Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Deer season in Kentucky off to hot start
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Cold air poured into Kentucky over
the past weekend and dropped overnight low temperatures below freezing across
much of the state.
The cool down didn’t cool off the
deer hunting. It’s been hot since early September.
“Good numbers of deer across the
state coupled with a cool and wet summer and sub-par mast production means we
are ripe for some high harvest numbers,” said Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk
program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
The early returns support his
Among the highlights: archery hunters
established a new monthly harvest record by taking 6,650 deer in September; a
record 5,558 deer were telechecked during the statewide youth firearms weekend
earlier this month; and the harvest of 8,262 deer during the October
muzzleloader weekend was the second highest on record.
By Monday morning, hunters had reported
taking more than 24,000 deer.
“I’ve seen a lot of pictures and
heard about a lot of nice deer, and that’s what you expect when you have a
healthy herd,” Jenkins said. “I fully expect the season to get better and
better as far as activity goes.”
The early crossbow and early
muzzleloader deer seasons ended this past Sunday, but archery deer season
remains open, and the modern gun deer season is less than a month away. Last
year, hunters posted Kentucky’s second highest harvest total on record with
modern gun season accounting for 74 percent of the 138,899 deer taken overall.
The 2013-14 harvest of 144,409 deer
stands as the record. As was the case that season, there are fewer acorns this
year. The statewide mast survey rates white oak acorn production as poor with
26 percent of white oak trees bearing mast while acorn production from red oaks
With fewer acorns available, deer
must search harder to find food. The edges of cultivated fields will be but one
place to focus.
“In my opinion, we’ll do really well
because our hunters like to hunt food sources and plant food plots,” Jenkins
said. “If hunters were able to get their food plots in and it rained a little
bit, those should be green and growing and provide fantastic hunting spots for
the rest of the season. Key on the food sources, except during the rut, and
then just be out there.”
The peak of the fall breeding period
generally occurs in mid November. Due to calendar shift, Kentucky’s modern gun
deer season opens as late as it can this year. By regulation, it starts on the
second Saturday in November and runs for 16 consecutive days in Zones 1 and 2
and for 10 consecutive days in Zones 3 and 4. This year, the statewide modern
gun season opens Nov. 14. Crossbow season reopens the same day while the
nine-day late muzzleloader season comes in Dec. 12.
“Usually the peak of the rut is right
around the 14th,” Jenkins said. “Your peak chase, your peak activity and
movement is a little before that. So our modern gun hunters are going to be at
that later end of the rut and should expect rut activity to be less than in
previous years. Bow hunters should really enjoy the first weeks of November.”
So far, the weather has cooperated
for hunters. If it continues to do so, Jenkins expects good results. He advises
hunters to use this time during the October lull to make final preparations.
“It’s a good time to get out and do
some scouting,” Jenkins said. “If you’ve not been out, check your tree stands
and make sure everything is securely fastened. Clear your shooting lanes. Check
your ratchet straps. Do those things now so you’re not in there disturbing the
deer during the busy time.”
For more information about Kentucky’s
deer season, including season dates, regulations and public hunting areas,
consult the Hunting and Trapping Guide. It’s available on Kentucky Fish and
Wildlife’s website at fw.ky.gov and wherever licenses are sold.