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 Kentucky Afield Outdoors:
Hunters post Kentucky’s second-highest deer harvest on record
        FRANKFORT, Ky. – After two seasons of record harvests, Kentucky’s deer hunters kept the pace up this past season.
The 2014-15 season closed on Jan. 19 with 138,892 deer checked; the second highest total on record and third consecutive season with a harvest exceeding 130,000 deer.
“I’m happy,” said Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “There are a lot of deer on the landscape, and we’re seeing an uptick in license sales. We’re providing hunting opportunity and our hunters are able to be successful. As an agency, that’s what we want to do.”
A record 144,409 deer were taken during the 2013-14 season when a spotty acorn crop put deer on the move.
Acorns were plentiful across much of the state this time around. Recognizing this, many hunters likely shifted their focus from field edges to the timber and travel corridors instead.
A strong opening month and an unprecedented start to the modern gun deer season emerged as key drivers.
“The three seasons where we have had our three greatest harvests have featured big Novembers,” said David Yancy, deer biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “And there’s no question September has become more important or more interesting to hunters. I think hunters have gotten to where they like it and can’t wait to get out there.”
Hunters checked 5,928 deer in September, the third highest total on record for that month. Favorable weather across the state spurred a record harvest on opening weekend of modern gun deer season. 
Compared to the previous season, the modern gun harvest finished at 102,889, down less than 2 percent from the season before.
Archers bagged 18,368 deer and muzzleloader hunters 14,673. Crossbow hunters accounted for 2,962 of the harvest total.
Owen County again led the state. Hunters there checked 3,470 whitetails. Pendleton County was next with 3,305 followed by Crittenden County at 3,224, Christian County at 3,062 and Graves County at 2,964.
The majority of deer taken were male. Female deer accounted for 45.7 percent of the overall harvest.
Biologists estimated the statewide herd at 1 million deer entering this past season. Herd estimates are derived through computer modeling that takes into account harvest and age structure data.
Looking ahead, the prospects are promising for a strong 2015-16 season.
“We really had a more pronounced December and January rut,” Jenkins said. “Those late ruts are usually an indicator of herd health. I heard a lot of people talking about fawns cycling in January. That’s strictly related to health; the fact that they’re good, fat and capable of doing that. More than likely, they will have a fawn, and that equates to more fawns on the landscape this spring which equates to more hunting opportunity next season.”
The Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide annually features a list of trophy bucks harvested the previous season that met qualifications for entry into the Boone and Crockett Club’s record books. A buck must net score 160 or higher typical or 185 or higher non-typical, as determined by the Boone and Crockett scoring system.
Hunters who want their trophy included in the list should send a non-returnable photo, copies of the completed and signed score sheets, and include the county in which the deer was taken and the equipment used to harvest the deer to: Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, #1 Sportsman’s Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601 by May 1, 2015. The same information may also be submitted electronically by emailing info.center@ky.gov.
“Our Boone and Crockett submission numbers have been high over the past five years,” Jenkins said. “That’s a good indicator of health and herd quality.”
Author Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kelly and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.

Public meeting on proposed deer zone change in Breckinridge County set for Jan. 28
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Officials with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are inviting the public to attend an informational meeting about a proposed deer hunting zone change for next season in Breckinridge County. 
The meeting is set for 8 p.m. Eastern time/7 p.m. Central time Jan. 28 at the Breckinridge County Extension Office’s Community Building, 1377 South KY 261, Hardinsburg.
Following Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease outbreaks in 2007 and 2010, Breckinridge County was changed to a Zone 3. It previously had been a Zone 2. With the deer herd recovering, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission recently voted to change Breckinridge County back to its original Zone 2 designation for the 2015-16 season.
The Zone 2 status offers a 16-day modern gun deer season compared to 10 days in Zones 3 and 4.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials are holding the public meeting to present the latest information about deer population numbers in the county, explain the zone change recommendation and hear public input about the zone change recommendation.

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:
Late muzzleloader deer season opens Saturday
Dec. 11, 2014                                               Contact: Kevin Kelly
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           1-800-858-1549, ext. 4414
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Hunters do not have to wait until next fall to harvest a deer with a firearm in Kentucky.
The late muzzleloader season opens statewide on Saturday, Dec. 13.  Even before this opening day, the ongoing deer season already rates as one of the state’s top three on record based on overall harvest numbers.
Wildlife biologists were bracing for a potential decrease in the harvest this season after consecutive record harvests and with oak trees so laden with acorns this fall. However, the combination of favorable weather during key timeframes and an uptick in hunter participation turned tempered expectations bullish as the season has worn on.
"We've had a great season," said Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "It's surprised me, but I think it's also indicative of the effectiveness of our deer management zone structure.”
The modern gun deer season drove a November harvest of 104,679 that fell just shy of last year's record for the month. December offers the possibility of more quality hunting. Hunters took nearly 13,000 deer last December.
The abundance of acorns on the landscape this fall could translate into increased breeding activity this month as does (female deer) and half-year old fawns that weren’t ready to be bred last month come into estrus, Jenkins said.
“Chances are good that we could see a really nice peak in breeding and some more activity in December and January,” he said.
Black powder firearm hunters took more than 6,100 deer during the early muzzleloader weekend this past October.
The late muzzleloader season opening Saturday closes on Sunday, Dec. 21. Hunters in Zones 1, 2 and 3 counties may take either sex deer throughout the season. Counties classified as Zone 1 offer hunters a good opportunity to harvest an unlimited number of female deer. Those are counties where the department is trying to get a reduction in the deer herd. Hunters must have the appropriate additional deer permits to take advantage of that opportunity. In a Zone 4 county, black powder firearm hunters may only take antlered deer from Dec. 13-18 and then either sex from Dec. 19-21.
Locating high-carb food sources is critical late in the season.
"Find the food. Find the deer," said Derek Beard, Bluegrass Region wildlife coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Beard and Jenkins suggest keying on the corners of agricultural fields, winter wheat fields or areas thick with red oak acorns. White oak acorns have either been consumed or have germinated by this point in the season, Jenkins said.
Set the alarm clock later and hunt the warmest part of the day. Seek out a sunny spot or one that provides deer some protection from the elements, like a briar thicket or a recently-logged area.
“If it’s good and cold, they’ll move throughout the day,” Jenkins said. “If it’s really cold, you might consider hunting close to a bedding area.”
Resist the urge to set up on top of that bedding area or food source in those instances. Instead, pick a spot between the two that allows deer to be intercepted en route to one spot or the other, Beard said.
“It’s a chess game,” he said. “There may only be a 10-minute window where they may be coming through.”
Driven by the strong November, the statewide deer harvest total stood at more than 126,000, as of Thursday, Dec. 11. With the late muzzleloader season on deck, and the crossbow and archery seasons ongoing, Jenkins expects the harvest number to climb past the 2012-13 season for second highest on record behind last season’s benchmark of 144,409.
“We’re not overharvesting,” Jenkins said. “Our age structure is still good. If we were overharvesting, we would see an increased number of fawns and yearlings in our harvest and we wouldn’t shoot as many quality deer. We’re still shooting those and our numbers are holding tight and even increasing some.”
Black powder hunters are reminded to wear hunter orange and to always obtain landowner permission before hunting private property. For additional information about the upcoming late muzzleloader deer season and other hunting opportunities available across the state, visit Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s website at fw.ky.gov.
Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kevin and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.

