Kentucky, known for its picturesque woodlands and diverse wildlife, offers ample hunting opportunities for enthusiasts. From big games like bears, deer, and elks to various small games, hunters can enjoy a thrilling experience in the state. However, before embarking on a hunting adventure, it’s essential to understand the hunting regulations and requirements set by Kentucky’s wildlife authorities. In this article, we’ll delve into the various laws and guidelines that hunters must abide by and explore the different hunting seasons for specific game species.
Kentucky Hunting Regulations
Hunter’s Clothing Requirements
Hunters and their assistants in Kentucky are required to wear an outer garment with visible orange color during daylight hunting of games in firearm seasons, muzzleloader firearm seasons, or elk and bear firearm seasons. Mesh material may be used for the clothing, provided the mesh weave does not exceed ¼ of the measurements. However, this requirement does not apply to dove and waterfowl hunting seasons.
Violations of the hunter’s orange clothing requirements include:
- Wearing an orange garment with camouflage patterns and no other orange color on the chest, head, and back regions.
- Removing hunter clothing when reaching the hunting stand.
- Hunting rabbits, quails, and squirrels without the dressing requirement.
- Hunting deer and elk during firearms seasons without the hunter’s orange dressing.
- Using archery or crossbow equipment during firearm seasons without the required orange cloth.
Kentucky Shooting Hours
The shooting hours for most game species in Kentucky are from 30 minutes prior to sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Exceptions to these shooting hours apply to games like opossums, frogs, coyotes, and raccoons, which can be taken during the day or at night.
Prohibited Hunting Methods
Kentucky prohibits various hunting methods, including:
- Discharging firearms or hunting devices across major roads or public highways.
- Taking games and wildlife with a vehicle, except for hunting from boats.
- Chasing turkey, elk, and deer with hunting dogs or on horseback (except for locating turkeys during fall turkey season).
- Taking bears, elks, and deer while they are swimming.
- Feeding bears directly or indirectly.
- Using explosives, fire, smoke, chemicals, or gas to take game.
- Baiting game animals in wildlife management areas.
- Using electronic calls or decoys to hunt elks and deer.
Baiting games like bears and wild turkeys in Kentucky, as well as hunting in areas with existing bait, are strictly prohibited. However, areas with grains or feed substances due to wildlife management practices or growing crops are not prohibited for hunting.
Game Calling Devices and Restriction
Hand or mouth-operated calls are permitted to draw out game species. Electronic calling devices are allowed for furbearer games during their legal hunting season and for taking crows during their hunting seasons. However, they are prohibited during hunting seasons for elks, deer, and turkeys.
Open Carry While Hunting
Kentucky gun laws permit open carry while hunting, provided the firearm is handled according to gun laws. The state also has hunter harassment laws to protect hunting activities, prohibiting deliberate interference or disturbance of hunting, fishing, or trapping activities.
Kentucky Hunting License, Permits, and Tags
Hunting in Kentucky requires specific licenses, permits, and tags based on residency and age. The following are some of the licenses and permits issued:
Kentucky Annual Fishing License
Allows holders to partake in Kentucky hunting seasons with the necessary hunting permits. Available for residents and non-residents at different costs.
One Day Hunting License
Valid for one day and allows hunting of various game animals, excluding big games like turkeys, bears, elks, and deer. Available for residents and non-residents at different costs.
7 Days Hunting License
Valid for seven days and allows hunting of various game animals, excluding big games. Available for non-residents.
Annual Youth Hunting License
For youth hunters aged 12 to 15, allowing hunting in Kentucky. Additional permits required for taking big games like deer and turkeys. Available for residents and non-residents at different costs.
Shooting Area License
Issued to hunters using firearms in specific areas of Kentucky. Available for residents and non-residents.
Annual Trapping Licenses
Allows trapping of games in Kentucky for residents and non-residents.
Landlord/Tenant Trapping Licenses
Available only for residents and required for trapping games on private properties with the landowner’s permission.
Annual Youths Trapping License
For youth hunters aged 12 to 15 who want to trap games in Kentucky. Available for residents.
Hunting and Fishing Combination License
Allows hunting and fishing in Kentucky and is available only for residents. Extra permits and tags required for hunting big games.
Sportsman Hunting and Fishing License
Covers various hunting and fishing privileges in Kentucky. Available only for residents.
Youths Sportsman Hunting and Fishing License
Similar to the Sportsman Hunting and Fishing License but available for youth residents aged 12 to 15.
Senior and Disabled Sportsman License
Covers all privileges of the Sportsman Hunting and Fishing License, available for senior and disabled residents aged 65 and above.
Various types of deer permits issued in Kentucky, including statewide deer permits and youth deer hunting permits.
Permits for turkey hunting in Kentucky, including spring statewide turkey permits and youth turkey hunting permits.
