Squirrel at attention

The traditional “fall” squirrel season opening the third Saturday in August is the first of a series coming during Kentucky’s 2021-22 hunting year.

While steamy summer weather makes frosty autumn mornings seem impossibly far away, Kentucky’s 2021-22 hunting seasons are on the nearing horizon.

The portal hunting season, the traditional “fall” squirrel season that is the first of many to ring in the new hunting year, begins as usual on the third Saturday of August. Checking the calendar, you will find that opening five weeks from today.

That season, this year Aug. 21-Feb. 28, obviously gets a sultry summer start-up, but it is symbolic as the frontrunner for a lengthy list of 2021-22 small game, migratory bird, big game and waterfowl hunting seasons that follow in rather quick succession.

Commensurate with the approach of all these hunting opportunities, the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources is churning out the 2021-22 Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide. At the time of this writing, the booklet version of the guide for this hunting year had been prepared and sent to the printer. In coming days, the freebie guidebook publication will be churned out, then distributed to locations across the state where hunting licenses are sold.

Prior to that, hunters looking forward to the new guide can find it posted on the KDFWR website, www.fw.ky.gov. The updated guide, that including all the new season dates and regulations for 2021-22, should be implanted on the website during the coming week if some agency computer geek hasn’t loaded it on there already.

There is a gob of information coming in the new guide, but little is changed from that of the previous hunting year. Obviously different from last year’s guide will be season dates that change with the calendar shift.

That first season, the traditional squirrel season, is one example. It doesn’t start on a particular numeral date but rather on that third Saturday of August, hence Aug. 21 this time.

Soon to come after the squirrel start-up is Kentucky’s traditional dove season. This is one of those established numeral openings, Sept. 1. Kentucky dove hunting comes in three segments. This hunting year those will be Sept. 1-Oct. 26, Nov. 25-Dec. 5 and Dec. 18-Jan. 9.

Right after that, Kentucky’s regular archery season for deer and turkey hunting (as well as the senior/youth crossbow deer hunting period) opens on the first Saturday in September, this year being Sept. 4. The regular archery season runs through Jan. 17 this year.

Some things that may be new regulations this year that are not included in the printed version of the printed guide include possible changes to bobcat and coyote hunting. Proposals have been made to these that had not been given final legislative approval before the printed guide had to go to press. If and when the Kentucky General Assembly approves the proposed regulation changes, these will be posted in the online version of the hunting guide.

Included in the proposed changes is the requirement for a free permit to hunt bobcats in Kentucky. The no-cost permit would establish a system by which researchers can better track bobcat population numbers.

Another bobcat change proposed is opening hunting a week early, providing more days for taking bobcats during the firearms deer season.

The final bobcat regulation would benefit hunters and trappers who submit the lower jaws of harvested bobcats to the KDFWR for research, allowing them to harvest one additional bobcat for every two lower jaws submitted. Jaws must be submitted to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife before March 15 the year the season ends to be eligible for bag limit incentives.

A proposed coyote hunting change would allow hunters to use archery or crossbow gear to take coyotes at night on public land.

Proposed for night hunting of coyotes on private land is the use of muzzleloaders, slug-loaded shotguns and archery or crossbows during the Dec. 1-March 31 period when the use of lights is allowed.

• People who are to be first-time hunting and trapping license buyers in Illinois during 2021-22 hunting seasons are cautioned to not wait too long, lest they miss out on the opportunity to get special permits.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources notes that a transition is underway to a new licensing, permitting and harvest reporting system. One element of the system is that those who are new to buying licenses presently cannot enter their IDNR customer numbers that are required to apply for certain permits until the day after they purchase their licenses.

IDNR spokesmen urge those who will be getting licenses to buy them early so that they will be able to apply for such as site-specific dove, free upland game, public duck and goose hunting permits as well as the bobcat lottery application. Waiting until the last day for seeking a permit to buy a license would, in effect, prohibit applying for a permit until the day after the deadline.

Details of Illinois hunting seasons and the revised license/permit system are available at the website www.IDNR.com.

• Kids’ Adventure Day is what is happening at the Land Between the Lakes’ Woodlands Nature Station 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today.

The Nature Station’s resident critters and birds will play heavily in a series of programs about creatures real and fantastic. Presentations will be on the wildlife center’s back lot and adventurous hikes will be available on the WNS trail system.

Programs will include:

10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Pond Critters, an examination of miniature wildlife in the pond at the Hematite trailhead.

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Ghosts and Goblins, exploration of myths and folklore surrounding owls, including the species that has been mistaken for a ghost.

1-1:45 p.m., Wolves in Mythology, a look at the folklore about wolves and consideration of how much of that is truth and whether they are the villains they often have been portrayed to be.

1:30-4 p.m., Mystery Sounds, a discovery of the variety of sounds made by Kentucky creatures, including one that might be taken for a dinosaur.

2:30-3:15 p.m., Rodents of Unusual Size, a study of surprisingly large Kentucky rodents, including an appearance by the Nature Station’s own Clover the groundhog.

4-4:30 p.m., Raptor Row, a chance to meet the WNC’s resident birds of prey up close and personal.

Ongoing activities from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. include a presentation of some LBL resident snakes, a meeting with the center’s alligator snapping turtles, a “Fantastic Critters” scavenger hunt, a geocaching treasure hunt, and a scavenger hunt along one of several nearby hiking trails.

Admission for the event is $7 for adults, $5 for ages 5-17, and free for younger kids. More information: 270-924-2299.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com or phone 270-575-8650.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com or phone 270-575-8650.

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