Other Sports

Firearm deer season at typical pace

Kentucky's firearms deer season and the year's whitetail harvest in general seem to be right on track.

"The opening weekend results looked pretty typical," said Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources deer biologist David Yancy.

Yancy said the recent weekend, the first two days of the gun hunt that usually are the most productive days all year for Kentucky hunters, resulted in 30,532 deer reported by the phone-in Telecheck system.

Hunters reported taking 17,417 deer Saturday and 13,115 Sunday. By comparison, last year's opening weekend produced daily takes of 17,785 and 12,394 for a total of 30,195.

Yancy said the opening weekend results, a little better than last year, documents that the deer herd wasn't significantly reduced by an unusually harsh wave of epizootic hemorrhagic disease that was seen in whitetails statewide in late summer of 2007.

The biologist said numerous deer were killed by the gnat-borne disease, but the results of it did not include a major setback in the statewide population as some hunters feared.

"It looks like the deer population is down a little bit from a high of two to three years ago, but otherwise it is relatively stable despite the EHD outbreak last year," Yancy said.

"We figured that going into the past spring's fawning season we had close to 700,000 deer statewide, and at the beginning of the archery hunting season, we probably started with about a million deer across Kentucky."

Yancy said managers still want to see more deer taken in many counties, especially those in western Kentucky.

That is evidenced by the number of counties still regulated as Zone 1 for deer hunting regulations.

In Zone 1 counties, the zoning for almost all far western counties, there remains an open-ended limit on the taking of antlerless deer via bonus antlerless deer permits.

"Ideally from a management standpoint, we'd like to kill enough deer in all the Zone 1 counties to reduce them to a level of about 25 deer per square mile where we could change them to Zone 2," Yancy said.

Yancy said a hurdle for managers is that Kentucky hunters seem to be killing about all the deer they want or can now.

"Only about 35 or 36 percent of deer hunters kill a deer each year, maybe because they only gun hunt a day or two as a social thing," Yancy said. "Of those successful hunters, about 78 percent only kill one deer. Only 17 to 18 percent of successful hunters kill as many as two."