The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) recently celebrated the first anniversary of the Voucher Cooperator Program. By all accounts, the Program has been a tremendous success. In its first year, the Voucher Program provided hunting opportunities to more than 100 elk hunters, and also awarded its first elk permit to a partner landowner.
“The goal of the Voucher Cooperator Program is to link private landowners with elk hunters,” says Joe McDermott, the KDFWR wildlife biologist in charge of the program. “Landowners who provide elk hunting access have the opportunity to earn an elk permit of their own, and sportsmen gain additional places to hunt. We really think this program offers some great benefits to everyone involved.”
Any landowner or lessee with at least 100 acres in the Kentucky elk zone can enroll their property into the Voucher Cooperator Program. After enrolling, landowners work with KDFWR biologists to determine how many elk hunters they can sustainably host on their property. McDermott notes that many landowners appreciate the program’s dedication to controlled access: “We realize that most folks don’t want to open their land for full public hunting access. The Voucher Cooperator Program allows the landowner to limit the number of hunters who visit their property each season, as well as the times during the season that hunters can access their property. We’re happy to work with each individual landowner to find the situation that works best for them.”
Landowners enrolled in the program receive points for each elk harvested on their property through the Voucher Cooperator Program. Harvested bulls count for 2 points and harvested cows count for 1 point. Once the landowner accumulates 20 points, they will receive a fully-transferrable, either-sex elk permit to be used on their property the following season. There is no limit to how long it takes a landowner to accrue 20 points, and any points past 20 will be applied to a future elk permit.
When asked what current landowners think of the program, McDermott said, “They really seem to enjoy it. They like taking an active role in managing the elk herd on their property, and love the ability to work toward a hunting opportunity of their own. KDFWR was pleased to issue the first Voucher Cooperator elk permit this season, and we look forward to partnering with more landowners over the next several years.”
The KDFWR Voucher Cooperator Program is currently accepting new partners. Landowners interested in more information can reach Joe McDermott at 1-800-858-1549 extension 4432, or firstname.lastname@example.org.