A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: From film to digital, remote cameras have been used by hunters for ages

This is part one of a two-part series on the evolution of remote cameras from the film era to today’s infrared digital scouting cameras, and how trail cameras are used by deer and wild turkey hunters. Using remote cameras to capture images of wildlife dates back much farther in the past than probably imagined. In the infancy of film photography in the late 19th century, innovative wildlife photographers...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Raccoons in the attic? Nuisance wildlife no laughing matter for people, pets

Kentucky is blessed with a diversity of wildlife – some 74 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, and 112 species of reptiles and amphibians. Many landowners encourage wildlife on their property and spend countless hours and considerable sums of money to improve habitat for rabbits and quail, white-tailed deer and wild turkeys. But when a family of raccoons takes up residence in the attic, or...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Early Kentucky’s era of exploitation awakened conservation movement

This second article in a two-part series, in honor of Kentucky’s 225th anniversary of statehood, focuses on the 150 years from 1750 to 1900, with a timeline of human use of natural resources. The research for this article is courtesy of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Kentucky’s historical era began when Virginia physician and land speculator Thomas Walker passed through...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: State’s 225th anniversary recalls Kentucky’s early bountiful resources, native peoples

First of two-part series, in honor of Kentucky’s 225th anniversary of statehood, explores the flora and fauna of early Kentucky, Native American cultures, and human use of natural resources during pre-history. The research for this article is courtesy of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Just as the giants of the Pleistocene Era (Ice Age) were dying out, a primitive stone age...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Once upon a time, American bison was free-ranging native Kentucky species

During Kentucky’s pioneer era, longhunters and early explorers feasted on buffalo steaks and roasts. Herds were vast and had a significant impact on the land, grazing down vegetation as they traveled, and creating an extensive network of wide trails throughout the state. Many of Kentucky’s buffalo trails served as primitive roads for early explorers, and eventually became state and federal highways...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: It’s a dangerous world out there, but wildlife finds a way to survive and thrive

A Cooper’s hawk snatches a young squirrel from the side of a tree, a red fox finds a nest of newborn rabbits in an overgrown field, and a largemouth bass ambushes an unsuspecting school of minnows. These are all examples of predation, the drama of predator versus prey, that plays out everyday in Kentucky’s woods, fields and waterways. Many species of wildlife prey on (eat) other animals to survive...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Of all the Asian exotic threats to woodlands, chestnut blight stands out as worst

Anglers bemoan the scourge of Asian carp — silver and bighead carp — fouling our rivers and lakes at the expense of bass, crappie, striped bass, walleye and other game fish. Land managers spend thousands of dollars and man hours eradicating Asian Bush Honeysuckle, which forms dense thickets in forest understories, shading out, and out-competing native vegetation, posing a threat not only...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: By the numbers — here’s a closer look at fish and wildlife facts in Kentucky

Here’s some fish and wildlife facts by the numbers: *4 Hunters took fewer than 100 wild turkeys in 4 of Kentucky’s 120 counties during the recently-concluded 2017 spring wild turkey season: Jefferson, 90; Woodford, 85; Fulton, 84, and Fayette, 70. *8 Why do white-tailed deer seem to be always eating? Because, every day they require 8 pounds of vegetation per 100 pounds of body weight. * 9 A white-tailed...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Much more than a toy, the slingshot has come of age as legal hunting weapon

Charles Goodyear’s process of making vulcanized rubber was revolutionary, leading to the eventual creation of a wide range of products beneficial to society — from automobile tires to inflatable life jackets. But the development of the slingshot was likely an unintended consequence of the self-taught chemist and manufacturing engineer’s invention, which was patented on June 15, 1844. The...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky’s spring squirrel hunting season has deep historical roots

Hunting squirrels is a tradition that dates back to early Kentucky. During the settlement era, as other wild game became scarce, subsistence hunters turned their attention to squirrels to feed their families, taking them with small-caliber flintlock longrifles and smooth bore fowlers, loaded with shot. In Kentucky’s vast forests, squirrels are abundant, and active throughout most of the year. According...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest — the legacy of a German immigrant

