Hunting Game in the Land of 10,000 Elk - Kentucky Image

Hunting Game in the Land of 10,000 Elk - Kentucky

Dream Sporting Trips

Updated: April 16th 2016 @ 10:34am

Kentucky has been part of two of the most successful wildlife reintroduction projects in U.S. history. In 1997, the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources began to re-stock elk in the state's eastern counties, which had been extinct from the area for over 150 years. As of 2009, the herd had reached the project goal of 10,000 animals, making it the largest herd east of the Mississippi River. [1].

And the elk are doing quite well, we'd say. On October 3, 2015, on his first elk hunt, Lexington banker David Giles bagged a bull that had an astounding green score of 408 and 3/8 inches gross. After a 60-day drying period, the elk’s final score on the Boone & Crockett Club scale was 377 5/8 [2]. To date, Giles holds the state record--could Kentucky have a world record setting bull out there, too?


photo credit: Lexington Herald

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. They are achieving a 90% breeding success rate, and a 92% calf survival rate. [3]

The Kentucky elk restoration project would not have made it off the drawing board without the financial support provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The RMEF is a membership based organization. Funds are raised from member dues, philanthropic donations, corporate sponsorships, merchandise sales, grants, raffles, and banquets. Dream Sporting Trips is proud to be a supporter of this fine organization.


The state also stocked wild turkeys in the 1950s. Once extinct here, more wild turkeys thrive in Kentucky today than in any other eastern state. Hunters telechecked a record 29,006 birds taken during the 23-day season in Spring 2009.

But there's much more to hunt here than elk and turkey.

The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources [4] lists these game species:

  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Turkey
  • Black Bear
  • Squirrel
  • Rabbit
  • Bobwhite Quail
  • Grouse
  • Raccoon
  • Opossum
  • Coyote
  • Bobcat
  • River Otter
  • Muskrat
  • Mink
  • Beaver
  • Red Fox, Gray Fox
  • Weasel
  • Striped Skunk 
  • Waterfowl (Duck, Coot, Canada Goose, White-Fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Brant, Falconry, Sandhill Crane)
  • Migratory Birds (Dove, Wood Duck, Teal, Woodcock, Snipe, Crow)
  • Other Species (Bullfrogs, Turtles, Wild Pigs, Groundhogs)

For a complete list, including hunting dates and restrictions, visit the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources

Be sure to check our list of guides in Kentucky, too!



[1] Wikipedia
[2] David Xu, Outdoor Hub, December 12, 2015. "Officials Confirm New Kentucky State Record Elk"
[3] Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, The Kentucky Elk Herd
[4] Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife

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