Next week brings bullfrog season, then spring squirrels | News

If you have an epicurean hankering for amphibian hindlimbs, get ready to jump in next week.

Friday brings Kentucky bullfrog season. It’s kind of a hunting season and also a little bit of a fishing season. On the other hand, it may be a time to take the long-legged leaps by methods that don’t employ ballistic weapons or fishing gear, so let’s keep calling it bullfrog season.

This year’s long-term season runs from May 20 to October 31. Most frog hunts take place in the dark of night, so a bullfrog chase day is measured from noon to noon the next day. The daily limit for bullfrogs is 15.

Frogs can be hunted with guns or archery equipment, and capture using these methods requires a hunting license. Frogs can also be caught by fishing, so to speak, with a rod, line and some kind of lure. This requires a fishing license.

Probably most amphibians carry out their amphibious activities by acting, securing the large croakers with a multi-pronged concert head attached to a long shaft of bamboo or some other material. Meanwhile, some accomplish the same thing by simply stealthily and quickly grabbing the frogs by hand. In any case, using lights to dazzle bullfrogs is usually the ticket to getting close enough to touch or snatch them by hand.

Someone who catches frogs by hand or by concert may do so under the cover of a fishing or hunting license.

Any hunter who is more inclined toward furry, warm-blooded hunting than frogs can take to the trees this coming Saturday, May 21, for the start of spring squirrel season.

The spring squirrel hunt period runs through June 17. The non-traditional spring season adds four weeks of hunting to the marathon “fall” squirrel season which actually begins in late summer (opening the third Saturday in August) and runs deep into winter, in recent times. ending on the last day of February.

Between the spring season and the traditional fall hunting period that has now been extended, squirrels easily endure the majority of hunting days of any game species.

The spring season is based on the biological factor of spring-born litters of squirrels “graduating” from their burrows and nests, joining their elders in various foraging behaviors in the woods and woodlands.

The avalanche of new litters causes an increase in the squirrel population of which the modest harvest of the hunters is insignificant.

Wildlife managers remind us that squirrel numbers depend more on the richness or scarcity of annual mast crops, primarily acorns, and that seasonal hunters have no discernible impact on the population.

The rules for spring hunting are the same as for the so-called fall season. Among them, the daily catch limit for gray squirrels and/or foxes is six.

Kentucky hunters wrapped up the 2022 spring turkey hunt last Sunday, and the 23-day season ended with a relative groan.

Hunters took a reported total of 26,850 birds during the period April 16 to May 8. The number of turkeys reported through the Telecheck reporting system was the smallest spring crop in 15 years, the fewest since hunters harvested 24,320 in 2007.

The recent season’s crop was well down from the previous year, a spring crop of 29,196 in 2021.

This year’s traditional gobbler season got off to a bumpy start with unseasonably cold weather and some rain on the first weekend. That first weekend, approaching the peak of turkey-raising season behavior and before the birds become particularly shy of human calls and general hunting pressure, is typically the most productive period of the 23 season. days.

Managers structure the season to span four weekends, periods when hunter participation increases. Under typical conditions, the first hunting weekend produces the largest two-day harvest and sets the tone for the entire season.

The much slower than normal start to the opening weekend of 2022 was not offset by a resurgence of better hunting. Several days during the season were filled with unusual cold and periods of rain. But the weather apparently wasn’t everything.

It’s no secret that hunters have noticed or complained that fewer turkeys have been found in recent seasons. Managers at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources have explained that turkey numbers have been declining for some years due to lower survival rates in spring-born poults.

A high level of nest predation and cool, rainy weather during times when the youngest poults are especially vulnerable are two factors blamed for the reduced survival of new turkeys that are needed year after year to stop the population decline.

Ironically, KDFWR biologists noted an improvement in the survival of young turkeys in the spring of 2021. The number of turkey poults with hens observed increased somewhat in breeding studies conducted after last year’s nesting season.

However, a larger number of new gobblers in the population are relatively juvenile one-year-old “jakes” this spring.

The breakdown of the recent season’s crop revealed in the Telecheck totals may reflect the improvement in the number of one-year gobblers. Records show that 4,990 gobblers out of the 26,850-bird harvest were “subadults,” meaning jakes. These young gobblers made up nearly 19% of the total harvest.

By comparison, the jake harvest amounted to just 10% of the turkeys caught in 2021.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoor writer. Email outdoor news to or call 270-575-8650.