This fall and winter, Kentucky’s regular deer hunting seasons will very much be a repeat of that of 2020-21, as will precautions against the potential spread of debilitating chronic diseases.
Hunters in five far-western Kentucky counties (Marshall, Calloway, Graves, Hickman and Fulton) faced additional restrictions when those counties were grouped into a CWD Watch Zone after a white-tailed doe with CWD was identified in the county. of Humphreys, Tennessee. Parts of those five Kentucky counties were within 30 miles of where the infected doe was taken, the closest CWD find to Kentucky borders yet.
Chronic wasting disease is a deadly brain disease to which deer and elk are susceptible, and while the ailment has never been identified in the state, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife managers monitored closely last season to see if the disease could be occurring here. CWD not found.
Last year and again this year, additional precautions were put in place to prevent the potential spread of CWD should it occur in the surveillance zone.
Restrictions within the five-county zone include a ban on baiting deer during hunting seasons, as well as a ban on feeding grain or any treats such as salt or mineral blocks to wildlife. (Legitimate agricultural practices and planted food plots, as well as hanging bird feeders in residence yards, are permitted.)
Within the zone, deer taken during parts of the modern firearms season must be recorded at designated monitoring stations. This year there will be 13 check stations in the area that will be open and require deer to be checked on Saturday and Monday, Nov. 12-14 at the opening of the modern gun season, then Saturday and Sunday of the second and third weekends of the gun season.
One regulation that will affect many successful hunters in the watch zone is that no whole deer carcass may be removed from the zone. A whole deer killed in any of the five boroughs may be transported only within the zone.
Because CWD is caused by abnormal proteins known as prions that are associated with the brain, spinal cord material, and lymph glands of deer, any deer taken from the surveillance zone must be reduced to meat that has been boned from the carcass. Antlers can be removed on clean skullcaps, but brain material is not allowed and whole heads are certainly not allowed.
Any deer caught in the watch zone, including bow and crossbow deer outside of gun seasons, must be tagged prior to removal from the field. Hunter-made tags must include the hunter’s name, address and phone number, the sex of the deer, the date and county in which he was taken, and the Telecheck confirmation number. Therefore, the Telecheck must be performed before moving the channel.
The KDFWR website, www.fw.ky.gov, has a wealth of information on CWD. Full details of this season’s regulations will be posted there.
Last year, KDFWR staff sampled and tested 7,547 deer and 55 elk for CWD statewide. A total of 4,347 deer assessed came from the five-county watch zone alone. Again, none of those samples showed the presence of CWD.
The last of Kentucky’s spring hunting seasons, spring squirrel season, concluded Friday at the close of hunting hours.
Maybe there were two or three people in the entire state who were hunting bushy tails yesterday, but maybe not. Entering seriously overheated weather, the non-traditional late-spring season that usually takes place in the sweltering steam of breezy forests doesn’t attract much turnout.
That is the final season for fur or feather hunting until the so-called “fall” hunting seasons begin in late summer. First up are the familiar creatures, the same arboreal rodents that were on the hunting menu: squirrels.
Traditional squirrel season begins on the third Thursday in August throughout the state of Kentucky. It’s probably just as sweaty and miserable in the woods at the time, but even though the popularity of small game hunting has faded, hunters still maintain a level of fidelity to hunting squirrels during the traditional season. That’s especially with regards to the early days of the season before other “fall” seasons vie for attention.
Seasons that start in late summer are often labeled fall seasons because their dates extend into fall or even well beyond. The traditional squirrel season currently runs through February, dwarfing parts of all three seasons.
Kentucky’s spring squirrel season is precisely contained within spring, but without much to spare. The season ended yesterday, while spring ends on Monday. Sure enough, something else follows. That makes Tuesday the first day of summer.
There are those who love summer as the main season of the calendar, but those of us who yearn for cooler days appreciate autumn and the conditions it will bring three months from now.
For those, when it comes to cooler temperatures, lower humidity, and the eventual appearance of golden foliage, it’s a long way off, but the arrival of summer on Tuesday is the longest day of the year. That means that starting on Wednesday, the days start to get shorter.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoor writer. Submit outdoor items by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270-575-8650.