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The Woods Are Alive

Thanksgiving signals the start of the pack-on-the-pounds season for many folks. But fish and animals don’t wait that late in the year to begin their binge eating. As the nighttime temperatures begin to drop in October, both fish and wildlife start feeding heavily to build the fat reserves they need to survive the coldest months of the year.

That’s why October, with its stable weather patterns and predictability, is one of the favorite months for hunters and anglers.

On land, oaks are dropping acorns, a favorite food of many types of wildlife. Turkey and deer hunters key on these areas because of the animals they attract. Many plants are losing their seeds, too, which provide a bounty for birds and other animals.

The black bear is a classic example of pre-winter gluttony in the great outdoors. A 200-pound bear, for example, can balloon to 300 pounds within a few months before it seeks its shelter for the season.

October features several hunting seasons for deer, the longest being the month-long bow season. At various times of the month, you can use a crossbow for deer or a muzzleloader. Youth hunters have their own special weekend to deer hunt, October 10-11. And October features the bull elk hunt and the turkey hunt. Check the latest hunting guide for hunting dates and regulations online at www.fw.ky.gov.

October is also a prime month to target large fish on their fall feeding frenzies, especially in lakes. Temperatures are more moderate around the shoreline, which attracts all kinds of fishing. This also makes fish easier to locate than when they’re in the main lake.

At this time of year, shad—a favorite food of game fish—move to feeder creeks and backwater areas to feed. Shad born earlier in the year are now 4-7 inches long, a size too large for smaller bass to eat. However, bigger smallmouth or largemouth bass, catfish, striped bass, and muskellunge gorge on these baitfish.

Smallmouth and largemouth bass without enough size to swallow these shad will instead key on crayfish along rocky banks. October features beautiful scenery, moderate temperatures, and great opportunities for hunters and anglers. So I’d advise everyone to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.


INSIDER’S TIP

Fans of Kentucky Afield television can now watch the latest show online at www.fw.ky.gov. Just click on the Kentucky Afield tab, then the photo of host Tim Farmer to watch shows on the Internet. Favorite segments are also posted online at YouTube.com.

For a real treat, search for “Kentucky Afield turtleman” to watch a five-minute video of Kentucky’s turtleman running full speed into a green, murky pond, reaching for snapping turtles in hopes of grabbing the tail end of this sharp-beaked beast.

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