Outdoor Life magazine has named Kentucky as the nation’s top destination for trophy deer hunting.
The national hunting and fishing magazine based its rankings on trophy deer production, hunter density, fees and how hunter friendly the laws and regulations were in each state.
“The trophy deer hunting possibilities in Kentucky aren’t a secret anymore,” said Dr. Jon Gassett, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Last year, we sold deer permits to residents from every state in the country. The word is out that hunting in Kentucky is just that good.”
Outdoor Life Editor Andrew McKean noted the magazine looked beyond just the numbers of trophy deer harvested. “When you’re considering investing the time and money it can often take to go on a trophy hunt, it’s important to consider all the factors to get the most accurate picture – which is what we’ve done,” he said.
Still, Kentucky has recorded some impressive numbers of trophy deer in the past several years. In the 2011-12 season, for example, hunters took 77 Boone and Crockett Club eligible bucks. The department is still receiving scores from the 2012-13 season.
There are multiple reasons Kentucky’s deer herd has such high quality: The state provides habitat guidance to landowners through its network of private lands wildlife biologists. Kentucky allows Sunday hunting and has extended seasons for deer, including a 136-day archery season this year.
Kentucky’s one-buck rule also plays a major role in the state’s trophy deer production. Before this rule, 80 percent of the bucks taken in Kentucky were just 1 1/2 years old – too young to grow into trophy class. However, since the state phased in its one-buck limit from 1989-1991, the number of young bucks being taken by hunters in Kentucky dropped to nearly 40 percent. With age comes larger antler size.
“If you look at the numbers, you’ll see that hunters have taken trophy bucks in 116 of Kentucky’s 120 counties,” Gassett said. “If you do your homework and hunt hard, you just might take a trophy buck anywhere in the state.”
Image courtesy Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources