Archery season for deer and fall turkey begins September 6.  Read the 2014-15 Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide before hunting.​

The hunting season for dove and some other migratory birds begins September 1.  Read the 2014-15 Dove Hunting Guide before hunting.​

 Public Land Hunting


Kentucky Fish and Wildlife owns, leases or manages more than 80 wildlife management areas (WMAs) for public use. On some areas, users must purchase a user permit.  The rest are open to hunting free of additional charge.

 

OVERVIEW

 

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife owns, leases or manages more than 80 wildlife management areas (WMAs) for public use. On some areas, a user permit is required. Please refer to specific area listings for that information. The rest are open to hunting free of additional charge.

Many public-use areas have special regulations and hunting season dates that are different from statewide seasons.

are different from statewide seasons. The information here applies to users of all WMAs owned or managed by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. If you intend to hunt (or otherwise visit) public lands listed under “Wildlife Management Areas,” you must comply with the following guidelines.

  1. For game listed in this guide, hunting seasons on the WMAs listed in this section are open only as stated.
  2. County zone deer bag limits apply to all WMAs unless otherwise noted under the area listing. Hunters are limited to one deer per day on WMAs, except during quota hunts that allow more deer to be taken, and on Zone 1 WMAs.
  3. Quota deer hunters may take up to two (2) deer on a quota hunt in Zones 2, 3 and 4, only one of which may be antlered, unless otherwise noted under the area listing.
  4. Squirrel, rabbit, quail, grouse and furbearer hunting is closed the first two days of modern gun deer season on WMAs, if gun deer hunting is permitted.
  5. Unless otherwise noted, persons shall not allow unleashed dogs from March 1 until the third Saturday in August, except during department authorized field trials, or when training a retriever or other water dog if the activity is authorized by a sign at the body of water. The dog must remain leashed except while training, or within 100 feet of the water, or as stated under the area listing or posted on the WMA.
  6. During a WMA deer quota hunt, and the open firearm deer hunts at Grayson Lake and West Kentucky WMAs, only persons participating in those hunts are allowed to be on those WMAs, except waterfowl hunters in some areas that may be open, or if a part of the WMA is otherwise open as noted in the following area listings. (Persons assisting mobility-impaired hunters are permitted access during a quota hunt.)
  7. Quota hunts for pheasant, deer, quail, upland bird, waterfowl and elk hunts require advance application. (Refer to Quota hunt and Elk sections.) Advance application is not required for other listed hunts.
  8. Camping is permitted only in designated areas. Check WMA maps by clicking here or call the WMA office for camping availability through Kentucky Fish and Wildlife or other campgrounds. Parking must be confined to designated parking areas if such areas exist. If no parking area is designated, parking is generally allowed alongside maintained roads in such a manner that does not block a road or gate or prevent access to a portion of the area. Unless otherwise authorized by the department, mechanized vehicles (excluding wheelchairs) are permitted only on maintained roads open to public use. It is unlawful to cut trees or fences, dump trash or litter, or damage any property or habitat in any fashion.
  9. Trapping requires permission. Obtain permission from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling the WMA office.
  10. Hunters shall not enter or hunt in areas that have been designated closed by signs.
  11. A person shall not discharge a firearm within 100 yards of a residence or occupied building located on or off the area.
  12. A person shall not distribute or place bait, hunt over bait or otherwise participate in baiting wildlife on a WMA.
  13. A group of ten (10) or more people who gather for any event or organized activity on a WMA shall apply to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at least 30 days before the date of the event. Groups shall apply on a form provided by the department. The department shall retain the authority to deny events, or otherwise restrict, institute additional requirements for, or direct the rescheduling of, any event to avoid user conflicts or for other plausible reasons. Permit requests for events that do not meet WMA user guidelines shall be denied, and events may be canceled in progress if participants fail to comply with user guidelines or create hazards or disruption for others.
  14. Horseback riding is permitted on some WMAs during certain times of the year and under certain restrictions. Unless hunting, horses shall only be ridden on designated horse riding trails or a maintained public road open to vehicular traffic. Horses may not be ridden on WMAs during firearms seasons for turkey, deer, bear or elk unless participating or assisting in a legal elk hunt.
  15. Public shooting ranges are available on Curtis Gates Lloyd WMA, Higginson-Henry WMA, John A. Kleber WMA, Jones-Keeney WMA, Miller Welch-Central Kentucky WMA, Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, Peabody WMA, Taylorsville Lake WMA and West Kentucky WMA. On these areas, target shooting is restricted to the range. These are tube-style ranges suitable for shooting single projectile ammunition only. All shooting must be through the tubes. Ranges can be reserved for special events by contacting the WMA manager 30 days in advance of the event. The ranges are self-serve and all users must comply with the rules posted by sign. Shooting ranges are closed during deer quota hunts at applicable WMAs.
  16. On all WMAs and Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, a person shall not use a nail, spike, screw-in device, wire, or tree climber for attaching a tree stand or climbing a tree. A portable stand or climbing device that does not injure a tree may be used. Stands must be marked with the hunter’s name and address, placed no more than two (2) weeks before the opening of the season and removed within one (1) week following the last day of each hunting period. A person shall not use an existing permanent tree stand.

