By Steve Vantreese
The Associated Press
PADUCAH, Ky. - Some archery hunters were taking to the trees and fields this weekend for the earliest-ever opening of the bow deer season, one that will run continuously for a record 136 days.
"We have had some requests from archery hunters and sportsman's groups for an earlier opening, especially in light of the addition of some turkey firearms hunting days in October," said Jonathan Day, biologist and deer management coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
"But we set the earlier opening mainly because we can - there's no biological reason not to," Day said. "It allows us to provide some more hunting opportunities without a price for the resource. We don't anticipate that it will result in a significant additional number of deer taken."
But even if that happens, that wouldn't be a problem, Day and other managers say. They'd like to see a harvest at least as large as last year's record deer take.
He said Kentucky's deer herd was estimated at about 650,000, not including this year's fawns.
"We've had an excellent year for reproduction - there should be lots of fawns - so we need the hunters to have a good year to hold the population down," he said.
The new opening of the archery season - the first Saturday in September - is a two-week jump on the start of hunting compared with past years. The traditional kickoff has been as late as Oct. 1.
The earlier start creates some differences for the hunters, Day said.
"Hunters may have the opportunity to find some bucks with their antlers still in velvet," Day said.
Velvet-covered antlers still qualify a deer as a buck, he noted. According to regulations, any antlers, not just polished ones, qualify a deer toward the one-buck harvest limit.
Another aspect of the early start may be the presence of some spotted fawns in the woods, Day said.
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