Hunters prohibited from bringing carcasses of deer killed in Ohio into Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Hunters will no longer be able to bring the whole carcass of a deer killed in Ohio into Kentucky.
Researchers recently confirmed that a deer held in a northeastern Ohio captive hunting reserve tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).
CWD is a contagious and fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and other cervids native to North America. Currently, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans. 
Chronic wasting disease has been previously detected in other neighboring states including Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia and Virginia. Ohio joins 19 other states and two Canadian provinces where this disease has been found.
Kentucky, which does not have the disease in its animals, prohibits the importation of whole carcasses or high-risk cervid parts such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, lymphoid tissue from deer or elk killed in CWD–infected states and provinces.
Hunters may bring back deboned meat, hindquarters, antlers attached to a clean skull plate, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides and finished taxidermy products. To help prevent the entry of CWD into the state, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources discourages hunters from bringing back high-risk parts of deer or elk taken in any state, regardless of CWD status.
Several proactive steps have been taken by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and captive cervid owners to prevent the introduction of the disease into the state. 
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife monitors wild deer and elk herds while the Kentucky Department of Agriculture monitors the captive herds. Since 2002, Kentucky has tested more than 23,000 deer and elk for the presence of the disease. All results have been negative.
Regulations enacted to reduce the likelihood of CWD in Kentucky have included a ban on importation of live cervids from CWD-positive states, mandatory CWD monitoring of captive herds and prohibiting the importation of high-risk carcass parts from CWD-positive states into Kentucky.
This disease can persist in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil or vegetation or through contact with infected cervid parts. The movement of live animals, either through the captive deer trade or natural migration, is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky’s modern gun deer season opens statewide on Nov. 8. When it does, Gabe Jenkins will have been in his new role as the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ deer and elk program coordinator for a little more than a month.
“It’s been exciting,” he said.
An avid hunter, Jenkins grew up on a farm in the small southeast Ohio village of Rutland. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Kentucky University, he was hired by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife in 2007 to work in the deer and elk program.
“All of my predecessors have done a fantastic job and I’m here to continue that course,” he said.
Jenkins, 30, recently sat down for an interview at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters in Frankfort. The following are excerpts from that interview.
What are the duties and responsibilities of the deer and elk program coordinator?
Jenkins: “The deer and elk coordinator conducts statewide management for white-tailed deer and elk. I oversee and conduct biological research, surveys and inventory work on both species. I work with our program’s deer and elk biologists and others at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to make recommendations for the promulgation of regulations that address problem issues associated with deer and elk. It’s my goal to manage the deer and elk herds in the state to provide ample hunting opportunity, yet strike a balance between hunters and non-hunters alike.
How would you sum up the deer season so far, and what are your expectations for the remainder of it?
Jenkins: “Our September harvest has been increasing and we have been breaking our September harvest record every year. Unfortunately, we didn’t break it this year. October’s harvest is right in the middle when comparing it to previous years. Our youth firearms season was good considering the less than ideal weather. It was our second-highest harvest in the past eight years. The early muzzleloader hunt is very weather dependent. The weather was decent across the state and our harvest was average this year.
“We’re coming off of two record harvest years. We have made a dent in some of the deer numbers. I look for our harvest to be down to where it had been prior to 2012 and 2013.”
What is your assessment of the state’s deer herd, estimated to number about 1 million going into this season?
Jenkins: “We stopped stocking deer in 1999. That’s not all that long ago. We have places where the numbers are good. We have places where the numbers are too high. And we have places where we need to grow the herd a little more. Especially in the southeastern part of the state; how can we get that needle to move a little to get a few more deer in that area? I think our hunters would appreciate that. The habitat can’t support a huge increase but I would like to see it bump up some. That’s definitely an interest of mine.”
Can you foresee any potential adjustments to the zone strategy down the road?
Jenkins: “One thing that I definitely want to open up is a dialogue with our hunters. We need to have some discussions about ways to better manage our doe herd in Zone 1 counties, and how we can get hunters to be better managers of our resources in those counties. They are tasked to manage the resource. We could do a better job of management in many places in Zone 1. So how can we encourage, or make it better, for more hunters to take more does? The population needs to come down a little bit. We’re planning to go on the road and talk with our hunters about ways to deal with deer numbers in Zone 1 counties. We’re going to meet with the public and run some surveys. We hope to take what we learn from our discussions and come up with a new strategy to harvest more deer in Zone 1, specifically female deer.”
You’re a biologist but also an experienced hunter. What do enjoy most about hunting?
Jenkins: “I enjoy going after something new. It could be a new species. It could be a new place. I love to climb up in a tree and shoot a deer, but maybe I want to shoot one with a crossbow this year or go to Colorado and shoot an elk with my bow or tackle turkeys with my bow or a fall turkey with a shotgun. My favorite thing to hunt is whatever’s in season. I might try new tactics, a new place, a new style, but I love to hunt. I’m not one that prefers one weapon over the other. I’ve got a bow. I’ve got a crossbow. I’ve got a shotgun, a muzzleloader, a rifle. I value each one of them. You learn something different and new each time you’re out there.”
Kentucky hunters took a record 144,409 deer during the 2013-14 season, and modern gun season accounted for 72 percent of that harvest total.
This year, modern gun season for deer opens Nov. 8 and continues through Nov. 17 or Nov. 23, depending on the zone. Hunters are reminded to purchase the appropriate licenses and permits and encouraged to review the 2014-15 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide – recently updated online atfw.ky.gov – before going into the field.
Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kevin and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.



Black powder rifles, and bows and arrows. These are the weapons of choice during the week-long primitive weapons deer hunting season beginning Saturday, Oct. 11. Over 48,000 hunters participated in last year’s primitive weapons season, bringing in over 11,000 deer with black powder rifles.


“The primitive weapons deer season provides hunters an opportunity to be one of the first ones in the woods with a firearm, and currently, we encourage hunters to seek out oak trees in particular, as Georgia’s acorn crop looks quite good and will draw deer close to these areas,” said John W. Bowers, chief of the Game Management Section. “We also want hunters to go ahead and check out the newly updated rut map available on our website, it is a great tool for helping plan your hunting season.”


During the primitive weapons season, hunters may use archery equipment, muzzleloading shotguns (20 gauge and larger) and muzzleloading firearms (.44 caliber or larger). Youth under 16 years of age, however, may hunt deer with any legal deer firearm, including during any wildlife management area primitive weapons hunts.




