A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: April is crappie month in Kentucky; vary tackle and techniques for success

A crappie is a crappie… well not exactly. The two species found in Kentucky waters look a lot alike, but their seasonal movements and habitat preferences are slightly different, so anglers need to vary their tackle and techniques for success. Here’s some strategies and observations about fishing in April, arguably our best month to catch crappie: Black Crappie (Image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The long-tailed weasel, a fearless little carnivore prevalent in Central Kentucky

This is the third article in an occasional series about furbearers in Kentucky. The word weasel is something of a dichotomy. By definition, a weasel is a deceitful or treacherous person. For some pet owners, weasel is a term of endearment. They call their small feisty dog, or mischievous cat, “you little weasel.” In nature, a weasel is a small mammal that looks cute and furry like a kid’s plush...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The muskrat is a native furbearer found in a variety of Kentucky waters

The Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) is a native furbearer found in farm ponds, slow-moving rivers, lakes and wetlands, wherever aquatic vegetation is present. They can be hunted or trapped during a 111-day season, which began November 11 and runs through February 29, in Kentucky. Muskrats are trapped for their fur pelts, which are used to make hats, jackets and coats. (Photo from Wikipedia Commons) Demand...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Mourning Dove, both a game bird and favorite at backyard bird feeders

(This is the ninth article in an occasional series about Kentucky’s backyard birds.) The Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is common and widely recognized across Kentucky, known for its speed on the wing, beautiful plumage and unique vocalization, a low mournful coo-ah, coo-ah, coo, coo, coo. Throughout the cold weather months, some local birds may band together with migrants. Small groups move...

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

There are just four shopping days until Christmas. Is there an angler, hunter or target shooter on your shopping list? Here’s some last-minute gift ideas: • For the angler, a pair of boat shoes, ideal for fishing and casual wear. Head to the nearest Bass Pro Shop/Cabela’s and pick up a pair of World Wide Sportsman Men’s Blue Water Boat Shoes. MSRP is $79.99. These comfortable, sturdy, lace-up...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Northern Flicker a frequent winter visitor to Kentucky’s backyard bird feeders

As the first day of winter approaches, and we get hard freezes and our first snows, homeowners begin feeding songbirds at backyard feeders. Maybe the holiday spirit of sharing with those less fortunate has something to do with the timing. Cold, ice and snow, which become more frequent around Christmas, means hard times are ahead for our feathered friends. Food becomes a priority just to maintain body...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: 20 years after first proposal Green River National Wildlife Refuge now a reality

(Photo from United States Fish and Wildlife Services) Almost 20 years after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) first published a proposal for a national wildlife refuge at the confluence of the Green and Ohio Rivers in Henderson County, the Green River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was officially established. The announcement was made Friday, November 22 by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: The Cooper’s Hawk is a winged hunter with awe-inspiring aerial skills

Hunters who spend a lot of time afield in the fall are likely to observe all sorts of amazing animal behavior, none more awe-inspiring than the aerial skills of the Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii). Like all raptors in this genus, the Cooper’s Hawk hunts on the wing, while flying through timber and brush. Its hunting skills are the very definition of stealth and surprise. The Cooper’s Hawks’...

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: The American Alligator, an iconic native species, thrives in the South’s wetlands

The American Alligator is known throughout the world as an iconic North American wildlife species (Photo from Wikipedia Commons) The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is known throughout the world as an iconic native wildlife species of North America, immortalized in country music and popular culture. “Polk salad Annie, gators got your granny,” is a lyric from a 2006 song by Tony...

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: 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: 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: Early spring chores important part of preparation for wild turkey, deer hunters

It’s that time of the year. Early spring is prime time to complete a number of important, annual chores on your farm, or hunting property, for the benefit of wild turkey and white-tailed deer. There are several reasons why now is the time to be out there, finishing wildlife management and habitat projects, scouting and getting re-familiarized with areas not visited that often. It’s a sure sign...

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Longear sunfish, the most abundant in Ky. streams, adapts well to reservoirs

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and last article in a series about Kentucky’s native sunfish species. The longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis ) is Kentucky’s most abundant stream sunfish, that adapts well to reservoirs impounded from major rivers. A beautifully-colored sunfish that is very familiar to anglers who fish rocky creeks, the longear is called a sun granny, or referred to simply...

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...