Kentucky’s modern gun season opened Nov. 14 with some nasty wind and rain. But hunters stuck it out with some rather good results.
According to Telecheck numbers posted on Friday the 20th by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the statewide harvest stood at 86,773, with 59 percent of those male. Of that number, the gun kill totaled 58,111.
Those totals included not just deer taken by modern gun, but also those taken by bow, crossbow, and muzzleloader, dating back to when the bow season opened on Sept. 5.
The total kill for Boyd County stood at 426, Greenup 558, Carter 783 and Lewis 619.
By comparison, the figures for each county during the same seven-day time frame last year showed Boyd 386, Greenup 603, Carter 744, and Lewis 732.
Kentucky’s white-tailed deer herd continues to increase, but the number of hunters is not increasing, according to the department.
Deer hunters carry a heavy responsibility, Kentucky wildlife officials say. The public needs them. The department needs them to manage the deer herd.
Humans have done much to disturb the natural habitat, fragmenting the landscape and creating urban and suburban areas. Yet deer are so adaptable that their numbers continually threaten to grow beyond the carrying capacity the public will tolerate.
Without hunters controlling the growth of the deer herd, serious consequences occur in the form of deer-vehicle collisions and crop damage complaints.
Tom Bennett, when he served as Kentucky’s wildlife commissioner, put the hunter and deer population in perspective.
“Deer hunting is not just about trophy antlers or meat,” Bennett said. “It’s about sound biology and management, and hunters are especially important in reaching our goals. The problem is the lack of new hunters being recruited and a lack of old hunters being retained.”
As hunters take to the field this season, Bennett said, the non-hunting humans should realize that hunting big game is not only an exciting sport or a chance for gathering venison for the larder: It is a necessity.
Hunters also have the responsibility to go by the laws and to ensure the safety of themselves and other hunters, as well as landowners who have given them permission to hunt.
The knowledge of the background where a bullet may go is especially important in Kentucky, where high-powered rifles are permitted for hunting deer.
Wildlife officials are hoping for a total whitetail harvest of at least 130,000.
I apologize to anyone who might have read last weekend’s column. I reported on two of the most terrifying nightmares I have had. I wrote in an ornery way, letting the reader, right up to the end, think I was reporting on real events.
In other words, I reverted to fiction. This could lead the reader of future columns to wonder if what he or she is reading is fiction or fact.
In the 45 years I have been writing this column about outdoor adventures in The Daily Independent, I have always reported the facts as I was able to uncover them. I will continue to do just that.
So, please forgive me for putting you on in last weekend’s column. I pledge to you I will not do you that way again.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at email@example.com or (606) 932-3619.