It’s September. Deer are losing their reddish coats of summer as their fur transitions to gray; it is nature’s way of helping them blend in with the tree trunks as the woods grow open in winter.
Later this month, the throaty call of bull elk in search of company will echo through the fog-shrouded valleys within the mountains of southeastern Kentucky.
Those keeping a sharp eye on the sky will see flashes of gray as flocks of doves move through.
The cooling nights of September signal the beginning of hunting seasons. Growing up, I was able to start hunting squirrel and rabbit almost as soon as I walked out the door. Now I live in a subdivision, removed from the natural rhythm of the woods. It’s a place where you chase garden-munching rabbits with a tomato stake rather than a 12-gauge.
Fortunately, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is aggressively pursuing new places for suburbanites like myself to go hunting. The current hunting guide lists nearly 100 places open for a variety of hunting possibilities, from deer to pheasant to waterfowl and more. The department has added five new areas since last fall alone.
Hunters may choose to roam the mountains of eastern Kentucky, explore the rolling hills to the west, or hunt along the state’s river corridors. Even if you already have an area to hunt—and perhaps have hunted the same area for years—the chance to try a new place can recharge your excitement level.
The department manages some public areas for quota hunts. For these, you must pay a nominal fee to apply to hunt there during certain dates. Some restrictions may apply, such as the size of deer you are allowed to take. Other areas are managed more for just the opportunity to take a deer.
Although public areas aren’t known for monster deer, there are some occasional surprises. In 2006, Dan U. Miller took the biggest deer of its type in the state while hunting at Pennyrile State Forest.
Even if you live in an area where you can hear your neighbor’s lawn mower firing up promptly at 7 a.m. every Saturday, you can still find a good place to hunt.
Apply this month for deer, pheasant, quail, and waterfowl quota hunts on state wildlife management areas (WMAs). See the hunting guide for dates and areas. Go online to www.kdfwr.state.ky.us. Click on Guides and Publications, then 2009-10 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, and select Public Land Hunting. Hunters can apply by calling (877) 598-2401 during the month of September only.