Hunters heading into the Kentucky woods this weekend should wear fluorescent orange clothing because today and Sunday are gun deer hunting days.
Regular gun deer season is still five weeks away, but this weekend is Kentucky’s annual juvenile deer season during which children under 16 accompanied by adults can hunt whitetails with modern firearms.
Junior hunters and their mandatory adult supervisors are required to wear a solid bright orange color on the head, back and chest, usually complete with a fluorescent orange cap and vest. But with the safety-related need for increased visibility of fellow humans due to high-powered rifles in deer habitats, other hunters, such as squirrel chasers or bow/crossbow deer hunters, must also put on the orange
Pigeon and waterfowl hunters are exempt from the mandatory orange during gun deer seasons. Those hunters often don’t occupy the same habitats as deer hunters, while fluorescent orange would be an awkward handicap for hunters pursuing color-sensitive birds. (Meanwhile, deer don’t see bright orange as well as humans or migratory birds.)
Hunters active at night, those who chase raccoons and opossums, are also not required to wear the safety orange.
Regardless of the legal restrictions, let’s just say that whenever there are gun-toting deer hunters out in the field, wearing high-visibility fluorescent orange is a great idea for anyone outdoors near deer habitats, which they are almost everywhere nowadays. Being seen and apparent as human is a protection against accidents in the line of fire and tragedy ridiculous but still possible to be mistaken for a game.
This weekend, young hunters will have the first firearm opportunities of the hunting year to hunt deer. The recent stretch of cooler weather could make the junior season more suitable for deer hunters in terms of comfort and handling of freshly caught venison. The junior season, which begins annually on the second Saturday in October, is known for being a bit warmer than ideal. But this year, not so much.
Boy hunters again, just like their elders, are in the field under regulations that feature a generous bag limit. As in recent years, each hunter is restricted to taking only one deer with antlers. In Zone 1 counties, including all of far western Kentucky, again there is no bag limit, none, that restricts the number of antlerless deer that can be harvested.
Both the regular deer permit and the young deer permit allow up to four deer (one antlered, three antlerless, or four antlerless) to be harvested. Additional antlerless deer may be taken with the authorization of an additional antlerless deer permit at the rate of two deer for each additional $15 permit.
Any participating child hunter ages 12-15 must have a youth hunting license, a youth deer permit, and certification of completion of a hunter education course. An alternative to hunter education documentation is a one-year, one-year hunter education exemption permit, which is sold only online at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife website, www.fw.ky.gov.
Children under the age of 12 may hunt without a license, deer permit, and hunter education requirements, but must be closely supervised by an adult at all times. The requirement for a supervising adult (at least 18 years of age) is to remain close enough to the young hunter to gain control of the firearm.
Young hunters, like any other deer hunter, are subject to special restrictions in place in the CWD Watch Zone which is comprised of Graves, Marshall, Calloway, Hickman and Fulton counties. This is the second year of precautionary regulations related to the finding of a deer infected with chronic wasting disease in Tennessee a few miles south of Calloway County in 2021. Among those regulations is a ban on moving whole hunted deer from the surveillance zone to counties outside the zone. Venison harvested in the five-county area must be brought to processing houses in the same area, or may be boned and transported out of the area as boneless venison.
There will be special control stations in the surveillance zone to which deer harvested during the weekend days of the modern firearms season must be transported for CWD test sampling. However, this year’s regulations will not require deer hunted during the juvenile season to be checked at these seasons. See all CWD surveillance zone restrictions and juvenile season deer hunting regulations and others on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website, www.fw.ky.gov.
The Fairgrounds Pond at Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis is a nearby site that will open for trout fishing next Saturday, October 15, as part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ fall trout fishing season.
Fairgrounds Pond is the southernmost of 59 sites in all of Illinois, stocking more than 80,000 catch-size rainbow trout for anglers this fall season. Storage is user-funded, paid for by the sale of Illinois Inland Trout Stamps, which are necessary for anglers to keep trout. You cannot fish or store trout before 5 am on October 15. Anyone who attempts to catch trout before the official opening time can be ticketed. Anglers seeking these trout must have a valid Illinois fishing license, as well as an inland trout stamp (the sale of which funds the program), unless they are under 16, blind or disabled, or an Illinois resident. on leave from military service. The daily fishing limit for these trout is five fish.
Another inland site on the program is Lake Ferne Clyffe State Park in Johnson County.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoor writer. Submit outdoor items by email to [email protected] or call 270-575-8650.