Today and three more.
That’s what’s left of February, and that’s what’s left of the once-crowded 2011-12 hunting seasons.
Hunters in Kentucky have until one-half hour after sunset Wednesday to go into the windy woods and shoot a skinny squirrel for the skillet. They’ll serve him up, of course, with cathead biscuits and brown gravy.
And Kentucky hunters also have through Wednesday to shoot a ruffed grouse as he roars out of a thicket breaking the sound barrier. They can take ol’ ruff’ home and dress him up for the kitchen rotisserie, turning him until he’s golden brown and the juice runs out when you put a fork to him. Add some good sage dressing on the side.
Also open in the bluegrass state through Wednesday are the hunting seasons on raccoon, opossum, otter, muskrat, mink, beaver, red and gray fox, weasel and striped skunk.
Hunting season on coyote, groundhog and wild hog are open year round.
In Ohio, it’s not too late for rabbit stew. Hunters in the buckeye state, until sunset Wednesday, can shoot a leaping, zigzagging cottontail, skin him, gut him, wash him in clean cold water, and cut him up for the stew pot. The limit is four a day.
Ohio is in the midst of efforts to restore the snowshoe hare, particularly in a section in the northeast, and so snowshoe hares my not be hunted at any time.
Coyotes and wild boar may be hunted or trapped year round, and there is no daily bag limit on either.
The next hunting season coming up in both Ohio and Kentucky is the one for wild turkey, eagerly awaited with great anticipation.
In Kentucky, it opens April 14 and runs through May 6.
In Ohio, it opens April 23 and runs through May 20.
AND SO TO
It’s difficult to do more than think about fishing the way the wind has been roaring about in these parts the past couple of days.
Earlier in the week, however, when it was calm and the temperature had climbed into the 60s, I spotted a couple of fishing boats in the tailwaters of the Greenup Dam.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources reminds us that now is the time to catch big muskellunge in the tailwaters below such manmade impoundments as Cave Run, Buckhorn and Green River..
Lee McClellan, an award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the department, reported in a recent story in the magazine that Fred Howe, northeastern fishery district biologist for the department, said there had already been a report of a muskie caught from Cave Run Lake tailwaters that was 52 inches long and approached the weight of the state record for the species.
Sarah Terry caught the state record, a 54-inch-long 47-pounder from Cave Run Lake in November 2008, when she was a student at Montgomery County High School in Mt. Sterling.
The Cave Run Lake tailwaters holds an excellent population of large muskellunge, McClellan said.
Mike Hardin, assistant director of fisheries for the department, told McCellan that his brother, Wes, fishes the Cave Run tailwaters often for crappie.
“He’s had a couple of days this year where he’s observed people catching several muskellunge around 45 inches long and saw one caught right at 50 inches. Those are nice muskies,” Hardin said.
Anglers must catch a muskellunge of at least 40 inches in length to qualify for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s Trophy Fish/Master Angler program.
Hardin said live small bluegill and suckers draw the most interest from muskellunge in the Cave Run tailwaters.
“They (also) hit the Suick jerkbaits and a large soft plastic lure called a Bulldog up there,” said Hardin, who has fished Cave Run Lake and the Licking River since childhood. “But, live bait produces best.”
Hardin said anglers should concentrate on the mouths of tributaries in the Licking River just below Cave Run Lake when the water flowing through the dam is a little high.
Muskie, an early spawner, are going through their pre-spawn behavior and they congregate around the mouths of small tributaries coming into the tailwaters.
There’s a public boat ramp just below Cave Run Dam. You don’t need a big fancy bassboat to fish the tailwaters. A johnboat with oars, or trolling motor, will work fine.
McClellan says the tailwaters of Buckhorn Lake, a 1,230-acre lake 28 miles west of Hazard formed by damming the Middle Fork of Kentucky River, is another good place for muskie, and February and March are the best times to go for them. .
Good spring muskie lures are white, chartreuse or silver-colored.
The Green River tailwaters just below Green River Lake, near Campbellsville off KY 55, has a ramp which accommodates johnboats, canoes or kayaks.
For more information on floating the Green River Lake tailwaters log on to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s webpage at fw.ky.gov, click on the “Fishing and Boating” tab, then the “Blue Water Trails” tab.
Shad-colored jerkbaits draw strikes from Green River muskellunge in the deep holes that have woody structure in them. Live small bluegills or shad worked in the same areas also work.
NEW LICENSES DUE
Fishermen need to remember that current fishing licenses, in both Kentucky and Ohio, expire after Wednesday.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or Gsamwriter@aol.com.