Owen Co Harvest Decline

1wildcatfan

12 pointer
Jan 2, 2009
15,728
raised n Bullitt Co.
A lot less people hunting in my area. 80-90s, shots all day long both weekends. Now, a few distant shots. Less than a dozen opening weekend. Deer are here in my area, would like to get out to hunt them.
 

WaterDog88

12 pointer
Jul 28, 2008
2,285
Kentucky
Several factors at work here...
1. Fewer hunters are mainly due to the access vs lease issue and the simple cost of leases...hunters paying big money for those leases are mainly focused on big buck harvests (and assuming multiyear leases willing to let 120-140s walk)...if any does are harvested, it is for public consumption on a variety of hunting shows (so they can claim to do their part)...

2. Habitat...deer are extremely efficient creatures...they are going to locate where the best food, water and shelter presents themselves to be...even to the point of densely congregating in small pockets of river bottom cover near agricultural areas even when large acreages with little to no "easy" food is available...a lot of the public WMAs are great examples of this...deer deserts surrounded by highly productive private land...

Undergrowth cover is also an issue...while heavy undergrowth can be beneficial to a large number of species, once that undergrowth that once provided great forage reaches 8-10' tall, it is no longer a relevant food source...many areas, especially the WMAs, need controlled forestry work and burning to restore lower lying undergrowth...large numbers of dead ash trees need to be removed and those still standing need to be dropped (as they pose a risk to anyone nearby)...the problem is that this is expensive work that will not be publicly flashy (unlike buying new WMA properties) and any significant bumps in deer (and turkey) populations will be met with pressure from insurance companies (who would prefer deer to not exist at all)...

3. Predators...need to be hunted and trapped to a much greater extent...but re-enter the access debate...I generally do not see a large number of predators on the WMAs where I frequent as they become the purpose of the hunt upon sight...truthfully, there is not a large reason beyond caring for game species numbers to hunt predators...a bounty, even a small one, might well increase interest in that area... I have an open invitation to predator hunt one farm but that is due to coyotes preying on the owners cattle (new calves primarily)...

4. Telecheck numbers are valuable sources of information...WMAs in central KY except for Taylorsville seemed to see a BIG drop off this year...COs talk about how there are way too many does on many of these areas but the harvest numbers do not support that...DBNF in Rowan Co has so many acorns on the ground that a population of deer and turkey 10x their numbers would hardly dent them...one is lucky to see a harvestable deer there every two years...there is very little interest among hunters there now...
I agree with all this especially with respect to the WMAs. Not all WMAs are created equal. I normally hunt a mix of public and private but only set foot on a WMA once this year. Too many olive bushes and where the red cedars haven’t created a biological desert the hardwood understory is so choked out with underbrush and invasives it has become useless to deer and especially turkey. A lot of this can be addressed with logging and burning but aside from some warm season grasses being planted on ridge tops and half hearted bush hogging it doesn’t appear much of any “management” actually takes place.
 

DocPain

6 pointer
Aug 23, 2021
212
Hardinsburg Kentucky
Don’t get me started on WMA’s. I came from a state that had an abundance of state and federal land that was open to hunting and managed pretty good with select burnings and tree harvests. All game species were available in decent populations. The WMA’s in Kentucky are a joke except for a couple and those are pounded hard.
 

KBest

Fawn
Dec 29, 2020
20
Edgewood KY
I hunted Owen County 20+ times this season. It was different from previous years for sure. Ratio more balanced more than before, but hearing 30-40 reports on one morning sit tells me sighting and harvests are still going strong. Coyote and bobcat population growth has to be having some impact but measuring that without in depth study would be pure supposition.
 

ribsplitter

Cyber-Hunter
Jan 19, 2004
3,725
Greenup, ky, USA.
Don’t get me started on WMA’s. I came from a state that had an abundance of state and federal land that was open to hunting and managed pretty good with select burnings and tree harvests. All game species were available in decent populations. The WMA’s in Kentucky are a joke except for a couple and those are pounded hard.
I have also hunted public land in many states. Kentucky management should hide their faces in shame, they are an embarrassment. We still hunt public sometimes in KY, for a change of scenery. You would think the WMA areas in KY, being so few, would be a shining example of what could be, for others willing to implement management practices. Makes me sad to look at what we have and imagine what could be for KY sportsmen.
 

