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Applications open for Kentucky elk hunt permits

By Dave Baker
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife

Frankfort, KY - Take your big game hunting to another level and apply today for the 2021 Kentucky elk hunt drawing. Kentucky's mountains are home to the largest elk herd and hunt east of the Rockies. A Kentucky elk permit eliminates the need to drive for days to a western destination to elk hunt. Whether you're a new or experienced hunter, the random drawing makes hunting elk accessible to everyone.

Kentucky's elk permit drawing system gives applicants equal opportunity of being selected for one of nearly 600 permits to hunt the thousands of elk in the state's herd. The deadline to enter the drawing is coming up fast - 11pmCT/MidnightET on Friday, April 30, 2021. Apply online only through the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources' website

Kentucky offers three types of permits through a randomized drawing open to residents and nonresidents. By state regulation, at least 90 percent of Kentucky's elk permits are allotted to residents each year.

Proceeds from application fees help to support Kentucky's elk management, research and public hunting access. Each application costs just $10. License purchase is not required to apply, but for those drawn an annual hunting license and the applicable elk permit are required to hunt.

Each applicant may apply for any of the three available permit types: firearms for bull elk, firearms for cow elk, and archery/crossbow for a bull or cow elk (either sex). In addition, youths age 15 or younger may also apply to a bonus allotment of 25 special youth-only permits, which are valid to harvest a bull or cow, during any season segment, and with any legal hunting equipment.

Applicants can be drawn for only one permit per year, and those drawn must then wait three years before they can apply again.

Almost 46,000 people submitted more than 95,000 total applications in 2020. Those who apply consistently each year, and for more permit types, are statistically favored over time to be selected. As of 2020, only 84 Kentucky residents who had applied all years had never been drawn.

Kentucky is offering 594 elk permits through the 2021 drawing. This total includes 175 archery/crossbow permits for a bull or cow; 150 firearm permits for bulls; 244 firearm permits for cows; and 25 youth-only permits for a bull or cow.

For public transparency and to ensure the validity of results, the Kentucky elk hunt drawing is conducted independently by the Commonwealth Office of Technology, the state's information technology agency. Applicants are assigned unique numbers and their names are removed from the electronic applications for the computer drawing, thus guaranteeing a fair drawing. Results of each year's drawing are audited by a private accounting company, certified for accuracy, and then delivered to the host of a live results-revealing event and to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife for notifying applicants.

Kentucky's elk hunting zone encompasses more than 4.3 million acres across 16 southeastern counties. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, through its wildlife management areas and agreements with landowners, offers numerous public access areas for hunting. The Kentucky elk zone is split into elk units to distribute hunting pressure across the elk zone.

Kentucky's elk hunt continues to achieve one of the top harvest rates among states with elk. More than half of the bull elk hunters using a firearm harvested elk last year. More than a third of the cow elk hunters (using firearms or archery/crossbow equipment) harvested an elk last season. Sixty-eight percent of youth hunters took home a Kentucky elk during the 2020 season.

Discover your road map to elk hunting in Kentucky by visiting Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's elk hunting webpage at Learn more about elk hunting and all the information you'll need to apply.

Results will be revealed during a live event at 1 p.m. on May 15 at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. The results will be live streamed from the venue. Full details about this special live results revealing event will be emailed to applicants, so be sure to provide your email when you apply. After the event, no later than 5 p.m. (EDT) on May 20, results will be uploaded into applicants' My Profile accounts at

This story was posted on 2021-04-29 10:27:37
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