2003-2004 Deer and Fall Turkey Seasons Set

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The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission set the 2003-2004 deer and fall turkey hunting seasons and established a new free hunting weekend for junior hunters at its quarterly meeting March 7 in Frankfort. The commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly and approves all expenditures by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).

2003-2004 Deer Seasons:

Archery: Statewide: September 6, 2003 - January 19, 2004

Early Muzzleloader: Zones 1-3: (either sex); October 18-19, 2003

Zone 4: (antlered only); October 18-19, 2003

Late Muzzleloader: Statewide: (either sex); December 13-19, 2003

Modern Firearms: Zones 1-2: (either sex); November 8-23, 2003

Zone 3: (either sex); November 8-17, 2003

Zone 4: (antlered only); November 8-17, 2003

Crossbow: Zones 1-4: (either sex); December 1-10, 2003

Youth Only Firearms Season: Statewide: (either sex); Oct.11-12, 200

Free Junior Hunting Weekend: Statewide: (either sex); Dec. 27-28, 2003

A new Free Junior Hunting Weekend that will offer hunters under age 16 an opportunity to deer and small game hunt without license or permit will be open statewide on the weekend following Christmas (December 27 and 28, 2003). An adult must always supervise a deer hunter under age 16 who uses a modern firearm. Hunter education and hunter orange clothing requirements will still apply, along with all other small game and deer season bag limits, checking and tagging requirements, and county zone restrictions during the Free Junior Hunting Weekend.

Hunters should take note that the archery deer season and small game seasons remain open to all hunters; however, only people under 16 can hunt deer with a firearm during the Free Junior Hunting Weekend in December. This age restriction is different from the October Youth-only Firearm Season, when persons ages 17 and under are eligible to participate and must be appropriately licensed to deer hunt. Again, small game hunters under age 16 can hunt Dec. 27-28 without a license.

The Commission approved the following deer county zone changes for the 2003-2004 season. Boyd, Caldwell, Carter, Elliott, Greenup, Hardin, Rowan and Woodford Counties moved from Zone 1 to Zone 2. Allen, Butler, Hancock, Logan, Metcalfe, Muhlenburg, Simpson, Todd and Warren Counties moved from Zone 3 to Zone 2. Bath, Clinton, Menifee, Morgan and Russell Counties moved from Zone 2 to Zone 3. Laurel, Lee and Whitley counties moved from Zone 4 to Zone 3. All other counties remained the same as last year.

In Zone 2 counties next season, the four deer season bag limit may be taken with a firearm during the appropriate seasons. Previously, only two of the four deer limit could be taken with a firearm. The Commission simplified the deer permit system by abolishing Zone 1 and archery-only bonus antlerless archery permits, and creating one bonus antlerless deer permit. A bonus antlerless deer permit can be used during any deer season, as long the hunter abides by the equipment and bag limit restrictions in effect for the time he hunts.

The definition of what is considered a “legal” antlered deer was modified to include any deer with visible antler, whether polished or in velvet, except button bucks which will still be considered antlerless.

The period when hunters may apply for a KDFWR wildlife management area quota hunt was changed from August to September.

The Commission set two five-day fall turkey shotgun seasons for 2003.

The first is October 25 through October 29, 2003 and the second is December 6 through December 10, 2003. The combined season bag limit for both seasons is one bird, either sex. The Commission also lengthened the fall turkey archery season to run concurrently with the expanded deer archery season. The fall turkey season is September 6, 2003 to January 19, 2004. In addition, appropriately licensed archery hunters may take turkeys during the modern firearms deer season, but must comply with hunter orange requirements.

In other turkey-related business, the Commission approved crossbows as legal turkey hunting equipment for all fall firearm turkey seasons.

The Commission also opened McCreary County to the statewide year-round wild hog hunting season, extended the furbearer hunting and trapping (excluding bobcats) season through February 29, 2003, and established a $5 fee to replace lost boater safety certification cards.

The next Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be held at 8 a.m. on Friday, June 13, 2003 at the Game Farm off U.S. 60 in Frankfort. Persons interested in addressing the Commission must notify the KDFWR Commissioner’s office in writing at least 30 days in advance to be considered for placement on the meeting agenda. People who are hearing impaired and plan to attend the meeting should contact the KDFWR at least 10 days in advance and the agency will provide a translator. To request to address the commission, write to KDFWR, Commissioner Tom Bennett, #1 Game Farm Road, Frankfort, Kentucky, 40601.