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Bull elk hunt brings outstanding success; state record may fall.
News Release from Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources

Oct. 13, 2008 Contact: Hayley Lynch 1-800-858-1549, ext. 4493


Frankfort, Ky. – Kentucky’s 2008 bull elk firearms quota hunt ended Oct. 11, with hunters taking 115 bulls in the southeastern part of the state.

“Hunters had an 88 percent success rate, and most of those bulls were taken within the first four days of the season. This level of success is outstanding,” said Tina Brunjes, big game program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “It would not be possible without the hard work of our biologists and officers in the elk zone. Most of our hunters at some point speak to a Fish and Wildlife employee, who gives them information on where to hunt, both public and private land.”

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife issued 131 bull elk tags this year, including regular lottery drawings, landowner permits, special Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission conservation permits and one youth tag. Kentucky’s elk herd now numbers about 8,500 animals.

This year, the department divided the 16-county elk restoration zone into six Elk Hunting Units (EHUs), hoping to spread out hunting pressure and provide hunters with a high chance of success.

“It seemed to achieve that. I was impressed with how quickly everybody seemed to adapt to the EHU system,” Brunjes said. “The harvest numbers everyone had in the first few days across the units is a good indicator that people are finding access in different places.”

At least two hunter-harvested bulls received preliminary scores that challenge Kentucky’s current state record for a non-typical elk. An 8x8 bull elk taken in Knott County on opening day by Larry Holland of Perry County green-scored in the 390 class in the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system.

“I killed it about two miles from where I was born and raised,” said Holland, who took the elk at 242 yards with one shot from his .300 Winchester Short Magnum rifle. “I was just excited to kill the bull – it wasn’t about the size. To possibly have the state record, I’m thrilled.”

Clay County’s Kelvin Jackson also took a 7x8 bull in Harlan County, which green-scored in the 370 class. Both of these preliminary scores are higher than the current non-typical state record of 349 0/8 held by Andy Kidd of McCreary County. However, official scoring cannot take place for 60 days after the animal is taken, during which time the antlers may shrink slightly due to drying.

“We saw a lot of 320-class bulls come in, fairly young bulls,” said Brunjes. “That’s a good indication that they’re getting a lot of good nutrition and shows a lot of potential to get really big as they get older.”

Department officials have not received notification that any typical bull elk taken by a hunter this year might challenge the current state record of 371 0/8, held by Greg Neff of Kenton County. However, some large bulls may not have been reported, and archery season for bull elk continues through Jan. 19, 2009. Kentucky’s cow elk firearms season runs Dec. 13-26.

Elk lottery applications for the 2009-10 quota hunts go on sale beginning Dec. 1. Hunters have until April 30, 2009 to purchase one of the $10 applications. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife awarded 402 elk tags this year through the lottery system, and will issue more for next year’s hunt as the elk population increases.

Fifty additional hunters drawn for special season hunt for cow elk in January - February.

November 17, 2008 for immediate release.
Contact: Hayley Lynch at 1-800-858-1549, ext. 4493

Frankfort, Ky. – Elk hunters who applied for this year’s hunt but were not drawn now have a second chance.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has selected an additional 50 hunters from among the previous pool of unsuccessful applicants for a special cow elk hunt in January and February.

This special season for antlerless elk is designed to help private landowners reduce damage from elk in portions of Knott, Bell and Harlan counties.

Hunters who bought an elk lottery application for the 2008-09 season can now go to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website at fw.ky.gov to see if they were drawn. Applicants must enter either their Social Security number or their date of birth and the 19-digit number that appears on their elk lottery application. Applicants without Internet access may call the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Information Center toll-free at 1-800-858-1549 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern) during the week.

The special season will take place Jan. 24 – Feb. 6 on private land within two of the state’s Elk Management Units.

“What we’re hoping to accomplish is to have some animals removed from specific landholdings that have had problems with elk,” said Tina Brunjes, big game program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “The primary goal is to provide these landowners an opportunity to have elk taken from their property during the time of year when most damage occurs.”

Drawn hunters must purchase a quota elk permit from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Permit fees of $30 for Kentucky residents and $365 for nonresidents are the same as for the regular-season quota elk hunt. After confirming that they were drawn online, hunters will see several information links detailing special season hunt regulations, where to send a check or money order for the permit, and who to contact to find a place to hunt.

Hunters must possess an annual Kentucky hunting license in addition to the quota elk permit. General elk hunting regulations, including equipment restrictions, hunter education requirements and more, are available in the 2008-09 Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide at fw.ky.gov and wherever hunting licenses are sold.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, has an economic impact to the state of $4.5 billion annually. For more information on the department, visit our web site at fw.ky.gov.

