A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Belted Kingfisher is a sure sign of good fishing for stream anglers

The Belted Kinkfisher (Photo by Brian Kushner, Audubon Society) The Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) is a good luck charm for anglers, most often observed along wooded streams. When you see one of these distinctive birds perched on a snag, or flying overhead, it’s a sure sign the fishing must be good. That’s because this water bird, easily identified by its slate blue and white plumage, and...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: News and observations as Kentucky’s white-tailed deer season set to begin

Kentucky’s 2019-20 hunting season for white-tailed deer opens tomorrow, with the beginning of archery hunting, a 136-day season that continues through Monday, January 20, 2020. Below are some news and observations about our most popular big game animal. • Deer numbers in the U.S. have grown since the 1930s when the population had dropped to an all-time low estimate of 300,000. • In the past...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The distinctive call of the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo foretells of summer storms

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a weather forecaster, of sorts, in folklore. The secretive bird is heard, but seldom observed, calling from thick brush and woodlands during the summer. Its stuttering call: ka ka ka ka ka kow kow kow, kow-kowp, kowp, kowp, slows towards its end, and is audible at a great distance. The Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (Photo by Garth McElroy, courtesy of Audubon...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ky’s 2019-2020 white-tailed deer season opens Sept. 7, here’s what to expect

(Graphic from KDFWR) (Click for larger image) Kentucky’s 2019-20 hunting season for white-tailed deer opens in two weeks, with the beginning of archery hunting on Saturday, September 7. The 136-day archery season continues through Monday, January 20, 2020. Archers are keeping their fingers crossed for cooler weather in the early season. It’s been a hot and dry July and August. According to the...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A look at Kentucky’s elk population; facts about elk seasons from 2017-2019

Editor’s note: This is the third article in an occasional series on elk in Kentucky. Elk (Cervus canadensis) in North America are divided into six subspecies by biologists, two which are extinct. According to a post on the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (REMF) website, more than 10 million elk roamed nearly all of the U. S. and parts of Canada, prior to European settlement. The Rocky Mountain...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A preview of Kentucky’s fall hunting seasons; update on tick activity across state

It’s summer, it’s hot, but Kentucky’s calendar of fall hunting seasons begins next week. Here are some details and observations: • Squirrel season, a 195-day split season opens August 17 and continues through February 29. The daily bag limit is six squirrels. Kentucky is heavily forested with hardwood trees and that means squirrels are abundant. Populations are stable but fluctuate slightly...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The .22 long rifle, the leader in sales worldwide and first firearm experience for many

A leader in sales both nationally and worldwide, the .22 Long Rifle is arguably the most popular cartridge of all time. For many rural Kentuckians or city folks who grew up in a family of hunters and shooters, their first experience with firearms was likely with this small rimfire cartridge. The .22 Long Rifle is arguably the most popular cartridge of all time (Photo courtesy of Art Lander) Rifles,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Alter your tackle, techniques for success when fishing in Kentucky’s summer heat

It’s been a challenging fishing year, weather-wise, with all that rain during the spring creating wildly fluctuating water levels, then summer came in hot. That’s Kentucky weather, wait a day and it will change, as the old saying goes. But there is stability in summer. When surface water temperatures warm into the mid-80s, many game fish species are in more predictable patterns, feed early and...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ky’s fourth species of Black Bass a mystery limited to Cumberland headwaters

Anglers across Kentucky are intimately familiar with the largemouth, smallmouth and spotted (Kentucky) bass. These three black bass species are found in most of the streams and reservoirs in the state’s nine major river systems — the Tennessee, Cumberland, Tradewater, Green, Salt, Kentucky, Licking, Little Sandy and Big Sandy. But the state’s fourth species of black bass is something of...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Common in rural Ky., the Barn Swallow is an acrobatic bird at home around humans

The barn swallow is an acrobatic bird, with its distinctive profile in flight, that’s at home around humans, nesting on bridge abutments, the rafters of barns, sheds, and the eaves of porches. They are most numerous in rural Kentucky, often observed along roadsides, flying over fields and pastures. A male barn swallow (Photo courtesy of National Audubon Society) The Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Wet springs cause many issues across Kentucky, nuisance chiggers are one

