I wanted to share some thoughts from my Bull Elk Rifle Week 2 2019 hunt with everyone and perhaps those future drawing winners to possibly help them decide how to pursue their own KY elk hunt! I was so excited and fortunate to draw one of the 150 premium rifle tags for KY elk in 2019! Being from Western KY, and no real time to try and do it on my own with a busy work schedule, I called a few outfitters, and settled on one guide service based on their stellar success record over the years of taking some really big bulls! 300 class over the fireplace...line up the taxidermist!! Initial consulting deposit paid, with 5 choices for the "new" (KDFWR) 2nd round of drawing to select for a hunt unit. I entered my hunt areas, and received none that I had requested. I learned that I was in the 20% category for not getting any choices of a desired hunting unit. 80% reportedly received one of their top 5. I ended up being selected for unit 2. Most of my chosen Outfitter's hunting areas, however, were in Unit 4. After a phone conversation, he felt like he could still get me a bull, and I sent the deposit to secure my spot. One thing not appreciated by this WKY flat-lander was the time it takes to get from Hazard to Pineville!! I remember it being every bit of 1.5 hrs, so 3+ hours of driving each day. No lunch and a Nooner back at camp! We kicked back at a public shelter I found after lunch in Pineville each day for a couple hours before the afternoon hunt. We mostly hunted Asher hunt access area and the surrounding public land. I was even able to secure the regulated Buffalo Branch tract in Unit 2 in a secondary draw availability period, and we spent a good 1/2 day looking for sign and exploring it. No sign there per the guide. In 4 full days of hunting Asher and surrounding area, we never saw an elk. We saw a lot of free range cattle and horses. We saw elk sign (tracks/droppings) and some rubs - one major one! We heard a bull and tried to call him out of a deep hollow on the 2nd day (in Asher). Every other hunter we ran into was saying the same thing; no elk sightings. Hunters hearing other hunters bugle, and being tricked by that..was going on too. There was a really nice bull reportedly killed in Asher during week 1 rifle. My guide worked hard, and we spent a lot of time on a 4x4 trying to find elk. Ultimately, it was not what I expected. I actually had this fantasy that I might be done and headed home with a nice 6x6 by Sunday afternoon! That was the first real wake-up call...probably about Monday AM! We did not get to hunt Wednesday (last day) until late PM, as the guide had to go back to his regular job, having never been in this predicament where everyone had not killed out in bull elk rifle within 2-3 days. He said normally whoever at camp hadn't taken a bull, the guides teamed up to get the hunter tagged out 3rd or 4th day. The unavailability last day part was worked out with the Outfitter to my satisfaction. Out of ~11 hunters at camp, only 4 bulls were taken. Two were really nice (one ~320), and two for the freezer just to fill that tag! There were 2 additional misses on Bulls, and I believe one of the misses or partial miss was taken by another hunter the next day (per camp gossip) nearby. I believe we had hunters going to unit 4 (most), unit 5, unit 7 and me in unit 2. Apparently, week 1 hunters at this camp fared a little better, but overall, it was the worst rifle season the Outfitter had ever experienced. My lessons learned... 1.) It is not elk hunting circa 2009 or whenever the good 'ol days of KY elk hunting were. Not a "canned hunt", as I have heard it once described. Lots of reasons offered up as to why the elk are not there like they were 10 years ago. I know more informed info is available elsewhere, so I will not comment on that topic. 2.) If you are going to spend $$ on an outfitter, make sure they know the unit you get selected for and hopefully have private land access holding elk, or a really solid plan for public hunting land. Ask for a client list, and call them before you commit. Even the guide service we ran into that was probably the choice outfitter for Unit 2, was stomping around on Asher with the rest of us in week 2 rifle. I do believe, they (outfitter from Pineville maybe?) did guide the lucky hunter to the week 1 trophy bull in Asher mentioned earlier. The problem now seems to be that everyone scrambles to get a guide service after first being drawn, then may possibly end up in a unit the guide is really not familiar with after the 2nd hunt area drawing, so suggest be ready to change Outfitters once you get selected for a unit, if the Outfitter does not have a good solution, or, like in my case, the distance is also not reasonable to travel back and forth to each day. We were leaving 430AM, and not returning to camp til ~9PM each night. With the new system of 2nd drawing for a hunt area, ask your prospective guide what units they are confident in hunting. Do they have access to private land? What does it hold? It didn't effect me, but I saw later after the hunt that my Outfitter indicated that they had lost some hunting ground access prior to the season. 4.) With this experience now under my belt, if I'm ever drawn again...I think (?) I will forgo the Outfitter, and dedicate a few days in the summer to learn the area I've been selected for, take a 4x4, and try to find a "local guide" in the community that perhaps knows the whereabouts of a bull. During my hunt, we actually ran into a guy in a truck in Arjay who said he knew where a bull came out every day to a wallow. It was only like the 2nd day, and the guide didn't seem impressed, but looking back, had I been on my own, I would have gambled a day if someone had a line on a bull elk I could legally take. I now believe that disappointment in not scoring on a DIY hunt and a guided $$ hunt are two different things. I think it's an easier pill to swallow if you don't tag out and haven't forked over a lot of $$, but then, on the flip side, on a DIY, you might wonder if you had spent the $$ for a guide, would you have scored??!! One of the hunters at camp I met had worked a considerable amount of overtime to pay for his trip and he also ate tag soup! I felt for him, and the real sense of disappointment he felt in not being able to fill a prized tag, when you think you have a lock on it if you pay a quality Outfitter. I probably am not the first person to wish I could just be satisfied to play an occasional round of golf...instead of all of this nonsense!.. But it's just how we are wired..right? 5.) On a positive note, it was still FUN! My son was able to join me, and we have good memories of the time spent with the guide and people at camp. I still need to get a Bull one of these days though to finish the story....think my mind is headed West!!!