Kentucky Afield Outdoors:
Scouting for a successful deer hunt
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Work, family and school commitments can leave little free time in a day, but hunters can help themselves by carving out some time to scout an area.
Kentucky’s archery season for deer is underway with the crossbow, youth-only firearm, muzzleloader and modern gun deer seasons still to come. So there’s time to find a place to hunt and scout it.
“I think it increases your odds of success and your chances for a big deer,” said Chad Miles, an avid deer hunter and executive director of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Studying topographical maps and satellite imagery is a good first step to learning the lay of the land and scouting more efficiently.  But there’s no substitute for personal experience; walking the terrain; seeing where the deer bed, what’s available for them to eat and what routes they travel.
“If you can spend enough time at the property, know how deer move through it,” said David Yancy, deer biologist with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Where are the chokepoints? Know the creek drainage pattern. The low spot on the ridgeline? That’s where they’re going to cross because it’s less effort. Those kinds of things are important during gun season.”
Miles prefers scouting around midday and no closer than two weeks before he plans to hunt. Any later risks spooking the deer. To limit human scent left behind, wear rubber boots and be mindful about touching or handling tree branches and leaves. Some may prefer to wear scent control clothing or spray.
Tracks, droppings and hair caught on fencing are tell-tale signs deer are in the area. Rub lines and scrapes are additional clues that show up as deer transition from their summer pattern. Deer become less visible in open spaces as acorns begin to hit the ground and the rut approaches. After the rut, available food sources and cover become all-important.
“If you’re not hunting big, timbered areas, you’re looking for bottleneck areas where you’ve got thickets near fence lines that connect forage areas,” Miles said. “Big deer are going to do their absolute best to remain out of sight as much as they can until the rut makes them crazy. They’re going to slip through those little areas where they’re going to be visible the least amount of time. I’m looking for those types of areas if I’m scouting for gun season.”
A handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) is a handy tool that can help a hunter keep track of these key spots and potential tree stand locations.
When considering a stand location, note the wind direction. This is easily accomplished with wind direction powder or by simply crumbling a dried leaf and tossing it into the air. Checking the weather online the day of a hunt can help determine where to set up.
“The quicker you can get to that stand and get your scent off the ground and create as little disturbance as possible, the best chance you’re going to be successful going after that big deer,” Miles said.
On wildlife management areas and Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, hunters may use a portable stand or climbing device as long as it does not injure a tree. Nails, spikes, screw-in devices, wire or tree climbers cannot be used to attach a tree stand or climb a tree. Portable stands may not be placed in a tree more than two weeks before opening day and must be removed within a week after the last day of each hunting period. The hunter’s name and address should be clearly marked on the portable stand.
Archery season for deer in Kentucky continues through Jan. 19, 2015. Hunters set September harvest records in each of the past three seasons and the numbers indicate this season is off to another strong start. Archers reported taking more than 3,100 deer as of Sept. 18 with antlered deer making up roughly one third of the harvest total.
Scouting after the season can help a hunter get a leg up on the following year, but it’s important to be mindful of season dates. If scouting during the modern gun, muzzleloader and youth firearm deer seasons, or a firearm elk or firearm bear season, wearing hunter orange is highly recommended.
The crossbow deer seasons are Oct. 1-19 and Nov. 8-Dec. 31, while the youth-only firearms season for deer is Oct. 11-12. Muzzleloader season is Oct. 18-19 and Dec. 13-21. Statewide modern gun deer season opens Nov. 8 and continues through Nov. 17 or Nov. 23, depending on the zone.
For more information about fall hunting opportunities in Kentucky, consult the 2014-15 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. It is available online at fw.ky.gov or wherever licenses are sold.
Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kevin and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:
Archery deer, wild turkey seasons on deck
Sept. 4, 2014                                               Contact: Kevin Kelly
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           1-800-858-1549, ext. 4414
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The days are growing shorter and cooler temperatures are starting to show up in extended forecasts.
The transition to fall is underway.
For Kentucky hunters, it started weeks ago with the opening of early fall squirrel season. Labor Day ushered in the start of dove season, and the onrush of hunting opportunities continues this weekend.
Archery deer and wild turkey seasons open statewide on Sat., Sept. 6 and run through Jan. 19, 2015.
The past two deer seasons produced new overall harvest records in Kentucky, and bowhunters helped set the pace for both. September saw record deer harvests the past three seasons.
“Given good weather conditions we’re on track for a similar season,” said Karen Waldrop, deputy commissioner with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
The deer herd remains in fine shape after a 2013-14 season that saw hunters harvest a record 144,409 animals, and conditions have been favorable for fawn survival.
“I still think if hunters want to get a deer they can get one,” said David Yancy, deer biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Turkeys provide another fall hunting opportunity.
A good year of poult production could mean more young turkeys available to hunters, and should lead to improved hunting next spring.
“Hopefully that increase in production will in turn help boost our fall harvest this year,” said Steven Dobey, wild turkey biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Two variables – the weather and the mast crop - could have big impacts.
Biologists wrapped up their annual mast survey this week and preliminary reports indicate red and white oaks will be better than last year. Hickory nut production appears spotty while American beech nut production generally seems to be poor around the state.
“It looks like we’re going to have an excellent crop of red oak acorns this year,” said Ben Robinson, small game biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “White oaks look to be good as well, but not to the level of red oaks.”
Red and white oak acorns are valued as food sources by deer, turkey and other forest animals.
If this turns out to be a good year for white oaks, key on those because deer prefer them over the bitterer red oak acorns, Yancy said. One way to distinguish a red oak from a white oak is by looking at its leaves. Red oak leaves have pointed lobes while white oaks have rounded lobes.
“You need to be doing the legwork to figure out what the deer are using,” Yancy said. “Where are the acorn-bearing oaks?”
Wild turkeys aren’t as finicky about hard mast, Dobey said, but they will concentrate around acorn-bearing oaks.
“To improve your success in the fall go out and do some preseason or in-season scouting to identify where the natural foods are,” he said. “If the turkeys are there, position yourself in the landscape to try to intersect those birds as they’re moving from roosting to feeding areas.”
Last season’s fall turkey harvest was down 39 percent, a drop attributed to extensive rainfall during major hunting timeframes. The two shotgun seasons have accounted for 77 percent of the entire fall turkey harvest over the past decade, Dobey said.
“In years where we have really abundant mast production, our deer and turkey harvests typically decline,” he said. “That’s because they don’t have to wander. When they wander, they encounter hunters. If there’s really good acorn production, head to the woods and find the food there. In doing so, hunters can increase their success in years of above average acorn production.”
For more information about the deer and fall turkey seasons, including legal equipment and bag limits, consult the 2014-15 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. It is available online at fw.ky.gov or wherever licenses are sold.
Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kevin and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.

Hunters post another record deer harvest in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A year after establishing an overall deer harvest record, Kentucky hunters did it again.

The 2013-14 deer season in Kentucky ended Jan. 20 with a total harvest of 144,404 animals. That represents a gain of more than 9 percent over the previous record set during the 2012-13 season.

“This year we were ahead of the curve,” said David Yancy, deer biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Hunters harvested more deer in September than they ever had, the October youth weekend was the best it had been since 2008, there was a slightly better than average muzzleloader season and then modern gun season was way better than it normally is. It sort of held throughout.”

A spotty crop of acorns and other hard mast across Kentucky had deer on the move, and made them more vulnerable to hunters.

An increase of about 9,000 deer permits sold – about one third of those coming through youth sportsman’s licenses – also meant there were more hunters in the field.

“The poor acorn crop was a major factor in getting those deer out into the open and into the harvested corn fields and the food plots,” said Tina Brunjes, deer program coordinator with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “The weather during the modern gun season and during the muzzleloader season was not as wonderful as it was last season, but we didn’t have any epic ice storms or some sort of huge flood. Hunters were able to get out.”

Harvest totals for firearms, archery, muzzleloading and crossbow were up across the board. A record 104,619 deer were taken by firearms hunters. Archery hunters harvested 20,833 whitetails while muzzleloader hunters bagged 15,641 deer and crossbow hunters reported taking 3,311 deer.

Male deer accounted for nearly 54 percent of the deer harvested. Out of the 77,719 male deer taken, 9,962 were antlerless, according to telecheck data.

Three of the top five counties in terms of estimated deer densities produced the top harvest totals. Hunters in Owen County took 4,069 whitetails to lead the state followed by Pendleton County with 3,464 and Crittenden County with 3,033.

Kentucky’s deer herd was estimated at approximately 900,000 prior to the season. Herd estimates are derived through computer modeling that takes into account harvest and age structure data.

Brunjes tempered her expectations for this past season, thinking it might be average compared to the record harvest of 131,395 deer posted in 2012-13. 

“We ended up with a huge, record-breaking year,” she said.

After a second record harvest in as many seasons, deer are looking at a landscape that has more to offer, Brunjes said.

“The potential is there for the does that make it through this cold winter to have really high fawning success, and those bucks that make it through this cold winter, they’re going to be the best of the best,” she said. “If we can get a good spring, we might not see the numbers next year, but we’ll see a lot of quality deer out there.”

Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources News

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The new year already is shaping up to be a busy one at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

The department’s Fisheries Division is working to jumpstart fish populations in Lake Cumberland and its tailwater in anticipation of the lake returning to its normal level in 2014, following a dam repair project which began in 2007. The division also is investing significant resources to add more fish cover to the state’s best muskie lake.

At the Wildlife Division, a new deer study launches this year along with continued research to bolster the state’s bobwhite populations. Here’s a look at what’s ahead for 2014.

Deer study 

Department biologists are partnering with two University of Kentucky graduate students to determine why the deer population lags in parts of southeastern Kentucky.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “This is the first deer research we’ve done in the eight years I’ve been here.”

Researchers will fit 60 female deer in Clay County with radio transmitters then release the does back to the woods. The transmitters will enable researchers to track each deer’s movement and determine if it has given birth. Fawns produced by the does will be caught this spring and receive their own radio tracking collars. Researchers will monitor their movement for up to a year.

In previous years, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has reduced the number of deer that hunters can take in southeastern Kentucky in an effort to grow the herd.

