Public Lands Hunting


new this year
  • Rolling Fork River WMA in LaRue and Nelson counties is open under statewide regulations for all species in accordance with the counties in which it is located. Stephens Creek WMA in Gallatin County and Meadow Creek WMA in Wayne County are open to public hunting with some restrictions. 
  • Whenever gun deer hunting is allowed on a wildlife management area, state park or Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, a person who will be hunting from inside a ground blind must first attach a hat or vest made of solid, unbroken hunter orange material to the blind so it is visible from all sides.
  • County zone deer bag limits apply to all quota hunts and open WMAs unless otherwise noted under the area listing.
  • The December muzzleloader deer season is open under statewide regulations on Curtis Gates Lloyd WMA, Dewey Lake WMA, Dr. James R. Rich WMA, Fish - trap Lake WMA, Griffith Woods WMA, John A. Kleber WMA, John C. Williams WMA, Kentucky River WMA, Knobs State Forest, Mullins WMA, Paintsville Lake WMA, Ping-Sinking Valley WMA, T.N. Sullivan WMA, Taylorsville Lake WMA, Twin Eagle WMA, Veterans Me - morial WMA and Yellowbank WMA.
  • The youth gun deer season and free youth weekend are open under statewide regulations on Beaver Creek WMA, Dennis-Gray WMA, Green River Lake WMA, Mill Creek WMA, Mullins WMA, Redbird WMA, T.N. Sullivan WMA and Twin Eagle WMA.
  • The 15-inch minimum outside antler spread restriction for deer has been removed on Ballard WMA, Dennis-Gray WMA, Dewey Lake WMA, Green River Lake WMA, Paintsville Lake WMA, Pennyrile State Forest, Tradewater WMA, West Kentucky WMA, Green River Lake State Park and Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.
  • See below for details about new open deer hunts at select state parks.
  • On Mill Creek WMA, the quota deer hunt has been eliminated in favor of opening the modern gun deer season for two consecutive days starting the second Saturday in November.
  • Before trapping on a WMA or Outdoor Recreation Area, a person must complete a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Public Area Trapping Registration Form.
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.

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.
  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. Quota hunts for pheasant, deer, quail, upland bird, waterfowl and elk hunts require advance application. (Refer to "Quota Hunts" and "Elk Hunting sections.) Advance application is not required for other listed hunts.   
  7. 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.
  8. Before trapping on a WMA or Outdoor Recreation Area, a Public Area Trapping Registration Form must be completed.
  9. Hunters shall not enter or hunt in areas that have been designated closed by signs.
  10. A person shall not discharge a firearm within 100 yards of a residence or occupied building located on or off the area.
  11. A person shall not distribute or place bait, hunt over bait or otherwise participate in baiting wildlife on a WMA.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. On all WMAs, Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area and Daniel Boone National Forest, 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.
  15. Whenever gun deer hunting is allowed on a wildlife management area, state park or Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, a person who will be hunting from inside a ground blind must first attach a hat or vest made of solid, unbroken hunter orange material to the blind so it is visible from all sides. Hunter orange clothing requirements still apply for anyone inside the blind.
 
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 here.

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 laws and regulations.

A qualified assistant shall not:

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

STATE PARK AND OTHER OPEN DEER HUNTS

Open deer hunts are offered on the following state parks on the following dates. Contact the host state park for complete details, including the number of available slots, equipment restrictions, bag limits and check-in and check-out procedures.

  • Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park (859-289-5507): Starting the first Saturday in January for two consecutive days.
  • Carter Caves State Resort Park (606-286-4411): Antlerless deer only, starting the first Monday in December for seven consecutive days.
  • John James Audubon State Park (270-826-2247): Starting the first Friday in December for three consecutive days.
  • My Old Kentucky Home State Park (502-348-3502): Starting the second Thursday in December for four consecutive days.
  • Yatesville Lake State Park and Lawrence County Recreation Area (606-673-1492): Starting the second Monday of December for three consecutive days.

Other open deer hunts

  • Jenny Wiley State Resort Park (1,415 acres, Floyd County, 1-800-325-0142):  Open the first Saturday of January for two consecutive days, limit two deer, only one of which may be antlered. Limited to the first 15 mobility-impaired hunters who check in at the park Ranger’s Station on the day before the hunt. Check in and check out each day at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife district headquarters located one mile from the Ranger’s Station. Hunters must meet the mobility-impaired eligibility requirements. (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.
  • An open youth hunt is held at Grayson Lake WMA on the first Saturday in November for two consecutive days and is limited to youths ages 15 and under.  
     

