Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: The new year is all about opportunity for Kentucky hunters
FRANKFORT, Ky. –
The stretch between Christmas and New Year's Day can be a time to relax,
reflect and make resolutions for the year ahead.
Division of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is well into
its planning for the 2015-16 hunting seasons, and one word keeps coming up in
The focus is not
limited to one species, but plans pertaining to deer, elk and small game stand
Here’s a look at
some of what’s in store for 2015.
At its December
meeting, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission recommended several
proposals for legislative approval that would expand or create new opportunities
for deer and elk hunters.
In Kentucky, a
county is assigned to one of four deer management zones. Some zones have move
liberal harvest restrictions to thin or maintain the herd while others are more
restrictive to help grow the herd.
in Hopkins, Larue, Green, Nelson and Bullitt counties have reached the point where
more antlerless deer need to harvested, according to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife
biologists. Under the proposal, those counties would shift from Zone 2 to Zone
1 status. The change would give hunters an opportunity to harvest an unlimited
number of antlerless deer in those counties provided they have the appropriate
number of Additional Deer Permits.
"You'll see a
significant harvest increase going from a Zone 2 to a Zone 1, which is what we
want," said Chris Garland, acting Wildlife Division director for Kentucky
Fish and Wildlife. "When we go to a Zone 1, we're basically trying to
knock back the population."
Deer numbers in
Grayson, Ohio and Breckenridge counties have rebounded since the Epizootic
Hemorrhagic Disease outbreaks in 2007 and 2010 and can withstand moving from Zone
3 to Zone 2, biologists said. Zone 2 status allows for a 16-day modern gun deer
season as opposed to a 10-day season in Zones 3 and 4.
There are other proposed
changes to deer regulations on several Wildlife Management Areas to follow as
well, including the creation of a new antlerless-only quota hunt in December on
Veterans Memorial WMA in Scott County and a November firearms quota hunt on
Kentucky River WMA in Owen and Henry counties. Also, residents 65 and older
will be allowed to use crossbows during the entire deer archery season without
being required to obtain a crossbow exemption permit under a proposal forwarded
by the commission.
looking at providing as much opportunity as we can without negatively impacting
the population base," Garland said.
A new Landowner
Voucher Permit System could pave the way for private landowners to earn an elk
permit by opening their land for elk hunting.
to increase opportunity by opening up new lands and give people the motivation
to open up their private land," Garland said. "We realize the elk are
moving into the woods and moving off the public lands they've been hunted on.
They're wiser and more wary and acting like a truly hunted elk herd."
Under the system
recommended by the commission, a landowner or lessee with at least 100 acres in
the elk zone would be eligible to enroll.
set the number of hunters, by weapon type, allowed on their land. Two points
would be awarded for the harvest of a bull elk and one for a cow elk. After
accruing 20 points, the landowner or lessee of the property would receive one
voucher elk permit, which would be transferrable and valid for either sex on
any land the landowner or lessee owns or leases in the elk zone.
A progress report
on the 10-year plan for restoring the northern bobwhite is due out in early
“We reviewed our
progress over the first five years; what we did well and what we can improve
on,” said Ben Robinson, small game biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
One of the
highlights of the past five years’ work is the success achieved in quail focus
“Every focus area
that we worked on experienced an increase in bobwhite populations,” Robinson
said. “The work differs a little bit for all the regions, but all in all
they’ve been under pretty intensive habitat management. Everything from getting
rid of cool season grasses like fescue and establishing native warm-season
grasses down to managing existing habitat to make it better through controlled
burning, herbicide applications and disking. It’s really starting to pay off.”
abound for hunters in Kentucky, and more are on the horizon in 2015. The new
license year starts March 1, and licenses and permits for the 2015-16 season
are on sale now. Visit the department’s website at fw.ky.gov for more