by Cole Daniels
Turkey hunting in Kentucky has never been better than it is today. Harvest numbers continue to rise and in 2010 the state total eclipsed 36,000 birds. The swamps and forests of Kentucky provide excellent habitat for a growing turkey population. You can find turkeys on just about all of Kentucky’s over 1.5 million acres of public land. However, some areas are better than others.
Daniel Boone National Forest
The Daniel Boone National Forest is by far the number one piece of public hunting land in Kentucky. It is located in the eastern portion of the state. Over 1/3 of all public land turkeys in Kentucky are taken in the Daniel Boone National Forest. It’s 700,000+ acres are home to deep forested ridges, lakes, and streams. With so much space, finding a spot to yourself usually isn’t a problem. The area is so vast if you do encounter other hunters, keep moving deeper within the forest and you‘re sure to find solitude.
Lake Cumberland Wildlife Management Area
In the same area as the Daniel Boone National Forest, Lake Cumberland WMA holds a big turkey population. It’s 40,000 acres are comprised of creek bottoms, hardwood forests, and farm fields… perfect turkey habitat. There are some portions of the Lake Cumberland Wildlife Management Area closed to hunting so check regulations before going afield.
Peabody Wildlife Management Area
The Peabody WMA is the second most productive public turkey hunting area in the state. With over 46,000 acres spread over three counties in the Green River Region, there is plenty of opportunity here. Much of the Peabody is reclaimed strip mines. Habitat includes lakes, swamps, and rugged ridgelines covered with hardwood trees. There is a $15 user fee for anyone over the age of 16.
Taylorsville Lake Wildlife Management Area
Just southeast of Louisville, Taylorsville Lake Wildlife Management Area is a well known deer and turkey hotspot. The 9,000+ acres are primarily wooded with steep ridges and river and creek bottoms. Taylorsville Lake consistently ranks as one of the best places for public land gobblers in Northern Kentucky.
Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area
With over 100,000 acres between Barkley and Kentucky Lakes, Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area offers some of the best hunting found in Southwest Kentucky. The habitat is mostly oak forest but there are large stands of deciduous forest along with former pasture and cropland. A $20 hunter permit is required and there are some special requirements to hunt this area so check regulations before hunting.
There are many more quality public hunting areas in Kentucky. Many of the lesser known ones may hold fewer turkeys, but fewer hunters as well. With proper scouting you may find your Kentucky turkey hotspot. When you do, don’t forget to introduce a new hunter to our great sport.
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