Each year the number of persons applying for hunters licenses grows considerably, while the amount of public land to hunt declines. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife has solved the problem for generations to come. Peabody Wildlife Management Area, also known as Peabody WMA, has 46,000 acres for hunting and fishing in the two adjacent western Kentucky counties of Muhlenberg and Ohio. Put that into a physical size, and you’re looking at an area over three times the size of Manhattan.
The depth of operations by the Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is enormous, and its sole objective is to maintain and improve nature for the tradition of Kentucky hunting. With any given season you can hunt duck, geese, turkey, deer, and fish on any of the 230 lakes no smaller than an acre. Some lakes have even been stocked with trout.
In years past, fence rows and small farms were the norm. However, because Kentucky’s landscape has opened up, its quail population has suffered drastically. In an effort to restore its population, Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has stepped in and spent millions on research and equipment to re-establish and preserve the Bob White Quail on Peabody’s WMA. This project has resulted in bringing back the Bob White Quail to its strength of fifty years ago. Spearheading this project is Eric Williams, the Public Land Wildlife Biologist for Kentucky’s Fish and Wildlife. He has supervised the banding of 730 birds since starting the project. He not only over-sees the planting of native grasses and vegetation which existed before the decline, but also uses technology in enhancing the bird’s survival. For example, all hunters checking in are shown maps where quail are located; in addition, the hunters are given a GPS system in helping record data to continue the strength of the population. Eric’s enthusiasm and knowledge of this program is more evident than the commitment Jacques Cousteau had in protecting our oceans.
While visiting the site, I witnessed three groups of quail hunters from Harlan, KY and neighboring states of Ohio and Illinois . . . all with successful hunts.
Also, I viewed a black morphed Red tail hawk, Kestrel, swamp sparrow, and a Coppers Hawk being harassed by gold finches. This is an outdoor paradise which will accommodate Kentucky’s tradition of hunting for generations to come.
To hunt in Kentucky’s Peabody Wildlife Management Area, you’ll need hunting licenses from Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife and a Peabody WMA permit. You can get these any place in Kentucky which sells hunting and fishing licenses, such as Wal-Mart. For more information call the Fish and Wildlife toll free number (1-800-245-4263) or visit their website (fw.ky.gov). Hotels can be found in both counties just 15 minutes away.
Just back from a half day vacation to the nearest National Park. How cool that Mammoth Cave is so centrally located in Kentucky? You’re just a couple hours from anywhere in the state…literally. They’ve been working on the new Visitor’s Center for over a year now, and it’s up and running quite well. Some of the old center has been gutted out as the renovations continue, but still a sight to see. It gives the immediate feeling of being in a backcountry outpost, miles and miles from civilization (and cell phone signal). I have felt the same way at Yellowstone and Estes Park near the Rockies. Mammoth Cave carries that same big park feel. You hear the crunch of fall leaves under foot. You inhale the crisp, cool air. You venture underneath the ground to see the biggest cave system in the world. Just hanging out at such an outpost is an adventure in itself! So I did, including a stop at the Hotel Restaurant, known world wide for its blackberry spread put upon biscuits. I ordered the jumbo shrimp that are among the largest I’d ever seen! I’m sure these weren’t the cave shrimp that live nearby, but were tastefully battered and went well with the cocktail sauce. After the meal I bought a couple of souvenirs for the day and ventured out to the Green River Bluff trail to sit and ponder at the overlook view complete with park benches. As the sun began to drift behind Kentucky hillside, I strolled back to my warm truck and to Bowling Green. And felt as though I had been on an Unbridled Adventure for the day.
Now that the advent of fall color is past, many folks will dial things back a notch and settle into a sedate lifestyle for winter. They look forward, of course, to the joy of friends and family during the holidays, but somewhere nestled in their subconcious lurks dread that the better part of the next three months will unfold in the cold and bleakness of winter. For some, this will seem a problem, but it’s really more a matter of expectation than location.
Ask yourself a question. Would you enjoy playing in the wintry outdoors, bundled appropriately against the cold, if you knew that you would have your pick of locations, accommodations, and practically all the natural resources to yourself? If the answer is yes, then you’re in luck.
Now is the time for walking and reckoning; looking, with frost crunching underfoot, and exploring woodlands in search of native wildlife and close-at-hand scenes of incredible beauty. All is quiet except for the peeps and chirps of indigenous birds that flit among the barren branches. Amidst the somber trio of gray, brown, and white, hardy islands of green suddenly become conspicuous and are esteemed as important accents when swinging along snowy woodland trails.
The lolling period of winter affords the luxury of lingering; an ideal time to become better acquainted with favored natural places. The winter experience is more about subtraction than multiplication and embarking on a hiking adventure in the wintry countryside is perhaps the best way to blend our humanity with seasonal changes and register an uncommon experience not afforded by the other seasons.
