Kentucky now has more deer than when Daniel Boone first entered the state nearly 250 years ago. The pioneers who cleared the fields and carved farmland from the rich soil also created ideal growing conditions for the white-tailed deer.
Kentucky’s deer herd now numbers around 900,000. Not only are there more deer than ever, but the number of trophy animals (as measured in the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system) are peaking, too. Kentucky ranks fourth in the nation for the number of trophy deer taken by hunters.
In other words, it’s a great time to be a deer hunter in Kentucky.
Deer are not spread uniformly throughout the state–the reason Kentucky is divided into four “zones” with different regulations and varying seasons.
If your goal is to harvest a deer, the region of Kentucky north and northwest of Lexington is the best place to go. Some of these counties have nearly 50 deer a square mile, with Owen County having the highest concentration of deer in the state. Other areas in this region with thick deer populations include Anderson, Gallatin, Boone, and Shelby counties.
Although Henry and Pendleton counties are home to the state record bucks, you should head west if you want to increase your odds of taking your own trophy. More trophy white-tails were taken from Butler County during the past two seasons than any other county in the state. Other hotspots for big bucks include Ohio, Hardin, Breckinridge, Hart, Muhlenberg, Hopkins, Christian, and Trigg counties. While the deer are not as concentrated here–only about 15 a square mile–the conditions are right to grow some dandy bucks.
Another region with a growing reputation for big deer is the line of counties stretching from Barren County east along KY 80 to Laurel County.
If it’s been a while since you’ve been deer hunting, this season is the time to rekindle your interest. Perhaps if Daniel Boone had enjoyed the opportunities of today’s hunters, he might not have left the state. With more deer in the state than when Daniel Boone first entered the state, it’s a great time to be a deer hunter in Kentucky.
Kentucky has more than 65,000 acres open to public hunting in the heart of the state’s trophy buck region. Peabody and White City Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are located in Hopkins, Muhlenberg, and Ohio counties. In years past, only those drawn in a quota system could hunt these areas with a modern gun. That’s changed. Now anyone can hunt these WMAs without being drawn. Accessing these areas requires a $12.50 permit available wherever hunting licenses are sold. You’ll also need a hunting license ($15 for residents) and a deer permit ($25). Modern-gun season opens November 12.