Eastern Elk Extravaganza!
By Bill Carman, Regional Director for Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia
Numbering zero just 11 years ago, Kentucky’s elk herd is now more than 10,000 strong. Residents of Knott County, where a good portion of these elk roam, wear t-shirts boasting the region as the “Elk Capital of the East.” The county celebrated that accolade and the upcoming bull hunt by hosting the Kentucky Elk Country Expo at the Knott County Sportsplex September 12-13.
Sponsored by the Knott County Tourism Commission, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (DFWR) and the Elk Foundation, the event featured a 40-vendor sports show, music by the bluegrass comedy band, “The Moron Brothers,” elk tours and seminars for the 400 lucky hunters drawn in the 2008 elk tag lottery. The event culminated with the Daniel Boone Chapter’s big game banquet in nearby Hazard. An estimated 2,000 visitors attended the Expo.
Bernice Amburgey, Expo Planning Committee chair, lauded the event as an awesome weekend that brought folks to beautiful Knott County to see the scenery, hear elk bugling across the hills, and learn more about elk and elk hunting.
RMEF member Sean Taylor, who was awarded a cow elk tag this year, traveled from Lexington to learn more about the area where he would hunt. “I am absolutely thrilled to have an elk tag,” Taylor says. “I really enjoyed the Expo, and I even won the Progressive Rifle at the banquet!”
RMEF volunteers from the Daniel Boone Chapter in Hazard, George Rogers Clark Chapter in Louisville and Northern Kentucky Chapter in Williamstown all pitched in to help.
Native elk were gone from Kentucky by the mid-1800s. DFWR and RMEF released seven elk in 1997, and 1,500 were relocated from various western states over the next five years. Today more than 10,000 elk roam the state’s 4-million-acre, 16-county elk zone.
In 2008, DFWR issued 400 elk tags through a state lottery. The rifle bull season was held October 4-19, while the archery either-sex season runs from October 4-January 19.