The Chattanoogan.com
Kentucky Excelling in Elk - Tennessee to hunt first elk in 2009
by Richard Simms. Posted 9/20/08

GATLINBURG, Tenn. - It's easy to see that David Ledford is passionate about elk. Speaking to a crowd of outdoor writers at this week's Southeastern Outdoor Press Association Conference in Gatlinburg, he seemed to almost tremble with excitement. He admits that he has found his niche with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Ledford is the director of the RMEF Appalachian Initiative ... an effort to restore this most majestic species to its former range. It is an effort that has met with immense success, especially in Kentucky.

Tennessee came into the elk restoration effort a few years late and progress has been slow. Ledford says there are about 250 elk living in the northern portion of the Cumberland Plateau, mostly in and around the Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area.

In Kentucky however, Ledford says the elk herd has reached more than 10,000 animals. The elk has become the defacto official symbol of Eastern Kentucky, an area once laid barren by strip mining.

Ledford says however they have learned that elk thrive is the open pastures and spotty forest that is classic of reclaimed strip mines.

"The scope and scale of coal mining in Kentucky is huge," said Ledford. "You just can't imagine."

When those mines are properly reclaimed according to government standards, the elk love it. Ledford shared a map of reclaimed strip mines overlayed with the readings from elk that are outfitted with satellite transmitters. In basically 90 percent of the cases, the elk were living in and around reclaimed strip mines.

Kentucky began stocking elk in 1997 and relocated a total of 1,557 elk from then until 2002. Ledford said the massive effort was driven by a couple of wildlife commissioners who insisted that, "if we're going to do this, we're going to do it right."

They apparently have as cities and towns all across Eastern Kentucky are seeing a huge increase in elk interest, along with a huge influx of money from tourists and hunters.

Knott County, Kentucky now has a billboard proclaiming itself as "The Elk Capital of the East."

A Budweiser billboard in the area boasts a beautiful picture of an elk at a stream and the text reads, "Not all of our watering holes have pool tables."

"These elk are having an impact on the culture of Southeast Kentucky," said Ledford. "The place where Loretta Lynn sang about being a coal miner's daughter. Now the elk has become the symbol of this region of Kentucky."

Ledford regularly hosts tours in his efforts to promote the effort. Ledford has also made a concerted effort to work in concert with the coal mining business community... a community best known for its ability to destroy wildlife habitat. Ledford however says that more and more, the major coal companies are anxious to restore the environment, and they welcome guidance and assistance for outside groups other than government regulators.

"I'm convinced that only an NGO (non-governing organization) can accomplish a true beneficial partnership situation," said Ledford.

He says RMEF has worked in cooperation with numerous reclamation efforts, providing special seed mixtures and technical guidance more beneficial to the elk. He says it is paying huge dividends for the elk, and for the coal companies.

"If a good reclamation plan makes more money for the coal company, fine... I don't care," he said. "If our help keeps the enforcement agencies from having to do as much work or accomplish goals, fine... I don't care. We just want to get the job done and get more habitat on the ground."

Hunting is an integral element in Kentucky's elk restoration.

In 2008 400 hunters were selected in the special drawing for elk hunting permits. Ledford said about 10 percent were non-residents. 25 permits were reserved for landowners who provide at least 5,000 acres of public access land.... mostly the coal companies.

Among regular hunters, he said a total of 34,000 people applied for the elk hunting permits, paying $10 each for the chance to be drawn. That's $340,000 that goes directly into Kentucky's elk management program.

The first year KY wildlife officials and RMEF advertised a special elk checking station in a Walmart parking lot in Hazard, Ky. Hundreds of people, and media, including a National Geographic photographer, gathered for what became a huge public event.

Ledford's voice quavered a little as he also told the story of disabled coal miner who killed the once-state record elk on an area near his home where he had strip mined for 25 years.

Ledford says besides humans, black bears have proven to a primary predator on elk, especially calves. He says however, that's not a bad thing.

"We're the only country in the world that has been able to return the top carnivore and the top herbivore to its natural habitat," he said with excitement.

It is doubtful Tennessee will ever rival Kentucky's success where there are about 4 million acres of potential elk habitat. Ledford says there are hopes the Kentucky herd might reach 20,000 animals.

In Tennessee the RMEF has been instrumental... contributing money to land acquisition & habitat improvement but it is too early to know where the Volunteer State elk restoration effort will lead. TWRA hit a massive roadblock when fear and controversy erupted over chronic wasting disease.

However the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency expects to hold a special drawing to issue five bull elk permits to hunters in 2009.

With tens of thousands of applicants expected, it will be a hunter's equivalent of hitting the lottery.

But it is a start.. and Ledford hopes there is no where to go but up.