FRANKFORT, Ky. (WOWK) – Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources says the state’s deer hunters harvested a record 107,039 deer during the 16-day modern gun season that concluded Nov. 24.
“Season timing and weather conditions before opening day made us think we should have a good season,” said Kyle Sams, acting Deer and Elk Program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We had a poor mast crop this year, which puts deer on the move. We also had perfect weather: not too cold and not too warm.”
Last year, Kentucky hunters harvested 106,804 deer during the modern gun season, which was a record until this season. The department said that the online Telecheck results for modern gun harvest each year are different because they also include deer taken during the youth season.
Sams said hunters harvested 35,143 deer on opening weekend of the modern gun season, 19,234 on the second weekend and 11,576 on the third weekend.
“Those are harvest records for both the second and third weekends,” he said.
Some of the increased antlered deer harvest during modern gun deer season over the past two seasons relates to regulation changes that increased modern gun deer season in some counties from 10 days to 16 days so that all of the state’s hunting zones had the same season length.
“Those six extra days include a weekend, and that is big for those hunters,” Sams said. “It is one reason why that third weekend harvest was so high.”
Hunters may be concerned about possible overharvest of deer with two consecutive record modern gun season harvest totals. However, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources says the statewide one-buck limit and a reduction in the bag limit of antlerless deer in Zone 4 ensure that this will not adversely affect the herd.
“With bag limits for deer in place, overharvest is not a concern,” Sams said. “Biologists monitor deer harvest numbers annually to ensure the herd remains in good shape.”
Sams says he expects this trend to continue during the December muzzleloader season that opens Dec. 14 and closes Dec. 22. If current trends hold, the 2019-2020 deer season could be the second-highest harvest total ever. The current record is 155,730 deer taken by hunters in the 2015-2016 season.
“This season should be a good time to get an antlerless deer,” Sams said. “The last three days of the December muzzleloader season is important for Zone 4 counties because that is the only time they have to harvest an antlerless deer with a gun.”
For more information on deer hunting, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife webpage or consult the Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, which available for free wherever hunting licenses are sold.