Ground Zero: Kentucky’s Record Bucks

Ground Zero: Kentucky's Record Bucks

Kentucky is one of the top states in the country for Boone & Crockett bucks. Here are three best-bet counties for a trophy.


Check out this video to learn how to manage your small track of land to bag your trophy buck.


Public land is certainly an option and there have been numerous trophy bucks taken off public land in Kentucky. One place to consider is Rockcastle River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) because the KDFWR just acquired it in 2016. Prior to that, it was private land and had developed a fairly abundant deer population because the former owners, and perhaps even adjacent property owners, either did not allow it to be hunted at all or permitted only “light” hunting. So, in theory at least, there could still be an older-than-average antlered bucks on the site. Also, since much of the area is reclaimed surface-mined coal land and because at least one or more adjacent landowners grow wildlife food plots on their property, the supply of herbaceous or early successional deer forage in the area should be quite high.

Other options include Daniel Boone National Forest property in Pulaski County, some of which adjoins Rockcastle River WMA, and portions of Lake Cumberland WMA that lie in Pulaski and Wayne counties.

Yancy suggested, “Those interested in deer hunting on Lake Cumberland WMA should consider using a boat to get on portions of the area that are not accessible via public roads; just be sure to inquire in advance with the Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Manager’s Office in Somerset, Kentucky to determine whether potential hunting locations will be boat-accessible at winter pool lake levels.”

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Leasing has dramatically changed the landscape of hunting across the country. Although personally, I wish it had never come to the point it is now, the reality is that if one wants to hunt quality private land, the options are limited. It typically must be owned either by the hunter, a relative or close friend or it must be leased. The days of knocking on a stranger’s door and getting permission to hunt are, for the most part, a thing of the past.

There are lots of options for finding a lease, however. Individuals with property to lease often advertise in local want ad papers, on Facebook or sometimes Craigslist. Hunt clubs do the same thing.

Hunt clubs are generally comprised of several members who divide the cost of leasing land, thereby making it more affordable to rent large tracts of quality property. When a member drops out, these clubs often advertise to find a replacement. If you to decide to join a hunt club, be prepared to adhere to a set of custom hunt rules for the club.

Many realtors are now offering property for lease. Some of these are listed as Whitetail Properties or Mossy Oak Properties, while others are simply run under the realtor name. Many specialized hunt leasing companies are also out there, and a simple search on the Internet will pop up many results.


A third option is to employ the services of an outfitter. This is often a bit pricey, but if a hunter wants to access a certain section of the state and to have an opportunity to harvest a mature whitetail, it may well be worth shelling out a few bucks. And with all the popularity of trophy hunting in Kentucky, more and more outfitters are springing up around the state every year.

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Searching for an outfitter actually servicing the three counties spotlighted here only resulted in one hit, although there may be others this writer did not find. Whitetail Heaven Outfitters hunts Pulaski County and is owned by Tevis McCauley. They also hunt other Kentucky counties as well as in Ohio and Indiana.

Whitetail Heaven has been hunting trophy bucks for many years and their properties are managed extensively. Along with prime natural habitats, they use food plots, minerals and supplemental feedings to enhance the quality of the deer population. The average harvested buck with their service is right at 150 inches and the average size typically goes up each year.

Guided whitetail hunts there and at most other Kentucky outfitters typically start at about $2,000 and goes up from there. There is a 130-inch minimum harvest size at Whitetail Heaven and some farms have a 140- or 150-inch minimum. Contact them at (800) 689-6619 or (859) 509-2704, or go to

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>