FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission proposed the dates of the 2015-2016 deer seasons and numerous changes to deer and elk regulations in the state at its quarterly meeting Dec. 12.
Commission members proposed allowing resident hunters 65 or older to use crossbows during the entire archery deer season as well as deer zone changes for Hopkins, Larue, Green, Nelson, Bullitt, Grayson, Ohio, Breckinridge and Allen counties. They also recommended modifying deer hunting regulations on 10 wildlife management areas (WMAs) and on Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area.
The commission also recommended several changes to elk hunting management as well as instituting a new landowner voucher permit system.
The commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly and approves all expenditures by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. All recommendations must be approved by legislators before they become law.
2015-2016 deer season dates (no changes from last season, dates reflect calendar shift):
Archery: Sept. 5, 2015 – Jan. 18, 2016, either sex (antlered or antlerless deer)
Crossbow: Oct. 1 – Oct. 18; Nov. 14 – Dec. 31, 2015, either sex
Early Youth Weekend: Oct. 10 – 11, 2015, either sex
Zones 1, 2 and 3: Oct. 17 – 18, 2015, either sex
Zone 4: antlered only
Zones 1 and 2: Nov. 14 – Nov. 29, 2015, either sex
Zone 3: Nov. 14 – Nov. 23, 2015, either sex
Zone 4: Nov. 14 – Nov. 23, 2015, antlered only
Late Muzzleloader: statewide: Dec. 12 – Dec. 20, 2015
Zones 1, 2 and 3: Dec. 12 – Dec. 20, 2015, either sex
Zone 4: Dec. 12 – 17 antlered only, Dec 18 - 20, 2015, either sex
Late Youth Weekend: Dec. 26 – 27, 2015, either sex
Bag limits remain the same as last season.
In other deer-related business, the commission recommended several zone changes. Hopkins, Larue, Green, Nelson and Bullitt counties will change from Zone 2 to Zone 1. Grayson, Ohio and Breckinridge counties will move from Zone 3 to Zone 2 while Allen County will go from Zone 2 to Zone 3.
Resident hunters 65 or older may use crossbows during the entire deer archery season, starting with the 2015-2016 archery deer season.
Commission members also proposed several changes to deer hunting on some public lands. These changes will be effective for the 2015-2016 deer seasons:
- Open Clay WMA in Nicholas, Bath and Fleming counties under statewide regulations for the December muzzleloader season.
- Only allow archery and crossbow hunting for deer on the two new tracts of Dewey Lake WMA in Floyd County.
- Allow either sex deer to be harvested during the first 10 days of modern gun deer season on Yatesville Lake WMA in Lawrence County.
- Allow hunters on Veterans Memorial WMA in Scott County to earn one preference point for each female deer (up to four) during the December firearms quota hunt and create a firearms antlerless quota hunt the first weekend in December.
- Create a firearms quota hunt during the first weekend in November of Kentucky River WMA in Henry and Owen counties.
- Remove the quota hunt and open Marion County WMA under statewide regulations for deer hunting.
- Remove the first quota firearms hunt in November on the Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area in Meade County.
- Open crossbow hunting on Higginson-Henry WMA in Union County.
- Open the Duck Island Tract of Lake Barkley WMA in Trigg County for the October muzzleloader season.
- Allow hunters at Ballard WMA in Ballard County to earn one preference point for each female deer checked in (up to four) during the November firearms quota hunt.
- Open Redbird WMA in Clay and Leslie counties for the first weekend of modern firearms season under statewide regulations.
In elk-related business, the commission proposed a reduction in the total number of quota hunt elk permits by 100 to 910 total permits for the 2015-2016 elk seasons. This reduction is only for cow elk permits.
The commission also expanded elk crossbow hunting. Elk hunters may use crossbows during the elk archery seasons from the fourth Saturday in September through the fourth Friday in December annually. Commission members also moved the second cow firearms season to open the first Saturday in January (Jan. 2, 2016).
The commission proposed implementing a landowner voucher system to increase access to land for those participating in the elk quota hunts and modified the tagging requirements for elk.
They also recommended some changes for public land elk hunting.
These changes will be effective for the 2015-2016 elk seasons:
- Open the Middlesboro Tract of Corrigan WMA to elk hunting and create a limited entry area around this tract called the Middlesboro Limited Entry Area.
- Create a limited entry area around the Czar Hunting Access Area and surrounding properties and call this tract the Prestonsburg Limited Entry Area.
- Remove the Caney Limited Entry Area and open it to hunters with at-large elk tags.
- Combine the North and South at-large elk hunting areas into a single at-large area.
The next Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time) Friday, March 6, 2015. Meetings are held in the Arnold Mitchell Building, located at 1 Sportsman’s Lane in Frankfort.