An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
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.
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.
Counties Included:Calloway, Marshall, Graves, Hickman, and Fulton
Consider submitting your deer for CWD sampling at one of our conveniently located
collection stations across the state.
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Hunters usually fare better if they spend some time exploring the area(s) they will hunt before hunting season.
Depending on when and where you’re hunting, there may be restrictions on the sex available for harvest. Be sure to check the
If you don’t have a place to hunt or want to try a different place, Kentucky has over 1.5 Million acres of public hunting lands.
Maps are available for these areas. It is vital that you are aware of
public lands regulations for the area you will hunt on. Some public lands have
“quota” hunts, which involve an application process for a limited number of hunter slots and hunting periods. Other public lands are open for some or all seasons within the hunting regulations for the prevailing county.
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. For more information about Deer Harvest Zones, please check the
Deer Hunting Regulations Page.
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.
Only one antlered deer per hunter may be harvested statewide, regardless of zone, method or season.
Only one antlered deer may be harvested statewide,regardless of zone or method
Hunters who buy their license or permit by phone or the Internet must carry a picture ID and proof of purchase (an authorization number, paper license, or computer printout) while hunting. Paper licenses/permits must be signed and all information completed before hunting.
Unless license-exempt, all deer hunters age 16 and older 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.
An additional deer permit must be purchased to take more than four deer. 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 lands and during some quota hunts. Additional deer permits can only be used in counties with unlimited antlerless harvests (Zone 1).
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.
Devices designed to entangle or trap the antlers of deer cannot be used.
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.
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 stands on private lands is regulated by landowners.
Deer Hunting FAQ's
Hunter (Blaze) Orange Requirements
Proper Deer Equipment
Determining the Peak Rut for Deer in Kentucky!
Standard Field Dressing
Field Quartering and Butchering
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
firstname.lastname@example.org also will be accepted.
To get a list of official Boone & Crockett Club scorers in Kentucky visit:
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!