 
PUBLIC HUNTING AREAS QUICK REFERENCE

 

The charts in this section 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. Go here for all the details on these public lands.  Also 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. 19 - Oct. 14, 2017.
  3. Open during the youth-only firearm season; closed for free youth weekend.
  4. Open for October muzzleloader season only.
  5. Any weapon other than a modern gun that is legal to take deer may be used during the modern gun season.
  6. December 1-31; daily limit 2.
  7. Open shotgun/muzzleloader deer hunt from Jan. 13-15, 2018; Limited to 140 hunters; Check in and check out required.
  8. Open only for youth-mentor quota hunt on “A” tracts. Closed for all other youth firearm seasons.
  9.  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.
 

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.
  • 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, with the exception of early muzzleloader deer season; All non-refuge tracts open under statewide regulations.
  • Ohio River Islands WMA:  Remainder of WMA (Pryor, Rondeau and Sisters islands) open under statewide regulations for all hunting and trapping seasons.
  • 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.

NOTE:  Before trapping on a WMA or Outdoor Recreation Area, a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Public Area Trapping Registration Form must be completed.

 
 

EXCEPTIONS:

  1. Rabbit and quail hunting seasons open Nov. 1 - Dec. 31; Closed at Yellowbank WMA during pheasant quota hunts.
  2. On the Peninsula Unit, including Narrows, Goose and Grass islands, hunters may use a muzzleloading shotgun or crossbow during the fall firearm season and may use a crossbow during the fall archery season.
  3. During quota hunts, all deer hunting seasons on this WMA are closed, except to drawn hunters. Archery/Crossbow quota hunt from the Monday following the October youth-only weekend through Nov. 30, except when closed during the quota hunt that starts the first Saturday in November.
  4. Rabbit and quail hunting seasons open Nov. 13 - Dec. 31, 2017.
  5. Wild turkeys may not be harvested with a firearm (archery/crossbow only).
  6. Open Dec. 1-31, except during deer quota hunts.
  7. Open under statewide regulations 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. 19 - Oct. 31, 2017.
  11. Open for December muzzleloader season only.
  12. Pheasant quota hunts, either sex, limit two. A recommendation to move the start of the pheasant quota hunt to the first Friday in December was pending legislative approval when this guide went to press. If approved, the pheasant quota hunt dates would be Dec. 1, 2, 3. Open Dec. 4 only to drawn quota hunters, either sex, limit three. Open Dec. 5-31, either sex, daily limit three. Please call 1-800-858-1549 for the latest information.
  13. Open only in bear zone.
 

OTHER RESTRICTIONS:

  • Barren River Lake WMA: On the Peninsula 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. Hunters may not use rifles, or ball or slug ammunition to take furbearers and may not use a rimfire gun to take small game unless participating in a deer quota hunt.  Trapping season open Jan. 1 through the last day in February.
  • 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 non-transferable.
  • Sloughs WMA: Ash Flats, Grassy Pond, Powells Lake, Jenny Hole, Highland Creek, and Cape Hills units are open for all hunting and trapping seasons.

NOTE:  Before trapping on a WMA or Outdoor Recreation Area, a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Public Area Trapping Registration Form must be completed.


 

EXCEPTIONS:

  1. Open for December muzzleloader season only.
  2. Open Nov. 1 - Dec. 31.
  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 the second Saturday in November through Dec. 17, 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.
  5. Check-in, check-out required at John A. Kleber WMA office.
 

OTHER RESTRICTIONS

  • Curtis Gates Lloyd WMA: Unleashed dogs are prohibited April 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 April 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.
  • Veterans Memorial WMA: Access within the WMA may be restricted due to construction.   

NOTE:  Before trapping on a WMA or Outdoor Recreation Area, a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Public Area Trapping Registration Form must be completed.

