- By Rich Miller
Sunday afternoon, I was in my garage packing up when my buddy, Wack, called me and let me know he was in Kentucky doing a little scouting before their elk season opened. Wack has been guiding there since Kentucky had their first elk season. For the past several years he has been trying to get me to come up there and see all the elk he has been telling me about for years. The reason I was packing was I had a few days off and was planning on doing a little deer hunting. After getting the call from Wack and checking the weather forecast, I decided it was as good a time as any to go to Kentucky.
After dropping my little boy off at school, I hit the road and five and a half hours later I was sitting in Hazard, Kentucky. After grabbing a bite to eat, we headed up the hill to try to find a few elk for his upcoming hunts. Now, this place he hunts is a working coalmine. I am not sure how many acres the place is, but it’s a ton, I can assure you of that. A lot of the place has already been mined and the other half is active now. What really impressed me was the area that had been mined and reclaimed. They had taken a mountain that was not really good for anything and turned it into an accessible area that was elk heaven now. Not only the elk, but deer and turkey were around every corner, also. We hadn’t been in the mine ten minutes when we spotted our first elk. What I thought was a decent bull, Wack didn’t want to slow down much to look at because he knew where some bigger guys had been hanging out. After about an hour of looking and seeing a bunch of elk, the skies opened up and pushed all the elk back in the timber. The next morning it was a little foggy but we did manage to find a couple of big bulls with their harem of cows. The bugling I heard that morning was unbelievable. I took as much video as I had time for while watching the show that was being put on before me. It was a lot different than what I experienced a couple of weeks ago in Colorado. The next two days were the same way – foggy early – and by the time it lifted the elk were already back in the timber. I did get to see a lot of elk and heard more elk that I ever thought was possible.
Wack has four different hunters coming in this week with bull tags, and since Kentucky has opened up there elk season he is 100% booked. Kentucky has done an unbelievable job in reintroducing elk to their state. They boast the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi and it is also the healthiest. With no predation, and the winters not being very harsh, the elk grow year around. The hardest part is getting a tag and I have been applying very year with no luck. After seeing what I did this past week I will keep applying and praying that one day I will be one of the lucky few every year that are granted one of the tags.