Applying for the Kentucky Elk Lottery
Kentucky now has the 10th largest elk herd in America ! In 1996 the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation pledged over $1.4 million to the state of Kentucky’s elk restoration project. On December 18, 1997, seven elk that had been captured in Western Kansas were released at the Cyprus Amax Wildlife Management Area in Eastern Kentucky. This was the first of a series of releases that continued thru the winter of 2002.
The elk have thrived in Kentucky. They are achieving a 90% breeding success rate, and a 92% calf survival rate. The absence of predators, relatively mild Kentucky winters and abundant food sources have not only contributed to the remarkable population growth, but also account for the fact that the Kentucky elk are on average 15% larger than elk found in western states. By 2013, Kentucky’s herd is expected to reach 11,000 animals, the largest free ranging, wild elk herd east of Montana.
While the draw odds are low, the cost to apply is only $10. Unlike many western states which require you to purchase a non-refundable hunting license before applying for specific species, Kentucky only requires the $10 fee upfront. If drawn, the non-resident hunting license is $130 plus the elk permit fee of $365. That’s cheap compared to non-resident fees in most western states.
Applicants may choose to apply for a bull or a cow and choose to use archery/crossbow equipment or firearms. In addition, a person may apply for up to 2 of 4 tag types:
Antlered (“bull”) firearms (includes muzzleloaders)
Antlered (“bull”) archery/crossbow
Antlerless (“cow”) firearms (includes muzzleloaders)
Antlerless (“cow”) archery/crossbow
In 2011, Non-Resident draw odds were 1/742 for bull rifle, 1/568 for bull archery, 1/100 for cow rifle, and 1/63 for cow archery.
If you apply for both the bull rifle and bull archery, I calculated the overall odds of being drawn at approximately 1/320. Not great, but you are 100% sure of not being drawn if you don’t apply !
The 2013 application deadline is April 30th.. !Applying for the Kentucky Elk Lottery Kentucky now has the 10th largest elk herd in America ! In 1996 the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation pledged over $1.4 million to the state of Kentucky’s elk
Dreaming about a Kentucky Elk Hunting Permit
Though a Maine turkey hunt awaits at the end of the month, and I’ll likely participate in a United Way hog hunt in a couple weeks, May is mostly for planning hunts for the upcoming season. The application period for gator hunting starts the 12th. Folks can submit their choices for limited-entry hunts on the 15th. This is the daydreaming phase of the year.
Above all of these, I can’t get my mind out of the Bluegrass State and their impressive bull elk. For the second year, I have applied for a permit. The results are due the 13th. I can barely handle the anticipation though the odds of pulling the tag are remote.
But let’s backtrack a second. Kentucky’s elk hunt is the result of an outstanding restoration program. I remember the literature and hub-bub leading up to the initial release of the elk in 1997 and people wondering if it’d succeed. Elk once roamed the East Coast before they were extirpated in the late 1800’s. Pennsylvania was one of the first states to re-introduce these animals to the region. Once this proved successful, other states followed suit.
Thanks to cooperation between the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Commission and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation who helped fund the project, the elk have repopulated an area about the size of Yellowstone, according to this video history. The species thrived, first on reclaimed mine properties lush with vegetation, a dreamscape for an animal conditioned to the harsh living conditions in the West. With no large predators in the region, however, game officials knew right off the bat recreational hunting would be part of the program to keep the herd balanced if the elk flourished. In 2001, ten permits were issued. In 2007, 300 permits were issued.
20 years later, Kentucky’s elk herd is estimated at around 11,000 animals, the highest of any state east of the Mississippi. 910 permits were available in 2016 split among Bull Archery, Bull Firearm, Cow Archery, and Cow Firearm. Applicants can apply for one of each at $10/application. Youth permits are also available.
The Bull Firearms license is the most coveted and with good reason. In 2016, the Kentucky State Record was killed in Pike County, a 392 0/8-inch whopper taken by Sam Billiter with a modern firearm.
This all sounds great, doesn’t it? But now back to those chances of drawing a tag. In 2016, the odds of pulling a Bull Firearm were 1/138 for residents and 1/764 for non-residents. Nonresident applicants receive no more than 10% of the total elk hunt permits in the drawing. Worse, while a successful applicant can’t apply again for three years, there are no preference points awarded for failed applications. Here’s the reasoning for that:
“A preference points system is not in the best interest of Kentucky elk hunt applicants. This is because there are many more elk hunt applicants than elk permits in Kentucky. Some hunters have recommended that the KDFWR use preference points, similar to some western states. However, some western states with preference point systems offer more permits to nonresidents than Kentucky has total elk permits. Consider the following illustration. If KDFWR used a preference point system, and 50,000 people applied (a realistic number given past application rates), and 1,000 permits were available each year, it would take 50 years for everyone to receive a permit! In the second year of drawing under a preference points system, an applicant’s odds at drawing a permit would be equal to the other 49,000 people who earned a preference point during the first year. In reality, odds under a preference point system would not even be as good as described above because this illustration makes three unrealistic assumptions: 1) no additional applicants ever enter the lottery, 2) the number of available elk permits never fluctuates, and 3) no one could ever be drawn more than once. The current drawing system provides the benefit of affording each applicant for a particular hunt type an equal chance of being drawn every year. It does not discriminate against or act as a deterrent to new hunters, seniors, youths, or anyone else who enters the drawing from having an opportunity to be drawn within a reasonable period of time. A preference point system would neither guarantee that an individual would ever be drawn, nor would it necessarily improve anyone’s odds of being drawn during any given year. Although the issues above stem from Kentucky’s relatively low elk permit quota (800-1,000 permits in recent years), preference point systems have not always worked in the interest of applicants in western states, either. Many western states have experienced ‘point creep’ because an ever-increasing number of applicants enter their drawings, constantly pushing up the number of preference points (and thus years) required before one could possibly receive a permit.”
OK, then. There will be 710 permits available in 2017. With 200 fewer permits, that takes us non-residents into the realm of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory odds. So, I won’t necessarily be holding my breath come the 13th; however, this is really a hunt of a lifetime. Success rates are routinely high, much more so than you’d find on public lands in Western states – 100% for Bull Archery (!) in 3 of the 5 Limited Entry Areas last year. And the bulls are huge.
For a non-resident such as myself, I’ll be shaking the piggy bank to hire an outfitter. As I said, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime draw. Elk are magnificent animals, and that’s a ton of meat.
The application period is over this year, but if you’re interested in 2018, the time to toss your name in usually begins in January and ends April 30th.
For more information on Kentucky’s unique elk hunting and restoration program, please click here.Dreaming about a Kentucky Elk Hunting Permit Though a Maine turkey hunt awaits at the end of the month, and I’ll likely participate in a United Way hog hunt in a couple weeks, May is mostly for ]]>