Next weekend brings the occasion of the busiest hunters on Kentucky’s sporting calendar, the opening of the Commonwealth Modern Firearms Season.
The âgun seasonâ of November 13-28 attracts more attention and participation from hunters than any other hunting season on the books. The opening weekend and especially the opening day is a red letter day on the hunting calendar. No event puts more hunters in the field than the first day of deer hunting with a gun.
Drawing cards include the fact that the modern gun season is giving hunters the fastest, sportiest way to take white tails. Meanwhile, gun season opens regularly on the second Saturday in November, a time that typically puts hunters on the sidelines during a peak in deer activity and movement associated with the annual breeding cycle. , the heat.
A high level of participation, an abundant Kentucky deer population, and generous regulations almost guarantee that the deer harvest during the 16-day season will be significant. In the past it has hovered around 90,000 to 100,000 during this period. Phew.
These regulations for deer hunters will be essentially the same as last year and years, for that matter. The main one is the harvest limit. A big part of this is that there is a maximum of one timber buck that can be taken per hunter for the entire hunting year. That is, there is a limit of a single timber buck regardless of the arming season. By modern firearm, muzzleloader, crossbow, or archery, hunting with any or all of these methods still restricts the hunter to a dollar.
The flip side of the Kentucky deer bag limit is that in Zone 1 counties – those with the highest deer densities, including all of far western Kentucky – there is no limit. on the number of antlerless deer that can be captured.
The basic deer license allows you to take up to four deer (as long as there is not more than one antler buck included). In Zone 1 counties, a hunter can continue to take more antlerless deer by purchasing additional permits for antlerless deer. Each additional $ 15 antlerless deer license is good for two additional smooth-headed whitetail deer.
In the interest of safety, the start of deer gun season means that hunters chasing deer as well as other species must all comply with orange clothing requirements. That is, people in the field should wear a solid, fluorescent orange on their head, chest and back. This is usually done with a cap and vest in an unbroken, high visibility âblazeâ orange.
A new wrinkle in deer gun season this year is the effects of an MDC surveillance zone in five counties in far western Kentucky. This affects gun hunters as well as those chasing deer with muzzleloaders, crossbows, and archery gear in Calloway, Marshall, Graves, Fulton and Hickman counties.
CWD, Chronic Wasting Disease, is a fatal disease of deer and elk that was identified in a deer a few weeks ago in Henry County, Tenn., Just south of Calloway County in Kentucky. Although no CWD has been detected in Kentucky, wildlife managers have established the surveillance zone to closely monitor the area adjacent to the location in Tennessee where a case of CWD was detected.
Inside the area it is prohibited to bait or feed deer, whole deer carcasses and high risk parts such as intact deer heads cannot be taken outside the area . Homemade carcass tags are required on any deer captured in the surveillance area.
Boneless game and antlers attached to cleaned skull caps may be removed from the area. Hunters can take deer from the zone to processors in any county in the zone before removing boneless meat outside the zone.
A major requirement is that any deer captured in the area during gun season (as well as muzzleloading seasons) must be taken to a special CWD checkpoint. Several checkpoints will be occupied in each of the five counties in the zone from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day of the relevant seasons.
A list of CWD checkpoints is available on the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources website, www.fw.ky.gov/CWD.
The arrival of Kentucky gun season next week has ramifications for other hunting seasons. Hunting for small game such as squirrels statewide and rabbits and quail in the eastern rabbit and quail zone is suspended during the opening weekend of the white-tailed deer season, from 13 to November 14.
On Monday, November 15, however, the deer season continues as the small game seasons resume. Additionally, rabbit and quail hunting begins in the western part of the state, as all of far western Kentucky is designated. The western zone rabbit and quail seasons are from November 15 to February. ten.
Statewide trapping and hunting seasons for most furbearing animal species will also open on November 15. These run until February 28. The exception among these species is bobcat hunting. Trapping for wild cats begins November 15, but bobcat hunting is delayed until November 20. Both continue until February 28.
The later start of the bobcat hunt shelters predatory cats for an additional five days of deer season, leaving them out of the confines of opportunistic riflemen during the first week of gun season.
And again, all small game hunters and trappers in the field during white-tailed deer season will need to meet the safety requirements of fluorescent orange clothing.
Nine wildlife refuge areas at Land Between the Lakes have been closed to entry and human activities to welcome and shelter migrating birds and other creatures until the end of winter.
Portions of Duncan, Smith and Rushing Bays on Kentucky Lake and Fulton and Honker Bays on Barkley Lake are closed. The western third of Energy Lake is closed to entry, while all of Energy Lake and Bards Lake are closed to hunting. Fishing is still permitted in the eastern two-thirds of Energy and throughout Bards Lake.
Long Creek Refuge at the back of Elbow Bay on Lake Barkley is closed to all human activity. Hematite Lake and Honker Lake are closed to fishing and boating, although the trail systems around these remain open to hikers.
These limits of refuge areas are generally indicated by signs or, on the water, by buoys. The closures are in effect until March 15, when most migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and wintering bald eagles are gone.
With waterfowl seasons arriving later this month, duck and goose hunters should remember that waterfowl hunting is not permitted within 200 meters of a refuge line.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoor writer. Email outdoor news to [email protected] or phone 270-575-8650.