This is a time of year when hunting seasons can creep up on hunters or would-be hunters and catch them unprepared.
True, we’re not even officially halfway into summer yet. Yet, the first of Kentucky’s “fall” hunting seasons begins in a scant 15 days. That is the traditional fall squirrel hunting season, which begins as is usual on the third Saturday of August.
After that first opening day, other seasons sort of slip in with a succession: Mourning doves, early crow, rail, gallinule and falconry on Sept. 1. And then on Sept. 5 come the beginning of archery deer and turkey hunting and the senior and youth crossbow deer seasons.
Others ensue as the calendar wears through September, then October and beyond.
There is equipment and licenses to obtain. But for a certain set of folks, something that is not quite as readily remedied with a stop at a single sporting goods or big box score, is the need of hunter education credentials.
Normally — if there is such thing as normal anymore — one might be checking out the schedule of Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources-sponsored free hunter education courses around the state. Attending one of these series of classwork sessions and firing range day is the typical course to obtaining safe hunter certification.
In Kentucky, those born on or after Jan. 1 of 1975 are required to have certification of having successfully completed an approved hunter education course. The exceptions are kids under 12 (who must be accompanied and overseen in the field by an adult) and those like farmland residents and tenants hunting on the land where they live, who also are exempted from having a hunting license.
But in these days of social distancing because of pandemic precautions, there are no hunter education classes presently being held. Fortunately, those that need hunter ed study can get it online at the KDFWR website, www.fw.ky.gov, clicking on the home page header of “Education,” then “Hunter education.”
Just as no classroom studies are scheduled, no firing range sessions are being held. However, the KDFWR allows for that, directing those taking hunter education studies online to also arrange their own live firing experiences and make a video of these. The video is then uploaded so hunter ed instructors can verify the student’s participation.
The course options and all the details toward earning certification are waiting on the webpage.
portal.com, which is free.
If hunting seasons get here and the hunter education certification is still lacking, there is one other short-term alternative. The KDFWR provides a hunter education exemption permit, sold via the website for $5.
The exemption is good for one year and can be purchased only once. Subsequent years will require the regular hunter education certification.
Meanwhile, anyone hunting with a hunter ed exemption permit must be accompanied in the field by an adult who is a licensed hunter who must stay in position to take control of the exempted hunter’s gun or bow.
• Two roads on Ballard Wildlife Management Area near Monkey’s Eyebrow in Ballard County will be closed next week for construction of water control structures on Front Slough.
Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources managers say the WMA’s Wildlife Lodge Road and Front Loop Road will be closed to traffic while undersized pipes are replaced on both north and south ends of Front Slough. The new structures will allow better control of water levels during backwater and high-flow events.
No projected completion time for the project was announced.
Meanwhile, Ballard WMA users still can access the public area by the Oscar gate, taking Ky. 1105 to Turner Landing Road, and by the Terrell gate on Sallie Crice Road.
For more information, see the public area’s Facebook page, Ballard WMA, or phone 270-224-2244.
Camping on Ballard WMA remains closed, an ongoing restriction imposed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, fishing, wildlife watching and other outdoors recreation is still open to the public there.
• Trout stocking at lakes and ponds in Kentucky’s Fishing In Neighborhoods (FINS) program is long over for the hot season, but here in far western Kentucky, the summer alternative for trout is Casey Creek in Trigg County.
Casey Creek, the westernmost stream in the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources’ trout stocking program for year-round habitats, was scheduled to receive a monthly release of trout earlier this week. The schedule called for 1,000 rainbow trout to be added to the cool waters of Casey Creek this past Tuesday.
Gravel-bottomed, spring-fed Casey is capable of sustaining trout year-round because the water typically does not warm beyond 70 degrees during the summer months.
It is a small waterway, fishable from spots along the bank or easily wadable.
A range of trout fishing tactics are allowed and workable on Casey Creek. Some anglers bait fish with commercial baits, canned corn, worms or marshmallows, while others use lures like small spinners. Some fly rodders enjoy Casey by working nymphs, sub-surface flies or dry flies.
The daily limit is per statewide trout rules: A creel of eight trout daily.
There are some holdover brown trout possible from previous stockings, and no more than three trout in the limit can be browns. Typically, most fish caught are rainbows.
In addition to a regular fishing license, an angler must have a Kentucky trout permit to keep trout.
Casey Creek is reached from Cadiz taking Ky. 139 south to Ky. 525, then keeping an eye out for KDFWR signage.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 270-575-8650.