“What we’re trying to do is figure out why these deer herds are not responding to reduced harvests,” Brunjes said. “Right now the very popular thing to blame is coyotes. Another big one is poaching. Biologists tend to look at habitat issues: is there enough food? Is there enough cover? Do they have everything they need? We’re not sure which one of these elements or what combination of elements is causing these deer herds to remain very low and stressed.”

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission proposes 2014-2015 deer season dates and modifications for deer hunting on select WMAs


            FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission at its quarterly meeting Dec. 6 proposed the dates of the 2014-2015 deer seasons. Commission members also voted to modify deer hunting regulations on select wildlife management areas (WMAs) along with changes to the furbearer trapping season.

The commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly and approves all expenditures by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. All recommendations must be approved by legislators before they become law.

2014-2015 deer season dates

All zones:

Archery: Sept. 6, 2014 – Jan. 19, 2015, either sex

Crossbow: Oct. 1 – Oct. 19; Nov. 8 – Dec. 31, 2014, either sex

Early Youth Weekend: Oct. 11 – 12, 2014, either sex

Early Muzzleloader: Oct. 18 – 19, 2014, either sex

Modern Firearms:

            Zones 1 and 2: Nov. 8 – Nov. 23, 2014, either sex

            Zones 3 and 4: Nov. 8 – Nov. 17, 2014, either sex

Late Muzzleloader: statewide: Dec. 13 – Dec. 21, 2014

            Zone 4: Dec. 13 – Dec. 18, 2014, antlered only

                           Dec. 19 – Dec. 21, 2014, either sex

Late Youth Weekend: Dec. 27 – 28, 2014, either sex

Bag limits remain the same as last season.

In other deer-related business, the commission recommended changing Menifee County from Zone 3 to Zone 4. They also proposed several changes to deer hunting on select wildlife management areas (WMAs). These changes will not affect the current hunting seasons, but will be effective for the 2014-2015 deer seasons:

·        Open J.C. Williams WMA in Nelson County and Lloyd WMA in Grant County under statewide regulations for youth firearms season.

·        Institute a quota firearms hunt for the first weekend in December on Dewey Lake WMA in Floyd County.

·        The 15-inch outside spread antler restriction will be removed from Yellowbank WMA in Breckinridge County.

·        On Beaver Creek WMA in McCreary and Pulaski counties, the modern gun quota hunt will be for antlered deer.

·        On Paul Van Booven WMA in Breathitt County, the 15-inch outside spread antler restriction will be removed along with modern gun hunting. The area will remain open under statewide regulations for archery and crossbow hunting, but is closed to all firearms hunting for deer.

·        Move the quota hunt to the first weekend in November on Big Rivers WMA in Union and Crittenden counties.

In furbearer-related business, the commission recommended prohibiting night hunting of coyotes on all lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, including Kentucky Fish and Wildlife-managed WMAs contained within the boundaries of these properties.

In fisheries-related business, anglers fishing on a sport fishing license may keep one blue and flathead catfish more than 35 inches long and one channel catfish more than 28 inches long on the Ohio River with no daily creel limit on fish under those limits. Anglers fishing on a sport fishing license may give Asian carp to commercial anglers to sell, but sport fishing anglers may not accept payment for the fish.

      The next Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern), Friday, March 7, 2014, at 1 Sportsman’s Lane off U.S. 60 in Frankfort. Persons interested in addressing the commission must notify the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commissioner’s office in writing at least 30 days in advance of the committee meetings Feb. 1, 2014 to be considered for placement on the commission meeting agenda. People who are hearing-impaired and plan to attend the meeting should contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at least 10 days in advance and the agency will provide a translator. To request to address the commission, write to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, 1 Sportsman’s Lane, Frankfort, Kentucky, 40601.

 New harvest record set for modern gun season; potential for new record overall deer harvest


FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky deer hunters set a harvest record of 101,076 deer during the 16-day modern gun deer season that concluded Nov. 24. Kentucky is on pace to set another overall deer harvest record.

“As of Nov. 25, we are at 127,551 for our total season harvest according to telecheck, less than 4,000 from the record,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We had the second highest opening day harvest for modern gun deer season and the highest closing weekend on record.”

The overall deer harvest record occurred last season, when Kentucky hunters harvested 131,395 deer. Brunjes explained that a below average harvest for the upcoming late muzzleloader season that runs from Dec. 14 through Dec. 22 would likely still put this season as the best ever for harvest.

“Given that an average late muzzleloader season is 7,000 to 8,000 deer harvested, barring an ice storm or major snow that keeps people from getting out and hunting, we should surpass the overall harvest record,” she said.

A spotty mast crop that makes deer move around, favorable weather and dedicated hunters all combined to account for the excellent harvest so far this deer season.

“The data shows that more Kentucky hunters who go afield are successfully taking deer,” Brunjes said. “In addition, lots of people from what I’ve seen are taking some nice bucks this year.”

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Archery hunting for deer begins Sept. 7




Frankfort, KY. - Kentucky's 2013-14 deer season opens on Saturday, Sept. 7, the first day of the 136-day archery season. The season continues through Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.

    For the past three seasons, record harvests have been posted for the month of September: 5,577 deer in 2012, 4,945 in 2011 and 4,407 in 2010.

    "Even though weather conditions aren't always ideal in September, there are some advantages to early season hunting, said Tina Brunjes, deer program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

    Most deer, even mature bucks, are still in their summer pattern when bow season opens. They are more visible during daylight hours than later in the season and their daily movements are more predictable. Deer frequent crop fields and weedy pastures in the late afternoons, especially when the rising moon is high in the sky at dusk. In September, these quarter moon periods fall on the 12th and 26th of the month.

    The current statewide population estimate for Kentucky's deer herd is about 750,000, before fawning, with a stable to slightly decreasing trend. "Hunters who are monitoring trail cameras or spending time observing deer in the afternoons realize it has been a good year for deer reproduction and survival, said Brunjes. Heavy rains in the spring and early summer created lots of food and escape cover for deer.

    The outlook for deer season is excellent, but ultimately the weather during modern gun season in November has the biggest impact on overall harvest.

    Last season's deer harvest was the highest on record. Deer hunters reported taking 131,395 deer, a 9.8 percent increase from the 2011-2012 season. "A higher percentage of our hunters were successful, said Brunjes. "The record harvest was opportunity driven. They saw deer and they took them.

    The 2012-13 harvest included 42 reported entries, 31 typical and 11 non-typical, into the Boone & Crockett Club record book. These record deer came from 35 of Kentucky's 120 counties.

    After each season, deer managers calculate a population estimate for every county by in-putting harvest and age structure data into a computer population model.

    Counties are assigned a zone status which affects season lengths and bag limits. Kentucky is divided into four deer management zones.

    The management strategy for Zone 1 is herd reduction. For Zone 2 and 3 counties, herd maintenance is the goal. Increasing the herd is the aim for Zone 4 counties. This season there were no changes in the zone status for any of Kentucky's 120 counties.

    "We're where we want to be in most counties, said Brunjes. "There were no changes in the regulations this season because we're happy with having a high percentage of older bucks and about 50 percent of does in the harvest.

    Overall age structure of the harvest indicates that the majority of hunters are recognizing and passing up male fawns. Most antlered bucks taken in the 2012-2013 season were 2 1/2  years old or older. The female harvest was also primarily comprised of adults, rather than fawns or yearlings.

    In the past decade, the Zone 1 counties in northern Kentucky have experienced the most herd growth. "Populations took off in the late 1990s and have remained high, said Brunjes.

    Hunters who would like to donate venison should visit the Kentucky Hunters For the Hungry website at www.huntersforhungry.org for the list 57 processors who are accepting deer.

    "This is our 13th season of providing nutritious venison to needy Kentucky families, said Ivan Schell, KHFH Executive Director. "The 70,000 pounds of venison processed annually provides about 500,000 meals.

    KHFH pays for the processing and hunters who donate a deer receive a car sticker confirming their "doe-nation.

    Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.

    (Editors: Please email Lee.McClellan@ky.gov for photos).

Media Contact: Art Lander Jr 1-800-858-1549, ext. 4414

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Plant winter wheat this fall for wildlife




Frankfort, KY. - The heat of summer is a good time to begin thinking about fall plantings to benefit wildlife.