MOBILITY-IMPAIRED HUNTER ACCESS TO WMAs

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife offers special exceptions to hunting and fishing regulations for persons who are mobility-impaired and want to hunt and fish on select WMAs. (Eligibility requirements appear in the Quota Hunts section.) Persons interested in applying for a Mobility-Impaired Access Permit should contact the department for an application or print one from the agency’s website at fw.ky.gov.

Applicants for a Mobility-Impaired Access Permit shall fill out the required information on the application and obtain the attestation and signature from a licensed physician describing the mobility impairment.

A mobility-impaired individual shall have a completed Mobility-Impaired Access Permit application on his or her person at all times while participating in such activities, along with the appropriate hunting licenses and permits.

Mobility-impaired access areas have been designated on portions of the following WMAs: Barren River, Fishtrap Lake, Green River Lake, Griffith Woods, Kentucky River, Lake Cumberland, Mill Creek, Miller Welch-Central Kentucky, Mullins, Peabody (Sinclair Unit), Redbird, Taylorsville Lake, West Kentucky, Yatesville Lake and Yellowbank WMAs.

The Mobility-Impaired Access Permit allows the following activities by a mobility-impaired individual:

  • Discharge of a firearm or other legal hunting device from a motor vehicle when the vehicle is motionless and has its engine turned off. The motor vehicle shall be used as a place to wait or watch for game and shall not be used to chase, pursue, or drive game.
  • May operate electric wheelchairs, ATVs, and other passenger vehicles on or off gated, ungated or open-gated roads otherwise closed to vehicular traffic, but only on designated tracts of designated WMAs.
  • Roads may be accessed March 1 through the third Friday in August.
  • Tracts designated as mobility-impaired access areas shall be posted with signs.
  • Vehicular access shall not be permitted on fields, openings, roads, paths, or trails planted with annual grains or agricultural crops.
  • It shall be permissible to access areas which are not roads the third Saturday of August until the end of February.
  • ATV users shall adhere to manufacturer recommendations including wearing a helmet, wearing safety glasses, and restricting riding to one (1) person, while using ATVs on WMAs.

    A person with a Mobility-Impaired Access Permit may designate one (1) qualified assistant. The assistant may:

  • Track and dispatch a wounded animal, retrieve an animal, or render other assistance in accordance with all other Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and WMA user laws.

    A qualified assistant shall not:

  • Operate his or her own ATV; or hunt or shoot from an ATV.

 

PUBLIC HUNTING AREAS QUICK REFERENCE

 

The chart below should be used as a quick reference only. WMAs and other public lands may be open to hunting and trapping during statewide seasons or have different dates and regulations, as determined by the managing agency. Note that some of these public lands may have areas that are off-limits to hunting or trapping, as noted by signs, and that units within these areas may have different season dates or regulations.

