The Kentucky River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located on the banks of the Kentucky River, in Henry and Owen counties. The WMA is relatively new, with its first 522-acre tract purchased in 1992 and another 856 acres added this year. With these and other acquisitions, the WMA has grown to 1,604 acres in nine years.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has purchased key upland and bottomland tracts as they have come available. Not all tracts join, which means users must pay close attention to property lines. However, with that one caveat, visitors will find the Kentucky River management area an enjoyable place.
For such a relatively small area, this WMA provides an amazing variety of habitats from the riverbanks, bottomland sloughs and fields, to upland pastures and forest.
Catfish anglers fish the banks on both sides of the river. Wildlife watchers may see muskrats, otters, beavers, turtles, herons, egrets and even the occasional bald eagle. There are a myriad of songbirds and small mammals along the riverbanks.
The sloughs and adjoining crop fields provide opportunities for waterfowl, small game and upland bird hunters. The wetland sloughs are a comparative rarity on the Kentucky River and provide important nesting habitat for wood ducks and resting places for migrating ducks.
Several fields are prepared for doves each year, which numerous hunters enjoy in early September. Early fall also brings fox squirrels out of the timber to look for corn or sunflower seeds in the crop fields. Later in the fall, these same fields may provide the opportunity to flush a covey of quail or jump a rabbit.
Don't be surprised if you flush a ruffed grouse — but don't shoot! They are part of the restoration effort and there isn't a season on them.
This WMA opened to the public at the same time the turkey season came to Henry County. While a little crowded on opening day and weekends, the hunter lucky enough to go during the week can still get a gobbler on either side of the river. The fall seasons are a little less crowded and provide ample opportunity to put a turkey on the table for the holidays.
The Kentucky River valley produces some nice deer and some good ones use the Kentucky River WMA for their address.
For the hunter, angler or just someone needing to spend time in the great outdoors, this management area is a good place to visit. It is almost exactly in the geographic center of the "Golden Triangle" and is within a 50-mile radius of Louisville, Lexington and Covington. While most of the state's population lives in this region, this WMA is still in a wild and relatively remote area.
The Henry County portions of the Kentucky River WMA are located along KY 561, one mile west of Gest, Kentucky. The Owen County tracts are located along KY 355, approximately three miles northwest of Monterey. Watch for signs and parking areas.
Art Boebinger is the public land coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.