    Winter wheat is a top choice for a fall crop because it is readily eaten by deer and wild turkey and is an excellent nurse crop for clover. Winter wheat is typically planted Aug. 15 through Oct. 31.

    Broadcast wheat seed with a hand-crank spreader and rake or disk it under.

    "I recommend planting clover at the same time you plant the wheat," said Joe Lacefield, a private lands wildlife biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "The clover will take root over the winter and come on the next spring as the wheat starts to die back."

    In tobacco country, winter wheat has been the cover crop of choice to the benefit of wildlife. High in protein and easily digestible, winter wheat provides high quality green forage which is especially attractive in the late season.

    Lacefield said one way to prepare a site is to mow, then apply herbicide when the re-growth starts.

    "After the weeds have died back, then till the area before planting," said Lacefield. "Ideally, you want to time the planting of your winter wheat and clover seed in anticipation of rain."

    Another site preparation option is tilling or mechanical cultivation whenever the plot is dry over a period of time leading up to planting. Tilling uproots grass and weeds and loosens the soil.

    Plots should be located on a level spot with decent soil fertility and full sun a majority of the day.

    Winter wheat grows best when the soil has a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. Use a soil test to measure the nutrient levels of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) as well as the acidity of the soil. Soil test kits are available at most farm stores. Follow directions carefully.

    If fertilizer needs to be added to your plot, consider using 10-10-10, a formulation commonly available in 50-pound bags. Both fertilizer and agricultural lime are available in pellet form, for easy application with a hand-crank spreader. Lime improves water penetration and the uptake of nutrients of plants growing in acidic soils. Don't skimp on the amount of lime that is recommended. Low pH is usually an issue with soils in Kentucky.

    Two excellent plot locations are the edge of a field or an existing woods opening that deer or turkey are already using. Your tree stand or ground blind should be within easy shooting range and downwind of the plot.

    Lacefield suggests planting Ladino or white clover in shaded, woodland openings. Red clover seems to do better in open fields with full sun, growing well on the warm weather days in September and October. Red clover grows taller than white clover and is less impacted by weeds, but all stands of clover need periodic mowing to thrive.

    This perennial cool-season legume helps increases soil fertility and provides an almost year-round source of high quality forage for wildlife. An established plot of clover starts growing in the early spring and lasts until it is killed back by the heaviest frosts of late fall.

    Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.

National magazine names Kentucky as top destination for trophy deer




Frankfort, KY. - Outdoor Life magazine has named Kentucky as the nation's top destination for trophy deer hunting.

    The national hunting and fishing magazine based its rankings on trophy deer production, hunter density, fees and how hunter friendly the laws and regulations were in each state.

    "The trophy deer hunting possibilities in Kentucky aren't a secret anymore," said Dr. Jon Gassett, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "Last year, we sold deer permits to residents from every state in the country. The word is out that hunting in Kentucky is just that good."

    Outdoor Life Editor Andrew McKean noted the magazine looked beyond just the numbers of trophy deer harvested. "When you're considering investing the time and money it can often take to go on a trophy hunt, it's important to consider all the factors to get the most accurate picture - which is what we've done," he said.

    Still, Kentucky has recorded some impressive numbers of trophy deer in the past several years. In the 2011-12 season, for example, hunters took 77 Boone and Crockett Club eligible bucks. The department is still receiving scores from the 2012-13 season.

    There are multiple reasons Kentucky's deer herd has such high quality: The state provides habitat guidance to landowners through its network of private lands wildlife biologists. Kentucky allows Sunday hunting and has extended seasons for deer, including a 136-day archery season this year.

    Kentucky's one-buck rule also plays a major role in the state's trophy deer production. Before this rule, 80 percent of the bucks taken in Kentucky were just 1 1/2 years old - too young to grow into trophy class. However, since the state phased in its one-buck limit from 1989-1991, the number of young bucks being taken by hunters in Kentucky dropped to nearly 40 percent. With age comes larger antler size.

    "If you look at the numbers, you'll see that hunters have taken trophy bucks in 116 of Kentucky's 120 counties," Gassett said. "If you do your homework and hunt hard, you just might take a trophy buck anywhere in the state."

    To read more about the magazine's rankings, go online to:outdoorlife.com/whitetailscale.

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Record harvest for 2012-13 deer season in Kentucky




Frankfort, KY. - Kentucky deer hunters will have lots of ground venison for chili this winter, roasts to bake with onions, celery and vegetables and back strap chops to grill during the summer.

    That's because a record deer harvest was posted for the 2012-13 deer season, which ended with the close of archery season on Jan. 21.

    Hunters bagged 131,388 whitetails of which 56 percent were male and 44 percent female. Firearms hunters reported taking 95,612 deer while archers harvested 18,705 deer. Muzzleloader hunters took 14,583 deer and crossbow hunters, 2,488 deer.

    The previous record harvest of 124,752 occurred during the 2004-05 season.

    "We had exceptionally good weather, with no rainouts over the three weekends of modern gun season this past November," said David Yancy, deer biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "Coupled with that, we had an average to below average mast (acorn) crop. Deer had to search for food and that made it more likely they would be seen by hunters."

    Looking over the harvest data, Yancy said the increase in the number of deer taken by firearms hunters really jumps out and is the number one reason for the overall harvest record.

    "Firearms hunters bagged 12,249 more deer than last season," said Yancy. During the 2011-12 deer season, Kentucky firearms hunters took 83,363 deer. This season the total spiked to 95,612.

    Archers also experienced an excellent season.

    Archery hunters arrowed 18,705 deer, which represents the fourth consecutive harvest record dating back to the 2009-10 season.

    A longer than normal season may have contributed to this year's record archery harvest. "Because of calendar shift, there was an extra seven days of hunting," Yancy. "Bow season opened on Sept. 1, the earliest it could have been."

    Archery season for deer opens on the first Saturday in September and continues through the third Monday in January. On average, that's about 136 days of hunting.

    The 2013-14 archery season dates are Sept. 7 through Jan. 20, 2014.

    Prior to the 2012-13 deer season, Kentucky's deer herd was estimated to number about 850,000, a decrease from one million in 2003.

    Good habitat, aggressive doe harvest and the one-buck limit are thought to be the main reasons for the development of Kentucky's quality deer herd. This herd grants good hunting opportunities in all 120 Kentucky counties.

    Looking forward to next season, Yancy said odds are the deer harvest will remain within the statistical range of recent seasons.

    "At this point, weather and the size of the mast crop or the availability of acorns are more of a factor in how many deer will be taken, than the actual size of the deer herd," explained Yancy. "Our herd has stabilized."

    With hope, that stabilization will produce more harvest records next deer season.

    Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week and Free Deer Hunting Weekend




FRANKFORT, Ky. - There's a present under the tree that can't be opened until the weekend after Christmas for boys and girls 15 years of age or younger.

    It's the Free Youth Deer Hunting Weekend, Dec. 29-30 and the Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week, Dec. 29 through Jan. 4, 2013, open to both resident and non-resident youth.

    Youth hunters and trappers are not required to have licenses, permits or hunter education certification, but must be accompanied by an adult.

    During the Free Youth Deer Hunting Weekend, deer of either sex may be taken statewide in Zones 1-4. Any legal equipment such as a long bow, a recurve bow, a compound bow, a crossbow, a muzzleloader or a modern gun may be used to take deer. All bag limits, zone restrictions and other deer hunting restrictions apply.

    "On average about 1,000 deer are taken," said Tina Brunjes, deer program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "It's all about providing youth with an opportunity to hunt during the late season."

    Deer are typically keying on food sources, such as greening fields of winter wheat, during the late season.

    During the seven-day Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week, opportunities abound as furbearers may be hunted or trapped and small game hunters may go after rabbits, quail and squirrels.

    They may pursue ducks, geese and migratory birds as well. These species may be hunted without state or federal permits, including a trapping license, Kentucky Waterfowl Permit or Federal Waterfowl Stamp. Bag limits and other regulations apply.

