Many uses, much room to roam in eastern Kentucky
The 25,529-acre Redbird Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a remote slice of southeastern Kentucky’s rugged Cumberland Plateau in Clay and Leslie counties.
“It is fairly steep in most places with narrow creek valleys and forested hillsides - it is a beautiful place to see,” said Becky Littleton, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources public lands biologist who oversees the area.
Redbird offers hunting for deer, turkey, grouse, squirrels and furbearers and is open to statewide hunting regulations for all species. The southernmost portion is maintained as a limited entry area for elk hunting, while the rest of the area is open for at-large elk hunting for those with a permit. The number of elk in the Redbird area is limited. More than 100 acres of maintained wildlife openings help animals thrive on Redbird WMA.
“There is a pretty good turkey population on the area,” Littleton said. “There are decent grouse populations and a fairly good population of deer. We had a good mast crop last year, so the squirrel populations should be good this year.”
The area also has a sizeable population of raccoons.
Mobility-impaired hunters may use the Redbird Crest Trail, a 65-mile-long multiple use loop trail open to off-road vehicles less than 50 inches wide. A permit is required and may be obtained by calling the Redbird Ranger District Office at (606) 598-2192.
“If they have that permit, they can hunt from their ATVs,” Littleton said.
The Redbird River, one of Kentucky’s native muskellunge streams, flows along the western border of Redbird WMA. Redbird River, a tributary of the South Fork of the Kentucky River, also has smallmouth bass, rock bass and spotted bass. The river flows roughly parallel to KY 66 for sections of the management area, providing access for wading anglers. There is also trout fishing in nearby Big Double Creek.
The area also offers opportunities for hiking. There are 25 miles of improved hiking trails to complement the Redbird Crest Trail. Elevations on Redbird Wildlife Management Area range from 900 feet in the creek bottoms to 1,800 feet on the ridge tops.
Redbird WMA also holds opportunities for bird watching. Migrant and nesting warblers call the area home as do flycatchers, wood thrushes, vireos and other songbirds.
The U.S. Forest Service owns Redbird WMA, which is within the Daniel Boone National Forest.
How to Get There:
From the Hal Rogers Parkway (formerly known as the Daniel Boone Parkway), take exit 34. Turn south onto KY 66. Continue on KY 66 to access the western section of the WMA or go east on to U.S. 421 to access the northern sections of the WMA.
- Lee McClellan