 

 

EXCEPTIONS

  1. Archery hunting prohibited during the quota fox hunting field trials.
  2. Open Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, except closed Nov. 4-5 for the deer quota hunt and Dec. 1-4 for the pheasant quota hunt, and closed until 2 p.m. on Nov. 8, Nov. 19, Dec. 16 and Dec. 26 for upland bird quota hunt.
  3. Upland bird quota hunts on Nov. 8, Nov. 19, Dec. 16 and Dec. 26.
  4. Pheasant quota hunts, either sex, limit two, Dec. 1,2 and 3; Open Dec. 4, only to drawn pheasant quota hunters, either sex, limit three; Open Dec. 5-31, either sex, daily limit three.
  5. The Upper and Lower Units of the management area are closed to public use Sept. 13-16 and Sept. 27-30 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 November open youth hunt.
  9. Youth gun seasons open.  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. Firearms prohibited for deer and elk hunting on three areas near the dam: 1) the area extending eastward from the drainage of Glade Branch, along the north edge of the lake, to the No Hunting Area surrounding Rocky Knob Recreation Area and enclosing all property from the WMA boundary downslope to the lake edge, and 2) the islands visible from the state park boat ramp at the end of Ky 2275, and 3) the area extending eastward along the southern edge of the lake from the drainage of Shoal Branch to the No Hunting Area surrounding the dam and ranger station, and extending downslope to the edge of the lake.
  11. Hunters shall not use a modern firearm or in-line muzzleloading gun. Hunters shall use only open or iron sights on any weapon.
  12. Centerfire rifles and handguns may not be used to take deer.
  13. Open under statewide regulations for 10 consecutive days starting the second Saturday in November.
  14. Firearms are prohibited for deer, bear, and elk hunting on two areas near the dam: 1) on the east side of the dam, the area extending southward from the dam to old Shoreline Campground No.1, and 2) on the west side of the dam, the area extending westward from the dam along KY 302 to Terry Boat Ramp.
  15. Portions open during quota elk hunts to persons who possess the appropriate elk hunting permit.
  16. Hunters may use a crossbow during the archery season but shall use only open or iron sights on any weapon.
  17. Open for October muzzleloader season only.
  18. Hunters shall not use any type of breech-loading firearm.
  19. Open for December muzzleloader season only.
  20. For elk hunting specifics, refer to Martin County, Bevin's Branch, Floyd-Knott, Breathitt County, Bledsoe and Wallin's Creek tract descriptions on this website.
 

OTHER RESTRICTIONS

  • Clay WMA:  Area closed to all hunting except archery deer hunting and the quota pheasant hunt for four consecutive days starting on the first Friday in December.  The area is closed to all other small game hunting until 2 p.m. on upland bird quota hunt dates. Tracts in Fleming and Bath counties are Zone 3 for bear.
  • Czar Hunting Access:  This hunting access area includes three tracts - Beech Fork, Czar and Bow.  Special landowner area requirements and restrictions apply.  Email mintha@czarky.net for further requirements before accessing the area.
  • Grayson Lake WMA: Some portions of the WMA are closed to all hunting or have special weapons restrictions. Go here for details.
  • 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.

NOTE:  Before trapping on a WMA or Outdoor Recreation Area, a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Public Area Trapping Registration Form must be completed.

 



 
EXCEPTIONS
  1. Open Nov. 1 - Dec. 31.
  2. Open Oct. 1 - Dec. 31.
  3. Open under statewide regulations for two consecutive days starting the second Saturday in November.
  4. Open for December muzzleloader season only.
  5. Pheasant quota hunts, either sex, limit two, Nov. 17, 18, and 19; Open Nov. 20, only to drawn pheasant quota hunters, either sex, limit three; Open Nov. 21 – Dec. 31, either sex, daily limit three.
  6. Furbearer trapping open with permission; Closed for furbearer hunting.
  7. Open from Sept. 1 through the last day of February.
  8. Archery and crossbow only.
  9. Portions open during quota elk hunts to persons who possess the appropriate elk hunting permit.
  10. McCreary County portion closed.
 

OTHER RESTRICTIONS

  • Big South Fork NRRA: Open for wild pigs from the first Saturday in September through the end of February, but a Big South Fork hog hunting permit is required at times.  Call for specific dates and details.  Permits may be purchased at park visitor centers or online at http://www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/hog-hunting.htm.
  • Green River Lake WMA:  Area closed to all hunting except archery deer hunting and the quota pheasant hunt for four consecutive days starting on the third Friday in November.
  • Hidden Valley Training Area:  Area closes periodically for training exercises. Call (606) 878-9595 for more information about training dates.
  • Robinson Forest WMA:  The main block of this area is closed to all hunting.  The remainder of this WMA is open under statewide requirements.

NOTE:  Before trapping on a WMA or Outdoor Recreation Area, a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Public Area Trapping Registration Form must be completed.


 

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