Deer Hunting Regulations

This is a summary of hunting laws, intended solely for informational use and is applicable July 2017 - February 2018.  The exact wording of Kentucky's deer hunting laws can be viewed here.

NEW THIS YEAR

The following items are new for the 2017-18 deer hunting season:

  • Hunters may remove the hide or head of a harvested deer prior to telechecking it but must retain proof of sex of the animal.
  • Air guns of .35 caliber or larger charged by an external tank, shooting single projectile ammunition designed to expand upon impact are now legal equipment for deer. 

 

DEER HUNTING ZONES AND SEASONS

 

2017-18 Deer Zone Map

 

 2017-18 Deer Season Chart

 

SEASON DATES SEARCH

Go to the Season Dates Search page to search all season dates

BAG LIMITS

Bag limits and harvest restrictions apply to all hunters. There is no daily bag limit on deer.

A person may take no more than one (1) deer with visible antlers, excluding male fawns (button bucks).  However, on some federally controlled areas, including Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Campbell and Fort Knox military reservations and Blue Grass Army Depot, a bonus antlered deer may be taken, as determined by the governing agency for each area.

In Zone 1 counties, there is no season limit on antlerless deer.
 

In Zone 2, 3 and 4 counties, the combined season limit is four (4) per hunter. Hunters may choose to take up to one (1) antlered deer and three (3) antlerless deer, or take up to four (4) antlerless deer total.

In summary, hunters may take a total of four deer statewide, except in Zone 1, where hunters may take an unlimited number of antlerless deer using Additional Deer Permits.

In Zone 3, a hunter may take no more than two (2) deer with a firearm.
 

In Zone 4, an adult hunter may take no more than two (2) deer with a firearm (one with a modern firearm and one with a muzzleloader, or both with a muzzleloader). In Zone 4, antlerless deer may only be taken with a firearm by a youth during Youth Season or Free Youth Weekend, or by any person hunting with a muzzleloader during the final three days of the December muzzleloader season.

CHECKING AND TAGGING

All deer must be telechecked. Hunters must call 1-800-245-4263 or complete the online check-in process through My Profile.  See the “Recording, Checking, Tagging and Transportation” portion of this section for full details.

 

 

TYPES OF DEER PERMITS

 

STATEWIDE DEER PERMIT

Carry Proof

Hunters who buy their license or permit by phone or internet must carry while hunting: a picture ID and proof of purchase (an authorization number, paper license or computer printout). Paper licenses/permits must be signed and all information completed before hunting.

All deer hunters ages 16 and older, unless license exempt, must first buy and carry proof of purchasing an Annual Hunting License and a Statewide Deer Permit while deer hunting. The permit allows a hunter to take two deer: one antlered and one antlerless, or two antlerless. It does not matter if the antlered or antlerless deer is taken first.

ADDITIONAL DEER PERMIT

To take more than two deer, an Additional Deer Permit must be purchased.

The Additional Deer Permit is valid for deer of either sex. The Additional Deer Permit allows a hunter to take up to two additional deer beyond those allowed by the statewide permit in the following combinations: one antlered and one antlerless, or two antlerless. Regardless of what permit a deer hunter carries, the statewide season limit for antlered deer is one per hunter.

The Additional Deer Permit is not valid unless the hunter has first purchased an annual hunting license and Statewide Deer Permit and is able to show proof of that in the field. A Statewide or Additional Deer Permit may be used on public and private land, and during some quota hunts.

 

 

HUNTING EQUIPMENT RESTRICTIONS

 

MODERN GUN SEASON

During modern gun deer season, hunters may hunt with modern guns, including air guns of .35 caliber or larger charged by an external tank, muzzleloaders, and archery and crossbow equipment, and must follow season restrictions, zone guidelines and other hunting requirements.

All hunters, including archery and crossbow hunters, and persons accompanying hunters, must wear hunter orange clothing during modern gun season.

Persons ages 15 and younger hunting deer with a firearm must be accompanied by an adult who shall be in a position to take immediate control of the youth's firearm at all times.

ARCHERY SEASON

Hunters using archery equipment during a deer firearms season must follow all firearm season restrictions, zone guidelines and other hunting requirements, and must wear hunter orange clothing.

The only exception is on state owned or managed WMAs where firearms hunting for deer or elk is prohibited.

CROSSBOW SEASON

Hunters using crossbows during a deer firearms season must follow all firearm season restrictions, zone guidelines and other hunting requirements, and must wear hunter orange clothing.

The only exception is on state owned or managed WMAs where firearms hunting for deer or elk is prohibited.

A legal resident hunter age 65 years or older may hunt deer with a crossbow from the first Saturday in September through the third Monday in January.

MUZZLELOADER SEASON

Muzzleloaders, archery and crossbow equipment may be used during this season.

All hunters must comply with the hunter orange clothing law.

Youths ages 15 and younger hunting deer with a muzzleloader must be accompanied by an adult who shall remain able and in a position to take immediate control of the youth’s muzzleloader at all times.

TREE STANDS

Construction and use of tree stands on private lands is regulated by landowners.

 

 

LEGAL HUNTING EQUIPMENT

 

 MODERN GUN EQUIPMENT

  • Any caliber centerfire rifle or centerfire handgun.
  • Rifle or handgun magazines may not be capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
  • Rifles or handguns may not be fully-automatic (capable of firing more than one round with one trigger pull).
  • Full metal jacketed or tracer bullet ammunition is prohibited.
  • Shotguns, no larger than 10-gauge, shooting slug ammunition only (includes saboted bullets).
  • Muzzleloading rifles, handguns, or shotguns shooting round balls, conical bullets, or saboted bullets.
  • Air guns of .35 caliber or larger charged by an external tank, shooting single projectile ammunition designed to expand upon impact.

