Across the county and state, approximately 300,000 hunters are cleaning their weapons and conducting target practice. The hunters are preparing to continue a long tradition of not only hunting for the trophy buck but hunting to put meat on the table.
There are over 80 public lands operated by the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Department, one of them being the popular Veterans Memorial Wildlife Management area here in Scott County, which is open for deer hunting during the archery, crossbow, December muzzleloader and youth gun seasons. Kevin Kelly, spokesman for the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife department says it’s a tradition his office is trying to encourage.
“Hunting is part of the American culture and it’s especially true here in Kentucky. It’s an opportunity for families to bond and spend some time outdoors exploring our beautiful state,” said Kelly.
The department is helping lead efforts to address real and predicted declines in hunting and fishing participation. Declining hunting participation is a cause for concern because license and related user fees are a primary source of funding for fish and wildlife conservation here in Kentucky. Hunting is also the primary tool used to manage deer herd numbers.
Some members of the community may be sensitive to the killing of deer during hunting season but hunting is necessary. According to the fish and wildlife department website, Kentucky now supports a deer herd population larger than the one that existed during Daniel Boone’s day. The abundance of grain, and the reduction of natural predators ensure a healthy herd. But an overpopulation of deer can damage farmer’s crops and homeowners landscaping. Drivers too are more likely to have a deer related accident when the deer population increases. State Farm reported in 2018, that average cost of vehicle repair was $4,4341 after a collision with a deer.
Scott County is part of hunting Zone 1, with each of the four zones having its own restrictions. Hunters are required to have a license and permit and follow specific reporting information required by each zone, including hunting season dates, zone restrictions, bag limits, a harvest log and checking and tagging requirements. Hunters who harvest a deer must report it to Kentucky Fish & Wildlife through the Telecheck system.
It is the conservation officer’s job to ensure these and other laws are followed and those breaking the laws are prosecuted. It’s been a part of a conservation officer Matthew Hartley’s life for eight years now and he is serious about enforcement.
“This is a great job because I get to protect what I love,” said Hartley. “I am a hunter and sportsman myself; I want everyone to follow the rules and participate in the right way.”
Conservation officers are fully sworn law enforcement officers with statewide jurisdiction and they have full police power, giving them the authorization to make on the spot arrests when necessary. The department has recently deployed cellular cameras at various locations across the state, providing the officers real time information about potential poachers and trespassers. Hartley says the best thing residents can do if poaching is suspected is to call the state hotline at 1800-25-ALERT.
For all those hunters who have bagged a deer and are wondering how to prepare a meal with venison and other game, there are 17 recipe cards available at the Scott County Extension office.
“The Cook Wild Kentucky initiative is a great complement to the Field to Fork program, a learn-to-hunt program for adults that we’ve successfully developed in Kentucky with the help of partners like the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service,” Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Rich Storm said.
“Teaching essential field skills is a vital part of the hunter development process, and this culinary initiative will help us complete the process. It takes the guesswork out of turning locally harvested game meats into nutritious and delicious table fare.”
Jackie Anders can be reached at email@example.com.