A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: After a messy March, weather is improving in time for Spring wild turkey season

After a messy March, filled with snow squalls and cold rains, the weather is beginning to warm up, just in time for Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season. The weather forecast for April in Central Kentucky is near normal to slightly below normal daytime temperatures, with above normal nighttime temperatures, and much less rainfall than in recent weeks. “Biologically, photoperiod (length of daylight)...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Spring fishing is underway, but anglers should monitor weather trends

The calendar says yes, but the weather forecast can be iffy. Spring fishing is underway and now is the time for anglers to pay close attention to weather trends — temperature fluctuations, outlooks for precipitation, and storm fronts, to pick the best times to wet a line. Springtime in Kentucky means unsettled weather, and sometimes snow, as we experienced this week. Make the most of your time...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Time to scout and develop a game plan as spring turkey season approaches

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward The landscape awakens almost spontaneously from its winter slumber. Winter flocks break up into smaller groups. Innumerable turkey calls and lifelike decoys reappear at sporting goods retailers. Turkey hunters interpret these occurrences as signs that it will not be long before they are easing into their spots before dawn, filled with anticipation. In Kentucky, hunters...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The return of the cheerful Eastern Bluebird helps makes April special

For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s no month quite like April. Spring is coming on, days are warming and lengthening, and there’s so much to do outside — fishing, wild turkey hunting, gardening, or just hiking in the woods, enjoying colorful wildflowers. April is also the month when the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia Sialis) becomes more visible across rural Kentucky, gathering in pairs, or family...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Seasonal flooding impacts fish populations in Kentucky’s waterways

Seasonal flooding impacts fish populations in Kentucky’s rivers, lakes, and small streams. The impacts are both positive and negative, with short term and long term implications. Here’s some observations on flood-related impacts: The Kentucky River is basically a series of lakes under normal water conditions, but during floods it becomes a raging river as water cascades over dams, creating a surge...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Mischievous Eastern Chipmunk found statewide in range of habitats

They are at home in a wide range of habitats across Kentucky, from urban parks and suburban yards to rural woodlands. The mischievous chipmunk is seemingly always going somewhere in a hurry, digging burrows, or busy gathering food. At home in a wide range of habitats across Kentucky, from urban parks and suburban yards, to rural woodlands, the mischievous chipmunk is seemingly always going somewhere...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The American Robin, migratory songbird and harbinger of spring

In folklore, the American Robin is symbolic of impending warmer weather and is believed to be a harbinger of Spring. The sight of “robin redbreast” on suburban lawns after the retreat of a snow or cold snap in February or early March, is happy news in the waning days of winter. With the advance of cold weather robins begin to feed heavily on fruits, mainly wild berries such as the berries on holly...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Kentucky announces updated 2018 fishing regulations effective March 1

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward A reduction in the statewide daily creel limit from 30 fish to 20 fish for crappie highlights the new fishing regulations for 2018. The regulations go into effect March 1. “Anglers requested this regulation,” said Ron Brooks, director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The amount of hours spent crappie fishing and the...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Motorists, dog owner’s beware, skunk mating season a stinky proposition

Driving rural backroads or busy highways through wooded suburbs, motorists are likely to see skunk carcasses in the road this time of year. The reason is simple — it’s mating season, and skunks, particularly males, are roaming around in search of mates. The nocturnal mammals aren’t that fast or agile and have predominately black fur, so they get run over unintentionally on dark roadways....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: January’s unseasonably cold weather created hunting and fishing opportunities

The calendar says we have turned the corner on Winter as today is day 50 of the 89-day season. But the big question is, “How much longer will the cold weather last?” Temperatures in January were below normal across Kentucky. When there was a snow cover, wind chills dipped below zero on several mornings. The National Weather Service (NWS) reported that it was the coldest January 1-7 on record...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Woodpeckers are a Kentucky native negatively impacted by invasive Starling

Woodpeckers are found throughout Kentucky, and are most abundant wherever semi-open forests or big trees are present. In winter, several species of woodpeckers often frequent backyard bird feeders, where they can be observed up close and photographed. Place trays on the ground filled with mixed bird seed that includes black oil sunflower seeds, and hang suet cakes in wire cage feeders, and it’s...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Shelby County honors founder Squire Boone with statue

Squire Boone (1744-1815) was an explorer, long hunter, gunsmith, land surveyor, Revolutionary War soldier and the brother of legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone. Shelby County recently honored Squire Boone as the founder of their community with a bronze statue created by Louisville sculptor Raymond Graf. “From inception to completion, the project took over five years,” said Joseph Ruble, who came...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Hunters post fifth-highest deer harvest on record; call for trophy deer entries

By Kevin Kelly Special to KyForward Looking at the total number of deer harvested by hunters in Kentucky during the 2017-18 season, it would appear nothing was out of the ordinary. The season ended earlier this month. When it did, hunters had combined to take more than 136,000 deer across the state, making it the sixth consecutive season with a harvest total greater than 130,000 and the fifth highest...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Tail waters of Lake Cumberland offer excellent winter fishing

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward Consistency is a trait all anglers love in a body of water. Most lakes and rivers in Kentucky go through seasonal temperature swings that make fishing tough during the hottest and coldest months of the year. The Cumberland River below Lake Cumberland fishes as consistently as any body of water in Kentucky. The water temperatures of the Cumberland River at Burkesville...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A look back at 20 years since inception of Kentucky’s elk restoration project

This is the first in an occasional series of articles on elk in Kentucky, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the elk restoration project.  The end-of-the-year holiday celebrations have a special significance this year as it was 20 years ago this December 18th that Kentucky’s elk restoration project began. The return of elk to the mountains of eastern Kentucky has had an immense social, economic...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Some facts about the Blue Jay, the lovable bully at the backyard bird feeder

Striking blue plumage, and raucous calls, have enamored the Blue Jay to generations of bird watchers across Kentucky. At home in forests, farmlands and semi-open habitats, the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is common throughout the state. In The Kentucky Breeding Bird Atlas, author Brainard Palmer-Ball Jr. wrote “it is likely that the Blue Jay has always been widespread in Kentucky.” Striking blue...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: 2017-18 deer harvest update; 38 eastern counties impacted by EHD outbreak

With a month of hunting left in the 2017-18 deer season let’s take a look at the harvest, impacted somewhat by weather, and a severe outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in eastern Kentucky. The 16-day modern gun season, which ended on November 26, is deer season’s main event, and constitutes the bulk of the harvest. During the 16-day modern gun season, which ended on November 26, hunters...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Red-tailed Hawk, Kentucky’s most conspicuous raptor

The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), a year-round resident, is perhaps the most conspicuous raptor in Kentucky. This large hawk, often observed paired up the late fall and winter, is one of six hawk species that nest in-state, including the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, and Northern Harrier. Beginning in November, local resident populations of Red-tailed...