EXCEPTIONS:

  1. Open under statewide archery/crossbow seasons through Oct. 14 only.
  2. Open Aug. 16 - Oct. 14.
  3. Open during the youth-only firearm season; closed for free youth weekend.
  4. Open during early muzzleloader season; closed during late muzzleloader.
  5. December 1-31; daily limit 2.
  6. Tracts 1, 4, 5 and “A” tracts open Jan. 1-10 except if harvest limits are reached before Jan. 10; Tracts 2, 3, 6 and 7 open with statewide seasons and close Dec. 31.
  7. Open muzzleloader/shotgun deer hunt from Jan. 17-19; Check-in required.
  8. Archery and fall shotgun wild turkey seasons open in Tracts 1-7 and “A” tracts.

OTHER RESTRICTIONS:

  • Ballard WMA: The main unit is closed to unauthorized public access Oct. 15 - Mar. 15; The area west of Hwy 473 within the two-mile driving loop is closed to all hunting as marked by signs; The 400-acre tract located south of Sallie Crice/Terrell Landing Road is open under statewide regulations for hunting and trapping seasons; A hunter shall not take an antlered deer with an outside antler spread less than 15 inches at any time, on any part of this WMA.
  • Boatwright WMA: Olmsted, Peal and all other units open under statewide regulations for all hunting and trapping seasons, except some portions may be closed to public access as marked by signs.
  • Coil Estate WMA: Eastern portion open under statewide regulations for all hunting and trapping seasons; Western portion closed to all hunting and trapping as marked by signs.
  • Doug Travis WMA: Some areas closed to public access as marked by signs Nov. 1 - Mar. 15.
  • Lake Barkley WMA: North Refuge is closed Nov. 1 - Feb. 15; Duck Island Refuge is closed Oct. 15 - Mar. 15.
  • Livingston County WMA & SNA: Modern firearms may not be used to take deer during the modern gun deer season.
  • Ohio River Islands WMA: The Stewart Island Unit is closed to public access Oct. 15 - March 15, except during Early Muzzleloader Deer season. Remainder of WMA (Pryor, Rondeau and Sisters islands) open under statewide regulations for all hunting and trapping seasons.
  • Pennyrile State Forest-Tradewater WMA: A hunter shall not take a deer with an outside antler spread less than 15 inches.
  • West Kentucky WMA: Check-in required before entering any area marked with an “A”; A hunter shall not take an antlered deer with an outside antler spread less than 15 inches at any time on any part of this WMA; Only shotguns may be used for small game or furbearer hunting; Hunters may not use centerfire rifles or handguns to take deer.
  • Furbearer: Trapping requires permission. Obtain permission from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling the WMA office.

EXCEPTIONS:

  1. Rabbit and quail hunting seasons open Nov. 1 - Dec. 31; Closed at Yellowbank WMA during pheasant quota hunts.
  2. Crossbows legal for entire fall archery turkey season.
  3. Hunters may harvest only one deer per year. Crossbow hunting for deer prohibited, except during youth weekends.
  4. Rabbit and quail hunting seasons open Nov. 10 - Dec. 31.
  5. Wild turkeys may not be harvested with a firearm (archery/crossbow only).
  6. Open Dec. 1-31, except during deer quota hunts.
  7. Modern firearm deer season open for 10 consecutive days starting the second Saturday in November.
  8. Call the WMA’s office for information regarding quail hunting.
  9. On the Sauerheber Unit, the archery, crossbow, muzzleloader and youth firearm deer seasons open under statewide regulations through Oct. 31; Crenshaw and Duncan II tracts open under statewide regulations through the end of modern gun season and waterfowl hunting Nov. 1 - Mar. 15. The remainder of the unit is closed to all public access Nov. 1-Mar. 15, as designated by signs.
  10. Open Aug. 16 - Oct. 31.
  11. Pheasant quota hunts, either sex, limit 2, Dec. 12, 13 and 14. Open Dec. 15 only to drawn quota hunters, either sex, limit 3. Open to all hunters Dec. 16-31, either sex, daily limit 3.

