whitetail deer

Deer Hunting Regulations

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Important Note:​

This is a summary of hunting laws, intended solely for informational use, and is applicable from July 2022 – February 2023. The exact wording of Kentucky's deer hunting laws can be viewed here.​

Zero to a million in 100 years. While that may sound slow to SpaceX, the story of Kentucky’s rocketing deer herd growth is an amazing success story. Today, Kentucky is a top-10 state for hunters seeking that trophy buck. The herd also is substantial enough to support the harvest of more than 130,000 deer each year. That’s a lot of venison for the table. Buy a license here.

This success story is brought to you by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s long and storied history of sound, science-based deer management. Nowadays, hunters are the primary managers of the state’s deer herd. The department’s guidelines maximize opportunities for hunters while helping to balance deer herd numbers through carefully considered zones and bag limits. Read on for more information about deer hunting in Kentucky.


DEER Early Season Late Season
Archery September 3, 2022 - January 16, 2023
Youth/Senior Crossbow
Crossbow September 17, 2022- January 16, 2023
Youth-only Gun October 8-9, 2022
Muzzleloader Oct. 15-16, 2022 Dec. 10-18, 2022
Modern Gun November 12-27, 2022
Free Youth Weekend December 31, 2022 - January 1, 2023


  • The statewide deer permit and youth deer permit allow for the harvest of up to four deer. Hunters may take up to one antlered deer and three antlerless deer, or four antlerless deer using the statewide deer permit or youth deer permit.
  • The statewide season limit for antlered deer is one per hunter
  • A hunter may take as many deer as allowed for each zone. In order to take more than four deer statewide, an additional deer permit must be purchased.
  • An additional deer permit allows a hunter to take up to two additional deer beyond the four deer allowed by the statewide or youth deer permits.  Zone bag limits apply. Hunters who did not harvest an antlered deer using their statewide or youth deer permits can take one antlered deer and up to one antlerless deer, or up to two antlerless deer with the deer management permit.
  • Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.​


Bag limits and harvest restrictions apply to all hunters. A person may take no more than one (1) deer with visible antlers, excluding male fawns (button bucks), regardless of zone, method or season.

However, in 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.

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Only one antlered deer may be harvested statewide,
regardless of zone or method

A hunter may harvest an unlimited number of antlerless deer in Zone 1 using the statewide deer permit and additional deer permits.
A hunter may harvest no more than four deer in Zone 2.
ZONE 3 A hunter may harvest no more than four deer in Zone 3. A firearm or air gun cannot be used to take more than one antlerless deer.
ZONE 4 A hunter may harvest no more than two deer in Zone 4. Only one can be antlerless. Antlerless deer cannot be harvested during the modern gun season, the early muzzleloader season or the first six days of late muzzleloader season. The statewide bag limit of one antlered deer still applies.
​Deer Regulation Updates

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CWD Surveillance Zone
Special Restrictions Apply

Counties Included:
Calloway, Marshall, Graves, Hickman, and Fulton


Important CWD Links

See Also:

Buy Licenses/Permits Now!

​​​ ​ Deer Zones map
Only one antlered deer per hunter may be harvested statewide, regardless of zone, method or season.
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Hunters who buy their license or permit by phone or internet must carry while hunting: picture ID and proof of purchase (an authorization number, a paper license or a computer printout). Paper licenses/permits must be signed and all information completed before hunting.


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 guide's "General Information" section for full details.

If the hide or head is removed before the harvested deer is checked in – to quarter the animal, for example – it is necessary to demonstrate proof of sex by retaining the head or keeping the genitalia attached to the carcass. In such cases, it is still necessary to fill out the harvest log immediately after harvest and telecheck the animal before midnight on the day the deer is harvested or recovered.

A carcass tag is required if a harvested deer leaves the hunter’s possession for any reason.


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 hunting. The permit allows a hunter to take four deer: one antlered, and three antlerless or four antlerless. It does not matter if the antlered or antlerless dear is taken first.


To take more than four deer, an additional deer permit must be purchased. 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 permits 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 can 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.



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.


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.


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.


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 or a youth hunter (resident or non-resident), age 15 or younger, may hunt deer with a crossbow from the first Saturday in September through the third Monday in January.


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.


Construction and use of tree stand on private lands are regulated by landowners.



  • 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).
  • Muzzle-loading 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


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.

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.


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 younger, 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.


If you hunt big game outside of Kentucky, you may not bring any member of the deer (Cervidae) family back into Kentucky unless the brain and spinal column have been removed first.

Allowed parts from outside of Kentucky 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 26 states, four Canadian provinces and in Europe and Asia: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Finland, Norway, Sweden and South Korea.

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


​SCORE Hunter County Method
181 3/8
Marlin McGinnis Mercer Archery
174 2/8 Kevin Roberts Pulaski Modern Gun
173 5/8 Scott Toadvine Bourbon Modern Gun
170 5/8 Aaron Mansfield Todd Modern Gun
167 5/8 Cody Gray Hardin Archery
167 0/8
Brandon Williams Shelby Archery
166 1/8 Kelby Browning Estill Shotgun
166 0/8 Matthew McCutcheon Henry Modern Gun
165 6/8 Adam Hensley Rockcastle Modern Gun
165 5/8 Robert Campbell Powell Crossbow
165 4/8 Travis Gibson Magoffin Archery
165 2/8
Casey Reed Lincoln Archery
165 1/8 Joshua Crabtree Powell Modern Gun
164 0/8
Joe Lacefield Woodford Archery
163 7/8 John McFarland Russell Modern Gun
163 4/8
Chris Cracraft Bracken Archery
163 3/8 Caleb Pearson Barren Crossbow
162 0/8 Harold Kincaid Lee Crossbow
162 0/8 Larry Roedig Gallatin Modern Gun
161 4/8 Ben Greenwell Henry Modern Gun
160 1/8 Wesley Irwin Breckinridge Archery
160 0/8 Hayden Mullins Breathitt Modern Gun
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SCORE Hunter County Method
208 2/8 Daniel Johnson Todd Modern Gun
205 2/8 Nathan Beckham Barren Muzzleloader
204 0/8 Brian Lay Mercer Crossbow
202 3/8 Dwight Hughes Bell Modern Gun
199 4/8 Ricky Daugherty Hopkins Crossbow
197 1/8 Roger Cooper Lincoln Archery
196 5/8 Noah Woods Perry Muzzleloader
196 0/8 Mary Stamper Breathitt Modern Gun
193 3/8 Ryan Watkins Logan Archery
190 3/8 Ace Puckett Carter Modern Gun
190 2/8 Douglas Kauffman Bath Muzzleloader
190 0/8 Chris Stansbury Breckinridge Modern Gun
187 6/8 Pillip Lane Lee Muzzleloader
186 1/8 Mark Wade Nicholas Crossbow
185 7/8 Kegan Embry Ohio Modern Gun
185 7/8 Joseph McCoy Pendleton Archery

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.


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. Velvet deer scored under the Pope and Young Club system for bowhunters.

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 where the deer was taken, and the equipment used to harvest the deer. Please send a copy, for 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 (KHFH) is a charitable volunteer-run organization comprised of responsible hunters and conservationists 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, this program provides 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 lives in poverty.


After the harvest of your deer, a hunter must complete their harvest log and successfully record their telecheck 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 ensure their shop hours and which deer seasons they accept. Approved processors are independently owned and operated and are not under KHFH control.


All Kentucky hunters can participate in the Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry Program. This program is a 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 of turning venison into a nutritious meal for the less fortunate in communities across Kentucky!



Gear Up & Get Out equipment list for customers to print off and have a list of recommended gear.

List of Equipment