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Elk hunting and local businesses provide an economic boost for the mountains

Published: Oct. 4, 2020 at 9:52 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Since 1997, Eastern Kentucky has provided hunters the opportunity of a lifetime. Every season Mine Made Adventure Park and other places in the region become highly sought after destinations for elk hunters that were lucky enough to draw tags.

“This year we drawed 594 tags. There was over 90,000 applicants,” said Hurley Combs with Lost Mountain Outfitters.

“When I put in for the tag I really didn’t know the odds in kind of found out it was a one in 10,000 chance to draw the tag,” said Steve Albirtton, a hunter from Alabama.

“Mom entered me and my two brothers and my dad in the elk draw and lucky me got the draw,” said 19-year-old hunter Gabby Davis.

Elk hunting is a premier sport that is on many hunters' bucket list.

“They are beautiful animals. They got big trophies that come with them and everybody wants one,” said Davis.

Getting drawn for elk tags is only where the challenges start. Finding the elk, knowing how to hunt them, and doing so legally is almost just as challenging. That is where Lost Mountain Outfitters comes into play.

“We wanted to set the standard with hunting elk,” said Hurley Combs. “We take all the worry out. We take all the work out.”

Lost Mountain Outfitters is a Hazard based company that helps hunters by learning the elk of the area.

“Hurley made it easy. We walked in there and we called him out and I got him,” said Davis who dropped her bull on Saturday. “I was calm until I saw those antlers stick up above the trees and I was like oh Lord.”

Hunters from all over come to Mine Made Adventure Park every season for the opportunity.

“We’ve had hunters this year come as far south as Florida and as far west as Wisconsin," said Combs.

“This one is just kind of unique because I never thought there would be an elk hunting opportunity in the southeast or my area," said Albritton.

While Lost Mountain Outfitters has quite the draw, it’s the bigger picture Hurley Combs and Knott County Judge Executive Jeff Dodson are focused on.

“It’s not just hunting elk,” said Combs. "We’re bringing business not only did not county but every business between here and wherever the hunter is coming from. They are stopping at gas stations, renting hotel rooms. "

Hoping to grow the economy of mountain communities with what the region has.

“With these parts in Eastern Kentucky losing coal mining. The economy crashed and things changed you know at one point we had all of our eggs in one basket,” said Combs.

For more on elk hunting and Lost Mountain Outfitters, click here.

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