Hunting Regulations

Q: Can game or hunting dogs be retrieved from another person's land without permission?

A: No. You MUST have permission to enter private property. Landowners are under no obligation to allow hunters to retrieve game or dogs from their land. Think before you shoot when hunting near a property line. You may not be able to retrieve your game.

 

LANDOWNER PERMISSION

 

A person shall not enter upon the lands of another to shoot, hunt, trap, fish or for other wildlife-related recreational purposes without the oral or written permission of the landowner, tenant, or person who has authority to grant permission.  

Those who fail to obtain permission are subject to arrest and prosecution.

Railroad tracks and rights of way are privately-owned property and permission to hunt, trap or fish must be obtained prior to entry.

Landowners are under no obligation to allow hunters to retrieve game or hunting dogs from their property.

 

HUNTER EDUCATION

Persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1975 must carry a valid hunter education card or hunter education exemption permit while hunting. Persons not required to have licenses or permits are exempt from hunter education certification.

Hunter education courses are held throughout the state. The courses can either be taken in person, online or by CD-ROM.  If taking the course in person, pre-registration must be completed. Courses may be taken online at either  http://www.hunter-ed.com/kentucky or http://hunteredcourse.com/state/Kentucky.  Hunter Education students may also  take the Hunter Safety course by CD-ROM and then attend a range day for completion of the class. Please call 800-858-1549 ext. 4404 to request a copy of the CD-ROM by mail. More information about the registration process is available on the Hunter Education page or by calling 1-800-858-1549.

Children must be at least 9 years old to take the hunter education course. People who complete the course are issued an orange certification card. Hunter education cards issued by other states are valid in Kentucky.

Children younger than 12 years old are exempt from hunter education certification, but must be accompanied by an adult who meets the hunter education requirement. The adult must be in a position to take immediate control of the bow or firearm at all times while hunting. One adult cannot accompany more than two hunters under 12 years old at the same time.

 

APPRENTICE HUNTING OPPORTUNITY

Persons new to hunting who have not taken the hunter education course may buy a one-time temporary hunter education exemption permit for $5 online.

This apprentice hunting opportunity allows new hunters in Kentucky to hunt for up to one year (from date of purchase) without a hunter education card. The permit requires its holder to hunt with a licensed, adult hunter (at least 18 years old) who meets the hunter education requirement. The adult shall be in a position to take immediate control of the exempted hunter’s bow or firearm at all times while hunting. This law applies even if the exempted hunter is an adult.

After the hunter education exemption permit expires, the hunter is no longer exempt and must successfully complete a hunter education course.

The temporary hunter education exemption permit is valid only in Kentucky, and is not accepted at Blue Grass Army Depot or Fort Campbell.

Resident landowners, spouses and dependent children, tenants, their spouses and their dependent children are only hunter education exempt on property they own, or the property where they reside and work.  When hunting elsewhere, they must comply with Kentucky's hunter education law.

 

REPLACEMENT HUNTER EDUCATION CARDS


HUNTER ORANGE CLOTHING LAW

Orange is the Law!

Kentucky’s Hunter Orange Clothing Law requires ALL HUNTERS and persons accompanying them, hunting for any species during the modern gun, muzzleloading, and youth fire - arm deer seasons, or a firearm elk or bear season to wear solid, unbroken hunter orange color visible from all sides on the head, back and chest.

All hunters, and persons accompanying them, must wear outer garments of hunter orange color visible from all sides on the head, back and chest when hunting during daylight hours for any species during the modern gun, muzzleloader, and youth firearm deer seasons, or a firearm elk or bear season.

Waterfowl and dove hunters are exempt from this requirement.

Hunter orange garments can be of mesh type material, as long as openings in the mesh weave are no wider than one-quarter inch by any measurement. Garments may display a small portion of another color.

The following are common examples of violations related to hunter orange clothing:

  • Wearing camouflage-patterned hunter orange garments without additional solid hunter orange clothing on the head, back and chest.
  • Wearing hunter orange clothing while walking to a stand and taking it off when you get there.
  • Hunting squirrel, rabbit or quail when and where a firearm deer or elk season is also open without wearing hunter orange clothing.

Hunters using archery equipment during deer firearms seasons must wear hunter orange clothing.

Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange clothing during a firearms season on a state owned or managed WMA where firearms hunting for deer, elk or bear is prohibited.

Sunrise/Sunset Tables

Sunrise and sunset tables are provided by USNO.

 

SHOOTING HOURS

Shooting hours for all species listed in this guide, except raccoons, opossums, and frogs, are during daylight hours only – 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. However, hunters may be in the field or stands before and after shooting hours.

Raccoons and opossums may be taken day or night, except during modern gun deer season when raccoon and opossum hunting is permitted only at night.

Exceptions also apply for coyotes.  See the Furbearer Hunting and Trapping section.

 

HUNTING METHOD EXEMPTIONS  

The department grants exemptions to hunters with certain physical disabilities to hunt with a crossbow during archery-only seasons, or to use a stationary vehicle as a hunting platform. However, persons with qualifying physical disabilities must first have an exemption form completed and signed by a licensed physician certifying why the exemption is necessary.

Forms are available online or by calling 1-800-858-1549.  A completed exemption form serves as the hunter’s exemption permit. It should not be returned to the department. Persons who obtain an exemption are still required to have the appropriate hunting license and permits, and must carry the signed exemption form with their hunting license and permits while in the field.

