A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Dark-eyed Junco — It’s a sure sign of cold weather when this snowbird arrives

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles about small songbirds most often seen around bird feeders in rural and suburban areas of Kentucky during the late fall and winter. The Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) is the very definition of the term “snowbird,” living most of the year at high elevations in northern latitudes, then heading south as cold weather sets in and the snow...

Expanded opportunities lead to new harvest record for modern gun deer season concluded Nov. 25

A record 106,797 deer were taken over Kentucky’s 16-day modern gun season that concluded Nov. 25, topping the previous record from 2015 by almost 1,400 deer. “We anticipated an increase in harvest for the season due to several changes in deer regulations implemented earlier this year,” said Gabe Jenkins, Deer and Elk Program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Holiday gift ideas for the anglers, hunters and target shooters on your list

Is there an angler, hunter or target shooter on your holiday shopping list? New gear is always an appreciated gift. Below are some items they would like to find under the tree on Christmas morning: The Z Man Turbo Crawz(Photo provided) • For the bass angler, advanced plastic baits from Z Man Fishing. Their proprietary manufacturing process created ElaZtech® material, which is soft and pliable, yet...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Our state’s many streams and rivers are an important part of history, everyday life

They are present everywhere we travel — to work, school, or shopping trips in urban, rural or suburban areas. Driving Kentucky roadways you are likely to cross a small stream or river, or see one off in the distance. Kentucky waterways, important in our history, and part of our daily life, are where we escape to relax and recreate — fish, hunt, canoe, kayak, pleasure boat, or simply take...

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Colds temperatures mean optimistic outlook for upcoming waterfowl season

By Lee McClellan Special to KyForward The first snippets of snow fell last week, making most people frown, but put a smile on the faces of Kentucky waterfowl hunters. The cold weather the week before the waterfowl season opener on Thanksgiving Day is a good sign. “Waterfowl hunting in Kentucky is nearly 100 percent weather dependent,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist for the Kentucky Department...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A regional migrant, the American black duck is prized by Kentucky hunters

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final article in a series about the ducks taken by hunters in Kentucky during waterfowl season. The American black duck (Aix rubripes) is a regional migrant prized by hunters because of its scarcity. They are most often taken in the eastern third of Kentucky while hunting the Ohio River, its backwaters and tributaries, from Cincinnati to Ashland. This large...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The wood duck ranks third among waterfowl harvested across the state

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles about the ducks most often taken by hunters in Kentucky during waterfowl season. The wood duck (Aix sponsa) is Kentucky’s homegrown duck, nesting throughout the state in trees along creeks, rivers, and wetlands, and in reservoirs where flooded timber is present. Last season hunters in Kentucky bagged 9,721 “woodies,” ranked third...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: For deer hunters across Kentucky ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’

The lyrics are from a Christmas song made famous by Andy Williams in 1963. But, for Kentucky deer hunters, November is “the most wonderful time of the year.” When the calendar flips, the interaction between does and bucks begins to heat up as the days get shorter, and the nights cooler. The timing of the rut, the white-tailed deer’s annual mating season, is the question every deer hunter wants...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Gadwall ranks second in Kentucky duck harvest, third in Mississippi flyway

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles about the ducks most often taken by hunters in Kentucky during waterfowl season. The gadwall (Anas strepera) ranks second in duck harvest in Kentucky, and third throughout the 14 states of the Mississippi Flyway. Last waterfowl season hunters in Kentucky hunters bagged 16,942 gadwall ducks. (Photo courtesy of the Audubon Society) Last...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Mallard, Kentucky’s most-taken species during waterfowl season

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles about the ducks most often taken by hunters in Kentucky during waterfowl season. The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is Kentucky’s top duck, the species most often taken by hunters during waterfowl season. “Of the 144,400 ducks taken in 2017, 76,376 were mallards,” said John Brunjes, migratory bird program coordinator for the Kentucky...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Rural Kentucky landowners asked to be on lookout for wild pigs on their property

Landowners in southeastern Henry County recently received a letter from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) asking for help in locating the remaining wild pigs in the county. “In the last three years we have prioritized four areas across the state to concentrate our efforts,” said wildlife biologist John Hast, program coordinator for the department’s wild pig eradication...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Green River National Wildlife Refuge near Henderson to protect nearly 24,000 acres

Plans are in the works for the establishment of a national wildlife refuge near Henderson. A statement posted on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website in part read, “The Service has been directed to approve the establishment of the Green River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), near the confluence of the Green River and Ohio River in Henderson County. The refuge should consist of approximately...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The spotted (Kentucky) bass not recognized as a separate species until 1927

Once thought to be a hybrid between the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, and easily confused with the largemouth bass in coloration, the spotted bass was not recognized by ichthyologists as a separate species until 1927. The spotted bass is one of four species of black bass found in Kentucky waters. All are members of family, Centrarchidae, which includes sunfish and crappie. Identification in...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Some of the best fishing for smallmouth bass arrives with autumn, as waters cool

With the arrival of autumn, as water temperatures begin to decline because of cooler nights and shorter days, anglers turn their attention to smallmouth bass. The best fishing for this species of black bass is during the cool to cold weather months, when they tend to be shallower, and more active. One of four species of black bass found in Kentucky waters, the smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui)...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Richard Taylor’s new book explores history, inhabitants of Elkhorn Creek

Richard Taylor, a professor of English and Kenan Visiting Writer at Transylvania University, explores the natural history, early inhabitants, and commerce along an eight-mile stretch of the main stem of the Bluegrass Region’s most esteemed waterway in his new book Elkhorn: Evolution of a Kentucky Landscape, published by University Press of Kentucky. Paul Sawyier (1865-1917) was an American impressionist...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: 19th Central Ky. reel makers sparked popularity of bass sport angling in America

The many beautiful, free-flowing streams of Central Kentucky spawned more than bountiful populations of black bass. They encouraged generations of 19th-century anglers turned inventors to build and perfect fishing reels that would spark the popularity of sport angling in America. John Milam, son of B.C. Milam, became an apprentice, and eventual partner in his father’s reel making business. Their...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: 2018-19 Kentucky Deer Season Preview; Job #1 — Harvest More Does

When Kentucky’s 2018-19 deer season opens tomorrow, with the beginning of archery hunting, opportunities to bring home some venison couldn’t be better. Kentucky’s deer herd is large, populations in some counties are at an all-time high, and regulations have been significantly liberalized. Kentucky’s 143-day archery season opens September 1 and continues through January 21, 2019. Archery season...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: When it comes to bow hunting accuracy it’s all about repetition

Bow hunting accuracy is all about repetition — doing everything the same way every shot. Whether you are punching holes in a foam target in the backyard or drawing on a deer while hunting from a tree stand in the woods, the ability to put an arrow where you want it to go depends on a series of events that must be duplicated as practiced and perfectly executed. Here’s some advice on pre-shot...

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...