    "The Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week is an excellent time to mentor youth," said Karen Waldrop, director of wildlife for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "The long holiday weekend offers plenty of time to introduce them to a wide range of hunting opportunities."

    The special youth hunting and trapping seasons were established in 2003 by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Hunters bagged a record number of deer during modern gun season



FRANKFORT, Ky. - Hunters bagged a record number of deer during Kentucky's modern gun season, which ended Monday.

    "The 92,737 deer reported taken is a new record, surpassing the previous record of 87,205 set in 2004," said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "That's what happens when you get good hunting weather all three weekends of the season. No rain, no snow. It's the first time that's happened since I came here in 2005."

    Kentucky's deer herd is estimated to be more than 900,000. "In some areas, our deer herd could sustain a larger doe harvest than what our hunters take each year," said Brunjes. "For example, in Zone 1 counties, we encourage hunters to continue to take antlerless deer during the rest of bow season, the late muzzleloader season and the free youth weekend."

    Monthly harvest totals have set records in two of the three months since deer season opened Sept. 1, with the beginning of archery hunting.

    Hunters telechecked 5,577 deer in September. For the first time, the September deer harvest exceeded 5,000 and set a harvest record for the third consecutive year.

    In October, the deer harvest was the highest total since the 2009-10 season, but 4,435 deer short of the record harvest of 19,900 for the month, set during the 2001-02 season.

    The total harvest for the month of November won't be known until the end of the month on Friday, Nov. 30. However, as of Wednesday, Nov. 28, a new record has already been reached. The 96,986 deer reported taken tops the previous record (89,498 deer taken in 2004) by 8.3 percent.

    At this point in the season the top 10 Kentucky counties in deer harvest are: Owen, 3,444; Pendleton, 2,764; Crittenden, 2,750; Graves, 2,674; Christian, 2,450; Shelby, 2,252; Grant, 2,075; Hardin, 1,946; Boone, 1,915, and Breckinridge, 1,901.

    Kentucky's all-time record deer harvest of 124,752, may be eclipsed, too. "We have a really good chance if we get good weather for the late muzzleloader and free youth hunts (in December)," said Brunjes.

    Last season, the combined harvest for the months of December and January was 15,617 deer.

    As of Wednesday, Nov. 28, the total deer harvest for the season was 117,951, according to deer harvest results posted on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov.

    With hope, the weather and hunters will cooperate and make this deer season the best ever.

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Proper carcass disposal




FRANKFORT, Ky. - Thousands of Kentucky hunters will hit the woods this Saturday, Nov. 10, the opening day of modern gun deer season.

    "It is a great way to get free range, organic natural meat," said Tina Brunjes, big game coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "You can also feed your family with healthy meat."

    After storing your hunting clothes in a bag with leaves and fresh earth to remove your smell, getting up in the pre-dawn to be in the woods before first light and selecting a good setup spot, you take a nice, fat doe.

    You've accomplished the mission and field dressed the deer. Now, though, you have a large gut pile to dispose. If you process the deer yourself, you'll have legs, hide, bones and other leftovers to discard.

    Where do you put these remains? This question is one of the overlooked challenges of successful deer hunting.

    "Ideally, you would leave the guts in the field or bury them onsite with landowner permission," Brunjes explained. "The guts will be gone in a day or two. All of your scavengers, crows, vultures, raccoons and even red-tailed hawks will consume them. Ask the landowner if you can dispose of the leg bones, fur, hide and other leftovers from processing. Don't leave them where people can see or smell them."

    Leaving deer carcasses near a boat ramp, along the side of the road or dumping them off a bridge and into a stream is not only ethically wrong, it is illegal.

    "Legally, you cannot dump the carcass along the side of a roadway, near a boat ramp, in a creek or on a wildlife management area," said Maj. Shane Carrier, assistant director of law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "This is criminal littering and you can be cited for it. Sometimes, people think it is okay to dump the carcass because it is an animal, but it is considered littering."

    Dumping deer carcasses in this manner also reflects poorly on hunters.

    If you live in a suburban area and need to dispose of your deer carcass, you do have options. "Contact your local municipality and see if you can bag it and dispose of it through the garbage," Brunjes said. "Many allow you to do this. Check with your local landfill and see if you can dispose of it there."

    You can also pay a deer processor to do this for you, but you will still need to dispose of the guts.

    "Hunters must remember they must telecheck their deer before processing," Carrier said. "People think filling out their harvest log is enough, but they must telecheck their deer before removing the head or hide or dropping it off at the processor."

    Hunters who want to learn how to process their own deer may order "Kentucky Afield" television's excellent deer processing video. This video shows step-by-step the easy way to field dress, skin and debone your deer and make the proper cuts for delicious roasts and steaks. You may purchase one by visiting Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's website at fw.ky.govand click on the "Kentucky Afield Store" logo.

    Brunjes also reminds deer hunters to show consideration to the landowner who was kind enough to allow you to hunt.

    "Be respectful of their neighboring landowner," she said. "You don't have a right to retrieve a deer from someone else's property without permission, something to keep in mind if you hunt close to the property boundary. Don't discharge your weapon near someone's home, outbuildings or near livestock. Always leave gates as you found them, open or closed."

    Modern gun deer season opens Nov. 10 and closes Nov. 19 in Zones 3 and 4 and closes Nov. 25 in Zones 1 and 2. For more information on deer hunting regulations, pick up a copy of the current Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide available wherever hunting licenses are sold. You may request a free copy by calling 1-800-858-1549 or view a printable version on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov.

FRANKFORT, Ky. - It is mid-October and anticipation builds as Kentucky's deer season nears its peak: the opening of modern gun season.

    This year's opening day on Nov. 10 is timed to coincide with the onset of the rut, the white-tailed deer's annual mating season.

    Here are some observations at this stage of the season:

    The archery harvest continues to make news. Hunters took a record 5,578 deer during September.

    It was the first time the archery harvest during September exceeded 5,000 and the fifth straight year that archers achieved a record harvest during the opening month of bow season. The season harvest total by archers has also risen the past five years, from 13,941 in the 2007-2008 archery deer season to 18,170 last season.

    "In the Zone 1 and Zone 2 counties it's important that there are more than 50 percent does in the harvest. This slows growth, improves sex ratios, and generally helps to stabilize herds," said Tina Brunjes, big game coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "The continued harvest of does is a key component in our harvest strategy."

    About 25 percent of successful deer hunters take two or more deer. The overall statewide harvest is expected to remain in the range of 110,000 to 120,000 deer a year, since the number of hunters is stable.

    The overall age structure of the deer harvest indicates hunters are passing up young deer.

    "The majority of antlered bucks taken during the 2011-12 season were at least 2 1/2 years old," said Brunjes. "Female age class distribution in the harvest was nearly identical. Most does taken were mature adults, 2 1/2 years old or older. The harvest of older does should be a priority to maintain a healthy, balanced herd."

    Adult does are more likely to have twins and they tend to run off the yearling bucks in their range.

    The trend of hunters passing on young deer is reflected by the statistics on trophy deer taken in Kentucky. These stats are compelling.

    During the past three seasons, 172 deer reported to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife qualified for entry into the Boone & Crockett record book, including a record 68 taken during the 2011-2012 season deer season.

    Last season, the trophy deer taken in Kentucky came from 44 different Kentucky counties. In the past three seasons, trophy deer have been harvested from 81 of 120 Kentucky counties.

    Some of the Kentucky counties that produced the most Boone & Crockett record book deer the past three seasons include: Ohio and Whitley, seven deer; Casey, Greenup and Hardin, six deer; Boone and Owen, five deer; Christian, Lewis, Shelby and Todd, four deer, and Bracken, Campbell, Fulton, Gallatin, Henry, Kenton and McLean, three deer.

    "Kentucky deer hunters have an opportunity to harvest trophy class deer in virtually any county," said Brunjes.

