Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Youth Deer Hunting Season Opens Soon
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky’s Youth-Only firearms season for deer is timed for success.
“It’s not too cold, and it’s the first firearms season of the year, so deer are relaxed,” said Kristina Brunjes, deer biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “They haven’t been gun hunted and they’re in an early fall feeding pattern.”
Kentucky’s Youth-Only firearms season for deer, first held in 1996, is the weekend of Oct. 9-10.
The season was created to offer resident and non-resident boys and girls ages 15 and under an introduction to deer hunting with the maximum opportunity for success. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult. This adult might be a parent, grandparent, relative, family friend or mentor at least 18 years of age. The adult must be in position to take immediate control of the youth hunter’s firearm at all times. Non-hunting adults accompanying youth during this season do not need a valid Kentucky hunting license or deer permit. Adults who plan to hunt with a youth during this season must use archery equipment only.
“Youth hunters must be able to handle and control the firearm independently,” said Brunjes. “Even though the adult has to be at the youth hunter’s side, the adult can’t hold the firearm for the youth.”
Deer of either sex may be taken during Youth-Only firearms deer season. Unless license exempt, boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 15 must possess a valid hunting license, deer permit and hunter education card. Hunters under age 12 aren’t required to possess a hunting license or a hunter education course to participate.
Youth hunters must abide by bag limits, zone restrictions and all other deer hunting regulations applicable to the county in which they hunt. They must use their own Social Security number to Telecheck harvested deer.
The deer harvest on this weekend can vary widely due to the season’s two-day length and October time frame. For example, youth hunters bagged 4,024 deer in 2009, while they took just 2,266 in 2008.
“Over the last five years, the harvest has averaged 3,747 deer,” said Brunjes. “Severe weather, such as a rainstorm or heat wave, can essentially wipe out a season.”
Deer typically feed on acorns in the woods in early October. They eat as much forage as they can find such as winter wheat, clover and alfalfa before the first frosts kill back greenery. But this year, the drought conditions of August and September made forage unavailable or unpalatable to deer because it is dry and in poor condition. Acorns started falling earlier than normal and many small creeks dried up. Look for deer to linger near water sources in woodlands.
The Youth-Only firearms season for deer is the first of five firearms deer seasons. The early muzzleloader season is Oct. 16-17. Modern Gun deer season opens Nov. 13 and closes Nov. 28 in Zones 1 and 2, and Nov. 22 in Zones 3 and 4. Late muzzleloader season is Dec. 11-19 and Free Youth Hunting Weekend is Jan. 1-2, 2011.