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Total surpasses 139,000...

Kentucky deer hunters bagged more than 139,000 deer this past season that concluded Jan. 16. This is the third highest harvest total ever recorded (F&W Photo)Kentucky deer hunters bagged more than 139,000 deer this past season that concluded Jan. 16. This is the third highest harvest total ever recorded (F&W Photo)

It’s often said these are the good old days for deer hunting in Kentucky, but for those of a certain age, or new to hunting, it’s all they have ever known.

The world was tip-toeing into a new millennium the last time Kentucky’s deer harvest did not break 100,000 for a season. The 2016-17 season cleared that mark and surpassed 130,000 for the fifth consecutive season.

Hunters combined to take more than 139,000 deer before the book closed Jan. 16 on one of the three best seasons on record in Kentucky. The only seasons with higher harvest totals were the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons.

“We’ve been harvesting a lot of deer and that’s a reflection of how many deer we have on the landscape,” said Gabe Jenkins, big game program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The good thing is our quality is still up. I’ve talked to a lot of folks who saw a lot of nice deer harvested this season.”

The 2015-16 season produced new records at nearly every turn, including the overall harvest record. Archery hunters kept the trend going this past September by starting the 2016-17 season with a record opening weekend.

A slowdown ensued as unseasonably warm temperatures set in. High winds, an ample acorn crop and a full moon added to the challenge for early muzzleloader season in mid-October and the two-day take was down sharply from the previous year.

Cooler temperatures arrived for modern gun season in November and coincided with the peak of breeding activity across the state.

Hunters responded by checking 41,796 deer the first weekend of modern gun season and 102,848 for the modern gun season overall. Both figures were the second highest on record behind the 2015-16 season.

“I think the warm weather possibly shifted some early season hunters to later,” Jenkins said. “I’ll have to look at that when I start digging into the numbers. I would venture to say that a lot of folks who normally take deer in September and October didn’t and waited until November.”

For the first time in 18 seasons, Owen County did not lead the state in the number of deer taken. Pendleton County finished ahead of it.

Harvest totals in the northern Kentucky county have been on the upswing for several seasons, and the recent results bring added attention to the fact. Hunters there reported taking more than 3,200 deer this past season. Owen, Crittenden, Graves and Christian counties completed the top-five.

Hunters took more than 5,500 deer on public lands across the state, according to telecheck harvest results. Two areas of interest entering this past season were Big Rivers WMA and State Forest in Crittenden and Union counties and the new Rolling Fork WMA in Nelson and LaRue counties.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife debuted a first-of-its-kind quota hunt for archery and crossbow deer hunting this past season at Big Rivers, which expanded in 2016 with the addition of the 841-acre Jenkins-Rich tract in Crittenden County.

“It was a pretty big move for us,” Jenkins said. “When we looked at this one, it wasn’t people shooting five or six deer. It was one person coming and shooting one deer, and it was a lot of people doing that. So it was strictly a numbers game.”

The action achieved the intended result: the deer harvest on Big Rivers was reduced by 38 percent this season.

Rolling Fork WMA came online this past September and allows modern gun hunting for deer. Of the 27 deer taken with a modern gun on the area, 19 were bagged on the more rugged LaRue County side of the property. A total of 32 deer – 15 male, 17 female – were taken on the WMA across all seasons.

Hunters reporting their harvest to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife through the telecheck process this past season were asked for additional information if they were checking male deer with or without antlers. Their answers will help biologists.

“We will be able to get a better feel for age-at-harvest more than we ever have,” Jenkins said. “It will allow us to analyze how we’ve been estimating in the past through our collections in the field compared to what our hunters are reporting. It will be beneficial to make those comparisons.”

Hunters who took a trophy deer this past season are encouraged to submit the necessary information for recognition in the trophy deer list that will appear in the next Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. The deadline for submissions is May 1.

To be eligible, a hunter must have taken a white-tailed deer in Kentucky this past season that net scored 160 or higher typical or net scored 185 or higher non-typical going by the Boone and Crockett scoring system. The completed and signed score sheet along with a photo should be sent to Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, #1 Sportsman’s Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601.

Include the county in which the deer was taken and the equipment used to harvest the deer. Emailed submissions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. also are accepted.

