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Hunting changes highlight meeting



Most of Kentucky's outdoorsmen no doubt are concentrating on fishing right now, as well they should be. But time really does fly when you're having fun, and very soon now you will be reaching for your gun.
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission, at its quarterly meeting in June, approved several changes in hunting regulations, providing more hunting opportunities for hunters.

Both the fall squirrel season and the September goose season have been lengthened, and daily shooting hours for doves on private lands will be more liberal.

This year's fall squirrel season will open on the third Saturday in August and remain open through February of 2005, giving squirrel hunters an extra month of action each year.

Four days have been added to this year's September goose season. That season will be Sept. 4-12. There will be no change in bag limits.

Dove season will open on Sept. 1 as usual, but after opening day, shooting hours on private lands will be from one-half hour before sunrise until sundown. The 11 a.m. starting time will remain on wildlife management areas and on private-land dove fields leased by the fish and wildlife agency.

Another change to begin this fall should be welcomed by varmint hunters who no longer will have to buy a deer permit to hunt coyotes, groundhogs or wild hogs during the modern gun deer season. These species now may be taken throughout the year by regularly licensed hunters.

Since special seasons and regulations often apply on wildlife management areas, hunters in all cases should check the rules before hunting on these areas.

Oh, Deer!

An astonishing total of 116,450 whitetail deer kills were reported to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources by hunters last season, a state record.

Also establishing a state record for a single season were the 43 trophy bucks that qualified for Boone & Crockett Club listings. Numerous state bowhunters took bucks that qualified for Pope & Young Club trophy listings.

Kentucky clearly has established itself as one of the world's premier hunting grounds for trophy whitetail bucks. Wildlife managers say hunters can help keep it so by increasing the deer harvest each year. They say it is especially important that hunters increase the harvest of does. Keeping the overall deer population in check is the key to maintaining a quality herd.

By any name

Call them mayflies or call them willowflies, just don't call them a nuisance.

Mayflies, more commonly known as willowflies in these parts, are among the best natural fish baits known to man, especially during the first few hatches. Hatches have been reported over the last couple of weeks.

Flyfishermen long have preached the merits of matching the hatch, meaning using an artificial fly that resembles the natural bait on which fish are feeding. Unless you are an artificial-lure purist, you don't need to match the hatch with willowflies; you use them.

Virtually everything that swims will eat willowflies. Baiting with them is a matter of choice, of course. A willowfly hatch is a flyrodder's best dream. During a hatch, a small popper or another artificial bug will work as well with less trouble.

And while your catch may be mostly smaller fish, be prepared for anything. Nice bass have been known to move in among smaller fish gorging themselves on willowflies.

At this time of year, you never know when you will find a big willowfly hatch. So if you own a flyrod, don't leave home without it.

Cecil Herndon is an outdoor columnist for the Kentucky New Era. His column runs every Saturday. He can be reached by telephone at 887-3260 or by e-mail at

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