A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Rock bass, at home in rocky, cool waters, are a favorite with stream fishermen

Editor’s Note: This is the third article in a series about Kentucky’s native sunfish species. The rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris) is most often caught from rocky, cool water streams in Central and Eastern Kentucky. A favorite with stream fishermen, the rock bass in known by the common names of red eye or goggle-eye. Statewide, there’s no daily creel limit, with no minimum size limit. The...

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...

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: 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: 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: 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: The Eastern Kingbird, a snappy dresser, aerial artist and migratory traveler

The Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) is a snappy dresser, an aerial artist that catches its prey on the wing, and spends the winter in tropical climes. Its demeanor and distinctive plumage are all business — upright posture, white shirt (breast), and dark suit — gray head, back, wings and white-tipped square tail. Coloration is similar to the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), but...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Looking back on spring turkey season; harvest downturn raised questions

Kentucky’s 2018 spring wild turkey season was a head scratcher — certainly not what most hunters have experienced in recent years. From county to county, the harvest varied, but overall, the turkey harvest was down statewide. Post-season, hunters are pondering a few puzzling questions. In some counties, hunters reported observing fewer turkeys and hearing less gobbling than in recent years....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is a tiny gravity-defying wonder of nature

When wildflowers and trees bloom in the Spring, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) returns to Kentucky to nest. Its distant wintering grounds, hundreds of miles south, are mostly open, or dry tropical scrub, rather than rain forests. The winter is spent in South Florida, Mexico and Central America, as far south as Panama. The hummingbirds that winter in Mexico or Central America,...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The distinctive Five-lined skink, a harmless, beneficial lizard found statewide

They are reptiles, with long tails, distinctive coloration as juveniles, and a carnivorous appetite. Hint: it’s not a snake. The Five-Lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus) is a lizard, one of five species of skinks found in Kentucky. Secretive, like most reptiles, the Fine-Lined Skink spends most of its time crawling under rocks, leaf debris or woodpiles, but on a warm spring day, the distinctively-marked...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Spring fishing is underway, but anglers should monitor weather trends

The calendar says yes, but the weather forecast can be iffy. Spring fishing is underway and now is the time for anglers to pay close attention to weather trends — temperature fluctuations, outlooks for precipitation, and storm fronts, to pick the best times to wet a line. Springtime in Kentucky means unsettled weather, and sometimes snow, as we experienced this week. Make the most of your time...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The American Robin, migratory songbird and harbinger of spring

In folklore, the American Robin is symbolic of impending warmer weather and is believed to be a harbinger of Spring. The sight of “robin redbreast” on suburban lawns after the retreat of a snow or cold snap in February or early March, is happy news in the waning days of winter. With the advance of cold weather robins begin to feed heavily on fruits, mainly wild berries such as the berries on holly...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Motorists, dog owner’s beware, skunk mating season a stinky proposition

Driving rural backroads or busy highways through wooded suburbs, motorists are likely to see skunk carcasses in the road this time of year. The reason is simple — it’s mating season, and skunks, particularly males, are roaming around in search of mates. The nocturnal mammals aren’t that fast or agile and have predominately black fur, so they get run over unintentionally on dark roadways....

Art Lander’s Outdoors: January’s unseasonably cold weather created hunting and fishing opportunities

The calendar says we have turned the corner on Winter as today is day 50 of the 89-day season. But the big question is, “How much longer will the cold weather last?” Temperatures in January were below normal across Kentucky. When there was a snow cover, wind chills dipped below zero on several mornings. The National Weather Service (NWS) reported that it was the coldest January 1-7 on record...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Good weather forecast predicted for Kentucky’s late fall turkey season

A warming trend will create good hunting conditions for the opening weekend of Kentucky’s late fall wild turkey season. The second of two fall seasons open to hunting with shotguns, the seven-day season opens tomorrow, Saturday, December 2 and continues through Friday, December 8. The forecast is calling for above normal temperatures in Central Kentucky Saturday and Sunday, then a chance of rain...

Art Lander: Predators of the night, Kentucky’s most common owls; have incredible hearing, acute vision

They are predators of the night. Most active from twilight to dawn, they are able to locate prey in darkness because of their incredible sense of hearing and acute vision. Owls have large, forward-facing eyes and a facial disk that acts as a parabolic reflector, enabling them to precisely locate sounds. Some species have asymmetrical ears that aid in homing in on these sounds. Soft plumage makes them...

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: 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...