Young Hunters Enjoy Elk Camp, Kill Four Kentucky Bulls
By Bill Carman, Regional Director, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia
Conservation education is one of the cornerstones of the Elk Foundation’s mission. What better way to teach youngsters to appreciate elk and wild country than to take them hunting?
In 1997, with RMEF funding and volunteer support, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) released seven wild elk into southeastern Kentucky. Today, one of America’s greatest wildlife restoration sagas has come to fruition, with over 11,000 elk roaming the hills of the Bluegrass State.
KDFWR held its first elk hunt in 2001. In 2009, in addition to the 1,000 regular-season elk tags issued to hunters, the department also selected five kids for a youth-only elk hunt. KDFWR asked RMEF to organize and staff an elk camp for the lucky kids at the University of Kentucky’s Robinson Forest. The hunters included four boys and one girl who ranged in age from 8 to 14. Four of the hunters were Kentuckians and one was from New York.
The hunters and their families arrived in camp on September 25. They were treated to a steak dinner, a bugling contest, and RMEF’s version of a TV quiz show. The three-day hunt began the next morning, and RMEF volunteers from the Ashland, Hazard, Lebanon, Lexington, Louisville and Williamstown chapters, with help from KDFWR staff, donated their time to cooking, guiding and packing out meat, as well as providing nightly entertainment for nearly 50 attendees.
The hunt was held on the adjacent Paul Van Booven Wildlife Management Area, and each hunter was accompanied by a volunteer guide/caller, a film crew and a parent. Film crews were provided by Hunter’s Specialties, Kentucky Afield, Licking River Outfitters, Hunting University and Outdoor Allstars. Despite a constant monsoon-like rain and swampy conditions, all five hunters had shooting opportunities and four of the five killed bulls.
Special thanks to the RMEF volunteers, KDFWR and the University of Kentucky for their help, and of course to the young hunters and their parents who had a great time despite the mud and rain.
For more information on Kentucky’s elk hunt, go to www.fw.ky.gov.