Elk Hunting Equipment

Preparing for an Elk hunt can be challenging.  Don't hesitate to ask if you need something. Veteran hunters are more than willing to share their experiences, along with essential gear. When you're ready to buy or have additional questions, consult your local department store chain, sporting goods store, gun or archery shop, or online (except for modern firearms, which requires in-person purchase).

  • Weapons- http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/kar/301/002/132.pdf
    • Modern firearms that are legal for elk include any center-fire (aka "high powered") rifle or pistol larger than a .270 caliber, or 20-10 gauge shotgun used with slugs. For slugs, a shotgun should have a rifled barrel designed for slugs or be "open-choked"-- cylinder, improved cylinder.  Muzzle-loading hunting guns range from centuries-old technology to cutting-edge in-line rifles that accurately shoot well beyond a hundred yards; for elk, muzzleloaders must be .50 caliber or larger.
    •  Archery equipment or crossbows are legal during the appropriate seasons if you are drawn for an archery/crossbow permit, provided your broadhead (arrow tip) is at least 7/8" wide.
  • Clothing-Many wear camouflage underneath but you can also simply wear green or brown. Avoid blue or white clothing. Consider using a scent cover/blocking wash for your clothes before you elk hunt. Dress with adequate layers so you can adapt to the weather. During firearms seasons, the most important pieces of clothing are a solid hunter orange hat and vest or jacket to cover your chest/back and head for visibility to other hunters and to comply with the hunter orange law.
    • Rubber boots don't absorb scents, but most don't provide the level of ankle support of other hunting boots; use footwear that fits the terrain you'll be hunting.  Even hiking boots can be acceptable! Either way, make sure to decide on a well broken-in pair of boots. Nothing hurts worse than sore and blistered feet on a hunt. Having a stand-by pair can come in handy in case your first pair becomes wet or damaged.
  • Day-pack- Carry along a sturdy backpack with your valid hunting license and permit, writing pen, drinking water, snacks, first-aid kit, knife and disposable gloves for field dressing, and raingear. Rope or other means (such as a game cart) for dragging a harvested deer is also helpful if you'll be far from your vehicle. Cheesecloth and ground black pepper can help keep debris and flies off the hide and exposed meat.
  • Binoculars or Spotting Scope- You can literally see for a long way on some of the Eastern Kentucky's reclaimed coal mines. Glassing from high knobs with your binoculars is an effective way to locate elk.
  • Rangefinder- Naturally hunters are accustomed to the size of deer; in turn underestimating the distance of an elk can happen. A miscalculation could result in a wounded animal, making for a very difficult retrieval or even a missed shot.
  • Optics- A scope for your rifle or slug gun is also helpful for more accurate shot placement; it is a must to sight-in or practice with a scoped firearm before taking it hunting. Bow sights will aid in an accurate shot placement for various ranges. Sighting-in and practicing in advance, again, is a must.
  • Calls - Bull and cow calls come in a variety of forms, and can be purchased fairly inexpensively.  Most are mouth calls, and require you to blow air across a reed or into a tube.  We recommend getting at least one cow and one bull call, and practice their use until you are proficient with them.  You can listen to elk calls online at http://www.rmef.org/ElkFacts.aspx