ARCHERY EQUIPMENT

  • Longbows, recurves and compound bows of any draw weight (no minimum).
  • Wood, carbon or metal arrows, but arrows may not be chemically-treated.
  • Fixed blade or mechanical broadheads at least 7/8” wide (when blades extended), but broadheads may not be chemically-treated.

CROSSBOW EQUIPMENT

  • Crossbows of any draw weight (no minimum), with a working safety.
  • Wood, carbon or metal arrows (bolts), but arrows (bolts) may not be chemically treated.
  • Fixed blade or mechanical broadheads at least 7/8” (when blades extended), but broadheads may not be chemically treated.

MUZZLELOADING EQUIPMENT

  • Muzzeloading rifles or handguns of any caliber, with flint or percussion ignition (including in-lines), shooting round balls, conical bullets or saboted bullets.
  • Muzzleloading firearms equipped with open sights or telescopic sights (scopes).
  • Muzzleloading shotguns no larger than 10-gauge, shooting round balls, conical bullets or saboted bullets.
 

 

YOUTH DEER HUNTING

 

Q: Can a hunter take a deer for someone else?

A: No. Hunters must claim any deer they take as their own. They must use their own license/permit and harvest log, and telecheck the deer using their own Social Security number.

YOUTH DEER HUNTING

Youths may hunt deer during any open season, including two special deer seasons for resident and non-resident hunters who have not reached their 16th birthday. 

Adults accompanying youth deer hunters during either of these hunts may not use firearms to take deer.

Adults accompanying youth hunters are not required to possess a hunting license or deer permit if the adult is not deer hunting, but by law, the hunter and the accompanying adults must wear hunter orange clothing.

YOUTH-ONLY FIREARMS SEASON/FREE YOUTH DEER HUNTING WEEKEND

Hunter orange required!

Hunters and people accompanying them must wear solid, unbroken hunter orange color visible from all sides on the head, back and chest when hunting for any species during the modern gun, muzzleloader, and youth firearm deer seasons, or a firearm elk or bear season.  However, hunter orange is not
required when hunting waterfowl or 
doves during a gun deer, elk or bear 
season, or when hunting furbearers at 
night during a legal furbearer season.

The first special youth deer season is on the second weekend of October. Youth hunters may take deer with firearms, or any other legal method, statewide. During the October youth-only firearms season, the appropriate hunting license and deer permits are required for hunters ages 12-15. Youth hunters under age 12 are not required to have a hunting license or deer permit.

On the first weekend following Christmas, resident and nonresident youth 15 years of age and under, who are accompanied by an adult, are eligible to participate in the Free Youth Weekend. Youth hunters may hunt deer with firearms, or any other legal method, statewide without a hunting license or deer permit.

All bag limits, zone restrictions and deer hunting requirements apply during the special youth deer seasons.

 

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE


If you hunt deer in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia and any other CWD-infected state, you may not bring a deer back into Kentucky unless the brain and spinal column have been removed first.

Allowed parts from CWD-infected states and provinces include: quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached, boned-out meat, antlers, antlers attached to a clean skull plate, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides and finished taxidermy products.

CWD has not been detected in Kentucky.

CWD has been found in 24 states and 2 Canadian provinces and in Europe: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Norway.

View more info on our CWD page here.  Up-to-date news regarding CWD can also be found at the site of the Chro​nic Wasting Disease Alliance.

KENTUCKY'S TROPHY BUCKS 

2016 Typical Trophy Deer

 

2016 Nontypical Trophy Deer

 

These lists include deer scored and reported to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.  It is possible that unreported bucks taken last year in Kentucky may have scored 160 typical or 185 non-typical or higher.

HOW TO GET ON NEXT YEAR'S TROPHY LIST

To be eligible for next year’s trophy list a hunter must take a white-tailed deer in Kentucky this season that officially net scores 160 or higher typical, or net scores 185 or higher non-typical, as determined by the Boone & Crockett scoring system.

No later than May 1, send the completed and signed score sheet with a photo to Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide, #1 Sportsman’s Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601. Include the county in which the deer was taken, and the equipment used to harvest the deer. Please send a copy as score sheets and photos will not be returned. Emailed submissions to info.center@ky.gov also will be accepted.

To get a list of official Boone & Crockett Club scorers in Kentucky visit: http://www.boone-crockett.org.  

 

KENTUCKY HUNTERS FOR THE HUNGRY

 

Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry (KHFH) is a charitable volunteer run organization comprised of responsible hunters and conservationist who encourage hunters to harvest and donate deer each season. KHFH is a statewide hunger relief program dedicated to providing a healthy source of protein to needy Kentuckians with a mission to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in Kentucky by processing and distributing donated venison to those in need. Additionally, to provide an outlet for hunters to help their communities and promote environmental stewardship through wildlife management. An estimated 684,000 people live in poverty in the Commonwealth and one in every four Kentucky children is living in poverty.
 

How to Donate your Deer

After the harvest of your deer, a hunter must complete their harvest log and successful record their telcheck number (1-800-245-4263). The deer needs to be properly field dressed. If the temperature is above 40 degrees please put two large bags of ice in the deer; one in the chest cavity and one in between the hind quarters. This will help prevent the meat from spoilage before donation.

Contact a Hunters for the Hungry affiliated deer processor before donation to be sure of their shop hours and which deer seasons they are accepting deer. Approved processors are independently owned and operated and are not under KHFH control.
 

How can you help?

All Kentucky hunters can participate in the Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry Program. This program is completely free service for hunters to donate harvested deer. Funding is essential and without support and charitable donations the program could not exist. To donate see the Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry donation page. Additionally, you can also donate $2 when renewing your vehicle registration. Your donation will help pay the cost for turning venison into a nutritious meal for the less fortunate in communities across Kentucky!
 
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