Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

KY Afield Outdoors: The new year is all about opportunity for Kentucky hunters

By Kevin Kelly

FRANKFORT, KĄ - The stretch between Christmas and New Year's Day can be a time to relax, reflect and make resolutions for the year ahead.

The Wildlife 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 discussions: Opportunity.

The focus is not limited to one species, but plans pertaining to deer, elk and small game stand out.

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.

Deer populations 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.

"We're really 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.

"We're trying 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.

Landowners would 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.

Small Game

A progress report on the 10-year plan for restoring the northern bobwhite is due out in early 2015.

"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 areas.

"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."

Opportunities 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 for more information.

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.

This story was posted on 2014-12-23 15:21:02
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.

To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.

KY Afield Outdoors: Quail on the Rise in 2015

2014-12-23 - Photo by Lee McClellan. A report on the progress of the restoration of the northern bobwhite quail is due in early 2015 from the small game biologists with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The quail focus areas scattered across Kentucky show marked increase in quail populations. The quail report is one of the things to look for from the wildlife division of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife in 2015.
Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.


Quick Links to Popular Features content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Use the following link:

Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270-250-2730 Fax: 270-751-0401

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.