A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Cast iron cookware has been used for generations in traditional Kentucky cooking

Venerable cast iron cookware has a place in the hearts of generations of Kentucky cooks who love to prepare traditional meals for family and friends. On a campout, there’s nothing quite like a breakfast of thick-sliced hardwood smoked bacon or country sausage, fried up with eggs in a cast iron skillet over an open fire. A cast iron dutch oven (Photo from Lodge) At home on the weekend, coming in...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky Wild program supports endangered, threatened non-game wildlife

The Kentucky Wild program, launched during the summer of 2018 by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), directly supports non-game wildlife facing threats in our state. Many wildlife species that we take for granted like have experienced long term population declines in recent decades, most notably songbirds, bats and amphibians. Proceeds from membership in the program are...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: With striking looks and eerie sounds, the Great Horned Owl is a Halloween icon

A night hunter with a striking appearance and eerie vocalizations, this owl is a Halloween icon. The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is a large, powerful bird with bright yellow eyes, brown, tan and whitish/gray plumage that provides good camouflage in forests, and distinctive “horns,” tufts of feathers called plumicorns. The Great Horned Owl is one of five owl species that nests in Kentucky....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Kentucky is home to a rich diversity of native and non-native fish and wildlife

A wide variety of fish and wildlife species are found throughout Kentucky. While most are native species, several notable desirable non-native species have been introduced into our woods and waters. There are also a few undesirable, non-native species that have taken up residency here. Here’s some insight and details, based on information posted on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: This native shorebird has a name that brings a smile to the face of deer hunters

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is easily identifiable by its distinctive plumage, preferred habitat, feeding behavior, shrill calls and the way adult nesting pairs lure predators away from their eggs or young. Everything about the Killdeer is unusual, for example: The Killdeer is common throughout Kentucky (Photo from Wikipedia Commons) • A rather large wading bird (plover), adults can be 11...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Instances of drought have a significant impact on wildlife and landscape

Drought, even a moderate drought, has an immediate, noticeable impact on the landscape. It’s officially autumn, but you wouldn’t know by the weather forecast. In central Kentucky daytime, high temperatures have averaged about 10 degrees above normal in recents weeks. On September 23, a rain “event” of 0.02 inches was reported at the Louisville International Airport weather station, ending a...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: When using a treestand, deer hunters must focus on safety, pay attention to details

With bow season underway, hunters are making final preparations or may have already hunted a time or two on the few cool mornings we’ve had since the season started September 7. If you are planning on taking to the trees, stay focused on treestand safety. While it’s still too hot to hunt most days, now is a good time to check out your treestand, and re-familiarize yourself with its safe use. When...

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 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: New book is first to highlight the unique diversity of Red River Gorge watershed

Rock Bridge is one of more than 100 natural sandstone arches in the Red River Gorge. (Photo from Wikipedia Commons) Red River Gorge National Geological Area, a unique natural area in Daniel Boone National Forest, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year to east-central Kentucky. Wildflowers and Ferns of Red River Gorge and the Greater Red River Basin is the first book of its kind on the Gorge...

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...