Bison cow, calf

Natural reproduction at two LBL ranges makes an annual bison auction necessary to keep critter numbers in balance with their habitats.

If you are planning outdoors endeavors after this weekend, better check your authorization.

Kentucky’s fishing and hunting licenses and permit for the 2020-21 year expire at midnight Sunday, meaning that new 2021-22 licenses are required for sporting activities Monday and thereafter.

The licensing year for the full range of fishing and hunting pursuits runs March 1 through February in Kentucky. Once upon a time it was uniform with the calendar year, but nowadays the licensing year is more adapted to the hunting year, cutting off at the end of some late-running seasons.

Indeed, Kentucky’s long “fall” squirrel hunting season concluded with the end of shooting hours Sunday. Likewise, the state’s hunting and trapping for most furbearers ends Sunday with the final day of February. The same goes for the late crow hunting season and, where applicable, Kentucky’s grouse hunting season.

The only ongoing official hunting seasons beyond Sunday are the night hunting season for taking coyotes with the use of lights or night-vision gear and the conservation order season for taking “light” geese — snow geese and the variants called blue geese.

The changeover to the new license year is probably more pertinent to anglers in the earliest days of March, especially when mild weather makes late winter fishing more feasible and appealing. Area crappie fishing can be quite good on those days. Both bass and catfish pursuits can offer other productive outings under the right conditions.

All those quests will require new licenses from Monday and thereafter.

A good thing about the need for 2021-22 licenses is that they won’t be more expensive than they were for 2020-21.

The annual fishing license for Kentucky residents is $23. The resident hunting license is $27. For someone who both fishes and hunts, the obvious choice for basic licensing is the combination fishing/hunting license, which sells for $42. That saves $8.

Someone who does just about everything on the outdoors calendar should consider the sportsman’s license. That is a flat $95, but it represents a substantial savings because it stands good for a resident combination fishing/hunting license, a deer permit, both spring and fall turkey permits, the state migratory bird/waterfowl permit and a trout fishing permit. (All those purchased separately would cost $162.)

The senior sportsman’s license for those ages 65 and older and the disabled sportsman’s license for those certified as disabled are exemplary deals. Those licenses cover everything that the regular sportsman’s license does, plus they also include an unlimited number of additional antlerless deer permits. And senior and disabled licenses are only $12 annually.

If a senior or disabled individual wants only to, say, fish or small game hunt, that’s not a big deal. The license to cover that is only $12. It will cost no more to be legally licensed to hunt deer, doves or turkeys, and if that opportunity comes along and the inclination is there, so much the better.

For kids, remember that those under age 16 always can fish without a license, and those younger than 12 can hunt in Kentucky without a license. Youngsters ages 12-15 can hunt in Kentucky with a youth hunting license, which is just $6.

There also is a youth sportsman’s license for those ages 12-15, which sells for $30. This covers the youth hunting license in addition to a youth deer permit and two youth turkey permits.

Licenses and permits can be purchased at court clerk offices in many counties and at a large number of businesses statewide. Licenses and permits also are easily purchased online at the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources website, www.fw.ky.gov. On the website, just click on the Licenses tab on the home page and follow your nose.

• Would you want a buffalo or two? Today is the last day to put in bids in the Land Between the Lakes’ annual auction of surplus bison, a sale that is being held online this year.

Bidding has been open all week and closes at 6 p.m. today for 42 bison that are being removed from herds on the Elk & Bison Prairie near Golden Pond and the South Bison Range near The Homeplace in the LBL’s Tennessee sector.

The LBL for years has managed the two herds of bison that trace their lineage back to North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park (1969), Nebraska’s Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge (1988 and 2012), and South Dakota’s Wind Cave National Park (1996).

The LBL herds expand each year from reproduction. Consequently, LBL managers designate specific animals for auction to reduce the numbers at each enclosed range to keep herds in balance with the amount of available habitat.

Bison on the sale block include 14 heifer and eight bull calves born in 2020, nine heifers and six bull yearlings born in 2019, four breeding age cows born in 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2018 (three of which have been tested and shown pregnant), and one bull born in 2018.

Full auction details as well as specifics on the animals being sold are available online, www.bison.gesture.com.

• Activities for a new season in the Land Between the Lakes pick up in March with reopenings after the winter break.

The popular Hillman Ferry and Energy Lake campgrounds open their gates to visitors beginning Monday after the regular December-February winter shutdown.

Both North and South Welcome Stations, mini visitor centers along The Trace in extreme northern Kentucky and southern Tennessee ends of the federal recreation area, will reopen on Monday with the onset of March.

The Woodlands Nature Station, the popular wildlife center, reopens Wednesdays through Sundays during March. The Nature Station’s first open day after the winter break is Wednesday of next week, March 3.

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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