Looking to harvest your first deer? Think about making a trip to Kentucky.
Every hunter remembers the first deer they harvested. The sights, the smells, the place and the people involved in your first successful deer hunt are seared into the outdoorsman memory.
But what if you have yet to harvest your first deer? Where should you go to try?
Here are 10 reason why you shouldn’t overlook Kentucky.
1. Large Deer Population
Kentucky’s deer harvest numbers have, for the last several years, steadily been increasing. In just the first 10 days of the 2014 archery season, hunters had already harvested 2,918 whitetails, 36.6 percent of which were antlered deer. With a total deer population that is holding steady at just under 1 million (estimated) total animals statewide (and growing exponentially in some areas), the chances of harvesting a deer in Kentucky have never been better.
In fact, due at least in part to sound management practices by the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, Kentucky is also one of your best bets if your goal is to harvest a trophy buck.
2. Licenses are Cheap
Non-resident hunting licenses in Kentucky are $140, and statewide deer permits are only $120 (resident licenses are $20/$35). While this may sound expensive, hunters who travel to other states can easily spend double or triple on licenses and fees alone. For residents, Kentucky even offers what’s called a “Sportsman’s License,” which serves as an annual hunting license, fishing license, deer permit, spring and fall turkey permit, waterfowl permit, and trout permit all for just $95.
3. Licenses are Easily Available
Many states require hunters to apply for animal tags and be drawn for weapon specific permits (i.e. one archery only deer, etc.). In Kentucky, hunting licenses and permits may be bought over-the-counter all over the state, as well as online or over the phone. Kentucky even offers the option of completing the hunters duration program online or at home via computer software.
4. Kentucky has a Great Public Land System
For those who don’t have access to private land, Kentucky boasts a great network of public hunting areas. This prime southern/midwestern state has around 100 areas (Wildlife Management Areas, military installations, etc.) open to public hunting. In a state with less than 500,000 hunters, thats a huge amount of real estate per hunter.
5. Season Length
Kentucky offers some of the longest hunting seasons in the country, especially for archers. The 2014 archery season opened on September 6th and doesn’t close until January 19th. Thats right: bow hunters have almost four and a half months of hunting time.
In addition to a generous archery season, Kentucky also has specific seasons for crossbow hunters (early and late, totaling 72 days that run concurrent with archery season), two different muzzleloader seasons, two weeks of modern gun hunting, and two youth-only weekends. Whether you are a hardcore archer or love rifle hunting, your odds of finding time to hunt in Kentucky have never been better.
6. Proximity to the Rest of the Country
Situated within a day’s drive of half of the nation’s population, Kentucky is one of the most easily accessible states in the nation. Whether you’re from the midwest, down south, or all the way up in New England, Kentucky probably isn’t that far away.
7. Generous Harvest Regulations
All counties allow harvest of both antlered and antlerless deer, but in many counties the deer population is so high that an unlimited number of does can be taken.
Thats right, in large swaths of this great state you can harvest as many antlerless deer as you are willing to buy tags for. This makes Kentucky a great choice not only for those looking for a successful first hunt but for anyone looking for a great hunting experience.
8. Simple and Easy to Understand Regulations
Kentucky sportsmen & women enjoy some of the most pro-hunter hunting regulations in the country. Rifles of almost all calibers (above rimfire) may be used, as well as shotguns and blackpowder weapons. Blackpowder rifles and archery equipment may also be used during the modern gun season, allowing hunters to choose the type of hunting they prefer.
9. Great Variance In Terrain and Climate
When it comes to climate and topography, Kentucky seemingly has it all. From chasing elusive mountain bucks in the eastern parts of the state to wide open row crop land hunting in the western portions, the possibilities are endless. Kentucky is one of the few states where hunters have the chance to harvest a buck in velvet, and the abundance of agriculture means that the late season hunting can be pretty spectacular.
10. Great Hunting Tradition and Culture
Between 7-10% of the population are hunters, and Kentucky is one of the few states where the number of hunters is actually increasing. Whitetail deer were once hunted almost to the point of extinction, and both old and new hunters alike appreciate the efforts of the state’s hunters and the efforts of its Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources to restore this great natural resource.