2 new public access opening for spring turkey hunting season

Published 4:39 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2024

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) has announced the opening of two new tracts of land for public access in eastern and north-central Kentucky, just in time for spring turkey hunting.


Located entirely in Morgan County near West Liberty, Horse Mill Branch Wildlife Management Area (WMA) now provides nearly 640 acres for hunting and outdoor recreation in eastern Kentucky.

Email newsletter signup

Using funds from the Kentucky Wetland and Stream Mitigation Program for stream restoration projects on Horse Mill Branch, KDFWR purchased more than 520 acres to improve aquatic habitat in the watershed. Another 119 adjoining acres were donated to the department for conservation and public use, together allowing for the creation of a new WMA.

Horse Mill Branch WMA consists mostly of upland hardwood forest with some scattered old-field habitat and will provide good opportunity for deer and turkey hunting, as well as hunting for small game species such as squirrel and rabbit, and the possibility to flush grouse. It is open under statewide regulations.

In Owen County, John A. Kleber WMA has expanded by 225 acres, bringing its total size to 4,689 acres.

The Kentucky Wetland and Stream Mitigation Program, also known as the Fees-In-Lieu-of Mitigation Fund or “FILO” for short, uses monies paid by developers who choose to pay into a restoration fund rather than directly mitigate their impacts made to streams or wetlands regulated under the U.S. Clean Water Act. These monies are held in a dedicated fund in the state treasury and used solely for wetland and stream mitigation projects like this.

“FILO allows Kentucky to purchase desirable properties to restore and conserve, providing beneficial habitat for a wide variety of important aquatic and land animals and plants,” said Mike Hardin, assistant director of the KDFWR Fisheries Division. “Utilizing funds procured from modern development projects, we can help protect natural wildlife areas for future generations.”

“We wanted to open these properties as soon as possible to allow turkey hunters more opportunities,” said Derek Beard, assistant director of the KDFWR Wildlife Division. “These newly opened properties will be of benefit for hunters and anglers now and all year.”

The spring gobbler season starts with the youth-only season (April 6-7) followed by the general hunting season (April 13-May 5).

Updated WMA information and mapping is available on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov.