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
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
KENTUCKY'S TROPHY BULL elk