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Heavy rains put damper on spring hunting

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By Jeff Lilly

I am pretty sure most of you out there are like me and are tired of all the rain.
I know the folks with river properties are, whether it be here along the Kentucky, along our northern border with Ohio or in far west Kentucky’s Mississippi River shores. Let’s keep all these folks in our prayers as they continue to battle the forces of nature whether it is from water, tornadoes or anything else uprooting their lives.
The Lilly family has been saying many extra prayers during this rainy spring too. Dad was hit with some pretty serious kidney stone issues and some infection as a result. He’s tough and insisted on traveling with us on our annual trek to West Virginia to pursue spring turkeys by morning and trout by afternoon. We did pretty well with Keith taking the only turkey but several of us were close. Keith’s gobbler was a heavy 20-plus pounder with a nice 10-inch beard and 1-1/8 spurs. We were able to catch somewhere around 35-40 trout over the course of the three days we fished. Dad suffered through it all and even managed to see a nice black bear sow and her two cubs right there on the old stomping grounds where he grew up. Mom called several times a day checking on him and promptly took him straight to the emergency room once we got back. Turns out he knew he had a kidney stone just didn’t realize it was a 7mm boulder that refused to budge. We also had him tested for Lyme Disease just in case due to some symptoms and he had been stomping around the turkey woods for a while.
Anyway, after three or four days in the hospital, he’s out and he and Mom are trying their darndest to get the garden planted in between rain showers.
Good luck with that.

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Kentucky spring
turkey harvest results
The spring rains are not good for nesting turkeys and not good for young turkey poults so hopefully the rains will subside soon and allow those hens to take care of the repopulation issues.
It took me most all of the Kentucky season but I didn’t get left out of the Lilly turkey harvests this year. Last month’s column was full of Lilly birds but none were mine at the time.  
Since that publication and before the final minutes of daylight closed the season on May 8, I was able to fill my last tag.
My first bird was a hen sporting a nice 7-inch beard that I had been unable to get a shot at during the first full week of the season but popped during the second week. The finishing touch was a nice gobbler weighing 20-plus pounds and carrying a thick paintbrush beard of 11 inches long and nice one-inch spurs.  Overall, it was a great year to be able to not only harvest birds but to help all my family harvest birds.
Kentucky’s statewide spring harvest numbers for 2011 are down just over 3,900 birds from 2010. According to Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife telecheck numbers, the statewide total harvest for last year was 36,097 birds as compared to this year’s total harvest of 32,191 birds.
Anderson County hunters checked in 305 birds which is down from last year’s total of 363. Franklin County saw a harvest increase from 196 in 2010 to 213 in 2011. Mercer County and Washington County also saw slight increases with harvest totals of 212 and 347 respectively. Woodford County held steady at 79 birds taken while Nelson County’s total dropped to 335. Spencer (238) and Shelby (408) counties each saw decreased harvests of nearly 100 birds each.

Lyme disease
Thankfully, Dad’s tests came back negative for Lyme Disease. It did, however, bring to mind the many ticks that can be found in this part of the country especially this time of year. Turkey hunters are especially vulnerable to this little parasite and should always try to take precautions. Anyone outdoors or with pets should also be on guard for the little blood sucking varmints because they can cause issues. (Anybody starting to scratch an itch that just came on out of nowhere?)
The two most common tick species in Kentucky according to the University of Kentucky Entomology Department are the American dog tick and the Lone Star tick. According to UK neither typically carries Lyme Disease but always get tick bites checked out by your doctor should they occur.  
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through the bite of infected ticks. The disease affects humans as well as pets and livestock. The disease manifests itself in many ways and if left untreated may progress through several stages.
The symptoms often mimic the flu so diagnosis can be difficult. Symptoms can include fatigue, headache, stiffness or pain in the neck, muscles or joints, fever or swollen glands.  Probably the most definitive early symptom is a gradually expanding circular or oval-shaped red rash.
Some say it may resemble a “bull’s eye” type pattern expanding out from the bite area. Treatment once the tick is removed is usually with antibiotics and should be started as soon as possible once the diagnosis is obtained.
Prevention is the key but can be difficult. Always check the body and clothes thoroughly when you’ve been outdoors.
Before going out into possible tick infested areas you should tuck pants legs into boots and apply a healthy dose of insect repellent containing DEET on clothes and boots.

Spring squirrel season
The Kentucky spring squirrel season is another reason to stock up on the insect repellent containing DEET. This year’s season is opening earlier and lasting longer. The season opened May 21 and runs 28 days through Friday, June 17.
The daily bag limit is six and trapping during the spring season is not allowed. And just in case you were wondering, hunting with slingshots and blowguns is not allowed either. Be sure and check all regulations before going afield.

Fishing
I’m sure there’s a lot of fishing going on but with all the rain it may have not reached it’s prime here in the Bluegrass. Most creeks, rivers and lakes have been up but I’ve seen die-hard fishermen headed for the water more and more as the rains have lessened.
A couple of changes from last year that affect Anderson County and other local fishermen. First, the Anderson County Community Park Lake now has uniform regulations for daily creel and size limits.  They are as follows:
Rainbow trout, five fish daily limit
Catfish, four fish daily limit
Sunfish, 15 fish daily limit
Largemouth bass, 15-inch size limit and 1 fish daily limit.
Taylorsville Lake now has a daily 15 fish creel limit on blue and channel catfish.  One fish of the daily creel limit may be greater than 25 inches long.
Be sure and check all regulations before hitting the water this spring and summer.  Be safe.

Take a kid hunting and fishing soon!
See ya outside!

Jeff Lilly is an outdoors columnist for The Anderson News. E-mail him at news@theandersonnews.com.