A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A bowhunter’s gear wish list as Kentucky’s archery season for deer approaches

With Kentucky’s 143-day archery season for deer opening in about two weeks, bow hunters are getting their gear ready and honing their shooting skills. The season dates are September 1, through January 21, 2019. The archery industry cranks out improved, high-quality gear every year, but some products stand the test of time. Do you have an archery gear wish list? Here’s some new products, and one...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Fall squirrel season; summer grilling and smoking; spring-assisted pocket knives

Kentucky’s squirrel season is the longest hunting season on the fall calendar. Opening day is a week from tomorrow, on Saturday, August 18. The 2018-19 season is 194 days long, and continues through November 9, closes for the opening weekend of gun season for deer, then re-opens November 12, and continues through February 28, 2019. The daily bag limit is six squirrels. Squirrels are the most stable...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Asian long-horned beetle threatens maple trees, other hardwoods in Kentucky

An Asian insect pest, which threatens maple trees and other hardwoods in North America, has been found on Kentucky’s doorstep. Multiple infestations of the Asian Long-Horned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) were found beginning in 2012 in southern Ohio’s Clermont County, just east of Cincinnati. An Asian insect pest, the Asian Long-Horned Beetle, which threatens maple trees and other hardwoods...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Missouri’s Elk, Mountain Lion; Antlerless Deer Harvest Declines; Feral Hogs

Missouri’s elk herd may be hunted as early as 2020, according to a story posted July 18, on the Springfield News-Leader website. The herd was established in the southeastern corner of the state in 2011 when 108 elk were translocated from Kentucky. Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) biologist Aaron Hildreth, said the new herd bounced back from the stress of relocation, and a sustained drought...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Black Rat Snake, common across Kentucky, helps control rodents

The Black Rat Snake, genus Elaphe, species obsoleta, but also referred to by some taxonomists as Pantherophis alleghaniensis, is one of Kentucky’s largest snakes. An article posted on the Live Science website explained the scientific name differences. Until the early 2000s, both Old and New World rat snakes were generally thought to belong to the same genus, Elaphe, according to Alan Savitzky,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Eastern Kingbird, a snappy dresser, aerial artist and migratory traveler

The Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) is a snappy dresser, an aerial artist that catches its prey on the wing, and spends the winter in tropical climes. Its demeanor and distinctive plumage are all business — upright posture, white shirt (breast), and dark suit — gray head, back, wings and white-tipped square tail. Coloration is similar to the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), but...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Field to Fork workshop aimed at helping inexperienced hunters learn archery skills

Designed for adults with little or no experience hunting white-tailed deer with bows and arrows, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) will host a Field to Fork workshop on Saturday, July 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Field to Fork workshops have been held in Kentucky for several years.This is the first year for an archery workshop, but in the past workshops have been held...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Looking back on spring turkey season; harvest downturn raised questions

Kentucky’s 2018 spring wild turkey season was a head scratcher — certainly not what most hunters have experienced in recent years. From county to county, the harvest varied, but overall, the turkey harvest was down statewide. Post-season, hunters are pondering a few puzzling questions. In some counties, hunters reported observing fewer turkeys and hearing less gobbling than in recent years....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The American Goldfinch, male turns bright yellow as days lengthen in spring

Adult males turn a bright yellow in what seems like just a matter of days as if they were blooming wildflowers, when the days begin to lengthen in spring. The American Goldfinch undergoes two molts a year. It sheds and re-grows most of its feathers before the onset of cold weather, then sheds and re-grows all its feathers, excepts for its wings and tail, in the spring. (Photo provided) The American...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky’s semi-aquatic turtle population highest in western streams

On a warm, spring day, it’s not unusual to see a row of semi-aquatic turtles basking in the sun on a log floating in a pond, small lake, stream, or wetland. A few species are found statewide, but the highest populations are in western Kentucky. Anglers are probably most familiar with the largest of these turtles. The Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), found in waterways throughout the...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: No songbird more visible in greening landscape of spring than Indigo Bunting

