-By Rich Miller
Last week I was invited to Kentucky for a Knight & Hale Pro Staff meeting. I was really excited about going up there for several reasons. We were going to be checking out the new products for next year and I was going to get to see and hang out with some of my good friends from across the country that I don’t see very often. The meeting was held at the awesome Whitetail Creek Lodge. Other than our meetings we shot our bows on the 3-D range, fished in the pond right in front of our cabin, and thanks to Jim Strelec we ate like kings every afternoon; that man can do wonders with a black iron pot and open flame.
While I was there having a great time with all of my friends, my truck decided that it didn’t want to cooperate anymore and something in the motor was making it bellow white smoke from the exhaust. Being six hours away from home wasn’t the place for this to happen. After calling several different dealerships it was determined that I wasn’t going to be going home on Sunday as planned. It was going to be at least Tuesday before they could get it fixed.
Even though I was a long way from home I guess it could have been worse because I did have my good friend Jim Strelec there. He offered me a place to stay until my truck was ready for the road again. Since I was going to be there with nothing else to do I figured I might as well make it as productive as possible and check out some of the local hunting opportunities.
In this day and age hunting clubs, outfitters, and leasing land can be tough on a hunter’s wallet. I have always been a do-it-yourself type hunter whether it is deer, duck, or turkey hunting. I have found places all across the country and have had pretty good success on public ground for all types of game. It requires a little work and research, but there are places out there and many of the people that use them are not going to talk about them and give away their secrets. Some of these areas are draw hunts and you have to apply for them early, but there are also a lot of over the counter tags available.
After talking to couple of people in the area I found out about an area that is known as the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. It is somewhere in the neighborhood of 170,000 acres that for the most part is all open to the public. So I got a map and with some help from Jim and his pickup we did some riding and scouting. It didn’t take long before we started seeing deer pretty regularly in some of the fields and crossing the roads. Everywhere we went it was beautiful and looked as if the place had been made for deer and turkey. The bottoms were grown up in native grasses or either planted in corn with hardwood ridges bounding up each side full of virgin hardwoods. I found several great looking areas that will be good places to start looking if I get to come back this fall. From talking to some of the locals I feel like a hunter has the opportunity to take a trophy class animal while hunting there.
Tags can be purchased over the counter and are pretty reasonably priced for the opportunity to hunt deer of this caliber. When planning these do-it-yourself hunts add a couple of extra days to scout and learn the areas so you can try to pinpoint the animals before you waste your time hunting unproductive areas. Another trick is to contact the state wildlife department and find out when the rut normally occurs and plan your hunt around that time. This kind of hunting is going to require a lot of foot work but for the hunter who can’t afford the high dollar outfitters a hunt like this can turn into a hunt of a lifetime. If you make this an annual trip with a couple of hunting buddies it will get better every year from the knowledge that you gain from the previous years. Like I have always said you can’t kill’em sitting at home on the couch, so give yourself a chance and get in the woods!