units: Limited Entry Areas (or LEAs) and the At-large Area. Limited Entry Areas were created in areas with relatively large blocks of public access. The primary function of an LEA is to prevent localized overharvest of elk on public access land; KDFWR accomplishes this goal by limiting the number of hunters allowed on LEA areas. Limited Entry Areas are not trophy management zones, and should not be considered better hunting opportunities because of their different status. When choosing a hunting unit, there is no substitute for up-to-date knowledge about the different hunting areas in which you are interested. Explore KDFWR’s elk webpage, review past harvest results from different counties and public hunting areas, talk to someone who has hunted elk in Kentucky, visit the area to scout, and/or interview some of Kentucky's licensed elk guides.

AVAILABLE ELK PERMITS

KDFWR offers four types of elk permits:  general drawing quota permits, special commission permits, voucher cooperator permits, landowner cooperator permits, and elk restoration permits.

  • General drawing quota permits are available by applying to the Kentucky elk lottery online. Permits are offered for bull firearm, bull archery, cow firearm, and cow archery; individuals may apply separately for each permit type, for a total of 4 possible applications per year. However, individuals can only apply once for each permit type. General drawing quota permits cannot be bought or sold, and hunters have to follow the season requirements for the permit for which they were drawn. The annual deadline to apply for general drawing quota permits is April 30.
  • Special commission permits are available to registered non-profit groups whose focus is on wildlife conservation. A hunter with this permit can hunt during any elk season anywhere they have permission to do so. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission issues 10 of these elk permits per year. Non-profits can sell a permit outright or auction it, but all proceeds must be used for a conservation project in Kentucky. A person who buys a special commission permit must hunt with it; the permit is not transferrable a second time. Names of non-profits receiving the special commission permits are available online at fw.ky.gov.
  • Landowner-cooperator permits are provided to landowners who open their property to public hunting. For each 5,000 acres enrolled in a public hunting agreement with KDFWR, the landowner receives one permit. Landowners may give away or sell these permits. A hunter with the landowner-cooperator permit may hunt during any season. However, that person may only hunt on the public land enrolled in the program. Names of landowners receiving landowner-cooperator permits are available only by making a Kentucky Open Records request to the department.
  • Voucher cooperator elk permits are provided to landowners/lessees who provide elk hunter access to their property. The Voucher Cooperator Elk Permit Program links people who own or lease elk hunting land with hunters who have drawn an elk permit. Hunter access is accomplished by offering landowners/lessees an elk permit when they accumulate 20 points (harvested bull = 2 points, harvested cow = 1 point). Hunters will sign up to hunt voucher properties on a first come, first served basis through an online system after the area drawing is complete. Interested landowners and lessees may contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-858-1549 to learn more about the Voucher Cooperator Elk Permit Program.
  • Elk Restoration Permits are provided to landowners/lessees who allow KDFWR staff to relocate elk from their property as part of an ongoing restoration effort.  Landowners/lessees receive an elk permit when they accumulate 20 points (relocated bull = 2 points, relocated cow = 1 point). Elk Restoration Permits are only valid on property owned or leased by the landowner/lessee who provided capture access for elk relocation efforts. Elk Restoration Permits are transferrable.

BAITING

Elk may not be hunted over bait on public or private lands within the elk zone. However, it is legal to hunt elk over bait outside the elk zone.

CALLING

A person shall not mimic the sound of an elk on public land open to elk hunting from Sept. 1 until the opening of the elk archery season.

SHOOTING HOURS

Elk may only be hunted during daylight hours, from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

BAG LIMIT/HUNTER ORANGE

The season bag limit on elk is one per hunter per season, regardless of permit type. Hunters may not take an elk during a quota elk hunt and also take an elk out-of-zone during the same season. Elk hunters and those who accompany them, or any other person hunting public or private lands in the elk zone during firearm elk seasons, must comply with the hunter orange clothing law.

ELK HUNTING OUTSIDE THE ELK ZONE

Elk may be taken from any county outside the zone by hunters who possess an annual Kentucky hunting license and an Out-of-Zone Elk Permit. These hunters must follow deer season and equipment regulations, but are not required to possess a Statewide Deer Permit.