    Despite the hot, dry summer, wildlife biologists found a statewide average of 52 percent of the white oaks and 66 percent of the red oaks produced acorns this year. "Based on what we observed, this year's mast crop is rated average for white oaks (40 to 59 percent of trees produced mast), and good for red oaks (60 to 79 percent)," said Ben Robinson, wildlife biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

    The lone exception is the beechnut crop. "The beech crop was rated as a failure," said Robinson. "Only 19 percent of the beech trees observed had nuts."

    Beech trees are found throughout Kentucky, and are a favorite food of deer when available. The greatest numbers of beech trees are in central and eastern Kentucky.

    This deer season is a highly productive one so far. Signs point to excellent deer hunting in the coming weeks.

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Dealing with nuisance deer in urban and suburban areas


Young deer in front of the Kentucky State Capitol



FRANKFORT, Ky. - Seeing a deer in the backyard is an unexpected pleasure.

    Homeowners in deer country, however, quickly get over the thrill when deer begin to eat down their vegetable garden, nibble on blooming flowers and shrubs or shred the bark off trees with their antlers.

    "The most common complaint I receive about deer in urban and suburban areas is the damage they do to landscaping or backyard vegetable gardens," said Clay Smitson, a private lands wildlife biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

    Smitson works a strip of nine north-central Kentucky counties along Interstate 75 between Lexington and the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky metropolitan area, where deer herds have grown since the 1980s. Deer densities today are among the highest in the state.

    Around Kentucky cities, deer are more visible than ever before and caught in the middle, as roadway construction, housing and business development encroach into their habitat. There are other concerns about high deer numbers, such as a spike in automobile/deer collisions and the possibility of contracting Lyme disease from tick bites.

    "In Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties there's been a large number of houses built on two- to three-acre wooded lots," said Smitson. "In towns like Hebron and Covington, a wide riparian forest along the Ohio River puts deer right in peoples' backyards."

    When municipalities approach the department with deer problems, all options are explained. "They can trap and relocate, use birth control, lethal control or do nothing at all," said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "Hunting is the first choice. It's a cost-effective and workable way to reduce deer numbers and gives deer a healthy respect for humans, which deer living in close proximity to homes and businesses often lose."

    The economics of most options are just not affordable or practical. "Trap and relocation costs $700 to $1,000 per animal and there are disease issues and concerns about the trauma it causes to the deer," said Brunjes. "Birth control drugs cost $1,000 per deer, are not 100 percent effective and doses only last for two years. Hiring sharp shooters to shoot deer after hours is fast and effective, but it's expensive, too."

    While regulated hunting is the most effective way to control deer numbers, most small towns have an ordinance against the discharge of deadly weapons, which often includes bows and arrows. In urban and suburban settings, archery hunting is the best option because of safety concerns.

    One northern Kentucky community, Fort Thomas, in Campbell County, found that an urban archery program was a safe and effective way to put the brakes on their deer herd.

    The Fort Thomas City Council recognized that a growing deer herd compromised public safety, posed a nuisance to homeowners and dramatically impacted small urban forests and voted on Dec. 17, 2007 to allow the discharge of arrows from bows and crossbows. This action cleared the way for deer hunting within the city limits under a strict set of guidelines. Hunting began during the winter of 2007-08.

    The 2011-12 City of Fort Thomas archery program report, issued by Don Martin, city administrative officer, stated that a total of 100 deer have been reported removed since the first year of the program. The city has received only one complaint in the last four years, and no one has reported any injuries or near-injuries in conjunction with the program since its inception. "

    Fort Thomas has done a good job serving as a model for municipalities of how to approach solving a deer problem," said Brunjes, "first by gaining citizen support for a ban on feeding deer, so deer won't be in areas where you don't want them to be, and then by identifying a framework for hunting that's most comfortable for the residents, so there aren't any conflicts."

    This included some commonsense rules and regulations such as setting limits on the hours and days when archery hunting is allowed, establishing a minimum acreage where hunting could take place, designating areas that are closed to hunting, proper location of field dressing of deer and disposal of waste, and carcass transportation through the city.

    "Having the program in place for this length of time and having no safety issues is demonstrative that our restrictions are sufficient to ensure public safety," said Martin.

    Fort Thomas, which has about 6.43 square miles of land, has paid to have periodic surveys of its deer population, using aerial thermal infrared imaging. The 2011 survey counted 132 deer, a 35 percent reduction compared to the 2010 survey, resulting in a deer density estimated to be between 20 and 24 deer per square mile.

    "This is a good density for deer, people and habitat," said Brunjes. "But with so many unhunted areas around the city, and the fact that there are river corridors to the east (Ohio River) and west (Licking River), and cities nearby that don't have feeding bans, the best that can hope to be achieved is to maintain the herd at its present level. It's a multi-year process of reducing densities until damage is tolerable."

 Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Kentucky’s 2012-13 deer season to open Sept. 1 

FRANKFORT, Ky. – When Kentucky’s 2012-2013 deer season opens with the beginning of archery hunting Sat., Sept. 1, there will be plenty of reasons for hunters to be optimistic.

            Last deer season was arguably the state’s best ever. A record 68 bucks taken in Kentucky qualified for entry into the Boone & Crockett record books, a record for the state.

            Kentucky hunters also posted the fourth best overall harvest with119,656 deer, the highest total since the 2008-09 season. In 96 of Kentucky’s 120 counties, hunters bagged more deer than in the 2010-2011 deer season.

            “If you manage with an eye toward overall herd quality, the trophies will come,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.          

            Good habitat, aggressive doe harvest and the one-buck limit are thought be the main reasons why Kentucky has developed a quality deer herd with ample hunting opportunities in all 120 counties.

            The trophy deer taken in Kentucky last season included 52 bucks with typical antlers scoring 160 or higher and 16 bucks with non-typical antlers scoring 185 or higher. The deer came from 44 different Kentucky counties: from Fulton County in the west to Pike County in the east. A decade ago, Kentucky produced just 34 Boone & Crockett record book deer.

            Weather, one factor that biologists can’t control, often has a big impact on how many deer are available to hunters and how many are harvested.

            It’s too early to fully assess the impact of this summer’s drought, which has affected about two-thirds of the state. “Early on we had good conditions for fawning. The spring was warm and wet, with lush undergrowth,” said Brunjes. “But drought conditions may have compromised mast production and the availability of green forage in some areas.”

            The Aug. 14 Drought Monitor issued by the National Weather Service categorized the Jackson Purchase Region of Kentucky and parts of 18 counties directly to the east of that region in exceptional or extreme drought. Central Kentucky counties range from moderate drought to abnormally dry, but parts of more than 35 southern and eastern Kentucky counties have received normal rainfall levels.

            Brunjes speculated that if the dry conditions persist in western Kentucky, it could impact the deer harvest there. “A poor mast crop compounded by corn and soybean fields shriveled up would put deer on the move looking for food. That could mean harvest totals will be higher than usual,” she said.

            In parts of central and eastern Kentucky that have received near-normal rainfall levels, Brunjes encourages landowners to continue pre-season mowing of their hunting areas. “Even though our fields are dry, there’s still a lot of clover out there,” said Brunjes. “August is a good time to cut back the dead grass, to stimulate re-growth.”

            Clover, a cool season legume, is an important food source for deer until heavy frosts come in late October. There’s plenty of time left for rains to benefit clover fields.

            Pre-season mowing should also include cutting trails and wildlife openings in your hunting area. “You need to be able to easily and quietly get to your treestand or ground blind, and you need to be able to see. In some areas the weeds are really tall this year,” she said.

            Kentucky’s deer herd is now estimated to number about 850,000, down from one million in 2003. “Our herd is now stable,” said Brunjes. “A stable herd is a robust herd that can withstand drought and other big changes in weather and food availability.”

            Although yellow or brown grass covers much of Kentucky, hunters should have many deer available to them when they hit the woods this fall.

Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Oaks most beneficial trees to wildlife, may be impacted by heat, drought





FRANKFORT, Ky. - Oaks are the most important tree species to wildlife in Kentucky forests, but the impact of this years drought remains to be seen. White oaks are faring better than red oaks so far.

