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New hunting access areas open in 6 East Kentucky counties


Agreements open thousands of acres for public hunting

FRANKFORT (Sept. 25, 2018) — Working with private landowners is one way the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources expands public hunting opportunities across the state.

Recently, the department reached Hunting Access Area agreements with RH Group and Elk Horn Coal Company, opening more than 35,000 acres in Floyd, Magoffin, Pike, McCreary, Letcher and Knott counties for public hunting this fall.

“We are excited to be able to add more acreage to our Hunting Access Area program,” said Steve Beam, Wildlife Division director for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “It is a high priority for the agency to work with landowners in southeast Kentucky to provide access to high-quality elk hunting land.

“An added bonus is these areas provide all kinds of other great hunting opportunities as well. Our efforts have paid off as we are now approaching a quarter-million acres open for hunting under Hunting Access and WMA agreements with private landowners. We also have another nearly 100,000 acres open for elk hunting under our voucher program. Our hunters are really utilizing these areas for some high-quality hunting experiences.”

Elk hunting on the new areas is regulated through the Voucher Cooperator Elk Permit Program. For all other species, the areas are open under statewide regulations.

The tracts comprising RH Group Hunting Access Area cover 15,014 acres in Floyd, Letcher, Magoffin, McCreary and Pike counties.

For elk hunters, RH Group Hunting Access Area falls within the boundaries of the Tug Fork Limited Entry Area (LEA), a portion of the Levisa Fork LEA and the At-Large Area. No bear hunting is allowed on the McCreary County tract of this hunting access area.

Elk Horn Coal Hunting Access Area encompasses 20,138 acres in Floyd, Knott, Letcher and Pike counties.

Both areas are comprised of reclaimed strip mine habitat of grasses and shrubs with timbered ridges and drainages throughout. The habitat should appeal to deer, bear and turkey hunters. Not to be overlooked is the small game opportunity.

“Reclaimed strip mines are excellent for rabbits and we often see decent numbers of quail on them, too,” said Joe McDermott, deer and elk program biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “I think it would be a good spot to hunt turkeys as well as deer, bear and elk. Scouting is obviously going to be key. A lot of times that terrain lends itself to being able to spot and stalk animals.”

Hunters on either area should exercise caution if active mining practices are underway and give large trucks the right of way.

Additional information, including detailed maps and area usage guidelines, for RH Group Hunting Access Area, Elk Horn Coal Hunting Access Area and all other Hunting Access Areas is available on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website at Click the “Maps” tab on the department’s homepage then click on the “Wildlife Management Areas/Public Hunting Areas” link.

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