By JOEL WILSON
Glasgow Daily Times
Barren River Rod and Gun Club members are reminded that the club will not be meeting on the first Thursday in December, but will be having their annual Christmas dinner and awards night on Saturday, Dec. 14. The club will be providing the meats and members are asked to bring sides or desserts. The “Big Bass” prizes will be presented that night.
For you hunters who want to try for a sandhill crane this season, this reminder that applications for crane hunting season permits will be accepted online at www.fw.ky.gov until Saturday.
According to a report this week from Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the state’s deer hunters set a harvest record of 101,076 deer during the 16-day modern gun deer season that concluded Nov. 24. Kentucky is on pace to set another overall deer harvest record.
“As of Nov. 25, we are at 127,551 for our total season harvest according to telecheck, less than 4,000 from the record,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We had the second highest opening day harvest for modern gun deer season and the highest closing weekend on record.”
The overall deer harvest record occurred last season, when Kentucky hunters harvested 131,395 deer. Brunjes said a below average harvest for the upcoming late muzzleloader season that runs from Dec. 14 through Dec. 22 would likely still put this season as the best ever for harvest.
“Given that an average late muzzleloader season is 7,000 to 8,000 deer harvested, barring an ice storm or major snow that keeps people from getting out and hunting, we should surpass the overall harvest record,” she said.
A spotty mast crop that makes deer move around, favorable weather and dedicated hunters all combined to account for the excellent harvest so far this deer season.
“The data shows that more Kentucky hunters who go afield are successfully taking deer,” Brunjes said. “In addition, lots of people from what I’ve seen are taking some nice bucks this year.”
Elsewhere, in the Kentucky Afield report this week writer Lee McClellan says the wet spring earlier this year left abundant food for waterfowl to eat this fall. This should make for productive hunting when the both duck and goose hunting seasons open Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.
“The waterfowl foods that grow in moist soils did excellent in late summer and came on strong,” said Rocky Pritchert, migratory bird coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We have really lush growth. It looks like it is going to be a productive waterfowl season across the state.”
Pritchert said waterfowl habitat conditions are good overall across Kentucky, but some areas are better than others. “Because of the wet spring, we were not able to get some of our food crops sown on some of the wildlife management areas (WMAs) until late this year,” he explained.
Waterfowl hunters need to remember that Cedar Creek Lake and Dix River WMAs in Lincoln County along with J.C. Williams WMA in Nelson County now have earlier closures for the upcoming waterfowl seasons. Hunters must cease hunting and be off these areas by 2 p.m. and may not enter them until 4 a.m.
Current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service population studies show about 45.6 million ducks in their annual survey area. Mallards are the most numerous ducks at 10.3 million birds.
Migration reports show many mallard ducks just to the north of Kentucky. “We had a good hatch this year and anticipation is high,” he said. “The northern breeding duck numbers look really good, a big improvement over last year when drought limited duck reproduction somewhat.”
Kentucky deer hunters, including Pritchert, report seeing many wood ducks this year while hunting. “Their plumage is looking good this year,” Pritchert said. “The wood ducks are really colorful. They are common in central and west Kentucky.”
Eastern Kentucky is home to many black ducks which find Kentucky’s habitat and climate hospitable. “We are the second largest harvest state in the Mississippi Flyway for black ducks,” Pritchert said. “They are more common in eastern Kentucky than other parts of the state.”
Resident Canada goose numbers in Kentucky remain stable after good reproduction this past spring. Hunters can find them from the Mississippi River in the west to Pike County’s Breaks Canyon in the east.
Smaller waters such as farm ponds, rivers and large creeks offer excellent Canada goose hunting opportunities.
“You’ve got to go and hunt,” Pritchert said. “You can’t hunt waterfowl from behind a desk.”
Duck season closes Jan. 26 while goose seasons including Canada goose, white-fronted goose, brant and snow goose close Jan. 31. Hunters must have a valid Kentucky hunting license, Kentucky waterfowl permit and Federal waterfowl permit, commonly called a duck stamp, to hunt waterfowl.