Deer hunting and the empty freezer

By G. Sam Piatt - PDT Columnist

Deer hunters on both sides of the river will have 23 consecutive days to go gunning for the white-tailed deer. Kentucky’s 16-day gun season opens Nov. 11 and runs through Nov. 26, while Ohio’s 7-day season opens Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 3.

It is, of course, about much more than meat hunting. There’s the enjoyment of the fellowship of the camp, the aroma of bacon frying and coffee brewing before the break of day, then taking to the stand and feeling the rush of adrenalin that comes from silently and patiently watching as a big game animal appears out of the morning mist and moves toward you. Your heart beats faster as you try not to allow buck fever to lock your arms and your trigger finger.

But your freezer’s devoid of meat. The price of beef is too high.

Hunters hope to take advantage of the opportunity to fill it with more affordable venison, which is rich in protein and tasty enough for the family to enjoy if prepared properly.

More on Ohio’s season later. Meanwhile, Kentucky is divided into four deer zones. Zone 2 includes the seven northeastern counties of Boyd, Carter, Greenup, Lawrence, Lewis, Fleming and Mason.

Zone 2 hunters can take four deer. The hunting license is $20 and the statewide deer permit is $35. That allows for the taking of two deer, and an additional two deer can be taken by buying an additional permit for $15.

Unless you have the equipment and the knowhow, you can expect to pay a meat processor at least $60 an animal for dressing out, cutting and packaging.

That brings your expenditure for four deer to $310. If your deer average out at 150 pounds each, and each animal dresses out at about 40 percent of the on-the-hoof weight, you wind up with about 240 pounds of meat in the freezer.

Now the math’s getting a little tough for this old journalism student, but it looks like that 240 pounds of meat would cost you about $1.30 a pound.

The last time I bought some nice thick rib eyes at the supermarket I paid about $12 a pound.


In Zone 1, which includes the mid-northern and far-western counties, hunters are allowed to take an unlimited number of deer. They must buy an additional $15 permit for each animal past the original four deer allowed with the purchase of the statewide and the one additional $15 permit.

Hunters need to remember that only one antlered deer may be taken per year. An antlered deer is any deer with visible antlers, excluding button bucks.

It’s a bit rare, but some does grow antlers.

The liberal limits on antlerless deer are part of the plan by the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources to hold the statewide deer herd stable at about 800,000 animals.

Kentucky’s human population stands at about 4.5 million.

Last November, hunters in Kentucky killed just over 58,000 deer during the opening weekend of the season.

The statewide harvest usually winds up at about 130,000 deer taken during the combined seasons for rifle, bow, crossbow and muzzleloader.

Many people enjoy watching deer in the commonwealth’s woods and meadows and some protest the killing of them by hunters.

But food supplies in the wild would never be available to support a deer herd much bigger than it now is.


Growing up in the village of Beattyville, sandwiched by railroad tracks on one side and the river on the other, I can remember how the big steam locomotives rattled our window panes as they passed by.

Poet Michael Stillman (1940-?) must have known such a place, too, some other place, for he lived not in our town. He wrote the following actually as a memoriam to jazz saxophonist John Coltrane (1926-1967).

Listen to the coal

rolling, rolling through the cold

steady rain, wheel on

wheel, listen to the

turning of the wheels this night

black as coal dust, steel

on steel, listen to

these cars carry coal, listen

to the coal train roll.

By G. Sam Piatt

PDT Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.