CHECKING and TAGGING

All elk must be telechecked. Hunters must call 1-800-245-4263 and report the harvest. (See the General Information section for details.)

Once an elk is harvested, a hunter may remove the head of the animal to facilitate its removal from the field prior to the elk being telechecked.  It is still necessary to fill out the harvest log immediately after harvest and telecheck the animal before midnight on the day the elk is harvested or recovered.  If the hide or head of the elk is removed in the field - to quarter the animal, for example - it is now necessary to demonstrate proof of sex by retaining the head or keeping the genitalia attached to the carcass.

A carcass tag is required if a harvested elk leaves the hunter’s possession for any reason.

VOUCHER COOPERATOR ELK PERMIT PROGRAM

A recently developed access program by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has created additional elk hunting opportunity for drawn elk hunters. The Voucher Cooperator Elk Permit Program links people who own or lease elk hunting land with hunters who have drawn an elk tag. Hunter access is accomplished by offering landowners/lessees an elk tag when they accumulate 20 points (harvested bull = 2 points, harvested cow = 1 point). Hunters will sign up to hunt voucher properties on a first come, first served basis through an online system after the area drawing is complete. Interested landowners and lessees may contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-858-1549 to learn more about the Voucher Cooperator Elk Permit Program.

ELK RESTORATION PERMIT

Landowners or lessees who allow Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to capture elk on their property for restoration and restocking purposes are eligible to earn an Elk Restoration Permit (ERP).

The landowner or lessee accrues two points for captured male elk and one point for each captured female elk.

Upon accruing 20 total points, the landowner or lessee will receive one either-sex elk permit from the department that must be used the following hunting season. The ERP can be used only on property the recipient owns or leases. The recipient can transfer the permit to any person eligible to hunt in Kentucky. The ERP recipient must provide the hunter’s name, address, phone number and Social Security number.

LEGAL EQUIPMENT FOR ELK SEASON

  • A modern rifle of .270 caliber or larger, with a magazine capable of holding no more than 10 rounds.
  • A muzzleloading rifle of .50 caliber or larger.
  • A muzzle-loading or breechloading shotgun no smaller than 20-gauge, firing a single projectile (slug, round ball, conical bullet or saboted bullet) only.
  • A handgun loaded with centerfire cartridges with a case length of at least 1.285 inches, firing bullets of .270 caliber or larger designed to expand upon impact. 
  • Firearms may not be fully-automatic (capable of firing more than one round with one trigger pull).
  • Full metal jacketed or tracer bullet ammunition is prohibited.
  • Crossbows or archery equipment (long bows, recurves or compound bow) loaded with a fixed blade or mechanical broadheads at least 7/8 inches wide (when blades extended), but broadheads may not be chemically treated.  Crossbows must have a working safety.  A person drawn for an archery or crossbow permit may hunt with a crossbow during all archery and crossbow seasons if they are 15 years old or younger, 65 years of age or older or has a crossbow hunting method exemption permit at the time of the hunt.
  • Note:  Any weapon legal for elk hunting can be used duirng the bull or cow firearms hunts.
 
WHERE TO HUNT ELK


Please see the 2017 Elk Limited Entry Areas Overview Map

 
KENTUCKY'S TROPHY BULL elk
Score Hunter County Method Year
*392 0/8 Sam Billiter Pike Modern Gun 2016
*377 5/8 David Giles Knott Modern Gun 2015
*373 4/8 Anthony Brown Letcher Archery 2015
*372 6/8 Terrell Royalty Knott Modern Gun 2009
371 0/8 Greg Neff Bell Modern Gun 2007
*369 5/8 Bryan Barton Bell Modern Gun 2016
*368 4/8 Bill Krider Knott Modern Gun 2015
*367 7/8 Kelvin Jackson Harlan Modern Gun 2008
367 0/8 Bill Auxier Knott Modern Gun 2007
*365 5/8 Brent Jones Knott Modern Gun 2013