Artwork Lander’s Outdoor: Kentucky’s hunters readying for deer season’s essential occasion — trendy gun season


Modern Gun Season is the main event of Kentucky’s annual white-tailed deer season.

This is the time when most hunters are out and most deer are taken, in part because the season is timed to coincide with the rut, the annual mating season for white-tailed deer. Some males are looking for females in heat (estrus) while others are already mated and breeding. Typically, deer are active throughout the day, not just at dawn and dusk.

White-tailed Deer (Photo by Flickr Commons)

The deer harvest during the 16-day, statewide season has ranged over the past 10 years, from a low of 92,727 in 2012 to a high of 107,035 in 2019. The total deer harvest for the modern hunting season in the last season was 95,161.

The 2021-22 Kentucky White-tailed Deer Harvest and Population Report states that “73 percent of the total harvest (deer season) occurred during the modern gun season.”

Last year, hunters killed 20,254 deer on the opening day of the hunting season (November 13), which accounted for 21 percent of the total modern hunting season and 15 percent of the total hunting season harvest, according to the report.

In the month of November last year, hunters killed 102,730 deer. The total is the seventh-highest November harvest on record.

Weather forecast for the season

As weather is always a major factor in how many hunters are out, particularly on weekends, and ultimately the number of deer taken, deer hunters turn to weather watchers in early November as the deer hunt heats up.

At this point, the outlook for the gun season is looking good weather-wise, with a seasonal weather forecast for the first week of the season.

Art Lander Jr. is the Outdoors Editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native Kentuckian, graduate of Western Kentucky University, and a lifelong hunter, angler, gardener, and nature lover. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former contributor to Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-author of the newspaper column Kentucky Afield Outdoors.

Biologists predict that deer will be out and about in some areas during the hunting season and will roam further than normal in search of food due to fattening and weather problems.

The beechnut harvest was less than last year and the acorn harvest was moderate. In some areas, the drought caused an early fall in acorns, which has benefited red squirrels, meaning there is less food for deer on the ground.

Dates and regulations for the 2022 season for modern weapons

Modern Deer Weapons Season begins tomorrow, Saturday, November 12 and lasts 16 days through Sunday, November 27 nationwide.

Hunter Orange Laws apply. Shooting times are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

All deer caught must be reported to KDFWR. There are two ways to check in your harvest via telecheck:

• Online telecheck via the MyProfile application

• Telecheck by phone at 800-245-4263 — 800-CHK-GAME. Use the County Codes Chart when telephoning remotely.

Catch restrictions and catch limits apply to all hunters.

Hunters may not take more than one (1) deer with visible antlers, excluding male fawns (buttonbucks), regardless of zone, method, or season.

In Zone 1 counties, hunters with the statewide deer permit and additional deer permits may harvest an unlimited number of antlerless deer.

In Zone 2 counties, hunters may harvest no more than four deer.

In Zone 3 counties, hunters may harvest no more than four deer. No more than one of these four deer may be captured with a firearm.

In Zone 4 counties, hunters are not allowed to harvest more than two deer. Only one of the two stags can be antlerless, and antlerless stags cannot be harvested during modern weapon season.

(Graphic by KDFWR; click for larger graphic)

Hunting opportunities for public land deer and harvest

Public land hunting opportunities abound.

There are approximately 125 areas open to public hunting, including Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), Hunting Access Areas (HAA), and Outdoor Recreation Areas (ORC) across the state.

Some properties have exceptions, but most public areas of Kentucky are open for hunting as part of quota hunts or as part of statewide regulations.

Over the past decade, the number of deer caught on public lands has been stable to increasing in most parts of the state.

The state is divided into five wildlife regions. In the Bluegrass and Northeast regions, which includes most of the counties in central and northern Kentucky, 384,445 acres are available for public hunting.

The top five counties in central and northeastern Kentucky in terms of deer harvested per square mile on public lands are:

• blessing 19.2
• Bricklayer 18.9
• Kenton 17.4
• Madison 8/12
• Pendleton 10.7

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Zone

New this season is a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Zone in five counties in the Jackson Purchase: Calloway, Fulton, Graves, Hickman and Marshall, and specific regulations have been introduced.

Buck and deer (Photo by Flickr Commons)

CWD is a fatal, neurological disorder found in North American cervids, members of the deer family, including deer, elk, and elk.

Since its discovery in 1967, CWD has spread geographically and increased in prevalence locally. CWD is contagious and freely transmitted within and between cervid populations. No treatments or vaccines are currently available.

Of major concern to wildlife managers and the hunting community, CWD has been detected in at least 23 states and two Canadian provinces, but does not infect livestock or humans. CWD is transmitted directly through animal-to-animal contact and indirectly through contact with objects or environments contaminated with infectious material, including the saliva, urine, feces, and carcasses of CWD-infected animals.

CWD has not been found in Kentucky but has been spotted nearby in western Tennessee.

Specific regulations in the Kentucky CWD Surveillance Zone include:

• 13 mandatory CWD Control Stations open over the three Modern Weapons Season weekends.

• No feeding or baiting of deer in the CWD surveillance zone.

• No transportation of killed game from the CWD surveillance zone. Whole deer carcasses and high-risk parts, including intact heads containing brain material, shall not be removed from the zone.

For full CWD Surveillance Zone regulations, see page 13 of the 2022-23 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide.

Seasonal regulations for deer

Complete regulations for the 2022-23 Kentucky deer season are available online at