Controversy emerging over elk permitting and restoration

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By Jeff Lilly

Success can often breed controversy.  Once someone or something becomes a “success” it seems the eyes of the world are firmly fixed and the successful entity is thoroughly monitored while those same monitoring eyes wait anxiously for its downfall. With so many cell phones, pictures, videos, computers and other electronic means out there it seems impossible to “escape” attention or “get away with anything” when an action or actions are found to be amiss.

It appears controversy has reared its head and is staring the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and its Board of Commissioners right in the face concerning the elk permitting process and elk restoration project with Missouri. Seems both kind of smell like all those crappie we as hunters and fishermen are supposed to get in exchange for 150 of our eastern Kentucky elk. 

Really?  Not sure who brokered this deal but until further information is presented to those of us who pay the bills and preferably explained a little better I’m not sure I like it personally but then again they didn’t ask me. Fish and Wildlife documents state that elk can weigh at somewhere between 300 and 800 pounds. Let’s average that at 550 pounds each multiplied by those aforementioned 150 elk we’re swapping for fish with Missouri and you get 82,500 pounds of red meat being trucked to the Show-Me state. 

Now the Kentucky state record crappie is listed at 4 pounds, 14 ounces which is an extremely nice “slab” as crappie fishermen might say. For ease of math I’ll just use one pound per fish and assume we’ll be getting 82,500 crappie in exchange from Missouri.  Maybe we’re getting smaller, not fully grown fish that only weigh in at one half pound each which means we’ll be getting 165,000 swimmers. Heck, that’ll be 330,000 fillets someday. 

What a deal!  Don’t get me wrong I like crappie and fishing for them. They eat really good too but I’d prefer the elk and a better drawing system so those of us who’ve never been chosen can have the chance to hunt for them.

The following statement came directly from the Kentucky Tourism website:

“Did you know that Kentucky offers the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the entire lower 48 with more than 90,000 miles? It’s true. Kentucky is also the only state in the country to be bordered by rivers on three sides.”

That’s not even counting the farm ponds or the fish hatcheries already in place to raise our own crappie.

The elk permitting process issue is ongoing in Frankfort with Kentucky lawmakers asking lots of ethic related questions to the powers that be at the Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Apparently there has been a complaint placed before the Executive Branch Ethics Commission regarding the awarding of charitable elk hunting licenses. The Tourism Cabinet, which Fish and Wildlife is a part of, is looking into allegations that elk hunting permits for non-profits were handled incorrectly. Stay tuned and remember to try your luck for the 2011 elk lottery before the end of April.

I will give credit where credit is due.  The elk program has been an extremely lucrative success.  I just hope those in control don’t let it get out of hand and use this resource for greedy gain.   


Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting

The spring meeting for the Department’s Commissioners is scheduled for Friday, March 4, according the department’s website. No meeting time is listed but the information phone number is listed as 502-564-3400.  The meeting place is listed as Commission Room, Arnold Mitchell Building, 1 Sportsman’s Lane in Frankfort.  Pre-registration is not required unless you wish to be placed on the agenda or speak.


My February deer harvest

My 2011 deer season got off to an earlier and more expensive start than any I’ve ever had before.  I’ve included some details below.  Drive careful out there folks.


Date: Feb. 16

Time: 7:25 a.m.

Location: Highway 44 (In sight of my house)

Game: Whitetail deer (button buck)

Weather Conditions: Clear and cool

Weapon:  Ford 4x4 Explorer

Caliber:  2004

Hunting Partner: My lovely daughter Suzanne who has an incredibly high pitched     scream when a kamikaze deer suddenly attacks the left front quarter panel of your weapon with little to no warning.

2011 Lilly Deer Season Harvest Count to Date:  1



Gott got some fish

Lanny Gott of Gilbert’s Creek sent pictures and his son Tim sent the following account of their fishing trip last month.

“On Jan. 21 Lanny and Tim Gott, with Gary Westerfield, spent an incredible day on the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cudjoe Key, near Key West, Fla. Heading out around 8:30 a.m., we enjoyed sunny skies, 70 degrees, and 2 foot seas.  Within 30 minutes we were fishing 80 feet of water, catching King Mackerel, Cero Mackerel, Bonita, and a shark. To change the pace, we set out to deeper waters around 100 feet and caught a variety of fish including various snappers, small groupers, and a cobia. Later we fished a wreck in about 250 ft of water, where Gary caught the barricuda. We finished our day around 4:30 on a shallower flat in about 25 feet of water, catching yellow-tailed and mango snapper, grunts, and a mix of other small fish. All together we caught over 20 species of fish, keeping the legal keepers and releasing at least three times as many.  Probably around 80-90 fish total. A King Mackerel was one of the bigger fish caught as  well as a nice sized barracuda.”

Thanks for sharing your trip with us guys and let us know when you schedule the fish fry. 


Quick shots


* 2010-2011 hunting, trapping and fishing licenses expire after Feb. 28  New licenses are valid from March 1, 2011 until Feb. 29, 2012.


* Beast Feast at Sand Spring Baptist Church is Saturday, Feb. 26.


* Wilderness Trail Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation is Saturday, March 12.


* ”A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away  everything you have.” – Thomas Jefferson


Take a kid hunting or fishing soon.


See ya outside!