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For the deer population of Owen County, it must be a scary time of the year.
Bow season opened last week and if last year’s statistics repeat themselves, more deer will be taken in Owen County than any other county in the state by a large margin.
According to state statistics, hunters in Owen County harvested 3,751 deer. In surrounding counties, the numbers are significantly less: Grant County, 2,204; Henry County, 2,010; Franklin County, 1776; Scott County, 1775; Carroll County, 1,014; and Gallatin Count, 846.
State wildlife officials have estimated the whitetail population to be about 750,000 before fawning, and that 131,395 were harvested in 2012, a 9.8 percent increase from the previous year.
Owen County has lead the state in deer harvesting for many years with peak numbers coming in 2002, 2004 and 2008 when nearly 4,000 deer were reported taken by hunters each year.
In 2012, 49 percent of the Owen County deer taken were male and 51 percent were female.
Hunters in Owen County prefer using firearms to hunt deer with 2,785 deer harvested with firearms; 471 by archery; muzzleloaders, 445; and 50 were taken by crossbow.
Tom Taggart, one of the owners of Sweet Owen Country Store Restaurant and Gun Shop, said deer season is a boom for the business.
“Oh, it can be crazy here on a Saturday morning during deer season,” Taggart said. “We have a big breakfast in the restaurant and there will be a lot of people come here before they go out.”
Taggart said the store sells a lot of hunting licenses to a lot of out of state hunters.
“We will see people coming to Owen County from all across the state,” Taggart said. “We see hunters coming in here from Ohio and Indiana.
Taggart said Owen County is the capital of deer hunting in Kentucky.
“You can’t compare what goes on in Owen County to other counties. We blow everyone else away,” Taggart said.
Because of the rural nature of Owen County, the large population of deer and the county’s geography, hundreds of hunters come looking to bag a buck.
“There are a lot of people who lease their property to hunters just for deer hunting,” Taggart said. “A lot of people love Owen County for the opportunities they see here.”
With strong populations of deer and turkey, Taggart said more hunters should discover what Owen County has to offer.
“There is a lot of good hunting to be found in Owen County,” Taggart said.
Owen County Magistrate and farmer Troy Bramblett said as local farmers continue to switch from raising tobacco to corn and soybeans, the deer population will likely increase.
“There is more food available to them,” Bramblett said. “There will be more deer and that means there will be more hunters coming to Owen County to take advantage of the great opportunities here to hunt.”