OTHER RESTRICTIONS:

  • Barren River Lake WMA: On the Penninsula Unit, including Narrows, Goose and Grass islands, hunters shall not use a modern firearm to take game.
  • Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area: User permit required. A person shall not enter the area during the deer quota hunt without a valid quota hunt confirmation. All small game and turkey seasons closed during the quota deer hunt. Small game or furbearer hunters may not use rifles, or ball or slug ammunition to take these species unless participating in a deer quota hunt.
  • Peabody WMA: Any person ages 16 and older entering the area must obtain and carry a Peabody WMA user permit. Individual permits may be obtained through any license vendor. An event permit is available from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to any organization to use the area for any allowable activity. Permits are nontransferable.
  • Sloughs WMA: Ash Flats, Grassy Pond, Powells Lake, Jenny Hole, Highland Creek, and Cape Hills units are open for all hunting and trapping seasons.
  • Furbearer: Trapping requires permission. Obtain permission from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling the WMA office.

EXCEPTIONS:

  1. Open Nov. 1 - Dec. 31; Closed during quota deer hunts.
  2. Open Nov. 1 - Jan. 31; Closed during quota deer hunts.
  3. Open archery hunt, either sex, Monday through Thursday only, from the first Saturday in September through Dec. 17, and daily from Dec. 18 through the third Monday in January; Open crossbow hunt, either sex, Monday through Thursday only, Oct. 1 through third full weekend of October and daily from Dec. 18-31; Closed during scheduled field trials as posted on bulletin board at WMA office.
  4. Open for furbearer trapping; Closed for furbearer hunting.

OTHER RESTRICTIONS

  • Curtis Gates Lloyd WMA: Unleashed dogs are prohibited Apr. 1 until the third Saturday in August, except during department authorized field trials and the spring squirrel season.
  • Miller Welch-Central Kentucky WMA: Unleashed dogs are prohibited Apr. 1 until the third Saturday in August, except during department-authorized field trials and the spring squirrel season. At other times of the year, unleashed dogs are permitted on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Mullins WMA: Unleashed dogs are prohibited Apr. 1 until the third Saturday in August, except during department-authorized field trials and the spring squirrel season.
  • Veterans Memorial WMA: Access within the WMA may be restricted due to construction.
  • Furbearer: Trapping requires permission. Obtain permission from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling the WMA office.

EXCEPTIONS

  1. Open for early muzzleloader season only; Only one deer per day may be harvested.
  2. Open Nov. 1 - Dec. 31, except closed during quota hunts and Dec. 5-8.
  3. Upland bird quota hunts on Nov. 5, Nov. 16, Dec. 14 and Dec. 16.
  4. Pheasant quota hunts, either sex, limit two, Dec. 5-7; Open the day following the last quota hunt to drawn pheasant quota hunters, either sex, limit three; Open Dec. 9-31, either sex, daily limit three.
  5. This WMA (not including the Booth and Bailey tracts) is closed to public use Sept. 11-14 and Sept. 25-28, except for those registered to participate in quota fox hunting field trials on those days.
  6. Open Nov. 1 - Dec. 31.
  7. Open Oct. 1 - Dec. 31.
  8. Crossbows legal during entire archery season, except closed during the open youth hunt.
  9. An open youth hunt is held on the first Saturday in November for two consecutive days and is limited to youths ages 15 and under. Check in and check out required. Limit of two deer, only one of which may be antlered. Closed to all other hunting during the two-day event.
  10. Only portions of the WMA located in Johnson County are open to elk hunting.
  11. Hunters shall not use any type of breech-loading, modern firearm or in-line muzzleloading firearm. Hunters may only use open or iron sights on any weapon.
  12. Centerfire rifles and handguns may not be used to take deer.
  13. Hunters may not take antlerless deer during modern firearms deer season.
  14. Firearms are prohibited for deer hunting on the area extending southward from the dam to Shoreline Campground No. 1, including all property from the WMA boundary downslope to the lake edge.
  15. Only portions of these public hunting areas within the bear zone are open to bear hunting.
  16. Portions open during quota elk hunts to persons who possess the appropriate elk hunting permit.

