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Modern deer hunting season is approaching in Kentucky

Modern deer hunting season is approaching in Kentucky
Modern deer hunting season is approaching in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) — Fall in Kentucky brings earlier sunsets that lead to cool mornings and a burst of fall color that gives way to bare branches.

The movement of deer increases and arouses the enthusiasm of hunters.

The modern white-tailed deer season opens in less than two weeks and is timed to begin with the peak of breeding activity, known as the rut.

The 2022-2023 deer season is off to a strong start.

Bow and crossbow hunters posted the second-highest harvest total on record for September, and October numbers were up from last year.

Historically, most deer hunters are in the woods during modern gun season, which this year opens on Nov. 12 and runs until Nov. 27.

Noelle Thompson, deer program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, points out that modern firearms season alone accounted for 73% of the total statewide deer harvest of more than 132,000 deer last year.

“We’re not seeing a bumper crop of acorns in most areas, so deer should be on the move looking for food this fall to sustain them through the winter,” Thompson said. “It will mean good opportunities for hunters to see more deer and fill their freezers with healthy venison this season. I recommend hunting near oak trees or groves with good acorn crops this year, and not just on food patches or green fields.

Annual hardmast production, or the number of acorns and nuts produced by Kentucky hardwoods, influences whitetail behavior throughout the season as a deer’s primary food source.

The 2022 statewide mast survey rated white oak and red oak acorn production as average.

Cody Rhoden, small game program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, coordinates the department’s annual statewide mast survey with Zak Danks, the department’s wild turkey and ruffed grouse program coordinator . Rhoden said dry conditions seen in late summer and this fall will likely cause all hardwood species to drop early in mast, meaning available hard mast could be exhausted sooner.

In addition to being driven by natural instincts in the fall, deer also become more active and travel greater distances as food sources become scarce.

“Higher amounts of hardwood poles in Kentucky forests result in fewer encounters with animals, including deer,” Rhoden said. “The reverse is true for periods of lean mast, which can lead to higher harvest rates of game animals, such as squirrels and deer, because these animals have to move around more to find food.”

Kentucky offers more than one million acres of public land open for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. Hunters can find places to hunt using Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s online public land search at Using the ArcGIS app, hunters can view GPS locations directly on Kentucky public land boundary maps.

Pre-season scouting is always recommended and may be even more important this year.

“As a result of the natural disasters that have occurred across the state, many areas have experienced coverage changes,” noted Thompson. “What was once a perfect place may look different now. To be better prepared, hunters should visit the hunting grounds and evaluate the equipment before going into the field.

Hunters can use firearms, crossbows, bows, pistols, muzzleloaders, or certain high-caliber airguns to capture deer during specific seasons. Familiarize yourself with the regulations and the seasons by going online to consult the Fall Hunting and Trapping Guide.

Unless otherwise exempt, all deer hunters must possess a valid Kentucky hunting license, deer license and proof of hunter training certification.

Licensed hunters born on or after January 1, 1975 must hold a Hunter Education Certificate.

Rachel Crume, manager who oversees Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) programs, said there was still time for hunters to get certified. Training includes online or in-person classes, as well as remote live fire.

“There is a free in-class portion of hunter education offered online,” she said. “Eligible first-time hunters can also expedite the process with the temporary exemption license option for hunter education with a qualified mentor to accompany them in the field.”

Visit the department’s “Hunter Education” webpage to view more information on obtaining certification, licensing requirements, and unique exemption permits for new hunters.

As a safety reminder, all hunters should wear a fiery orange hat and vest or jacket during deer hunting season. Additionally, hunters should always be certain of their target and what lies beyond before shooting.

Special deer hunting regulations are in place in Western Kentucky to help prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the state. CWD has not been detected in Kentucky.

Special CWD Watch Area regulations in Calloway, Marshall, Graves, Hickman, and Fulton counties prohibit baiting, restrict the import and transportation of carcasses, and establish checkpoint requirements.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will operate 13 mandatory CWD Check Station locations in the CWD Watch Area during Modern Gun Weekends Nov. 12-14, Nov. 19-21, and Nov. 26-27. All deer harvested from these five counties on the dates listed must be taken to a checkpoint.

In addition, the department will operate three voluntary CWD check stations for deer or elk in Bell and Harlan counties. These will run on November 12 and 13, November 19 and 20, and November 26 and 27. Hunters will receive animal aging and chronic wasting disease testing free of charge for deer or elk brought to checkpoints.

Deer hunters outside of the CWD watch area can help Kentucky Fish and Wildlife watch efforts by donating legally harvested, televerified deer heads for testing and aging through the voluntary Deer Sample Collection Station program. . There is no cost to hunters.

For up-to-date information on chronic wasting disease, go online to

Suspected illegal fish, wildlife or boating activities can be reported anonymously using the KFWLaw smartphone app.

Tips can also be submitted from non-smartphones with texting capabilities by texting the keyword “KFWLaw” along with a message to 847411 (tip 411) or by calling 800-25-ALERT.

Callers are asked to state the county they are calling for and transferred to the nearest Kentucky State Police station, which dispatches a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer.

Copyright 2022 WBKO. All rights reserved.

. Modern deer hunting season approaching Kentucky

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