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Canada geese in snow. Photos taken Feb. 9, 2006, at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters lake.

Applications will be accepted beginning Sept. 1  for two specially constructed waterfowl blinds for mobility-impaired hunters at Doug Travis Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Hickman and Carlisle counties. Applications for these quota hunts must be postmarked by Sept. 30.

“One blind, Blind 19, is a boat-in site with a handicap-accessible boat ramp. Hunters must hunt within 10 yards of the location marker while using this blind. There will not be a constructed blind to hide the boat this year,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The other blind, Blind 13, is an above ground blind that is wheelchair accessible. The mobility-impaired hunt party will be able to drive to this blind.”

The hunt dates for the mobility-impaired quota hunts during 2019-2020 are:

  • Nov. 28–Dec 1, 2019
  • Dec. 7-8, 2019
  • Dec. 9–12, 2019
  • Dec. 13–15, 2019
  • Dec. 16–19, 2019
  • Dec. 20–22, 2019
  • Dec. 23–26, 2019
  • Dec. 27–29, 2019
  • Dec. 30, 2019 – Jan. 2, 2020
  • Jan. 3–5, 2020
  • Jan. 6–9, 2020
  • Jan. 10–12, 2020
  • Jan. 13–16, 2020
  • Jan 17–19, 2020
  • Jan. 20–23, 2020
  • Jan. 24–26, 2020
  • Jan. 31, 2020

To register to be drawn for this blind during one or more of the mobility-impaired hunts, mail a 3 x 5 white index card in an envelope addressed to:

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Attn: Wes Little – Doug Travis WMA Mobility-Impaired Waterfowl Hunt Application

1 Sportsman’s Lane

Frankfort, KY 40601

The envelope must be postmarked between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30.

“Hunters must specify on the index card the dates for which they are applying and list them in order of preference,” Little said. “While they may apply for up to three hunting dates, they can only be drawn for one hunt. The index card must include the hunter’s name, complete mailing address and phone number as well.”

Successful applicants may invite up to three guests. After Sept. 30, those selected for hunts will be mailed a quota hunt permit for the dates they are drawn, a map showing the blind location and other instructions concerning the hunt. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified. Duplicate applications for the same hunt will result in disqualification.

“The hunting party will be responsible for bringing and placing decoys as well as retrieving birds,” Little said. “These blinds are open to standby hunters on a first-come, first-served basis if the blind is not occupied by the drawn party by one hour before sunrise, but priority for its use will go to mobility impaired hunters.”

If not completed already, waterfowl hunters must go online at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and click the “My Profile” tab to fill out the Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey before hunting.

Photo: Kentucky Department Fish And Wildlife

The first snippets of snow fell this week, making most people frown, but put a smile on the faces of Kentucky waterfowl hunters. The cold weather the week before the waterfowl season opener on Thanksgiving Day is a good sign.

“Waterfowl hunting in Kentucky is nearly 100 percent weather dependent,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We will have more birds to hunt if we get cold weather to the north of Kentucky. If we continue with this cold weather, we should have a good opener.”

Little said fantastic habitat conditions for waterfowl await those birds. “The moist soil vegetation such as wild ryes, annual smartweeds, millets and sedges are looking great across the state. The habitat is here and population wise, we are living the glory days.”

A slight dip in duck numbers in 2018 resulting from adverse weather conditions during breeding season in the prairie-pothole region on the northern Great Plains and Canada in 2017 should not concern waterfowl hunters. “We are still well above the long term average for duck numbers,” Little said. “This trend is basically a blip and should not impact hunting at all.”

New public waterfowl hunting opportunities on Sloughs Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Henderson and Union counties offer a chance for excellent hunting each week of the season. Little explained hunters who have not put in for a quota hunt on the area may try for a minimum of 10 slots via a weekly draw each Monday night of the season.

“Nine of those slots are on the Jenny Hole Unit with one on the Sauerheber Unit,” Little explained. “More slots may be available if those drawn for quota hunts on the area don’t check in on the Sunday before their hunts.”

Waterfowl hunters on Ballard WMA in Ballard County, an anchor of Kentucky waterfowl hunting for decades, no longer have to hunt from blinds. “For the first time, a few boat-in hunting spots are available on Ballard WMA,” Little said. “There are many wade and shoot opportunities as well.”

Boatwright WMA, also in Ballard County, and Doug Travis WMA in Carlisle and Hickman counties, offer daily walk-in waterfowl hunting. For more information on these opportunities, refer to the 2018-2019 Kentucky Waterfowl Hunting Guide available in a printable PDF format at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife webpage at www.fw.ky.gov. There is no longer a paper version of this guide.

Little said Cedar Creek Lake in Lincoln County, Barren River Lake in Allen and Barren counties and Green River Lake in Adair and Taylor counties offer some of the best waterfowl hunting in the central Kentucky region. He also recommended Cave Run Lake for duck hunting in east Kentucky, especially later in the season. Goose hunting is not permitted on most of Cave Run Lake. The Ohio River also offers good later season duck and goose hunting.

