This is a summary of hunting laws, intended solely for informational use and is applicable from March - June, 2014
This page is dedicated to turkey hunting but you may also view the following sections:
NEW THIS YEAR
Licenses and Permits: Some license offerings and fees have changed. Please view the available license and permit fees here.
SPRING HUNTING SEASONS
KNOW THE LAW!
Please read this information carefully to prevent being cited for a violation. Make sure you understand Kentucky’s hunting and trapping laws before going afield. If you need help understanding a law, call 1-800- 858-1549, weekdays, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m Eastern time.
The top five most issued citations related to hunting and trapping are: 1) Hunting or trapping without a license 2) Hunting or trapping without landowner’s permission 3) Illegal take of game 4) Taking more game than the bag limit, and 5) Failure to tag or check game.
Season Dates - searchable application
Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. Hunters may be in the field before and after shooting hours.
FEEDING OF WILDLIFE
From March 1 through May 31, it is illegal to feed wildlife with grain, seed or manufactured animal feed outside the curtilage of the home (the area immediately surrounding a home or group of homes). This regulation does not apply to normal agricultural practices or food plots, or municipal areas not open to legal hunting or trapping.
A person shall not mimic the sound of a turkey in an area open to hunting if turkeys are reasonably expected to be present from March 1 until the opening of the youth-only or general season. However, locating turkeys with an owl, crow, coyote, or woodpecker call is permitted when scouting.
Both the youth-only and general spring turkey seasons are open statewide. The two-day youth-only hunting weekend opens on the first Saturday in April. The general season opens on the Saturday closest to April 15 and lasts 23 days. A hunting license and spring turkey permit is required unless the hunter is license exempt. See License Requirements and Exemptions.
The youth-only hunting weekend is open to hunters 15 years of age or younger, but youth hunting licenses and permits are valid for the entire license year if they are purchased before the youth’s 16th birthday. Youths who hunt turkeys at any time with a shotgun must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years old. The adult must remain in position to take immediate control of the youth’s shotgun at all times. Adults who accompany youth hunters during the youth-only season are not required to have a hunting license or turkey permit. All youth hunters must use their social security number when telechecking a turkey.
SPRING SEASON BAG LIMITS
A hunter may take a male turkey or a turkey with a visible beard. No more than one (1) bird may be taken per day. No more than two (2) birds may be taken per spring season. Any combination of male turkeys, or female turkeys with visible beards, may be included in this two-bird season limit. Turkeys taken by youth during the youth-only season count toward the spring turkey bag limit.
It is illegal for any person to take game with equipment that is contrary to the restrictions outlined in this guide. Hunters may only use the following to take turkeys during the spring seasons:
- Breech-loading or muzzleloading shotguns no larger than 10 gauge and no smaller than 20 gauge.
- Breech-loading shotguns must be plugged to hold a maximum of three shells (two in magazine and one in chamber).
- Lead or non-toxic shot no larger than number 4.
- Longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows, of any draw weight (no minimum).
- Crossbows, of any draw weight (no minimum), with a working safety.
- Broadheads at least 7/8" wide, which aren't barbed, chemically-treated, or have attachments that contain chemicals.
PROHIBITED HUNTING METHODS
A person hunting wild turkeys shall not:
- Use a dog during the spring season.
- Hunt from a boat, or from any type of vehicle unless prescribed by regulation (see Hunting Method Exemptions).
- Take a roosting turkey (place where a turkey spends the night).
- Use or possess an electronic or digital calling device.
- Use live decoys.
- Hunt over bait. An area is considered baited until 30 days after the bait has been removed. An area where grain, feed or other substances exist as the result of bona fide agricultural practice or manipulating a crop for a wildlife management purpose is legal for turkey hunting.
All harvested turkeys must be logged and telechecked. See the "Recording, Checking, Tagging and Transporting" page.
CALLER / ASSISTANT
Anyone may call turkeys, or assist in the hunt. Callers and assistants don’t have to possess a hunting license or turkey permit, and may carry equipment while in the field.
Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange clothing during the spring turkey seasons. However, wearing an article of hunter orange clothing when carrying a harvested turkey is a simple and effective way to help prevent hunting accidents that can occur when a hunter is mistaken for game.
POSSESSION OF LIVE WILD TURKEYS and EGGS / RELEASE OF WILD TURKEYS
Due to the potential for spread of disease and genetic pollution, it is illegal to possess live wild turkeys. For the same reasons, domestic or pen-raised turkeys should not be released into the wild. It is also illegal to possess or attempt to hatch wild turkey eggs. It is further recommended that turkeys not be artificially fed during any time of the year. Providing standing corn, wheat or clover patches is a much better alternative.
TAIL FANS, SPURS and BEARDS
Inedible parts from harvested wild turkeys, including tail fans, beards and spurs, may only be bought from or sold to licensed taxidermists. This includes online auctions and direct sales on websites. Wild turkey mounts may be sold if the seller registers the mount online prior to selling.
TURKEY HUNTING SAFETY TIPS
- Don’t stalk a turkey. The chances of getting close enough for a shot are slim, and odds of becoming involved in an accident increase.
- Eliminate the colors red, white and blue from your turkey hunting outfit. Red or white are the colors hunters are looking for when differentiating a gobbler’s head from the hen’s grayish-blue head. These colors not only put you in danger, but they can be seen by turkeys as well.
- Don’t move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter to your presence. A quick movement may draw fire. Yell in a loud voice “Hey, I’m here,” and remain hidden.
- Be particularly careful when using a gobbler call. The sound and motion may attract other hunters, and could draw fire.
- When selecting your calling position, sit at the base of a large tree, if one is available, to protect your torso and head. Position yourself so you can see 180 degrees in front of you.
- Never shoot at a sound or movement. Be 100 percent sure of your target. Assume that every sound you hear is made by another hunter.
- When hunting with a turkey decoy, place the decoy about 20 yards from your calling position. To be safe you need a clear line of sight beyond the decoy of at least 80 yards. This will enable you to see any approaching hunter and keep you at a safe distance if another hunter were to shoot at your decoy.
- Keep your shotgun unloaded when not in the field, and open the action or unload your shotgun when climbing a steep hill, stepping over low fence wire, or fording a creek.
- After bagging a turkey, put on an article of hunter orange while carrying the bird out of the field.