Wet springs cause all sorts of issues in rural and suburban Kentucky — delays in the plantings of farm crops and vegetable gardens, and the muddying up of creeks and rivers, that frustrates anglers. Heavy rains and warming temperatures cause the grass to grow insanely fast, making it a real chore just keeping up all that string trimming, and the mowing of grass in yards and fields. But the cruelest...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Squirrel season has a long tradition in Ky; spring season makes biological sense

During the settlement era in Kentucky, squirrels were an important source of food as larger game became less plentiful (Image from Wikimedia Commons) During the settlement era in Kentucky, as white-tailed deer, bison, elk, wild turkeys and black bears disappeared from the landscape, rural folks hunted small game for food. Subsistence hunters were often afield at times other than fall and winter, and...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Bullfrog season opens today; delicacy has been enjoyed by generations of Kyians

Bullfrog season opens in spring, but the nightly chorus is considered by many to be the song of summer. In the still night air the bullfrog’s deep, raspy call sounds like “jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum.” The allure of the season is being outdoors at night — listening to the sounds of whippoorwills and crickets, walking through fields of tall grass by the light of the moon and stars, marveling at...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Bowfishing basics: Shooting fish is an enjoyable off-season practice for hunters

Archers who hunt deer, elk and wild turkeys should consider shooting fish in the off-season. It’s an enjoyable practice that will help keep your archery skills sharp. Legendary archer Fred Bear is considered the father of modern bow fishing in America. (Photo from Bow Fishing Association of America) Bow fishing is most popular in late spring and summer after water conditions stabilized and surface...

Louisville angler Dennis Rhea lands state record saugeye from Shelby County’s Guist Creek Lake

Louisville resident Dennis Rhea won big on Kentucky Oaks Day – not for a bet on a thoroughbred horse running at Churchill Downs, but for a state record saugeye he caught in Shelby County’s Guist Creek Lake. Rhea was fishing the lake May 3 with Brody, his black Labrador retriever and favorite fishing partner, when something struck his silver minnow-shaped crankbait. He brought the fish to hand after...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky has long history of anglers fly fishing for bass in state’s lakes, streams

The early history of fly fishing for bass in Kentucky rivers and stream traces back to single-action, English-style reels — what we know today as click-and pawl reels. Early Kentucky settlers were of English and Scotch-Irish ancestry, and they had a deep love of fishing. Their forefathers practiced the art of fly fishing so the tackle and traditions of fly fishing came to America from the British...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Cutthroat trout becomes fourth species of trout to be stocked in Ky. waters

With the recent stocking of Cutthroat trout there are now four species of trout in Kentucky waters. All four species are non-native members of family Salmonidae, and can be caught in the Cumberland tailwaters, which extends for 75 miles from Wolf Creek Dam, which impounds Lake Cumberland, downstream to the Kentucky/Tennessee line. Cutthroat Trout On April 16 the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Snakes are common across rural Kentucky, and play beneficial role in nature

Snakes are common across rural Kentucky, and play a beneficial role in nature. Warming temperatures bring snakes out of hibernation, usually by mid-to-late April. “When they first emerge, snakes are covered with soil and silt,” said John MacGregor, herpetologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). “They shed their skin within a week or two.” A telltale sign that...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Spring wild turkey season tips and strategies for a successful hunt

Kentucky’s 23-day spring wild turkey general season opens tomorrow and continues through Sunday, May 5. At our farm, the afternoon before the opening morning is filled with ritual — listening for gobbling at dusk, as birds fly up to roost, a celebratory meal, and then getting gear organized. Turkey hunters have a lot of gear to keep track of, so make sure everything you need is in one place....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season opens April 6 with youth-only weekend

A wet March, combined with the extended forecast of seasonal to above-normal temperatures in April, is a good reason to be optimistic. Kentucky’s 2019 spring wild turkey season starts tomorrow, with the opening of the youth-only season, the weekend of April 6-7. The 23-day general statewide season begins the following Saturday, April 13, and runs through Sunday, May 5. Seasonal weather is good for...