Elk in a field

Elk Hunting Regulations


​Frequently Asked Questions about the Elk Hunt Drawing

There are 500 permits available through the drawing for the 2024 elk hunting season:

  • Bull Firearm - 140​
  • Cow Firearm - 164
  • Archery/ Crossbow (Cow or Bull)- 170
  • Youth-Only - 26

Bull (antlered) Firearm Week 1: Sept. 28 - Oct. 2, 2024​
Week 2: Oct. 5 - 9, 2024
Cow (antlerless) Firearm Week 1: Nov. 30 - Dec. 4, 2024
Week 2: Dec. 28, 2024 - Jan. 1, 2025
Either sex Archery/ Crossbow Week 1: Sept. 14 - 27, 2024​
Week 2: Dec. 7 - 13, 2024​
YouthAll seasons as noted 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.


  • Aug. 1: First day to apply for an elk hunt (for the following year)
  • April 30: Last day to apply for an elk hunt (for that year's hunt)
  • June 15: Deadline for drawn hunters to buy permit; unclaimed permits redistributed for elk loyalty redraw​​
  • June 30: Deadline for elk loyalty redraw winners to buy permits
  • June 30: Deadline to apply for hunting unit; unit assigned to those who do not apply​


The Kentucky elk zone is divided into six different units. The primary function of each unit is to prevent localized overharvest of elk on public access land; KDFWR accomplishes this goal by limiting the number of hunters allowed on each unit. 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.​


  • A modern rifle of .270 caliber or larger with a magazine capable of holding no more than 10 rounds
  • A muzzle-loading 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 1.285 inches or larger, 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” 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 the entire archery and crossbow season dates.
  • Note: Any weapon legal for elk hunting can be used during the bull or cow firearms hunts.


  • Applications go on sale Aug. 1 for the following year's Kentucky elk hunts. Hunters must buy their elk quota hunt applications before midnight Eastern time on April 30.
  • Elk quota hunt applications can be purchased online here and at any vendor that sells Kentucky hunting and fishing licenses. For questions about the department’s quota hunt, please 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 three permit types (bull firearms, cow firearms or archery/crossbow, bull or cow) 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.
  • If an applicant is drawn for a youth-only permit, they will purchase the applicable quota youth elk permit. If a youth applicant is drawn for the regular quota hunts, the youth will be required to purchase the full price antlered or antlerless elk permit.​
  • A random computer drawing is held in May to select the drawn hunters. Applicants may check to see if they were drawn here.
  • Drawn hunters must purchase their ​ Elk Permit by midnight on June 15. Any permits not purchased by that date will be reassigned to the new Loyalty Redraw Program. The department will then hold a secondary drawing for these unsold permits through the Loyalty Redraw Program. Residents who applied unsuccessfully for the current season - and have applied for the most consecutive years without being drawn for an elk permit - will automatically be entered into a Loyalty Redraw. The redraw is not open to non-residents. Those drawn during the redraw must buy their permit by midnight on June 30. The redraw includes all permit types.
  • After being selected for an elk quota hunt, a second draw will determine which unit a hunter is assigned within the elk zone. Hunters will have the opportunity to select up to five options and a random computer draw will determine the assignment. Once selected for a unit, it is the hunter’s responsibility to find a place to hunt in the unit. Hunters may hunt any of the open public land within the unit or get landowner permission to hunt on private land within the unit.
  • 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.
  • Fishtrap Lake WMA in Pike County and Paul Van Booven WMA in Breathitt County are designated as elk viewing areas and are off limits to elk hunting.
  • Quota elk permits must be purchased from the department’s website (here) or through any license vendor prior before midnight June 15. Unpurchased permits will be reassigned to the Elk Loyalty Redraw program, a secondary elk permit drawing for leftover permits. Resident hunters who have applied to the elk draw for the most consecutive years without being drawn will be automatically entered.
  • 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.
  • Hunters awarded an elk permit will be blocked from reapplying for three years.
  • Up to three drawn hunters may apply for their unit choices as a party. Those applying for a restricted area must do so individually, not as a party.


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 4.1 million-acre 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.


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.


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 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 regulations and use only the legal elk hunting equipment outlined above, but are not required to possess a Statewide Deer Permit.


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


All elk hunters must complete and submit a post-season elk hunting survey no later than the last day of February. The post-season survey will be accessible to elk hunters through the “My Profile” feature on the department’s website. Any elk hunter who fails to complete and submit the post-season survey will be ineligible to apply for any Kentucky Fish and Wildlife administered quota hunt or no-hunt option the following year.


KDFWR offers five 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, cow firearm, and either sex archery/crossbow permit; individuals may apply separately for each permit type, for a total of 3 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 up to 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 a 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 10 points (harvested bull = 1 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 10 points (relocated bull = 1 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.


*416 5/8Lisa ParsleyMartinFound2016
392 3/8Todd Ayers
*392 0/8Sam Billiter
PikeModern Gun2016
*377 5/8David GilesKnottModern Gun2015
​377 4/8John PerkinsMartinModern Gun2021
*373 4/8Anthony BrownLetcherArchery2015
*372 6/8Terrell RoyaltyKnottModern Gun2009
371 0/8Greg NeffBellModern Gun2007
* 369 5/8Bryan BartonBellModern Gun2016
368 4/8Bill KriderKnottModern Gun2015
368 4/8Jeff CornettPikeModern Gun2017
* Non-typical: This list includes the 10 largest bull elk scored and reported to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. The department is compiling a list of the top 100 elk taken in Kentucky. 



Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has about thirty employees across the state who are certified official Boone and Crockett Measurers. To find one, visit the Boone and Crockett Official Measurer Locator.​

Please send copies of official (signed) score sheets to:

Kentucky Trophy Elk List
1 Sportsman’s Lane
Frankfort, Ky 40601

Emailed submissions to info.center@ky.gov also will be accepted.