Friday, April 18, 2014 · 7:53 p.m.
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A bull elk bugles atop the Cumberland Plateau on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. TWRA allows four hunters to kill one bull elk each as the population continues to grow. (Photo: Richard Simms)

Four Tennessee hunters will be very happy Thursday around 3 p.m. EDT. Meanwhile, 5,813 hunters will be very sad. I'm betting I will be included in the latter group.

Thursday afternoon is when the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will announce the four recipients of this year's prized elk hunting permits. If you miss the announcement (which will be online), you should be able to check your status online by Friday morning.

The four winners of the 2012 elk hunt permits were selected in a random drawing to participate in this year’s hunt, which is Oct. 15-19 on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. If you're a loser, like I expect to be, take heart in the fact that your odds get better every year.

Daryl Ratajczak, TWRA's chief of wildlife, said a total of 5,817 applied for four permits available in the elk hunt quota drawing this year. In 2009, the very first elk hunt, nearly 13,000 applied. The number has been trending down steadily each year.

"The trend down isn't unexpected at all," Ratajczak said. "Of the 5,817 who applied, 591 were not sportsman or lifetime license holders [who can apply for free], which means they paid a $10, nonrefundable fee. That money goes directly to the elk management program, but $5,900 is just a small fraction of what the elk program costs us each year."

The fifth adult participant in the Oct. 15-19 hunt will get their permit from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation. State law allows TWRA to provide one permit to a nongovernmental organization (NGO) for fundraising purposes. This year, TWRF is that group. Their permit will be auctioned on eBay between July 19 and 29. Those proceeds are also designated for the TWRA elk management program.

For the first time this fall, TWRA also designated a special elk hunt for young sportsmen following the conclusion of the regular elk hunt, which will be held Oct. 20-21 with one young sportsman to be selected. Ratajczak said the recipient of that permit will be announced the first week of August in conjunction with the Land & Wildlife Expo to be held at Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

Ratajczak said the odds for the kids 13-16 is much better than the adults. He said only 293 applicants are eligible in the youth elk hunt drawing.

In other agenda items, the agency is proposing that the newly acquired land of 592 acres in Cannon County be proclaimed as Headwaters Wildlife Management Area. Also, an amendment to the wildlife management area proclamation will add hunting seasons to the new WMA.

Richard Simms is a contributing writer, focusing on outdoor sports.

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