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Do I have to have a guide?
You do not have to have a guide. If it is within your budget, it will solve a lot of your problems, e.g. locating the elk and removing the elk from the woods. However, it will add several hundred dollars to the cost of your trip and does not relieve you of the responsibilities of knowing and following hunting rules and regulations. You must be sure that you are hunting legally in an area. Guides costs vary and so do their experience levels. Some guides only work in a given area, so you may want to request an area based on a guide or wait until you know what area is assigned to you before selecting a guide.
What are the hunting Rules and Regulations?
Hunting regulations are published each year by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department and are available on the Hunting Regulations page of their website. In addition, elk hunting regulations can be found at Elk Hunting.
Must I tag an Elk and check it in?
An Elk must be tagged immediately after it is killed and before it is moved. A blank tag, called a Harvest Log, should be printed on the back of your elk permit. Also, you can print one out at Recording, Checking, Tagging and Transporting. Once you filled out a tag and placed it on the animal, you will need to check it in by phone or online within 24 hours and record the confirmation number on the tag. This can be done by calling 1-800-245-4263 or online at Online Telecheck. Meat given to another person must be tagged with the name of the hunter that killed it, his phone number and telecheck confirmation number.
What are some strategies for the actual hunt?
Elk hunting strategies depend on several factors, e.g. early vs late season; cow vs bull; the location of food, water, & cover. In general, you need to scout just before starting your hunt. Elk are creatures of habit. Find a herd and determine its movements. They are most active early in the morning and late in the evening. Locate their path between feeding and bedding areas. They will most likely follow the same path for several days. When selecting a spot along their daily travel path to wait for the elk, you will want to keep in mind the difficulty of removing the elk carcass. The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department have provided some elk hunting tips on page 54-58 of their Basic Hunting document. If you will be carrying the meat out of the woods by yourself, you may want to estimate how much time it will take and not hunt too late in the evening.
How do I remove an Elk from the woods?Removing an elk is not a problem, if you hired a guide that will do it for you or if you have use of a pack horse. However, if the elk did not fall in a convenient place near a road and you are hunting alone, you will need to resort to packing out the meat. There is a lot of meat on an elk. A Backcountry Chronicles article provide information developed by the University of Wyoming on just how much meat is on an elk. If you plan to transport the meat using a backpack, you will need to cut up the elk into portions small enough to carry. There are several articles and videos online showing how to do this. The quickest method is to quarter the animal but it will take more trips to carry the meat to your vehicle than if you debone it. Here is a video by Fred Eichler on how to quickly quarter an elk. This video by Nate Simmons shows how to debone an elk and pack out only the meat.