    White oaks produce acorns that are a critical food source for squirrels, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear and many non-game species. White oak acorns are preferred by wildlife because they are more palatable. Acorns produced by red oaks contain tannin, which makes them bitter.

    White oaks can produce acorns every year. Entire crops are often lost due to late freezes and heavy rains just as pollination of oak flowers begins as well as summer droughts.

    Philip Sharp, a private lands wildlife biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in Crittenden County, said its too soon to make a prediction on the mast crop in western Kentucky, the area of the state most affected by drought. Our white oaks have small acorns now, but thats pretty typical for this time of year. They can grow a lot in a short period of time and fill out in late summer.

    Red oaks are not faring as well. Some areas of western Kentucky are really dry. There are places that have had about a half inch of rain in the past two months, said Sharp. Im concerned. The dry conditions are killing some of our red oak trees on ridges with thin soils.

    According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Crittenden and parts of nine other Kentucky counties along the lower Ohio River are classified as being in an Exceptional Drought, the driest category of five listed. Because it takes two years for red oak acorns to mature, and not all trees produce mature acorns in the same year, red oaks are a more reliable source of acorns on an annual basis.

    David Yancy, senior deer biologist for the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, said a mix of white and red oak species is preferred. This will ensure that some acorns will be there for wildlife when theres a failure of the white oak crop.

    According to the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, there are 10 native species of oak trees in Kentucky: six members of the red oak group and four of the white oak group.

    Typically, it takes an oak tree about 20 years to start producing acorns.

    The U.S. Forest Services 1981 Wildlife Habitat Management Handbook said the white oak (Quercus alba) followed by the chestnut oak are the two white oak species in Kentucky that produce the highest yields of acorns. For red oaks, its the northern red oak (Quercus rubra), then the scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea).

    The leaves are a good way to tell the difference between white oaks and red oaks. White oak leaves are narrower (about 4 inches) with rounded lobes. Red oak leaves are wider (as wide as 6 inches) with pointed lobes.

    Although oaks are considered intermediate in their tolerance to shade, they grow best on sites with openings in the forest canopy and minimal competition for sunlight, water and nutrients from other plants. Oak stands regenerate naturally by sprouting acorns as well as stump sprouts.

    Since acorns and other hard mast are so important to wildlife, department biologists began an annual survey in 1953 to assess each years crop. Biologists walk the same route every year and determine the proportion of trees bearing hard mast by observing nuts on hickories, white and red oak and beech trees.

    The mast survey helps biologists predict game availability and behavior. For example, each years estimate of the number of squirrels available to hunters is based on the previous years mast crop.

    In years when the mast crop is sparse, deer and wild turkey are more vulnerable to hunters because game must move around more to find food. In years of plenty, deer and turkey harvests are likely to decrease because food sources are available everywhere, so there isnt as much game movement.

    Nuts begin to mature in mid-September. The annual survey will be conducted this year between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1.


Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources News


Public can help monitor the health of Kentucky’s deer herd


July 12, 2012                                                            Contact: Tina Brunjes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      1-800-858-1549, ext. 4523

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Wildlife watchers can help researchers track and monitor the health of Kentucky’s deer herd.

“For years, the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Group has tracked outbreaks of EHD – or epizootic hemorrhagic disease – in deer,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The public can assist researchers by reporting sick animals and pinpointing locations.”

Dr. Aaron Hecht, wildlife veterinarian for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, noted that EHD has been observed annually in white-tailed deer across the southeastern United States since 1966. The disease can be fatal to deer.

“The EHD virus is transmitted by flies known as biting midges, and as a consequence, disease coincides to the presence of the competent vector,” Hecht said. “These viruses do not infect humans, and humans are not at risk by handling infected deer, eating venison from infected deer, or being bitten by infected by midges.”

Infected deer lose their appetites, drool excessively and lose their fear of humans. They may concentrate around farm ponds and water in an effort to reduce their body temperatures. During drought years, healthy and sick deer tend to congregate around the same watering areas, which can accelerate the transmission of the disease.

The onset of cooler temperatures in late fall usually brings a sudden end to disease outbreaks.

“We will monitor Kentucky’s deer herd closely over the next few months,” said Brunjes. “If we should start seeing cases of EHD in the field, we need people to let us know the location of sick animals so that we can take samples while the deer are alive.”

Samples taken from sick deer will assist the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Group in its efforts.

People who see sickly deer around watering areas should report the animals to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling 1-800-858-1549. Callers should be able to pinpoint the location of a sick animal. Observers may also e-mail reports to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at: info.center@ky.gov.



MAY 03, 2012



Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Population models help biologists manage deer herds




    FRANKFORT, Ky. - Population models help biologists manage deer herds. 
    "Models enable deer managers to input information to track population trends," said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "The two basic questions are: how many deer were born and how many died." 
    Models are objective, mathematical indicators of populations. They provide herd managers with a better understanding of the factors that cause a population to increase or decrease. 
    "When you boil it down, you have to know what's driving the population," said Brunjes. "You need to factor in the birth rate, weather, quality of habitat and mortality; be it from hunting, or compensatory mortality such as accidents, disease, coyote predation of fawns, or vehicle/deer collisions." 
    Before computers, deer managers used pens, paper and calculators to compute statistics on deer herds. Today, they use spreadsheets. 
    Kentucky's deer herd is managed on a county level, so there are 120 sets of data to be analyzed each year after the close of hunting in January.
    "Population models need a large data set to be effective," said Brunjes. "They are used for large, landscape level monitoring, but are not suited for 1,000-acre deer leases." 
    A good model detects population trends quickly, after factoring in all the intangibles, which includes crop damage complaints, deer/vehicle collisions and the number of landowners or hunters expressing concerns about deer numbers. 
    "Our population model gives us an estimate of deer per square mile," said Brunjes. "From that number, we have a pretty good idea if the population density is over, under or on target, based on the county's zone status." 
    An understanding of the impact of many factors is needed to recommend season lengths and bag limits. 
    In 1986, after evaluating several computerized deer population simulation programs, Kentucky deer managers selected the program Deer Camp, which used harvest data from previous seasons to generate estimates of the number of deer that would be present in a county when the next season opened. 
    Deer Camp is one of several deer population models that have been used in recent decades by deer managers across the country. Wisconsin, for example, has used the SAK (Sex-Age-Kill) deer population model since the 1960s. 
    In 2002, Kentucky deer managers adopted the Downing Reconstruction model. Brunjes said this model is used in nearly all the southeastern states. Harvest data enables managers to determine the age and sex composition of the herd and also tracks recruitment, or the number of fawns per doe. 
    Deer herds don't go through boom or bust cycles. "It takes years for management changes to be detectable," said Brunjes. "Managing deer herds by regulated sport hunting is a long term commitment." 
    These management models provide a long term benefit to Kentucky hunters. 
    Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine. 
    (Editors: Please email Lee.McClellan@ky.gov for photos.

Media Contact: Art Lander Jr 1-800-858-1549, ext. 4414


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Refund Policy

Whitetail Domains will not honor any refunds for any paid Whitetail Domains services, including without limitation Member account payments, more than thirty (30) days after you last submitted such payment to Whitetail Domains. Should you find the need to request a refund, please email Customer Service or call us at 1-281-633-2334.


You may not assign any rights granted to you or delegate any of your duties hereunder; any attempt to do so is void and of no effect. Whitetail Domains may assign its rights and delegate its duties under this Agreement in their entirety in connection with a merger, reorganization or sale of all, or substantially all, of its assets relating to this Agreement. The failure of Whitetail Domains at any time to require performance of any provision hereof shall in no manner affect its right at a later time to enforce the same unless the same is waived in writing. If a court should find that one or more rights or provisions contained in this Agreement are invalid, you agree that the remainder of the Agreement will be enforceable. The headings and captions are for convenience only and are not to be used in the interpretation of this Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the complete and exclusive understanding and agreement between you and Whitetail Domains regarding its subject matter, and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous agreements or understandings relating to such subject matter.

If you have any questions or concerns about this Agreement or any issues raised in this Agreement or on the Site, please contact Whitetail Domains at the Contact Us page.
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