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Whistling wings and the flash of antlers are some of the things that make the Kentucky Lake area a motherload for the sportsman. It is a happy hunting ground with a generous helping of the wild complimented by the nearby conveniences of a vacation destination.
Kentucky Lake itself is an anchor for fall and winter waterfowl hunting. The expanse of unspoiled shorelines, flats and protected bays offers an endless array of possibilities for the outdoorsman with feathers in mind.
Within the Mississippi Flyway, the Tennessee River impoundment is a magnet for the southbound streams of ducks. With duck numbers in the flyway at a high level, Kentucky Lake hosts swarms of them, from the resident wood ducks to early-migrating teal to a grab-bag assortment of puddle ducks and divers through the heart of the gun season.
The lake is an open invitation for free-lance duck hunters who find hot set-ups on rocky points or in cloistered, protected coves. Bank blinds using natural cover or mobile blinds combined with decoy spreads can put hunters in easy shotshell reach of flights of mallards, blacks, pintails, scaup…a rich variety of migrant species.
Kentucky Lake duck hunting can be productive from start to finish, but action on the ice-free reservoir only heats up during the coldest days of the season, when the freeze-up on smaller waters sends even more birds winging to it.
Hunting at Kentucky LakeCanada geese put big birds in the sights of the lake’s waterfowlers when flights of the honkers descend to spreads of floating decoys in the bays and flats. Along with migrants, the lake has its own smattering of resident giant Canadians to add wings on the wind.
White-tailed deer are top priority for many hunters, and the Kentucky Lake area has its own attraction in heavy antlers and venison on the hoof. The agricultural and woodland mix of the surrounding land grows some heavyweight whitetails of trophy proportions. Kentucky’s conventional gun, muzzle-loading and bow seasons present generous opportunities to tap into a deer herd that is on the increase in both numbers and quality.
A special interest to deer hunters is the U.S. Forestry Service’s Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area, on the eastern shore of Kentucky Lake. The uninhabited 170,000-acre federal area is a rich resource of hardwood ridges and hollows, a big woods setting that is a popular get-away for both gun and archery whitetail hunters. Quota gun hunts open archery season for LBL whitetails offer “bonus” tags for deer over and above the state bag limit.
The Land Between The Lakes likewise is a special attraction for turkey hunters, especially in the spring gobbler season, and even during the fall and winter with the either sex archery season for the big birds. The managed flock of LBL turkeys offer one of the greatest densities of the big game fowl to be found anywhere and plenty of timbered elbowroom in which to pursue them.
Small game hunters, as well, will find a rich tradition of their pursuits in the Kentucky Lake neck of the woods. Rabbit and quail hunters, squirrel stalkers and houndsmen who set their sights on masked raccoons are all in the right place in the lake land.
The Kentucky Lake area also offers hunters a new area for hunting excursions in the newly created Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge boasts approximately 5,000 acres of bottom land that provides hunters a chance to bag trophy-sized whitetail deer, turkey, small game and waterfowl. Look for the refuge to be expanded in the next few years and become a rich resource for all types of hunters. Anyone wishing to hunt on the refuge must obtain and carry a permit card. These permits are free of charge and are available by calling the Refuge office at 270-527-5770.