2017 Kentucky Deer Forecast
September 20, 2017
There seems to be no ceiling in sight for deer hunters in Kentucky, at least not for the near future. Even with less than ideal conditions during last year's season, hunters still posted the third highest harvest in Kentucky's history. In fact, the past three seasons have all been phenomenal.
The record deer harvest was recorded two years ago during the 2015-2016 deer season. That year surpassed the season before, which is now Kentucky's second highest harvest in history. It would be expected to see a drop last season, but hunters took enough deer to place the 2016-2017 season as the third highest on record despite less than ideal conditions.
The early season started off hot, and above average temperatures continued on into October. Several super moons led to a lot of deer activity at night and limited movement during legal hunting hours. The heat and reduced deer movement also contributed to below average hunter effort. If this was not enough to dampen hunter success, there was very high acorn production across much of the state. This means deer did not have to move much to find food. Even so, by the end of the season hunters had posted another banner year for whitetail harvest.
One item of note was that Owen County finally fell from the throne as the No. 1 county for harvest. Owen County had posted the highest deer harvest numbers every year since 1999, but was supplanted last season by Pendleton County, which posted a harvest of 3,242 deer. Owen County fell to second with a harvest of 3,106 deer.
Overall, the health of the deer herd is very good and there was even a lower than normal number of cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). EHD occurs naturally in deer populations and is more of a factor during years with hot, dry weather when deer tend to congregate at water sources. The disease is not transmissible between animals, but when crowded conditions occur near water, it makes deer more susceptible to the tiny flies that spread the EHD virus. Kentucky had wet conditions early and even though there was a dry period during the hunting season, it did not lead to many cases of EHD.