Applying for the Kentucky Elk Lottery

Kentucky now has the 10th largest elk herd in America ! In 1996 the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation pledged over $1.4 million to the state of Kentucky’s elk restoration project. On December 18, 1997, seven elk that had been captured in Western Kansas were released at the Cyprus Amax Wildlife Management Area in Eastern Kentucky. This was the first of a series of releases that continued thru the winter of 2002.

The elk have thrived in Kentucky. They are achieving a 90% breeding success rate, and a 92% calf survival rate. The absence of predators, relatively mild Kentucky winters and abundant food sources have not only contributed to the remarkable population growth, but also account for the fact that the Kentucky elk are on average 15% larger than elk found in western states. By 2013,  Kentucky’s herd is expected to reach 11,000 animals, the largest free ranging, wild elk herd east of Montana.

While the draw odds are low, the cost to apply is only $10. Unlike many western states which require you to purchase a non-refundable hunting license before applying for specific species, Kentucky only requires the $10 fee upfront. If drawn, the non-resident hunting license is $130 plus the elk permit fee of $365. That’s cheap compared to non-resident fees in most western states.

Applicants may choose to apply for a bull or a cow and choose to use  archery/crossbow equipment or firearms.  In addition, a person may apply  for up to 2 of 4 tag types:

Antlered (“bull”) firearms (includes muzzleloaders)
Antlered (“bull”) archery/crossbow
Antlerless (“cow”) firearms (includes muzzleloaders)
Antlerless (“cow”) archery/crossbow

In 2011, Non-Resident draw odds were  1/742 for bull rifle, 1/568 for bull archery, 1/100 for cow rifle, and 1/63 for cow archery.

If you apply for both the bull rifle and bull archery, I calculated the overall odds of being drawn at approximately 1/320. Not great, but you are 100% sure of not being drawn if you don’t apply !

The 2013 application deadline is April 30th.. !

If you are lucky enough to be drawn, KY gives you the option of applying for a Limited Entry Area (LEA) within the elk restoration zone. If you are not drawn for the LEA,  you will be hunting in the general elk zone, which is a combination or public and private lands.  KY Fish and Game magazine has an article titled “You Won The Draw.. Now What ?” at

Kentucky Fish and Game also has a webpage with FAQs regarding the elk lottery and application process as well as information on the hunt. It’s at





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10 Responses to Applying for the Kentucky Elk Lottery

  1. When can I apply for the 2014 elk drawing

  2. adam wipp says:

    can you apply for the elk lottery as a group of 2?

    • Mark says:

      Adam, I don’t believe so. The KY elk “lottery” is a pretty low percentage draw already. Most states that allow you to put in for a party only give that party one entry in the draw anyway. Given the odds, you are better off putting in two separate applications and if one of you gets lucky enough to draw, the other gets to accompany and help on a world class elk hunt. That’s how I would play KY ! If you have any more questions, KY has a help line at the number below. Good Luck ! Mark

      Please call our Information Center at 800-858-1549 if you have questions or need assistance applying for the elk drawing

  3. Joseph Fisher says:

    If im reading the elk draw information correctly I don’t have to pick a zone until im drawn for the hunt is that right?

  4. Ronald Nalley says:

    Im am disable hunter I live in ky and I would like a chance to hunt elk in my home state

    • Mark says:

      Ron, you should definitely be putting in for the draw. I would also check with KYs fish and game department to see of they have any tags for disabled hunters

  5. Fred Cook says:

    My boyfriend’s lifelong dream is to go elk hunting. I am trying to enter him for the drawing. I asked him if I did this for him could I go with him if he ever got drawn. He said I could be camp cook. I said no I want to be out there and actually see the elk and see if he actually gets one.

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