 

PROHIBITED HUNTING METHODS

  • No person shall discharge any firearm, bow and arrow, crossbow or other similar device, upon, over or across any public roadway. Hunting is prohibited in highway or interstate medians and rights of way.
  • No person shall take or attempt to take wildlife, protected or unprotected, from an automobile, or other vehicle, except as prescribed by regulation. Hunting from boats is permitted for small game and furbearers.
  • A person shall not pursue, chase or take a deer, elk, or turkey (during the spring turkey season): with the aid of dogs; while on horseback; or when a deer, elk or bear is swimming. Dogs may be used to locate and flush turkeys during the fall turkey seasons only.
  • It is illegal to feed bears directly or indirectly for any reason.
  • No person shall take wildlife with the aid of fire, smoke, explosives or gas.
  • Baiting is prohibited on all WMAs, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Jefferson National Forest, Land Between the Lakes and state parks open to hunting.
  • Deer and elk hunters shall not use electronic decoys or calls.
  • No person shall take a turkey when the turkey is roosting. A roost is the place where a turkey spends the night.
  • A person hunting wild turkeys shall not use live turkeys as decoys.
  • Wild turkey or bears shall not be hunted by the aid of bait, nor shall areas be hunted where bait is present.  This includes private lands baited for deer. An area is considered baited for 30 days after all bait has been removed. A baited area is any place where feed, grains or other substances capable of luring wild turkeys or bears have been placed. An area where grains or other feeds exist as the result of legitimate agricultural practices, or as the result of growing or manipulating a crop for wildlife management, is legal for hunting.
 

CONCEALED CARRY DEADLY WEAPONS PERMITS

Anyone who may legally possess firearms may carry firearms while hunting, but any firearms carried concealed must be done so pursuant to KRS 527.020.    
           

CONVICTED FELONS

A person convicted of a felony is prohibited from possessing or hunting with a firearm in Kentucky. The prohibition on handguns applies to those convicted after Jan. 1, 1975. The prohibition on other firearms applies to those convicted after July 15, 1994. (See KRS 527.040 for more details.)

 

SPOTLIGHTING  

No person may deliberately cast the rays of a spotlight or other artificial light into any field, pasture, woodlands or forest, whether public or private, where wildlife or domestic livestock may reasonably be expected to be located. Shining artificial lights into private residences or other structures also is prohibited.  

This does not apply to: headlights of vehicles engaged in a normal course of travel; lights being used in legitimate agricultural activities; anyone involved in activities legitimate to his or her business or occupation; circumstances including lawful hunting activities; or any landowner, his or her immediate family, or any paid employee while working on his or her land at that time.

No person shall take wildlife, except raccoons, opossums, frogs and fishes, using lights or other means designed to blind wildlife or make wildlife visible at night. Exceptions also apply for coyotes. See the Furbearer Hunting & Trapping section.

GAME CALLING DEVICES & RESTRICTIONS

  • Hand or mouth-operated calls may be used in hunting all species.
  • A hunter may use electronic calls or attracting devices for furbearers during the furbearer season.
  • Mechanical or electronic calls may be used to take crows only during crow season.
  • Deer, turkey and elk hunters shall not use or possess electronic calling devices.

TRANSPORTATION AND HOLDING OF LIVE NATIVE WILDLIFE

A person may not take or possess live wildlife without first obtaining a permit when prescribed by regulation.  See the Transportation and Holding of Live Native Wildlife page for detailed information.

A person shall not hold live native wildlife in captivity that was not legally taken or possessed. A person shall not buy or sell, offer to buy or sell, trade, or barter native wildlife or parts thereof obtained from the wild. Wildlife acquired prior to obtaining the proper permits may be confiscated and the holder fined.
 

Orphaned wildlife may only be possessed by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Persons transporting live deer or other types of cervids (members of the deer family) without proper documentation or permits, or holding live deer captive in unpermitted facilities or pens, are subject to severe fines and may have their animals confiscated or destroyed.

 

DOG TRAINING & HUNTING WITH DOGS

Hunters may run or train dogs for rabbits, foxes, coyotes, raccoons and opossums year-round as long as game is harvested only during an open hunting season.
Some WMAs have special restrictions on using dogs, so check ahead of time. All members of the party must have a valid hunting license (unless license-exempt) to pursue rabbits or furbearers, even when training dogs without taking game.
 
Dogs may not be used to chase, molest or hunt deer and elk. Dogs may be used to chase or hunt bears if a legal season is open.

Dogs are permitted for locating and flushing turkeys during the fall turkey season only, and dogs on leash are permitted for tracking and locating wounded deer, elk and bear. Except during the hunting season, raccoon and opossum hunters shall not use any device to force a raccoon or opossum from trees or dens. Raccoon squallers may be used year-round.

See the Dog Training Areas page for detailed information.

 

BOBWHITE SHOOT-TO-TRAIN SEASON

For the purpose of bird dog training on private lands only, pen-reared bobwhite quail may be harvested August 15 through May 15 (excluding bobwhite hunting season), provided that prior to shooting a person must:
  • Possess a valid hunting license, or be license-exempt
  • Submit a completed application to the department
  • Possess proof of the sale/ownership of the birds
  • Possess a captive wildlife permit for pen-reared bobwhite if more than 100 birds in possession, or if kept for more than 10 days
  • Make sure that the training area is free of wild quail
  • Band pen-reared birds before release with No. 7 leg bands or department-supplied bands 
 

MIGRATORY BIRD AND WATERFOWL HUNTING

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) governs migratory bird and waterfowl hunting.

Season dates for these species are finalized by the USFWS in August, which is too late to be included in this guide. However, the first portion of the Kentucky dove season usually opens September 1 each year and runs through late October.

Hunters should consult the early migratory bird and waterfowl hunting guides for complete details, or check back here a few days before the season is expected to open.