Hunters without a boat and other gear needed to hunt large bodies of water should try farm ponds. “Farm ponds always provide opportunity,” Little said. “You must get permission from the landowner. Do not be afraid to ask, many landowners with resident goose issues are open to waterfowl hunters. Do not forget to close the gate behind you; that is the number one way to lose hunting permission on a farm.”

Steel shotshells in No. 2 through No. 4 work well for ducks while those in BB through No. 2 make good goose loads. “The modern non-toxic loads with tungsten or bismuth allow hunters to use smaller shot sizes,” Little said.

“I mostly use 3-inch, steel shotshells with 1 1-4 ounces of shot for waterfowl hunting,” Little said. Waterfowl hunters may not use or possess lead shot while hunting.

Duck, coot and merganser season opens Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22 and closes Nov. 25. This season opens again Dec. 3 and closes Jan. 27, 2019. Goose season also opens Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22 and closes Feb. 15, 2019.

As a reminder, waterfowl hunters must complete a short survey and get their Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.) confirmation number before hunting. Visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at www.fw.ky.gov and click on the “My Profile” tab to begin. The process takes less than 5 minutes.

In addition to the H.I.P. confirmation number, waterfowl hunters need a valid Kentucky hunting license as well as a Kentucky Migratory Bird – Waterfowl Hunting Permit along with a signed Federal Duck Stamp to be legal waterfowl hunters.

Waterfowl hunting provides a fun reason to get outside in winter while providing excellent tasting, nutritious table fare. A meal featuring properly cooked duck is as good as any expensive restaurant

Applications are now being taken for mobility-impaired hunters wishing to hunt from two specially constructed blinds at Doug Travis Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Hickman and Carlisle counties. Applications for these quota hunts must be postmarked by Nov. 15.

“One blind, Blind 19, is a boat-only blind, built for mobility-impaired hunters,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The whole boat hides in this blind. The other blind, Blind 13, is an above ground blind that is wheelchair accessible. The mobility-impaired hunt party will be able to drive to this blind.”

The hunt dates for the mobility-impaired quota hunts during 2018-2019 are: Nov. 22–25; Dec. 3–6; Dec. 7-9; Dec. 10–13; Dec. 14–16; Dec. 17–20; Dec. 21–23; Dec. 24–27 and Dec. 28–30; Dec. 31, 2018 – Jan. 3, 2019; Jan. 4–6; Jan. 7–10; Jan. 9–12; Jan. 11–13; Jan 14–17; Jan. 18–20; Jan. 21–24; and Jan. 25–27.

To register to be drawn for this blind during one or more of the mobility impaired hunts, mail a 3 x 5 white index card in an envelope addressed to:

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Attn: Wes Little – Doug Travis WMA Mobility-Impaired Waterfowl Hunt Application

1 Sportsman’s Lane

Frankfort, KY 40601

The envelope must be postmarked between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15.

“Hunters must specify on the index card the dates for which they are applying and list them in order of preference,” Little said. “While they may apply for up to three hunting dates, they can only be drawn for one hunt. The index card must include the hunter’s name, complete mailing address and phone number as well.”

Successful applicants may invite up to three guests. After Nov. 15, those selected for hunts will be mailed a quota hunt permit for the dates they are drawn, a map showing the blind location and other instructions concerning the hunt. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified. Duplicate applications for the same hunt will result in disqualification.

“The hunting party will be responsible for bringing and placing decoys as well as retrieving birds,” Little said. “These blinds are open to standby hunters on a first-come, first-served basis if the blind is not occupied by the drawn party by one hour before sunrise, but priority for its use will go to mobility impaired hunters.”

If not completed already, waterfowl hunters must go online at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and fill out the Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey before they are legal waterfowl hunters.

Online applications are being taken through Nov. 15 for youth and mobility-impaired waterfowl quota hunts at two state-owned fish hatcheries near Frankfort and Morehead. Hunts will be available on each Saturday and Sunday in January 2019.

Hunts are being held at the Minor Clark Fish Hatchery in Rowan County and the Pete Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery in Franklin County.

“There are five blinds at Minor Clark Hatchery and two blinds at Pete Pfeiffer,” said Wes Little, migratory bird biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Drawn hunters must provide their own decoys, put them out and retrieve their own birds.”

Interested youth or mobility-impaired waterfowl hunters may apply online by clicking this link or going to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at fw.ky.gov and clicking on the “Hunt” tab, followed by “Quota Hunts” tab. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 15.

Hunt dates in 2019 include Jan 5-6, Jan. 12-13, Jan. 19-20 and Jan. 26-27. Youths under age 16 may apply for these quota hunts. A mentor age 18 or older must accompany the youth hunter. A mentor and youth drawn for a hunt may invite two additional youth hunters or one youth and second mentor to hunt with them. Selected mobility-impaired hunters may only have one assistant in the blind with them.

Drawn hunters will receive a quota hunt permit in the mail in late November notifying the hunter the dates for which they were drawn, along with detailed maps and other instructions concerning the hunt.

If not completed already, waterfowl hunters must go online at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and fill out the Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey before they are legal waterfowl hunters.

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