Kentucky Hunting Season
Hunting seasons in Kentucky vary for different games and weapons used. Specific dates and bag limits may vary based on the hunting zone. Some of the hunting seasons for various wildlife in Kentucky include:
Kentucky Deer Hunting Seasons
- Archery Hunting Season: 5th of September to 18th of January
- Crossbow Hunting Season: 19th of September to 18th of January
- Muzzleloader Hunting Season: 17th of October to 18th of October and 12th of December to 20th of December
- Modern Gun Hunting Season: 14th of November to 29th of November
- Youth Only Gun Hunting Season: 10th of October to 11th of October
Kentucky Elk Hunting Seasons
- Archery and Crossbow Hunting Season: 12th of September to 25th of September and 5th of December to 11th of December
- Firearms Hunting Season for Bulls: 26th of September to 30th of September and 3rd of October to 7th of October
- Firearms Hunting Seasons for Cows: 28th of November to 2nd of December and 26th of December to 30th of January
Kentucky Turkey Hunting Seasons
- Fall Archery Season: 5th of September to 18th of September
- Fall Firearms Season: 24th of October to 30th of October and 5th of December to 11th of December
- Fall Crossbow Hunting Season: 1st of October to 18th of October and 14th of December to 31st of December
Kentucky Bear Hunting Seasons
- Archery Hunting Season: 24th of October to 30th of October
- Chase Season: 1st of June to 31st of August
- Crossbow Hunting Season: 24th of October to 30th of October
- Firearms Hunting Season: 12th of December to 18th of December
- Muzzleloader Hunting Season: No specific season defined
- Dog Hunting Season: 19th of October to 1st of November
Kentucky Small Games Hunting Season
- Crow Hunting Season: 1st of September to 7th of November and 4th of January to 28th of February
- Groundhog Hunting Season: 1st of March to 28th of February
- Squirrel Hunting Season: 15th of August to 13th of November and 16th of November to 28th of February
- Grouse Hunting Season: 1st of November to 28th of February
- Rabbit Hunting Season: 1st of November to 10th of February
- Quail Hunting Season: 1st of November to 10th of February
Hunting seasons for small games may vary based on Kentucky hunting zones, and hunters should check the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife website for specific dates and regulations.
Kentucky Wildlife, Games, and Fish
Kentucky offers diverse wildlife and games for hunting enthusiasts:
Kentucky Deer Hunting
Deer hunting is popular in Kentucky, with the Bluegrass Region, particularly Owen County, being a favored location for deer hunting. The county holds a record for more than 4000 deer taken during a specific hunting season.
Kentucky Turkey Hunting
Turkey hunting in Kentucky has consistently produced good numbers, with Logan County being known for its excellent turkey hunting locations, with around 655 turkeys hunted in a particular season.
Kentucky Bear Hunting
Bear hunting in Kentucky is gaining popularity due to the increasing bear population. Bears can be found in regions like the Black Mountain areas, Pine areas, and Cumberland, with the eastern part of Kentucky also becoming a habitat for bears.
Kentucky Elk Hunting
Elk hunting in Kentucky is concentrated in the eastern part of the state, particularly in Breathitt County, which is home to the largest elk herd in the state.
Kentucky Quail Hunting
Quail hunting in Kentucky is not as prevalent as in previous years, but there are still opportunities for preserve hunting and taking quail in Kentucky public hunting lands.
Kentucky Pheasant Hunting
Pheasant hunting is not common in Kentucky since pheasants are not native to the state. However, game farms and preserves offer stocked pheasants for licensed hunters.
Kentucky Hunting Shooting Ranges
Kentucky has numerous shooting ranges open to the general public, providing a safe environment for honing shooting skills. Some of the shooting ranges include:
- American Institute of Marksmanship
- Crittenden County Gun Club
- French Shooting Club
- Green River Gun Club
- Greenup County Wildlife Club
- Jefferson Co. Sportsmen’s Club
- Jones-Keeney WMA
- Knob Creek Gun Range
- Montgomery County Fish and Game Club
- Rockcastle Shooting Center
Kentucky Hunting Lands for Sale and Lease
For hunters interested in purchasing or leasing hunting lands in Kentucky, there are several options available:
Hunting Lands for Sale:
- Henderson, Kentucky (Henderson County) – 550 acres
- Caneyville, Kentucky (Grayson County) – 157 acres
- La Center, Kentucky (Ballard County) – 80 acres
- Wickliffe, Kentucky (Ballard County) – 62.13 acres
- Murray, Kentucky (Calloway County) – 254 acres
- Columbia, Kentucky (Adair County) – 296 acres
Hunting Lands for Lease:
- Deer & turkey lease in Hancock County – 120 acres
- Deer hunting land available in Caneyville, Grayson County – 100 acres
- Short-term lease in Ohio County for 2 weeks – 210 acres
- DIY deer and turkey hunts in Western Kentucky, Webster County – 165 acres
Kentucky offers an abundance of hunting opportunities for both seasoned and novice hunters. However, it’s crucial to adhere to the state’s hunting regulations and obtain the necessary licenses and permits. From deer and turkey to bear and elk, the diverse wildlife in Kentucky promises an unforgettable hunting experience. So gear up, follow the guidelines, and embark on a thrilling adventure in the scenic woodlands of Kentucky.
Is it mandatory to wear orange clothing while hunting in Kentucky?
Yes, it is mandatory for hunters and their assistants to wear an outer garment with visible orange color during daylight hunting of games in specific firearm seasons.
Can hunters use electronic calls for hunting turkeys in Kentucky?
No, using electronic calls or possessing electronic calling devices is prohibited during hunting seasons for elks, deer, and turkeys.
What are the various hunting licenses and permits available in Kentucky?Kentucky offers a range of hunting licenses, including the Kentucky Annual Fishing License, One Day Hunting License, 7 Days Hunting License, Annual Youth Hunting License, Shooting Area License, Annual Trapping Licenses, and more.
Where are some popular locations for deer hunting in Kentucky?
The Bluegrass Region, particularly Owen County, is renowned for deer hunting, and it holds a record for more than 4000 deer taken during a specific hunting season.
Are there shooting ranges open to the public in Kentucky?
Yes, Kentucky has several shooting ranges open to the general public, providing a safe environment for honing shooting skills. Some of these include the Knob Creek Gun Range and the Green River Gun Club.