OTHER RESTRICTIONS

  • Dewey Lake WMA: Some portions of the WMA are closed to all hunting or have special weapons restrictions. A deer hunter shall not take an antlered deer with an outside antler spread of less than 15 inches at any time.
  • Grayson Lake WMA: Some portions of the WMA are closed to all hunting or have special weapons restrictions.
  • Paintsville Lake WMA: Some portions of the WMA are closed to all hunting or have special weapons restrictions. A deer hunter shall not take an antlered deer with an outside antler spread of less than 15 inches at any time.
  • Pioneer Weapons WMA: Some portions of the WMA are closed to all hunting or have special weapons restrictions.
  • South Shore WMA: Closed to all hunting and public access November 15 - January 15, except open for waterfowl and dove hunting when statewide seasons are open.
  • Furbearer: Trapping requires permission. Obtain permission from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling the WMA office.

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES

Open deer hunts are offered on the following areas. All statewide bag limits, hunter licensing and other deer hunting requirements and zone restrictions apply, in addition to those given below. Discharging firearms within 100 yards of maintained roads or buildings is prohibited. Baiting deer is prohibited.

  • YATESVILLE LAKE STATE PARK AND LAWRENCE COUNTY RECREATION AREA (606-686-2362, or 3312): Open under statewide regulations (Zone 2) for archery, crossbow and muzzleloading deer hunting Dec. 15-17, 2014. All hunters must check in at the state park campground booth between 12-8 p.m. Eastern. Dec. 14. Check in is not permitted on hunt days or at any other time. Check out is not required, but deer taken must be telechecked as required under statewide regulations. Hunters will receive a map at check-in showing the area open to hunting and containing any other special instructions. No other hunting is permitted on Yatesville Lake State Park property.
  • JENNY WILEY STATE RESORT PARK (1-800-325-0142): Open Jan. 3-4, 2015, limit two deer, only one of which may be antlered. Limited to the first 15 mobility-impaired hunters who check in at the park office Jan. 2 during business hours. Hunters must meet the mobility-impaired eligibility requirements outlined on page 25. (Mobility-Impaired Access Permit required at check-in.) Hunters must also check in and out on hunt days, and must telecheck deer taken. Hunters may be accompanied by another person, but that person will not be permitted to hunt. A deer hunter shall not take an antlered deer with an outside antler spread of less than 15 inches at any time.​​

EXCEPTIONS

  1. Open Nov. 1 - Dec. 31, except closed during quota hunts.
  2. Open Oct. 1 - Dec. 31, except closed during quota hunts.
  3. Open Sept. 6, 2014 - Jan. 19, 2015.
  4. A deer hunter shall not take an antlered deer with an outside spread of less than 15 inches
  5. Only portions in McCreary, Pulaski and Wayne counties are open.
  6. Pheasant quota hunts, either sex, limit two, Nov. 21, 22, 23; Open Nov. 24, only to drawn pheasant quota hunters, either sex, limit three; Open Nov. 25 - Dec. 31, either sex, daily limit three.
  7. Furbearer trapping open with permission; Closed for furbearer hunting.
  8. Open Sept. 1 - Nov. 7 and Nov. 10, 2014 - Feb. 28, 2015.
  9. Open Nov. 1-7 and Nov. 10, 2014 - Jan. 31, 2015.
  10. Only portions of these public hunting areas within the bear zone are open to bear hunting.
  11. Archery and crossbow only.
  12. Portions open during quota elk hunts to persons who possess the appropriate elk hunting permit

OTHER RESTRICTIONS

  • Big South Fork NRRA: Open for wild pigs Sept. 6 - Feb. 28; See page 24 for additional details.
  • Hidden Valley Training Area: Closed to all hunting Sept. 5-7 and 12-14, Oct. 17-19 and Jan. 9-11 due to training exercises; Additional dates may be scheduled. Call (606) 878-9595 for more information about training dates.
  • Lake Cumberland WMA: The area between the lake edge and the Corps/Lake Cumberland State Resort Park boundary is closed to all hunting. Wesley Bend and Yellowhole portions closed to public access Oct. 15- March 15.
  • Furbearer: Trapping requires permission. Obtain permission from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling the WMA office.
 
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