The deer hunting opportunities are booming in Kentucky, and the chances to kill a trophy buck keep getting better. The annual deer harvest has been right around 116,000 deer each of the last five years, during which time Kentucky has posted its third and fourth highest kill totals of all time.

See the forecast for your state’s 2012 deer season.

“In each of the last five deer seasons, we have managed to take an average of 43 3-year/Awards and All-time Boone & Crockett Record Book trophy bucks,” says David Yancy, deer biologist with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “And, over the last two seasons, the trophy buck harvest has become much more evenly distributed across our state, so that trophies are now regularly recorded from all regions of Kentucky.”

The one problem area of the state is in the 25 counties that constitute the heavily-forested south-central and Appalachian region of Kentucky. Here, deer densities in many locales are under 10 deer per square mile. A lack of timber management has created large stands of older trees with little understory or the successional growth that deer need for browse, Yancy said. “In the 36 Counties that comprise far western and north-central Kentucky, however, densities still exceed 30 deer per square mile, even after 12 years of unlimited antlerless harvests,” he said. “The remaining 59 Counties [about half the state] are at or just slightly below our deer population goals of 20 to 30 deer per square mile.”

As noted, trophy deer roam throughout most of the state, but Kentucky’s most consistent producers of record book bucks are the Western Coal Field and Pennyroyal Regions, made up of Breckinridge, Butler, Christian, Edmonson, Grayson, Hardin, Hart, Hopkins, Logan, Muhlenberg, Ohio, and Todd Counties.

The Midwestern Regional Report
Winter in the Midwest was mild to nonexistent, and deer herds came into spring in very good shape. However, drought could be an issue in some states. “Hard and soft mast crops will likely be compromised, and clover and row crop production is threatened by dry conditions,” says Iowa deer biologist Tom Litchfield. In parts of Indiana and Illinois, some farmers were forced to plow under failing corn or chop it up for cattle feed in midsummer. Deer numbers are stable to growing in most locales, though disease is taking a toll in several states. North Dakota is still reeling from last year’s EHD outbreak, CWD is spreading within Illinois and Wisconsin, bovine tuberculosis is still a concern in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and Nebraska and Missouri experienced EHD outbreaks this summer.

Top Trophy Zones
IL: Pike, Adams, Brown, and Fulton counties.
KS: Units 11, 12, and 16.
KY: Christian, Grayson, Hardin, Hart, Muhlenberg, and Ohio counties.
MI: Calhoun, Cass, Jackson, and Washtenaw counties.
MN: Zone 3. This fall will be the third year of antler-point restrictions here.
MO: Saline, Putnam, Calloway, Chariton, and Cooper counties.
NE: Since 2005, hunters have taken 44 record-book mule deer bucks in Cherry County, including a 171 2⁄8 typical in 2010 and a 210 4⁄8 non-typical in 2005.
OH: Muskingum County.
WI: Buffalo, Trempealeau, and Waupaca counties. Between 2005 and 2010, the Dairy State led all other states with 383 Boone and Crockett entries.