New additions increase central Kentucky area to nearly 2,400 acres
Two new land purchases within the past year mean the Kentucky River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Owen and Henry counties is fast approaching the largest department-owned area in central Kentucky.
The two most recent acquisitions of nearly 800 acres bring the size of Kentucky River WMA to 2,340 acres. The John A. Kleber WMA, with 2,605 acres in Owen and Franklin counties, is the largest department-owned area in central Kentucky.
The Kentucky River wildlife management area consists of five separate tracts of property straddling the river between Lockport and Monterey. Although all the properties are considered one WMA, they are broken down into tracts named after former owners for reference.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources began buying property in 1992 to create this wildlife management area. The initial properties included bottomlands, sloughs, upland pastures, forests and access to the Kentucky River for bank fishing.
The latest properties added to the area are the Roberts (265 acres) and Gilbert No. 2 (530 acres) tracts. Both properties are heavily forested ridge-ravine areas and do not have open fields. The new areas have an abundant supply of oak and hickory trees. The Roberts tract has the more mature hardwood forest.
While you’re not likely to find quail or rabbits in the two new tracts – although these animals may be found on other tracts in the WMA - deer, turkey and squirrels are abundant. But hunting these areas will be a challenge. Hunters must immediately ascend a steep hillside on the Roberts tract.
The Gilbert No. 2 tract is accessible only by foot. It’s approximately half a mile as the crow flies from the nearest parking lot to the boundary. “You have to walk a good distance to get to it, so hunting should be pretty good,” said Bill Balda, wildlife biologist district manager for the area.
The tract includes some old two-track roads used to selectively log the area. Sections include former fields whose trees are now past the sapling stage. Oak and hickory trees on the property are now producing acorns and nuts.
Kentucky River WMA is open under statewide regulations for all hunting and trapping seasons, except no firearms are permitted for deer hunting.
From Owenton, take U.S. 127 south. Turn right (west) onto KY 355. After two miles, start looking for a small gravel lot for the Chesney tract on the right. Continuing west on KY 355, go another mile and turn left (south) onto Old Landing Road. The Roberts tract will be to the left after approximately two miles. There is no parking lot.
Returning to KY 355, continue west for approximately two miles. Look for Brown’s Bottom Road on the left. Travel about two miles to the end of the road for the parking area for the Gilbert tract.
To access the other tracts, continue west on KY 355 to Gratz. Turn left (west) onto KY 22 and cross the river. Turn left (south) onto KY 389. Make another left-hand turn while in Lockport to continue south on KY 389.
Next, turn left (east) onto Lockport-Fallis Road. Once in Fallis, turn right (east) onto Fallis-Gest Road. The first parking lot for the Acree-Gilbert No. 2 tract is less than two miles to your left. From this parking lot, continue east through Gest for four miles. The Welch tract parking lot is to the left.