“The Hunt Starts Here” as the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Elk Release in 1997. Holiday season elk hunting quota applications are on sale through April 30 .
The annual draw will take place and successful applicants will be announced via live stream on Saturday May 14 from the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. Those selected for the elk quota hunt are assigned to one of six units in the elk zone, through a second draw. The hunting season begins on September 10 and continues until January 4.
Kentucky is at the forefront of wildlife conservation with successful natural resource management. Each year, tens of thousands of hunters participate in these important conservation efforts by entering the elk hunt draw or participating in the hunt.
“Interest in elk hunting in Kentucky increases every year, and we expect that trend to continue as word spreads,” said Department of Fisheries Resources elk/deer coordinator John Hast. and wildlife of Kentucky. “Last year, in 2021, we issued 594 licenses after receiving over 90,000 entries in the Elk Hunt Draw for the second year in a row.”
From 1997 to 2002, Kentucky reintroduced elk to eastern Kentucky, nearly 150 years since the last native species was spotted. The elk have few natural predators in the area and have begun to thrive rapidly.
Now the thriving, wild, free-ranging Kentucky herd is the largest herd east of the Rocky Mountains. The herd inhabits more than 4 million acres in 16 southeastern Kentucky counties. It has flourished over the past quarter century and helped other states – including Wisconsin, Virginia and Missouri – establish their herds.
“The success of the elk restoration effort is truly remarkable,” said Gabe Jenkins, director of the Information and Education Division and former deer and elk program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. . “The benefits touch many aspects of our lives and our lands – from biodiversity enriching our ecosystem, to generating funds, to expanding our efforts in other areas, to creating valuable experiences for residents and hunting tourists.”
As of 1997, 1,541 elk from seven western states were released into southeastern Kentucky. The Kentucky Elk Restoration Area comprises 16 counties on 4.3 million acres.
General draw quota permits are available by applying to the Kentucky Elk Hunt Draw online. Permits are offered for bull guns, cow guns, and archery/crossbow licenses for both genders; individuals can apply separately for each type of license, for a total of three possible applications per year. However, individuals can only submit one application for each type of permit. General draw quota permits cannot be bought or sold, and hunters must follow the season requirements for the permit for which they were drawn.
Guests are encouraged to attend the two-day elk hunt raffle at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. The weekend kicks off with a concert, food and vendors on Friday evening, followed by a reveal of the names of the selected hunters on Saturday, May 14, from noon to 2 p.m. The Mountain Arts Center has been organizing the draw since 2018.
“Attendance during the Elk Hunt Draw Weekend increases each year, giving us the opportunity to provide more entertainment and education programs for those looking to call or hunting enthusiasts,” said Mountain Arts Center General Manager Joe Campbell. “It is an honor to host the event here at the Mountain Arts Center, which is the perfect venue to welcome the large and growing audience to the region.
“The draw is always an exciting event, when you see someone win a draw for the first time or hear stories about someone’s previous hunt,” said Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton. “We are honored to host this event and hope everyone enjoys the atmosphere. Best wishes for the draw.
About the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
The mission of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is to conserve, protect, and enhance the fish and wildlife resources of Kentucky and to provide exceptional opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, sports shooting, wildlife observation and related activities. For more information, visit the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website.