Kentucky’s Gun Deer Opener

Kentucky’s gun deer opener was Saturday and according to Telecheck results posted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources the opening day gun kill was 18,913.

That’s about what the state’s deer experts were expecting. The opening weekend gun total was projected to be around 35,000.

Opening Day weather was good but not great with scattered showers and a temperature drop of about 10 degrees. Sunday arrived with perfect hunting weather – clear and cool with a slight breeze.

Kentucky is building a reputation as a trophy deer producer. Each year around 40 or so Boone and Crockett class bucks are confirmed, including a handful that are taken from public land. And public hunting options are in short supply in the Bluegrass State.

The trophy success can be traced directly to Kentucky’s statewide one buck limit – set nearly two decades ago amid what was then some controversy and considerable grumbling over “one buck,” which is now universally hailed as a resounding success. No one I know wants it changed. John Phillips is now retired but at the time was the state’s top deer man. Hunters in their teens and 20s (maybe even early 30s) probably won’t recognize his name but they should. It was Phillips who pushed hardest for the one buck limit.

I do not measure a season’s deer success by total kill numbers but the state game managers watch those numbers very closely. They are expecting Kentucky hunters to bring in 120,000 or so whitetails this year.  This weekend will record the biggest two-day numbers of the season but plenty of time remains for those of us who like to hunt later in the year. The gun hunt continues through Nov. 28 in most of the state and Nov. 22 in the rest of the counties. Another muzzleloader hunter is coming up on December and bow season runs through mid January.

So if you preferred to miss the opening weekend crowds you time is here. Plenty of deer still roam the woods.