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...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Good weather forecast predicted for Kentucky’s late fall turkey season

A warming trend will create good hunting conditions for the opening weekend of Kentucky’s late fall wild turkey season. The second of two fall seasons open to hunting with shotguns, the seven-day season opens tomorrow, Saturday, December 2 and continues through Friday, December 8. The forecast is calling for above normal temperatures in Central Kentucky Saturday and Sunday, then a chance of rain...

Art Lander: Predators of the night, Kentucky’s most common owls; have incredible hearing, acute vision

They are predators of the night. Most active from twilight to dawn, they are able to locate prey in darkness because of their incredible sense of hearing and acute vision. Owls have large, forward-facing eyes and a facial disk that acts as a parabolic reflector, enabling them to precisely locate sounds. Some species have asymmetrical ears that aid in homing in on these sounds. Soft plumage makes them...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: 2017 deer season update, opening weekend gun season harvest fifth highest

Heading into the second week of Kentucky’s 16-day modern gun season for deer, now’s a good time to update the harvest reports for the 2017 season and take a look at recent trends. Here’s an overview of how the season has progressed so far: Since archery season opened on September 2, bow hunters in Kentucky have bagged 14,475 deer (Photo by Art Lander Jr.) • Since archery season opened 75...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky’s Elk Herd a “Seed Crop” for Appalachia, other herds outside the region

In Colonial America elk were common east of the Mississippi River. The eastern elk (Cervus canadensis canadensis), which was native to Kentucky, was one of six subspecies of elk that inhabited the northern and eastern U.S., and southern Canada. The eastern elk was larger than its western cousins. A full-grown bull could weigh up to 1000 pounds, stand 50-60 inches tall at the shoulder, and carry a...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Gray squirrels may be state’s most abundant, widely-distributed game animal

The Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) may be the most abundant, widely-distributed game animal in Kentucky. They make their homes in leaf nests and the cavities of large trees, in a wide range of environments. This includes remote forests of mountainous eastern Kentucky, farm woodlands, river bottoms, small towns, suburban backyards, and city parks. Kentucky is about 50 percent forested,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: White-tailed deer rut full of emotion and romance — best time to hunt deer

Coming soon to a woods near you — the rut — the white-tailed deer’s annual mating season. It doesn’t play out on the silver screen, but the story that unfolds is filled with emotion, ritual, and romance, like some award-winning movie. Halloween is the unofficial kick off of the deer rut in Kentucky, and if the weather cooperates (not warm and windy), deer will be on their feet during...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Take advantage of falling temperatures to find fall spots to bank fish for bass

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The length of day relative to the time of year never changes. As the nights lengthen slightly with each passing day in fall, the overnight temperatures drop and pull heat from the top layers of lakes. This development is already underway, but will peak over the next month and make excellent fishing conditions for black bass. “The cooler, oxygenated water in...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A look back at a half century of wildlife management milestones in Kentucky

The Baby Boomer Generation grew up hunting small game close to home — squirrels in groves of hickory trees in August and doves in September over harvested tobacco field sown in winter wheat. Around Thanksgiving, rabbits, and maybe a covey or two of quail, were jumped up from thick weeds and brush along the borders of farm fields. Hunters who grew up in the far western counties of the state,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Changing deer patterns can result in the ritual ‘October Lull’ for hunters

Most bow hunters will tell you the most difficult time to hunt deer during Kentucky’s 136-day archery season may be the so-called October Lull. In early-to-mid October deer seem to disappear into thin air. Early season stands where hunters saw lots of deer suddenly go cold, as if some mythical switch has been flipped. In fact, there’s no drop off in deer activity. The October Lull can be explained...