2012-04-25 / Columns

Driftwood Outdoors

Elk Hunting Both Near And Far
by Brandon Butler

If you have never heard the wild scream of bull elk bugle, then you have yet to experience one of the most magnificent sounds in nature. A long, guttural bellowing bugle can stand the hair up on the back of your neck. For the last couple of centuries, one had to roam the Rockies to hear elk. Today, Hoosiers needn’t travel so far.

Kentucky’s restoration of elk is a modern conservation marvel. Other states, including Michigan, Arkansas and Missouri, have elk restoration initiatives in place, and have established respectable herds, but all of these states combined have nowhere near the number of elk roaming the bluegrass. And you have a chance to hunt them.

According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, they will issue 900 general quota hunt permits for 2012, an increase of 100 permits over the 2011 season. Kentucky’s elk herd is expected to surpass 10,000 animals by fall.

Not everyone is guaranteed a tag. To enter the lottery system to draw a Kentucky elk tag, hunters must apply online at: fw.ky. gov. Once there, hunters can select to apply for up to two different elk permits: firearms bull, archery bull, firearms cow elk or archery cow elk. While hunters may apply for two different permits, they can only be drawn for one of those permits. Each application costs $10.

The following breakdown of the available 900 licenses should help you decide for which two licenses you’ll want to apply. For instance, if you want a shot at a bull but would be happy with the meat from a cow, then you may want to apply for bull firearm and cow archery. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will issue 135 permits to hunt a bull with a firearm through the general quota hunt this season. The department will issue 90 bull archery permits, 265 cow elk archery permits and 410 cow elk gun permits. A separate youthonly drawing will allow five young hunters to take a bull or a cow.

I have applied for the last few years and haven’t been lucky enough to draw a tag. In fact, I must admit that there is shellfish bone inside my body rattling right now as I tell you to apply, therefore worsening my own odds of drawing, but in the end, it’s all about conservation. A few of the lucky ones will get to hunt, but all of us get to know there are over 10,000 elk roaming the wilds of their native Kentucky. Viewing them and listening to the bulls’ bugle is free for all of us. And if you have never heard a bull bugle, may I suggest a weekend road trip to the hollers they now call home. Find an overlook and simply listen to one of nature’s most beautiful songs.

If your heart is set on elk hunting this year, Montana has announced an abundance of leftover tags. The Montana Division of Fish and Wildlife released the following information.

“We have about 1,700 nonresident big game and 2,150 elk combination hunting licenses available for this hunting season,” said Hank Worsech, the licensing section chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Helena.

First-come, first-served nonresident hunting licenses now available include: Montana’s big game combination license for $939, the elk combination license for $789. Montana’s nonresident combination hunting licenses allow one to hunt for deer and elk or elk and include conservation, season fishing, and upland game bird licenses; and the hunting-access enhancement fee.

Montana’s archery season runs from September 1 through October 14. Archers must meet archery and hunter education requirements and hold a 2012 bow and arrow license. The general big game season runs from October 20 through November 25. Montana annually provides about 17,000 big game combo licenses and 6,600 deer combo licenses for nonresident hunters.

“This year, nonresidents can buy an elk license online, or overthe counter from any FWP office,” Worsech said. “Nobody has to apply or wait weeks for drawing results.”

See you down the trail...

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