Somewhat lost in the onset of Kentucky’s firearms deer hunting season is that the state’s hunters are poised for largely everything else.
Monday brings a barrage of small game hunting as well as furbearer hunting and trapping.
The ongoing squirrel and raccoon/opossum hunting seasons are put on hold today and Sunday during the opening weekend of Kentucky’s wildly popular modern gun deer season. Come Monday, however, seasons for smaller game that were deferred for deer doings will be resumed. Those seasons overlap as the 16-day firearms deer hunt runs through Nov. 28
In addition, Kentucky’s small game season for rabbits and quail in the state’s western zone (inclusive of all far west counties) marks its opening on the Nov. 15 date. The eastern rabbit/quail zone season opened earlier, is closed for the weekend and also resumes on Monday.
Meanwhile, while coon and possum hunting has been in and is now paused, hunting and trapping for almost all furbearing species, including raccoons and opossums, opens at the same time as the small game hunting surge.
The exception to Monday’s burst of furbearer opportunities is that for bobcat hunting. Hunting for the wild felines is still on hold until Nov. 27. That prevents firearms deer hunters from any opportunistic bobcat harvest until the last weekend of the gun deer season. Trapping harvest of bobcats, however, can begin Monday.
In reality, a great many small game hunters are also deer hunters, so they often concentrate on firearms deer season while those opportunities are there. Another factor is that the heavy participation in the gun deer hunting period discourages small game specialists from hunting both private and public lands that are open to deer hunting for safety concerns, to avoid potential conflicts and, often, just as a courtesy to whitetail gun hunters who have fewer days allotted to their pursuits.
Yet, hunters who do take up small game and/or furbearer missions in daylight hours during the ongoing gun deer season are cautioned to remember their obligation of wearing fluorescent orange clothing when afield. As are the firearm deer hunters themselves, hunters in pursuit of other game during gun deer seasons must wear clothing of unbroken, “blaze” orange on head, chest and back.
Deer hunters afield with archery and crossbows during the gun season are subject to the same orange clothing requirements.
The bright orange clothing mandate, usually fulfilled with a cap and vest of the appropriate color, is a proven hedge against line-of-sight and mistaken-for-game accidents by providing high visibility of hunters to other hunters.
Little more than a week after the start of full-bore small game and furbearer seasons, the next big shoe (or maybe that’s a hip boot) to drop is that of Kentucky’s traditional waterfowling seasons.
On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, the state’s early segment of duck hunting starts. Phase one of duck season runs through the holiday weekend, Nov. 25-28. After a short break, Kentucky’s duck season resumes for a run to finish out the remainder of the 60 allotted days, Dec. 7-Jan. 31.
The other side of waterfowling is goose hunting, which ensues also on Nov. 25 along with the early duck hunting segment. Unlike the duck season, however, hunting for Canada, snow/blue and white-fronted geese runs continually through its conclusion Feb. 15.
Observation and reports lead one to deduct that a surge of multi-color Asian lady beetles moving to find winter shelter swept through the area this week.
These exotic little beetles (really native to Asia) are confused with our native ladybugs, but our homegrown ladybugs never appear in major numbers as sometimes do the Asians seeking out quarters for a bug’s version of hibernation.
The Asian lady beetles are flying bugs of about 1/3-inch long that at rest tuck their wings under solid-looking wing covers. Most are pumpkin orange, but colors range from yellow to red. Most are black spotted, but the spots are faint to absent on others.
They usually go unnoticed, but in the fall in nature they often collect along sun-exposed bluffs or rock outcroppings seeking crevices in which to shelter from the winter. In people-populated areas, they are attracted to sunny sides of homes and other buildings.
Instincts drive them to search for cracks through which they can enter walls or crawl spaces for the moderate shelter there. They do not really seek the heated interior of you home, although some find themselves there.
Some people complain of being bitten or pinched by the beetles, but they do not inflict any injury with this, nor do they have the equipment to sting. On the positive side, the Asian beetles eat aphids that damage many crops.
Lady beetles even in larger numbers will not damage a building. If some find their way into the interior, however, be aware that squashing one tends to release a tiny drop of unpleasant liquid that can leave a scent and stain on furniture, curtains, etc. If you cannot catch them gently by hand, gather them with a vacuum.
The fall hibernation shelter quest of Asian lady beetles is short lived. You may see a flurry of them now, but soon they will find a hidden hideaway and disappear. Yet, when spring temperatures return months from now, expect to see some again as they emerge and disperse for warm weather bug business.
The brief autumn boom of Asian lady beetles comes close on the heels of our inundation with brown marmorated stink bugs. Just within the past few days there has been a decline in big numbers of these also-Asian, exotic stink bugs that also have been seeking winter quarters.
Other than Asian origin, there is no connection between these two species. In practice, the invasive stink bugs seem to seek shelter slightly earlier — or in conditions that are still a bit warmer — than do the lady beetles.
Steve Vantreese, a freelance outdoors writer, can be contacted at email@example.com.