Skip to main content

Q&A with a State Big Game Coordinator

Q&A with a State Big Game Coordinator
Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, holds a 14-point buck he harvested off Big Rivers WMA and State Forest last year. Jenkins was recently promoted into this new job.

Kentucky’s modern gun deer season opens statewide on Nov. 8. When it does, Gabe Jenkins will have been in his new role as the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ deer and elk program coordinator for a little more than a month.

“It’s been exciting,” he said.

An avid hunter, Jenkins grew up on a farm in the small southeast Ohio village of Rutland. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Kentucky University, he was hired by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife in 2007 to work in the deer and elk program.

“All of my predecessors have done a fantastic job and I’m here to continue that course,” he said.


Jenkins, 30, recently sat down for an interview at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters in Frankfort. The following are excerpts from that interview.


What are the duties and responsibilities of the deer and elk program coordinator?

Jenkins: “The deer and elk coordinator conducts statewide management for white-tailed deer and elk. I oversee and conduct biological research, surveys and inventory work on both species. I work with our program’s deer and elk biologists and others at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to make recommendations for the promulgation of regulations that address problem issues associated with deer and elk. It’s my goal to manage the deer and elk herds in the state to provide ample hunting opportunity, yet strike a balance between hunters and non-hunters alike.”

How would you sum up the deer season so far, and what are your expectations for the remainder of it?

Jenkins: “Our September harvest has been increasing and we have been breaking our September harvest record every year. Unfortunately, we didn’t break it this year. October’s harvest is right in the middle when comparing it to previous years. Our youth firearms season was good considering the less than ideal weather. It was our second-highest harvest in the past eight years. The early muzzleloader hunt is very weather dependent. The weather was decent across the state and our harvest was average this year.


“We’re coming off of two record harvest years. We have made a dent in some of the deer numbers. I look for our harvest to be down to where it had been prior to 2012 and 2013.”

What is your assessment of the state’s deer herd, estimated to number about 1 million going into this season?

Jenkins: “We stopped stocking deer in 1999. That’s not all that long ago. We have places where the numbers are good. We have places where the numbers are too high. And we have places where we need to grow the herd a little more. Especially in the southeastern part of the state; how can we get that needle to move a little to get a few more deer in that area? I think our hunters would appreciate that. The habitat can’t support a huge increase but I would like to see it bump up some. That’s definitely an interest of mine.”


Can you foresee any potential adjustments to the zone strategy down the road?

Jenkins: “One thing that I definitely want to open up is a dialogue with our hunters. We need to have some discussions about ways to better manage our doe herd in Zone 1 counties, and how we can get hunters to be better managers of our resources in those counties. They are tasked to manage the resource. We could do a better job of management in many places in Zone 1. So how can we encourage, or make it better, for more hunters to take more does? The population needs to come down a little bit. We’re planning to go on the road and talk with our hunters about ways to deal with deer numbers in Zone 1 counties. We’re going to meet with the public and run some surveys. We hope to take what we learn from our discussions and come up with a new strategy to harvest more deer in Zone 1, specifically female deer.”

You’re a biologist but also an experienced hunter. What do enjoy most about hunting?

Jenkins: “I enjoy going after something new. It could be a new species. It could be a new place. I love to climb up in a tree and shoot a deer, but maybe I want to shoot one with a crossbow this year or go to Colorado and shoot an elk with my bow or tackle turkeys with my bow or a fall turkey with a shotgun. My favorite thing to hunt is whatever’s in season. I might try new tactics, a new place, a new style, but I love to hunt. I’m not one that prefers one weapon over the other. I’ve got a bow. I’ve got a crossbow. I’ve got a shotgun, a muzzleloader, a rifle. I value each one of them. You learn something different and new each time you’re out there.”

Kentucky hunters took a record 144,409 deer during the 2013-14 season, and modern gun season accounted for 72 percent of that harvest total.

This year, modern gun season for deer opens Nov. 8 and continues through Nov. 17 or Nov. 23, depending on the zone. Hunters are reminded to purchase the appropriate licenses and permits and encouraged to review the 2014-15 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide – recently updated online at fw.ky.gov – before going into the field.

Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kevin and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Increase a lure’s effectiveness by pairing it with the ideal reel speed.

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Get ready to braise ground venison with all the traditional chili ingredients, directly on the grill, for a smokin' hot take on this comfort food classic.Smoked Venison Chili Recipe Wild Game

Smoked Venison Chili Recipe

Eva Shockey - October 16, 2020

Get ready to braise ground venison with all the traditional chili ingredients, directly on the...

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?5 Great Lures For Bluegills Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working?Revisiting the Light Goose Conservation Order Conservation & Politics

Revisiting the Light Goose Conservation Order

M.D. Johnson - March 30, 2020

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working?

We know we have to follow legal regulations, but how do you apply personal ethics to the hunt?The Gray Area of Hunting in America Stories

The Gray Area of Hunting in America

Andrew McKean - April 27, 2020

We know we have to follow legal regulations, but how do you apply personal ethics to the hunt?

Midwestern turkey hunters and others are hitting the woods. So are a variety of harmful tick species.Tick Talk: What You Need to Know Pre-Hunt Conservation & Politics

Tick Talk: What You Need to Know Pre-Hunt

Patrick Durkin - May 14, 2020

Midwestern turkey hunters and others are hitting the woods. So are a variety of harmful tick...

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever seen.The Story Behind Brewster's World-Record Buck Whitetail

The Story Behind Brewster's World-Record Buck

Lynn Burkhead - October 17, 2019

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now