Yellowbank Wildlife Management Area (WMA), located 60 miles west of Louisville in Breckinridge County, is the destination for hunting, hiking and birdwatching. This 6,000-acre area borders the Ohio River and includes bottomland forests, farmland and 3,500 acres of upland deciduous wooded forests.
Approximately 1,000 acres of Yellowbank WMA is rotational farmland, with 400-600 acres planted each year in corn, soybeans and wheat. Another 1,500 acres contains old fields managed for small game, songbirds and other wildlife.
The northernmost area includes a 125-acre waterfowl impoundment that attracts waterfowl and shorebirds during their annual migrations. This lake is closed to the public from Oct. 15 to March 15. However, a 5-acre Ducks Unlimited-sponsored slough to the south is open to hunting.
The southernmost area has a camping area with a pit restroom located off KY 259. An archery trail and range behind the campground features more than 30 targets. Yellowbank does not have a shooting range for guns.
Yellowbank has two loop hiking trails. Both are ideal for spring wildflower viewing. One trail begins near the information station, located south of the campground. This 3-mile trail takes hikers into forest, past a lake, wetlands and around geological formations.
The second trail is located off Chenault School Road in the central section of the WMA. This 1.8-mile trail goes through upland forests and features great views of the Ohio River valley.
Yellowbank is open for only two kinds of deer hunting: Archery (15-inch minimum spread on bucks) and a youth-mentor quota gun hunt. Yellowbank is open for rabbit, squirrel, dove and turkey hunting. Check your hunting guide for more information.
Waterfowl hunting is good when the weather pushes in birds. However, few inland lakes or ponds are available for duck and goose hunting, so most waterfowlers use the boat ramp at Yellowbank Creek to access the Ohio River. Yellowbank WMA features 3.5 miles of Ohio River frontage.
For anglers, the area features several ponds stocked with bluegill, bass and channel catfish. The river also offers good angling in summer for catfish. Although boats provide the best access to the river, there are some areas where anglers can walk a short distance to the Ohio River.
The area has 10 miles of maintained gravel roads with plenty of pull-off areas. Another 25-plus miles of grass roads provide additional foot access.
Maintained roads are open to horseback riders. Riding is not allowed off-trail or along hiking trails. Groups of 10 or more riders must obtain a permit through the manager's office at least 30 days in advance.
Birders should note that Yellowbank is a frequent stop for warblers migrating in the spring, including some uncommon varieties. Bald eagles nest on the opposite shoreline and are present year round. Ospreys, cormorants, wood ducks and many other species of waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors also use the area throughout the year.
For a detailed map of the area, go to http://fw.ky.gov on the Internet. Click the “Species Information, Maps and GIS” button then click “WMA Maps.”
Steve McMillen manages Yellowbank WMA for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
From Owensboro: Take U.S. 60 east. Turn north onto KY 259 toward Hardinsburg and go approximately 20 miles. From Louisville or Elizabethtown: Yellowbank is 20 miles west of Brandenburg, off KY 144 to KY 259 (north).