HAZARD, Ky (WYMT) - Hunting is big here in Eastern Kentucky but it could soon be costing you more to do it.
That is because the Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to increase the fees you pay for some licenses and permits.
Kentuckians could pay $70.00 more to hunt elk in the state and people from out-of-state could pay almost $200.00 extra.
The proposed changes would increase the cost of an elk permit for residents from $30.00 to $100.00.
For non-residents, the price would rise from $365.00 to $550.
Voncel Thacker represents the Department of Fish and Wildlife's seventh district.
He said this measure is a necessity.
"The economy, I mean, we basically have to go with the price of everything else," said Thacker.
That could spell trouble for Smith's Woods and Waters Store in Hazard.
Owner Barrett Smith said hunters bring a lot of money into his store, especially this time of year.
"This time of the year, that is my primary business is hunting," said Smith.
Store Manager Randall Howard agrees.
He said he is not excited about the possible increase but he understands why it is happening.
"They have to raise their prices of permits to offset the prices of the things that they do," said Howard.
Despite the possible fee increases, staff said people who like to hunt are going to continue doing it.
"The economy is bad and people do not have as much money as they did five years ago but they are still going to hunt and do their leisure activities," said Smith.
Thacker said part of that is thanks to what this area has to offer hunters.
"The way we look at our elk, we have got a great resource here for the state of Kentucky," said Thacker.
Alger Combs makes his living guiding hunters and he said possible fee hikes will not keep his clients away.
"People come here, they are wanting to kill elk. Most people do not have elk. They are willing to come in and spend the money," said Combs.
The rate hikes must be approved before becoming law.
Thacker said last year about 50,000 hunters registered for elk permits in Kentucky and only 1,000 were given out.