Right now, all across eastern and southeastern Kentucky, an impeccable network of hiking and nature study trails await adventuresome souls to come play in the frosty air. Many are near or within Kentucky’s celebrated state parks and winter provides the annual opportunity to blend cozy comfort and natural surroundings for a unique off-season experience that’s sure to delight and rejuvenate. Gone are the crowds, the bugs, and the humidity. Peace and quiet abound and solitude is in abundant supply for all who would go. Now that fallen leaves have rendered the forest transparent, secretive wildlife are easily spotted and lofty overlooks allow penetrating views of surrounding landscapes that deciduous forest cover precluded just a month ago. For the hardy and adventurous, there’s no better time to make the outdoors your own.
This past weekend I spent both days out and about looking at what’s left of fall colors. Saturday I traveled north of Bowling Green to the Nolin Lake State Park and hiked the waterfall trail, which right now is without a waterfall! Due to the dry weather we’ve had, the hike will be without the falls until later on in the season when we’ll get more rain (hopefully). One of the best sights of the day was driving over the Nolin Dam and seeing the river from high above, with Dismal Rock in the background of fall color. A good drive nonetheless.
Sunday I picked up Rob Collins, radio personality from Campbellsville and we both traveled the Cumberland parkway to the Big South Fork area south of Somerset. Some of the roadways have changed around Somerset, so be sure and pay attention to signage as you get close to the city. Yahoo Falls was providing a healthy flow, and at 113 feet, it’s Kentucky’s highest waterfall and easy to get to. We also ventured back to the nearby Yahoo Arch, and took some great pictures of the Big South Fork itself.
The trip also included a stop just north of the BSF to the Natural Arch. Much in size and scope to the Natural Bridge further north, the arch is worth the time to hike down to from the overlook. Amazing to think that much water passed through the area to carve out such a massive feature! The area of the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Big South Fork is an arch paradise! Spend a weekend trying to see them all!
And when getting back to Somerset, the hungry hiker in us pulled up to the table at Sonny’s BBQ and had all you can eat pulled pork. My gosh. I’m still full from it today! All part of a great November weekend in Kentucky!
In Western Kentucky we pride ourselves on life’s simplicities: hunting, fishing, picking blackberries and spending time with family, traditions passed down from generation to generation. Bluegrass music is one of these traditions which started in Western Kentucky, and generations have grown up loving it. Bluegrass is pure, not composed or sketched in a studio or changed through synthesizers or technology. What you hear from bluegrass is the music friends and family play while sitting in a pole barn or in a swing on a wooden porch.
To honor this tradition, the International Bluegrass Music Museum was founded in Owensboro, Kentucky, and this piece of real-estate influences every continent in the world. People from all walks of life come into Owensboro to visit the museum and attend their concerts and festivals, performed by the biggest names in the business (Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson, Doyle Lawson and Quick Silver, Josh Williams, Bobby Osborne, J.D Crowe and New South. International bands also come from Japan, Australia, Germany, and New Zealand.
When you go to the Museum’s bluegrass festivals, you just don’t show up to hear performers. You show up to have an adventure. Just by walking into any parking lot during a festival you’ll experience jam sessions, amateur musicians pickin’ and
singing bluegrass. If you come with your guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, or base fiddle, you’re guaranteed a spot beside a pick-up truck jamming with other enthusiast. And be sure to bring a lawn chair so you can sit while you play. You’ll also find vendors selling every instrument and novelty items relating to bluegrass music.
The site for International Bluegrass Music Museum is downtown Owensboro because Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, grew up just thirty miles down the road in Rosine. And next summer (2011) the Museum will celebrate Bill’s 100th birthday with special activities planned. You can stroll through the Museum’s several million dollar, two-floor, walk-thru exhibit and experience how the seeds of bluegrass were sown. The exhibit is well worth the minimal fee because you’ll experience a virtual hands-on event which includes life-size exhibits, vintage songs, original instruments and displays not found anywhere else in the world. It’s truly a must see!
On the first Thursday of every month, the museum has jam sessions, giving the gifted, as well as the novice musician, an opportunity to get together and play and sing bluegrass music. Also, once a month professional musicians come into the Museum to play for the public for a per person cost of $10.00 – what a deal!
The Museum’s biggest project is its annual event called “Romp” at Yellow Creek Park in Daviess County, KY. The festival, celebrating all things Blue grass, is held the 4th weekend on June. You can camp out at the Park or get a hotel . . . either way you’ll
experience 3 days and nights of the greatest bluegrass performers in the world. This year Owensboro is excited about their first time performer and Grammy winner, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. You can also go to clogging and square dancing workshops while waiting for the next performances.
To enjoy our great Commonwealth, you must embrace our culture, and bluegrass music is the culture Kentuckians most definitely take pride in.
If you want more information about the events at the International Bluegrass Music Museum call 270-926-7891 or visit the website http://www.bluegrass-museum.org/general/home.php. For Bill Monroe’s 100th birthday celebration visit this website: http://www.billmonroe100birthday.com
THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF TRAVEL
Capital Plaza Tower 22nd Floor, 500 Mero Street, Frankfort, KY 40601