By Kevin Kelly
Special to KyForward

Kevin Kelly is a writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. An avid angler with a passion for muskellunge and stream fishing, his journalism career has included stops at daily newspapers in Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Charleston, S.C. Get the latest from Kelly and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For more information on the department, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission took another step toward its goal of increasing Kentucky’s elk population at a faster rate by proposing hunting season modifications and setting season dates at its Jan. 6 special meeting.

The commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly and approves all expenditures by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. All recommendations must be approved by legislators before they become law.

Kentucky’s free-ranging elk population is the nation’s largest east of the Rocky Mountains, but the commission is taking strides to grow it faster as a way to create more recreational opportunity.

The commission moved to compress the state’s hunting season by ending the season Dec. 31. In doing so, it proposed moving Cow Firearms Hunt 2 (second week) from January to December immediately after Cow Firearms Hunt 1.

The commission also proposed the 2017 elk season dates:

Bull Archery:

Sept. 16 – 29; Oct. 14 – Dec. 8; Dec. 23 – 31

Bull Crossbow:

Sept. 23 – 29; Oct. 14 – Dec. 8; Dec. 23 – 31

Bull Firearms 1:

Sept. 30 – Oct. 6

Bull Firearms 2:

Oct. 7 – 13

Cow Archery and Crossbow:

Oct. 14 – Dec. 8; Dec. 23 – 31

Cow Firearms 1:

Dec. 9 – 15

Cow Firearms 2:

Dec. 16 – 22

The next regular Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time), Friday, March 17, 2017. Meetings are held at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters, located at 1 Sportsman’s Lane off U.S. 60 in Frankfort.

From F&W Communications



lure with heartbeatslure with heartbeats

Meet Marine veteran Brian von Plueren, who motivated by his injuries, created a highly successful fishing lure that was different. It has a heartbeat. Find out about Von’s Old Ticker.

Kentucky is a state defined by its history and noted for a number of things, not the least of which is horse racing, bourbon, bluegrass music and barbecue.

But, as natives Bob Shrader and Matt Hilton remind us each week, there’s so much more to the Bluegrass State and its people, culture and rural charm. Shrader and Hilton combine their talents to produce the award-winning Bluegrass & Backroads, a 30-minute program aired regionally on the Kentucky Education Television networks and nationally via satellite on RFD-TV through Dish Network, DirecTV and several major cable outlets.

For more information about Bluegrass & Backroads, including a list of the stations on which the show airs and schedules, visit the show’s website. 


Harlan County site conserves another 124 acres

New Pine Mountain part of Ky Reserves.New Pine Mountain part of Ky Reserves.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 3, 2017) - The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC) has conserved an additional 124 acres on Pine Mountain in Harlan County along the Little Shepard Trail. The Hi Lewis State Nature Preserve now conserves a total of 427 acres of Kentucky’s natural heritage. This tract adds additional rock outcrops that support the extremely rare “pine barrens” habitat.

Named for the stream that drains the area, the nature preserve rises 1,000 feet from the base of the mountain to the ridge crest, and features flowering and fruiting American chestnut trees, Hemlock-mixed forest and massive sandstone outcrops and cliffs. It also is home to rare plant species including frost weed and the largest known Kentucky population of yellow wild indigo. The open areas feature an unusual mix of plants typically thought of as prairie plants, such as little bluestem and Indian grass, and also drought-tolerant plants such as low-bush blueberries.

The mission of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission is to conserve Kentucky’s natural habitat by identifying, acquiring and managing natural areas that represent the best known occurrences of rare native species, natural communities and significant natural features in a statewide nature preserve system. It works to protect biological diversity and educates Kentuckians as to the value and purpose of nature preserves and biodiversity conservation.

Discover more about KSNPC through our website: or Facebook at


Merry Christmas 2016!

Golf course and pro shop will be CLOSED

DECEMBER 24, 25 and 26

(Saturday, Sunday and Monday)


Need a last minute gift?

A Kentucky State Park Gift Card makes a GREAT gift!

Call Tellia this week at 673-4300 for details!  :)


Wish you all a 


Missy Kennedy, PGA Head Golf Professional/Park Manager

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Eagle Ridge Golf Course

Yatesville Lake State Park

(606) 673-1492 business office

(606) 673-4300 golfcourse

(606) 673-4301 fax

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