Today begins the last week of Kentucky’s spring squirrel hunting season, the last of the spring-specific hunting periods.
Spring squirrel season is a non-traditional four-week stretch of hunting opportunities that began May 21. It concludes on Friday, appropriately just three days after the last day of spring.
Conducted under the same regulations as the traditional “fall” squirrel season, a hunter may take up to six squirrels per day during the spring season.
Biologists with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources suggested creating a spring squirrel hunting period as an opportunity bonus that would not have a significant impact on the squirrel population.
Spring hunting, first introduced as short trial seasons in wildlife management areas, is based on an increase in the squirrel population with the birth of new litters in early spring. One of two reproductive outpourings during the year, the spring surge creates a sudden surplus in bushytail numbers.
Regulated hunting during the period has essentially no effect on the total number of squirrels, biologists say. Rather than the hunter harvest, squirrel populations are influenced by the richness or scarcity of the annual mast (nut) harvest, especially the extent of annual acorn production.
The harvest of spring squirrels by hunters is of even less importance because relatively few small game hunters participate in the spring squirrel season. Fishing attracts the attention of the more outdoorsy in the spring, and even many hardened hunters may reject spring squirrel season due to its lack of tradition.
The hunt that has its identity rooted in the spring, of course, is the spring turkey season. On the weekend, the youth-only turkey season was April 2-3, and the traditional spring gobbler hunting season was April 16-May 8.
As spring and spring hunting options run out, sportsmen who are so inclined to hunt for furry or feathered animals can look forward to the so-called fall seasons that are not as far away as it might seem.
The next hunting season on the horizon will put squirrels back in the spotlight with the so-called fall hunting season. As has been customary for many years, on the third Saturday of August, August 20 this year, the traditional squirrel hunting period begins. Usually referred to as the fall hunting season, it spans the entire fall, but starts in the sweltering summer and runs through February, well into winter.
That late-summer squirrel hunt kick-off is the harbinger of other hunting opportunities to come. One of the biggest openings of the year is the first day of a generous pigeon hunting season, that of September 1st.
Two days later, on the first Saturday in September, comes the opening of the archery deer and turkey hunt and the junior and senior deer crossbow hunting season.
And the parade of different hunting seasons in Kentucky follows shortly after that.
The spring hunt for now is short-lived throughout the state. But the “autumn” hunt resumes nine weeks from today.
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area nods to National Get Outdoors Day today with a few admission giveaways.
Two of LBL’s popular attractions, Woodlands Nature Station and Homeplace 1850s Working Farm, are waiving admission fees for visitors of all ages from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
Naturalists at the LBL Woodlands Nature Station say pups from the surprise litter of rare red wolves that the wildlife center has given birth to are growing and harnessed to be seen more today.
Two resident red wolves in the captive breeding program at WNS surprised staff last month with a litter of five pups. One male baby did not survive, but two male and two female pups are reportedly healthy and growing.
Hopes of the adults reproducing and producing pups were slim because, while the mother wolf is four years old, the father is 13 and was suspected to be too old for this to happen.
The pups are reportedly becoming more active, and although they are spending more time in their den at the wildlife center’s red wolf enclosure, they have been straying outside and becoming more visible to visitors in recent days.
The Nature Station has daily red wolf shows at 1 pm (noon June 18), but WNS visitors have the opportunity to see the newest additions whenever the wolf pups feel like it. The WNS is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Although admission is free today, admission is typically $7 for ages 18 and older, $5 for children ages 5-17, and free for children under 5.
Casey Creek in Trigg County, the westernmost stream in the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ trout stocking program, received a load of rainbow trout earlier this week.
The spring-fed creek released 1,000 catchable-size rainbow trout on Tuesday for its June stock.
To fish for and hold trout, you must have a Kentucky Trout Permit ($10) if a fishing license is also required. Trout permit sales go toward KDFWR’s transportation costs to store the trout, which are sourced from the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery in the Wolf Creek Dam wastewater area of Lake Cumberland.
The daily catch limit for rainbow trout is eight fish with no effective size limit. Brown trout have previously been released into Casey Creek. There is a 16-inch minimum size on any brown trout caught there, and only one brown can be caught per day.
Casey Creek is reached from Cadiz by taking Ky. 139 south to Ky. 525, and then watch for KDFWR signage marking the public fishing access area.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoor writer. Email outdoor news to [email protected] or call 270-575-8650.