FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission has recommended expanding modern gun season for deer to 16 days statewide, increasing the number of deer allowed on a statewide permit from two to four, and increasing some license and permit fees for non-residents.
The proposals were among multiple recommendations to deer, waterfowl and migratory bird seasons made by commission members at their March 23 meeting in Frankfort.
The commission recommends hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the Kentucky General Assembly. Legislators must approve all recommendations before they become law.
The changes recommended by commission members are designed to help thin the state’s deer herd in more densely populated areas while boosting numbers where deer populations are lower than desired. Changes also will boost many opportunities for hunters.
All deer-related regulations will go into effect for the 2018-2019 seasons, if approved by legislators.
Deer-related recommendations approved by the commission include:
· Creating an antlerless-only modern gun hunt during the last weekend of September in Zone 1 counties.
· Expanding the modern gun deer season to 16 days statewide.
· Modifying the statewide deer permit from a two-deer limit to four deer, and the youth deer permit from a one-deer limit to four deer. Hunters would still be limited to one antlered deer statewide, regardless of zone or method.
· Changing the following counties from Zone 2 to Zone 1: Union, Henderson, McLean, Muhlenberg, Todd, Mercer, Mason and Hart.
· Changing the following counties from Zone 3 to Zone 2: Warren, Allen, Monroe, Barren, Metcalfe, Adair, Edmonson, Butler, Breckinridge, Meade, Hancock, Daviess, Taylor, Casey, Lincoln, Boyle, Madison, Clark, Montgomery and Bath.
· Changing the following counties from Zone 4 to Zone 3: Garrard, Pulaski, Wayne and Laurel.
· Allowing hunters to take only one antlerless deer with a firearm in Zone 3.
· Setting a Zone 4 season bag limit of two deer, consisting of one antlered and one antlerless deer. Antlerless deer could only be taken during youth gun seasons, during archery and crossbow seasons, or the last three days of the December muzzleloader season.
· Allowing hunters to take a bag limit of deer in each zone, independent of the other zone’s bag limits.
· Modifying the additional deer permit from a two-deer limit to 15 deer. Hunters would still be limited to one antlered deer statewide, regardless of zone or method.
· Prohibiting devices designed to entangle and trap the antlers of a deer.
· Creating a special deer hunt program that would allow modern gun hunts for deer outside of the normal season. This would only apply to nonprofit conservation organizations working under Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s recruitment, retention and re-activation guidelines.
· Allowing a person to use an unlimited number of deer control tags. The current limit is five tags.
· Removing the requirement to sign a deer control tag at the time of transfer from landowner to hunter.
· Requiring the hunter to sign a deer control tag at the time of harvest.
Commission members also took several steps at their meeting to simplify some waterfowl regulations and to increase opportunities for hunters. Waterfowl regulations will go into effect for the 2018-2019 seasons, if approved by legislators. Recommendations include:
· Increasing the northern pintail daily bag limit from one bird to two for the 2018-2019 duck seasons.
· Changing Northeast Goose Zone season dates to correspond to the statewide goose seasons.
· Removing the September closure for goose hunting in the Northeast Goose Zone and the West-Central Goose Zone.
Commissioners also made several recommendations affecting Sloughs Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Henderson and Union counties. These include:
· Allowing expanded waterfowl quota hunts on the Sauerheber Unit.
· Removing blind site hunting restrictions on the Sauerheber Unit.
· Developing a check-in system for quota hunt participants on the Sauerheber Unit.
· Creating a lottery for unclaimed blinds or hunt sites on the Sauerheber Unit and removing the ability to occupy unclaimed blinds.
· Creating a quota hunt for the Jenny Hole Unit, with spots allocated by a weekly drawing.
· Closing the Jenny Hole Unit to waterfowl hunting, except for quota hunt participants.
· Prohibiting boat use on the Jenny Hole Unit from Thanksgiving Day to the last Sunday in January, except for quota hunt participants during limited hours.
Recommendations affecting Ballard WMA in western Kentucky include:
· Removing the requirement to hunt from a blind in the Ballard Zone.
· Mandating that hunters accurately report waterfowl harvest on their harvest cards.
Commission members proposed several changes to the existing regulations governing sandhill crane hunting. These would expand hunting opportunities and establish a second refugee area on public property. Proposals include:
· Changing the sandhill crane quota hunt application period from late November to the month of September to align it with quota hunt application periods of other game species.
· Increasing the number of sandhill crane permits and tags issued.
· Lengthening the sandhill crane season and increasing the statewide bag limit.
· Allowing hunters to take more than two birds in a season, if they have the required number of tags.
· Requiring participants to buy a hunting license by Sept. 30 to be eligible for a permit.
· Establishing a new refuge for roosting birds by closing portions of Green River Lake to sandhill crane hunting.
In fisheries-related business, the commission proposed new fishing regulations for Rockcastle River WMA in Pulaski County. These include a daily creel limit of 10 bluegill or other sunfish, four catfish, 15 crappie and one largemouth bass that must be greater than 15 inches long.
Commissioners also recommended adding mooneye and goldeye to the restricted movement list of fish species to help blunt the spread of Asian carp into new waterbodies.
The commission also proposed changing some non-resident license and permit fees.
The next regularly scheduled Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time), Friday, June 8, 2018. Meetings are held at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters, located at 1 Sportsman’s Lane off U.S. 60 in Frankfort.