Hoene

10 pointer
May 8, 2012
1,766
Northern Ky
Not to long ago we would hear hundreds of shots on opening day.
I hunted Owen County 20+ times this season. It was different from previous years for sure. Ratio more balanced more than before, but hearing 30-40 reports on one morning sit tells me sighting and harvests are still going strong. Coyote and bobcat population growth has to be having some impact but measuring that without in depth study would be pure supposition.
 

TT92

Fawn
Oct 14, 2022
10
Smithfield, KY
I just bought a small piece of land (48 acres) in Owen County this summer. So I cannot comment on what previous years were like, although seeing the graph posted earlier is alarming.

On my place, I see a lot of deer and my cameras have recorded a variety of bucks - probably eight or ten distinctly different bucks from spikes to big ten-points. At least, prior to gun season, lol.

Opening weekend of gun season, from my blind I only saw does but I heard shots regularly from the surrounding hills on both Saturday and Sunday. Shot a doe on Sunday. Monday was slower. I finally saw two bucks on Tuesday, one was a spike the other was a decent 8-point (I shot him). The rest of the season was very quiet around me. The last weekend of gun, I think I only heard one or two shots the whole weekend.

I also took a small doe (fawn, really) with a Crossbow the day before muzzleloader opened back up.

My cameras are still showing the same six or seven regular does, and two good bucks. The bucks are only showing at night.

I haven't seen a turkey nor any sign of turkey since September. I have seen them on neighboring farms and on the road in/out about a mile from my place.

I do see coyotes on camera occasionally. However, I put cameras on my gut piles and only saw one coyote on one of the piles on the fourth day of recording. The other piles saw no coyotes. However, one of the neighbors has four large dogs that roam free all over the place, I see them a lot, and they had their fill with the gut piles. I wonder if their dogs could be driving away deer?
 

xbokilla

12 pointer
Jun 28, 2012
15,723
Hunter access is huge. Just saying. Not saying people shouldn’t be protective of their land and take care of their own, and yes it’s their land and they can do what they want. But the argument that, “Ky has plenty of public land…” just isn’t going to continue to get people in the woods, especially not kids. A lot of say, 100-200 acre properties that once had 3-6 hunters now has like 2. But since we’re specifically talking Owen. I hunt just a couple miles from the Owen line in Scott and ain’t no way we have as many deer as we did a decade ago. No way.
 

Hoene

10 pointer
May 8, 2012
1,766
Northern Ky
I just bought a small piece of land (48 acres) in Owen County this summer. So I cannot comment on what previous years were like, although seeing the graph posted earlier is alarming.

On my place, I see a lot of deer and my cameras have recorded a variety of bucks - probably eight or ten distinctly different bucks from spikes to big ten-points. At least, prior to gun season, lol.

Opening weekend of gun season, from my blind I only saw does but I heard shots regularly from the surrounding hills on both Saturday and Sunday. Shot a doe on Sunday. Monday was slower. I finally saw two bucks on Tuesday, one was a spike the other was a decent 8-point (I shot him). The rest of the season was very quiet around me. The last weekend of gun, I think I only heard one or two shots the whole weekend.

I also took a small doe (fawn, really) with a Crossbow the day before muzzleloader opened back up.

My cameras are still showing the same six or seven regular does, and two good bucks. The bucks are only showing at night.

I haven't seen a turkey nor any sign of turkey since September. I have seen them on neighboring farms and on the road in/out about a mile from my place.

I do see coyotes on camera occasionally. However, I put cameras on my gut piles and only saw one coyote on one of the piles on the fourth day of recording. The other piles saw no coyotes. However, one of the neighbors has four large dogs that roam free all over the place, I see them a lot, and they had their fill with the gut piles. I wonder if their dogs could be driving away deer?
What part of Owen County?
 


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