Isaac Wolfe Bernheim immigrated to the U.S. from Germany when he was 17 years old. When he reached New York, he had $4 in his pocket. But like many hard working German immigrants in the 19th century, he thrived in America’s land of opportunity, adopted its values and way of life, and prospered financially. At first he traveled on horseback, peddling household goods and hardware to German immigrants...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Vertical jigging for walleye, sauger, saugeye — Spring’s overlooked presentation

Vertical jigging may be the most overlooked presentation for catching walleye, sauger and saugeye in Kentucky’s lakes and rivers during the spring. In March and April these fish stack up below dams in rivers and lake tailwaters, and move into the headwaters of reservoirs, drawn by the current from feeder creeks and rivers. They school by size and concentrate around bottom structure, facing into...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: A quality decoy can provide wild turkey hunters with an advantage

It has happened to every wild turkey hunter. A gobbler responds to calling and moves towards the hunter, but abruptly stops, and hangs up just out of gun range. The hunter can see the gobbler but the gobbler doesn’t see a hen — what he thinks is the source of those seductive clucks and yelps. It’s a situation where hunting with a quality decoy could have been the difference between just another...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: With warmer weather, lots of food options, spring turkey season looks promising

With Kentucky’s spring wild turkey season on the horizon, the outlook is promising. A number of factors seem to point to better than average hunting conditions and flock status. Hens and gobblers are in excellent body condition after a heavy mast crop last fall, and a mild winter. The AccuWeather forecast for Central Kentucky is calling for average to above average temperatures, with near normal...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The eagle has landed — survived and flourished — back from the brink

This is the last of a two-part series on the comeback of America’s national symbol. On July 12, 1995 federal biologists believed that populations had recovered enough so that the bald eagle could be taken off the endangered species list, and designated as a threatened species. That designation lasted just 12 years. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the delisting of the bald eagle...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Bald Eagle nesting resurgence — back from the brink of extinction

This is the first of a two-part series on the comeback of America’s national symbol. The Bald Eagle’s comeback from the brink of extinction is one of our country’s greatest conservation success stories. In Kentucky today there are more eagle habitat, and the number of nesting pairs of eagles may actually be higher than during the late 18th century, when explorers, long hunters and settlers first...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The wild turkey in Kentucky and the story of the return of a native species

Second article of a two-part series on the wild turkey in Kentucky. Wildlife trades were an important component of wild turkey restoration efforts in Kentucky in the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1970s turkeys were obtained from private hunting clubs in Mississippi and Arkansas, in exchange for white-tailed deer. These deer-turkey trades lasted from 1978 until 1981 and provided around 400 birds. In...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The wild turkey in Kentucky — the comeback story of a native species

First of a two-part series on the wild turkey in Kentucky — remnant flocks, limited hunting opportunities and early restoration efforts. It’s not unusual to drive down a country road in late March or early April and see a group of wild turkey hens being “courted” by a strutting gobbler in a roadside field. If you live in wild turkey country, and count the days until the spring hunting season,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Don’t forget the squirrels — Kentucky hunting season’s last hurrah

A still afternoon is the ideal time to enjoy a few hours in the woods squirrel hunting. The season will be over soon, so don’t pass up the opportunity, especially when temperatures moderate. There are plenty of squirrels in Kentucky’s woodlands, and bag limits are generous. Kentucky’s fall 2016-17 squirrel season ends Feb. 28. The daily bag limit is six squirrels. There’s a higher percentage...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: With the onset of February, it’s time to begin the annual search for shed antlers

Now is the time to start looking for shed antlers. By early February in Kentucky bucks have “dropped” their antlers from the past year. They weaken at the pedicle (base), and fall off the deer’s skull, usually when jarred loose by jumping a ditch (or fence), getting up from the their beds, running, or walking through thick cover. A scab forms over the pedicles and new growth won’t resume for...