Every year I donate $20 to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Well, at least that’s what I thought I was doing. As it turns out, there’s something to this whole lottery thing. I logged in to the KDFWR website last week I was shocked to read,
“Congratulations, you were selected for a Cow Archery tag for the Elk Quota Hunt!”
Luck of the Draw
The Cow Archery tag is the easiest tag for non-residents to draw in Kentucky, but at 1 in 67 odds, it isn’t easy. I could, given those odds, apply for 67 years and only draw one tag. The Bull Archery tag in 1 in 558, and the Bull Rifle tag is an astounding 1 in 702. These odds are from the 2012 draw, which included about 60,000 applications! You can begin to see why I have historically referred to entering the draw a “donation”. But my luck has proven that it is worth trying!
I’ll be honest, when I found out that I drew the KY tag, there was a brief moment where I considered not pursuing it. I was excited about the opportunity, but I doubted if I had enough time, money, and energy to plan, research, and then execute another out-of-state elk hunt this year. Those doubts lasted for about a nanosecond, and then reality smacked me in the face and reminded me that this is a unique opportunity. An opportunity that may not come again for another 66 years! I can’t give up my Colorado elk hunt this year – I won’t let that dream die! – so, two elk hunts in 2013 it is!
This Kentucky elk hunt will be a completely different hunt that my backcountry adventure in Colorado. I won’t have the luxury of hunting vast expanses of wilderness in Kentucky, in fact simply finding huntable elk on public land may be the biggest challenge to this hunt. The cow archery season begins after hunters have been out chasing bulls, which means the elk will be pressured and seeking sanctuary areas that are safe from hunting – private land! Many KY elk hunters hire guides or pay to access private lands, but neither option is in my budget, nor do I have any desire to buy my way into an opportunity.
The overall success rate of the Cow Archery tag is 40%, but given that I am going completely DIY on public land, I expect my realistic odds of success to be much lower. But hey, I was lucky enough to have drawn the tag, so maybe my good fortune will continue!
Kentucky has redrawn their elk hunting units for 2013 – there are now 2 “at large” areas, and 3 “limited entry areas” (LEA). Everyone that has drawn a tag can rank their preferences for these hunting units, and then the KDFWR will assign units according to availability and preference. Once I find out what unit I’ll be hunting, I’ll have to work hard to identify where I can legally hunt in the unit.
Another important decision that I have to make is when to hunt. I can hunt on my Cow Archery tag from October 19 – December 13, and then again from December 28 – January 20. Do I want to go early, which is right after the elk and have been pressured from the bull season, or do I want to go late and hope that I can find a hot food source on public land? Decisions, decisions…
Have you ever applied for, or hunted elk in Kentucky?