In Search of Kentucky Velvet

In Search of Kentucky Velvet

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By: Brian
Kightlinger

Like many hunters around the United States, I am anxiously looking forward to a few hunts this fall. A few of my friends have booked hunts in Ohio for rutting whitetails. One of my good friends is not going anywhere this fall as he is saving for a 2018 Big Horn Sheep Hunt in Alaska. I was lucky enough to be invited to a brand new outfit in Lewis County, Kentucky, River Valley Whitetail Outfitters.

I have never hunted Kentucky but I have read about the great bucks coming out of Kentucky every year. Many people have called it a, “Sleeper State” and a state to watch. With Kentucky only being about 5 hours away, I decided to look for a place to hunt. During my research I looked for areas that are recording Pope and Young and Boone and Crockett entries. I also reached out to one of my friends, Lee Salsgiver, who lives in Kentucky and he told me about River Valley Whitetail Outfitters.

Lee explained that he had some inside information about the new outfit because he was going to be the new head guide. Shannon Cooper, Lee’s friend, has been farming 1,500 acres that he owns in Lewis County. Shannon was never really much of a hunter until a few years back when he started seeing a very big buck on his farm and decided to give hunting a try. After a few seasons, he harvested his first trophy buck, one thing led to another and he began to manage his property for Trophy Bucks.

Shannon and his son have both taken some very nice bucks off of the property including a 178 inch buck and recently, a 200+ inch buck. The 200 incher was frequently seen chasing does and was eventually killed by the neighbor. Shannon knew the genetics were good and the capability of having, “World Class Deer”, was a great probability.

This 200 plus buck fell to a neighbor but showed signs of what was on the property.

After a few guiding jobs in Ohio and locally in Kentucky, Lee approached Shannon about possibly opening an outfit on his 1,500 acres. The two talked, planned, had a website created and began promoting on Facebook. Next they planned the food plots, cleared areas for shooting houses and marked trees for stands. River Valley Whitetail Outfitters was taking shape. Shannon decided they needed a lodge and the work began on that as well. Now that it is the end of July, the real work is filling spots for the hunting season.

After talking with Lee about River Valley Whitetail Outfitters I looked a little deeper into hunting Kentucky. What I found was the state has a season that opens a whole month before my home state of Pennsylvania, an out of state archery license will run about $260 and this year the archery season begins on Labor Day Weekend, Saturday, September 2nd. Everything was looking very inviting. All I needed now was to see some trail camera pictures of deer and I was ready to commit to booking a hunt. Lee sent me about a dozen pictures of recent velvet clad bucks and I called him to book for the opening weekend.

This grainy trail camera shot was one of those that gave the author’s heart a jolt.

 One of my dreams is to shoot a velvet buck and with the early season in Kentucky, that might just be a reality. I have been in contact with Lee weekly asking about updates and trail camera pictures and he has been a wealth of knowledge as I prepare for my hunt. He has made it clear that theirs is a  fair chase outfit and has a 140 inch minimum for their bucks. I believe that is very fair looking at some of the past bucks killed on the acreage and the recent cam pictures he has provided me.

As I write this article,  I know there are many things to prepare for in the upcoming weeks. I have been shooting my Athens Revelation almost daily making sure my Black Eagle Zombie Slayers are ready at all distances. In the near future the Grim Reaper practice broadheads will be eating some foam targets. My G-Force Evolved Camo will be washed in Nature’s Essence Products and stored for the hunt.

I am really looking forward to my weekend in Kentucky. I am sure it will be here before I know it but I will be ready. I hope to fill my next article with a success story of my first velvet buck from Kentucky. Feel free to check out River Valley Whitetail Outfitters and on Facebook.

Hunting

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August 8, 2017 at 06:21AM

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