One of western Kentucky’s largest wildlife management areas is growing again.
In February, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources bought nearly 1,200 acres along the Pond River to add to the Peabody Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Kentucky Fish and Wildlife now owns or manages more than 60,000 acres at Peabody.
“It’s a really good acquisition for us,” said Mike Henshaw, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s Green River Regional Wildlife Coordinator. “We were able to tie some areas together.”
The department bought two tracts from the Putnam family: A 681-acre area south of the existing WMA, and a 504-acre tract even further south, bordered by the Pond River to the east and Drakes Creek to the west.
Henshaw said the tracts consist of hardwood bottoms, swampy areas, oxbows and some open water. Although timbered 30 to 40 years ago, he said, the areas have never been mined.
Wildlife biologists sought the area because of its habitat. “Bottomland hardwood forests are unique,” Henshaw said. “There aren’t many left.”
The new acreage has an abundance of wildlife, including a growing population of cottonmouth snakes, a blue heron rookery, deer, turkeys, squirrels, raccoons and copperbelly water snakes. Bald eagles nesting nearby use the area for hunting, while the sloughs and wetlands attract a good number of ducks and other waterfowl.
The Pond River has a white bass run around the first of April. A boat ramp located downstream of the new tracts allows access to the river. However, logjams prevent most boat travel upstream of the Drakes Creek-Pond River confluence. Drakes Creek itself has numerous beaver dams clogging its path.
Access to the new areas is difficult. “It’s back there off the beaten path,” Henshaw said. “There’s no road access to this piece of the world.”
To reach either tract requires a walk of a mile or more from the nearest road. Both the creek and river bordering the south tract are too deep to wade.
The new tracts are open for hunting under statewide regulations. A $12.50 user permit is required for Peabody.
The number of small roads on Peabody WMA make it imperative to have a more detailed map. Peabody WMA maps, as well as maps of other WMAs, are available on the Internet at fw.ky.gov. Click the “Species Information, Maps and GIS” button, then click onto “WMA Maps” and look for “Peabody WMA West Side.”
North Putnam Tract: From the Wendell H. Ford (Western Kentucky) Parkway, take Exit 58 to Central City. Go west on KY 70, then turn south on Henry Oates Road. Consult the map for the closest road. A walk of a mile or more is necessary to reach this area.
South Putnam Tract: From the Breathitt (Pennyrile) Parkway, take the Morton’s Gap exit (Exit 37) then go east on Morton’s Gap-White City Road. Consult the map for the closest road. A walk of a mile or more is necessary to reach this area. Both Drake’s Creek and the Pond River, which border this tract, are too deep to wade.