In the greening landscape of spring, no bird is more visible than the Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). The vibrant, cerulean blue plumage of the male seems almost out of place, as if it belongs on some resident of a tropical rain forest. In fact, this diminutive insect and seed-eating bird in the Cardinal family, Cardinalidae, may mingle with exotic, colorful birds during its annual southward migration...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Those insidious, blood-sucking ticks are out with vengeance — be careful

They are insidious arachnids that emerge from tall grass, wood piles and leaf litter to feed on warm-blooded creatures. What makes ticks so creepy is once they find a host — a human, a dog, or wild animal — they crawl around until they find a place to begin sucking blood. Usually, it’s where a capillary is close to the surface of the skin. A walk through the woods, tall grass, and weeds,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ky’s dirty dozen noxious, invasive plants threaten state’s ecological integrity

They are atop everyone’s list of the most destructive plants to Kentucky’s ecological integrity. These noxious, invasive exotics out-compete native plants, threaten biodiversity, and in some cases pose a health risk to livestock and humans. The battle to rid the state of these exotic pest plants rages on each Spring on public and private lands and highway right-of-ways. In accordance with KRS 176.051,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is a tiny gravity-defying wonder of nature

When wildflowers and trees bloom in the Spring, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) returns to Kentucky to nest. Its distant wintering grounds, hundreds of miles south, are mostly open, or dry tropical scrub, rather than rain forests. The winter is spent in South Florida, Mexico and Central America, as far south as Panama. The hummingbirds that winter in Mexico or Central America,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Strength, flexibility training in offseason is key to bowhunting into 60s and beyond

Senior archers have the advantage of experience. Over the years they have learned when, where and how to hunt and have a good understanding of the details that often make the difference between arrowing a deer and coming home empty-handed. But with age, the physical demands of bow hunting get more challenging, especially the heavy work like putting up treestands and dragging a harvested deer out of...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The distinctive Five-lined skink, a harmless, beneficial lizard found statewide

They are reptiles, with long tails, distinctive coloration as juveniles, and a carnivorous appetite. Hint: it’s not a snake. The Five-Lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus) is a lizard, one of five species of skinks found in Kentucky. Secretive, like most reptiles, the Fine-Lined Skink spends most of its time crawling under rocks, leaf debris or woodpiles, but on a warm spring day, the distinctively-marked...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: With elk restoration in Kentucky completed, harvest management begins

This is the second article in an occasional series on elk in Kentucky. From 1997 through 2002, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife employees live-trapped 1,547 elk from wild herds in Kansas, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon, and North Dakota, and transported them by truck to eight stocking sites in Harlan, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Martin, Perry and Pike counties. With stocking completed, the harvest...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Hunters, anglers can never have too many tools for different outdoor chores

Hunters and anglers can’t have too many knives. It’s not about hoarding or collecting, but rather having the right tool for every job. We’re talking primarily about blades for eviscerating, skinning, and de-boning game, including shears and saws to aid in the butchering, and tools to scale, skin, and fillet fish. All these tools, and more, are needed for the wide range of outdoor chores. Here’s...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The groundhog celebrated in folklore/hunted as a varmint because of crop damage

The groundhog (Marmota monax), a.k.a. the woodchuck, is celebrated in folklore as a weather prognosticator. Every February 2nd America’s most most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, delivers his annual prediction for the beginning of warm weather from Gobbler’s Knob, a hill outside of Punxsutawney, Pa., a small town 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The groundhog is a member of family Sciuridae,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: As wet weather continues, monitor lake and river levels for fishing success

Our wet spring continues. Many of the state’s best fishing lakes are very high now, and localized flooding is likely to keep anglers off streams and rivers for some time. Tuesday’s wave of heavy rainstorms, on top of an already saturated ground, brought another surge of runoff. Since mid-March, lake and river levels have been going up and down dramatically. This unsettled weather pattern is driving...