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Art Lander’s Outdoors: A look at the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on outdoor activities in Ky.


The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has reached into the outdoors, where we practice social distancing on purpose.

Fishing and hunting are open in Kentucky but there have been some changes enacted because of the health emergency.

Here’s some news and observations about fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities in Kentucky during the COVID-19 outbreak.

On its website the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) posted the following statement: “(We) encourage your outdoor recreational pursuits, but they should be done in a manner consistent with social distancing guidelines and in compliance with any orders from federal, state and local government.”

(Photo by Art Lander Jr.)

KDFWR social distancing recommendations for anglers include:

• Bank anglers should stay at least one fishing pole’s length away from other anglers. Find areas to fish away from places that others may naturally want to congregate, such as fishing piers.

• When fishing from a boat, fish with family members only. Do not share a boat with anyone you have not been in self-quarantine with you at your home.

• At boat ramps, avoid mass gatherings. Please spread out while waiting to launch your boat. Stay off the ramp if others are loading or unloading. Wait until the courtesy dock is clear of others. Avoid touching hand rails on the courtesy dock unless absolutely necessary.

Travel Concerns

Since Kentucky’s COVID-19 recommendations discourage “unnecessary” travel, officials want anglers to postpone overnight fishing trips to waters far from home until the all-clear is issued.

Remember that anyone who comes here from out-of-state to fish or hunt is required to self-quarantine for 14 days immediately upon arrival in Kentucky, before they can go afield.

On Friday, April 3 it was announced that effective immediately, non-resident spring turkey permits for the 2020 season will no longer be sold. This decision was made to conform to Gov. Andy Beshear’s Executive Order No. 2020-266, and current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Fish close to home. If there’s a stream, farm pond or small lake close to where you live that you have always wanted to try out, now might be a good time. Be sure to get the landowner’s permission, when necessary.

Closures and Cancellations

There have been numerous outdoors-related closures and cancellations.

Cumberland Falls (Photo by James St. John)

• To prevent overcrowding during the COVID-19 outbreak some local and municipal parks are closed. Check with city and county officials.

Two popular state parks, Natural Bridge State Resort Park and Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, are closed to all visitors until further notice. Also, all state park lodges, cottages, restaurants, playgrounds and campgrounds are closed.

Hiking trails and golf courses on state parks remain open.

Tours of Kentucky Historic Homes, Fort Boonesborough and Old Fort Harrod are closed.

• Campgrounds on 10 state wildlife management areas (WMA) are closed.

• All fishing tournaments in Kentucky are suspended until further notice.

• Summer Conservation Camp is closed for 2020.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

• The Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort is closed, but outdoor exhibits are still open to view wildlife. The fishing lakes at KDFWR headquarters are open.

• Here are some website links for the latest information on closures and cancellations:

The KDFWR website is fw.ky.gov

The Kentucky State Parks website is parks.ky.gov

The Daniel Boone National Forest website is www.fs.usda.gov

Outdoors Fun at Home

• If you live in a rural area, where the discharge of firearms is legal, enjoy some time target practicing, or plinking, which is shooting cans and bottles filled with water. Now, rather than the heat of summer is a good time to sight in your deer rifle, or practice with a new load, since temperatures early and late in the day are still mild, somewhat like fall.

• Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season is open through May 10. If you don’t have permission to hunt on private land, check out local state WMAs, which have good turkey populations and low hunter use.

• Use your extra time at home to catch up on outdoors-related activities. This may include trying flies, cleaning firearms, handloading ammunition, washing/cleaning your boat, or organizing gear.

It’s a good time to:

• Wash your fall hunting clothes — T-shirts, pants, bib overalls, jackets, ball caps, sock caps, gloves, long underwear and heavy socks.

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• Sort through fishing gear — rods and reels, tackle boxes, lures, fishing accessories (floats, hooks, sinkers, swivels, and line), rod holders, boating supplies, landing nets, and miscellaneous outerwear such as waders, hip boots and rain gear.

Organize tackle and make a wish list of needs, such as lures, hooks or line, or tackle storage boxes.

• Do the same for hunting gear — bows and arrows, and archery accessories (range finders, broadheads, field points, mechanical releases, etc.), gun-cleaning kits, shell boxes, ammunition, climbing treestands, decoys, and game calls. Make a list of equipment you need.

• If you hand load rifle, handgun or shotshell ammunition, make a note of loaded ammunition on hand,

Take an inventory of the primers, powder, bullets, brass, shot and shotgun hulls you have, and make a note future needs.

The outdoors in Kentucky offers many quality experiences to escape the anxiety of the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay safe, practice social distancing, and enjoy some time in the woods or on the waters.


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