Western Kentucky was ranked #7 in "Outdoor Life" as one of the TOP 10 HOT SPOTS for hunting whitetail deer. You will find public land and plenty of private land available for hunting. The woods, fields and waters of the Lake Barkley area pose a rich seasonal playground for game seekers. They do it for fun, but hunting is pretty serious business around here!
High on the list of Lake Barkley area hunters is white-tailed deer. Kentucky is regularly in the top five states in producing record book deer, and the area yields its share of whoppers. Farm ground mixed with woodlots in the private sector hereabouts produces whitetails both in quantity and quality. Nearby Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge offers open hunting in rich bottomland hardwoods. And perhaps the region’s favorite public land option, the U.S. Forest Service’s Land Between the Lakes, presents a unique big woods hunting experience on 170,000 acres of ridges and hollows.
Kentucky’s archery hunting is broad in opportunities, beginning the first Saturday in September and running continuously through mid January. Fall brings a wave of bowhunting throughout the area. The Land Between the Lakes is especially popular with visiting bowhunters for the huge amount of open territory, scenic woodlands atmosphere and the opportunity to hunt bonus deer that don’t count against the state bag limit.
Firearms deer hunting activates the masses in the region for a stretch in early to mid November during the excitement of the whitetail rut that puts big bucks on the move. That’s after an earlier sampling of muzzleloading firearms and early youth firearms hunting on successive October weekends. LBL quota firearms hunting offers bonus deer for those drawn for permits. (Contact the Land Between the Lakes, 270-924-2000 or www.lbl.org for quota permit application information.)
Late fall and winter in the Lake Barkley region puts waterfowlers onto liquid environments, including Lake Barkley itself. The Cumberland River impoundment is a favorite of big water duck hunters who operate from boat blinds or impromptu shoreline hideaways to tempt winter migrant dabblers and divers that spin off the Mississippi Flyway. The big lake can be especially golden for late season duck hunters — or earlier season with the right weather system — when smaller bottomland sloughs and potholes freeze over, sending birds off to seek out larger open waters. Lake Barkley has its own contingent of resident Canada geese and others drop in from migrational flocks to add spice to the hunting. Ducks are the primary lure for waterfowlers, but geese offer economy-sized bonuses.
The sportsmen who can tear themselves away from spring fishing might enjoy some of the best wild turkey hunting to be had in the woods and woodlots of the Lake Barkley region in April and May. Kentucky’s turkey flock is outstanding since the days of a species restoration, and the area is a producer of some nice, booming gobblers.
Those lacking private land on which to duel with tom turkeys may find a wonderland in the Land Between the Lakes. The vast woodlands once held all the turkeys left in Kentucky, and it’s still a gobbler mecca now that the state’s turkey population has recovered and blossomed. The LBL offers both managed quota turkey hunting and post-quota open hunts. Contact the U.S. Forest Service management for quota applications.
The Lake Barkley region also boasts its share of small game and predator hunting for those who seek variety or whose cup of tea might not be the headliner species. Among the options to chase deer, waterfowl, turkeys, rabbits, quail, squirrels, coyotes, bobcat or other critters, there’s not much down time for sportsmen.