spring turkey

Spring Turkey Hunting

Did You Harvest (or Find) a Wild Turkey with a Silver or Green Metal Leg Band?

Learn more about our Reporting of Turkey Leg Band process to help us by providing valuable information to ensure sustainable management of wild turkeys for current and future generations to enjoy.


We want to encourage everyone to be safe and have fun. With that in mind, we've created this page as a SUMMARY of our hunting laws and intended solely for informational use and is applicable March - June, 2022​. The exact wording of Kentucky's spring turkey hunting laws are provided in 301 KAR 2:142.

You can always review out Spring Hunting Guide, contact your Local F&W Law Enforcement Officer, or call our Info Center (1-800-858-1549) to help with unanswered questions.

Hunting Dates  Season Dates

General Season - Twenty-three (23) consecutive days beginning on the Saturday closest to April 15.

Youth-Only Season - Two (2) consecutive days beginning on the first Saturday in April.

Species Youth-Only General Season
Wild Turkey April 2-3, 2022
April 16 - May 8, 2022

Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Hunters may be in the field before and after shooting hours.

Exception for Federal Military Reservations

Turkey hunting dates and regulations on federal military reservations may differ from statewide seasons. Contact the appropriate agency for details on the following federal lands: Blue Grass Army Depot, Fort Campbell Military Reservation, Fort Knox Military Reservation.

Licenses and Permits  Buy Online

Annual Hunting License
(Resident or Non-Resident)
Spring Turkey Permit


Sportsman’s License
(Adult Resident, Youth, Senior, or Disabled)

Buy your licenses and permits at your local sporting goods store or online at fw.ky.gov/solar.

License-Exempt Hunters

In some cases, a resident hunter may not be required to buy a hunting license, permits to hunt deer, bear or turkey, or a Migratory Game Bird-Waterfowl Permit.

Here are those situations:

  • Resident and non-resident children younger than the age of 12 are not required to purchase licenses and permits, except the elk hunt drawing application.
  • Kentucky resident owners of farmlands, their spouses and dependent children hunting upon their own farmlands during an open season.
  • Tenants, their spouses and dependent children hunting on farmlands where they reside and work.
  • Kentucky residents on military leave of more than three days in this state who carry identification and papers verifying their leave status.
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces based in Kentucky engaged in sport hunting or fishing on the following Kentucky National Guard properties: Hidden Valley Training Area in Powell County and the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Muhlenberg County.

Hunter Education

Persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1975 must carry a valid hunter education card or hunter education exemption permit while hunting. Persons not required to have licenses or permits are exempt from hunter education certification. Hunter education courses are held throughout the state. More information about the registration process can be found on our Hunter Education page.

Children must be at least 9 years old to take the hunter education course. People who complete the course are issued an orange certification card. Hunter education cards issued by other states are valid in Kentucky. Children younger than 12 years old are exempt from hunter education certification, but must be accompanied by an adult who meets the hunter education requirement. The adult must be in a position to take immediate control of the bow or firearm at all times while hunting. One adult cannot accompany more than two hunters under 12 years old at the same time.

Apprentice Hunting Opportunity (1-Year Hunting Education Exemption)

Persons new to hunting who have not taken the hunter education course may buy a one-time temporary hunter education exemption permit online for free (for a limited time). This apprentice hunting opportunity allows new hunters in Kentucky to hunt for up to one year (from date of purchase) without a hunter education card. The permit requires its holder to hunt with a licensed, adult hunter (at least 18 years old) who meets the hunter education requirement. The adult shall be in a position to take immediate control of the exempted hunter’s bow or firearm at all times while hunting. This law applies even if the exempted hunter is an adult.

After the hunter education exemption permit expires, the hunter is no longer exempt and must successfully complete a hunter education course.

The temporary hunter education exemption permit is valid only in Kentucky. It is not accepted at Blue Grass Army Depot or Fort Campbell.

Resident landowners, spouses and dependent children, tenants, their spouses and their dependent children are only hunter education exempt on property they own, or the property where they reside and work. When hunting elsewhere, they must comply with Kentucky’s hunter education law.

General Hunting

Turkey Hunting and Safety Tips

If you are new to turkey hunting or looking for a refresher, visit our Learn to Hunt Turkey page. It covers a wide range of information designed to help new turkey hunters.

Kentucky Afield Videos

View our Turkey Hunting Playlist on YouTube.

Rules and Regulations

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.

No Pre-Season Calling

A person shall not mimic the sound of a turkey in an area open to turkey hunting and where turkeys are reasonably expected to be present from March 1 until the opening of the youth-only turkey season, and from the close of the youth-only turkey season until the opening of the state-wide turkey season. However, locating turkeys with an owl, crow, coyote, or woodpecker call is permitted when scouting.

Hunter Requirements

Adult Hunters: Unless exempt, all spring turkey hunters ages 16 and older must carry with them in the field proof of purchase of a valid Kentucky hunting license and a valid spring turkey permit. Short-term (1- or 7-day) hunting licenses are not valid for turkey hunting. The spring turkey permit is valid for the general spring season and allows a hunter to harvest up to the spring season bag limit of turkeys. Persons ages 16 and older may not hunt turkeys during the youth-only season.

Youth Hunters: Children ages 15 and younger may hunt turkeys during the youth-only hunting weekend and the general spring season. Visit our special Youth Turkey Weekend FAQs page to learn more about this hunting opportunity just for ages 15 and younger.

Youths younger than age 12 are exempt from license and turkey permit requirements. Unless exempt, all spring turkey hunters ages 12-15 must carry with them in the field proof of purchase of a valid Kentucky hunting license and a valid Spring Turkey Permit. Youths ages 12-15 are eligible to purchase a Youth Turkey Permit, which is valid for the harvest of one turkey during a license year. Youth hunters must abide by season bag limits and harvest restrictions. The resident-only Youth Sportsman’s License includes two (2) Youth Turkey Permits.

Youth hunting licenses and permits are valid for the entire license year if they are purchased before the child’s 16th birthday. Youths who hunt turkeys with a firearm must be accompanied by an adult who shall remain in a position to take immediate control of the firearm at all times.

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 turkeys with visible beards, may be included in this two-bird season limit. Turkeys taken by youths during the youth-only season count toward their spring turkey bag limit.

Harvest Recording

All harvested turkeys must be logged and telechecked. See the Recording, Checking, Tagging and Transporting section of our site.


Anyone may call turkeys, or assist in the hunt. Callers and assistants are not required to possess a hunting license or turkey permit, and may carry equipment while in the field.

Hunter Orange

Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange clothing during the spring turkey seasons. However, wearing an article of hunter orange clothing while 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 o 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.

Legal Spring Turkey Hunting Equipment

Hunters may only use the following to take turkeys during the spring seasons:

  • Breech-loading or muzzle-loading shotguns no larger than 10 gauge and no smaller than .410.
  • 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 No. 4.
  • Longbows, recurve bows and compound bows of any draw weight (no minimum).
  • Crossbows of any draw weight (no minimum) with a working safety device.
  • Non-barbed broadheads with a minimum cutting diameter of 7/8-inch, whether expandable or non-expandable.

Prohibited Spring Turkey Hunting Methods

A person hunting wild turkeys shall not:

  • Hunt over bait. An area is considered baited until 30 days after the bait has been removed. However, a person may hunt wild turkeys on an area where grain, feed or other substance exists as the result of a bona fide agricultural practice or manipulating a crop for a wildlife management purpose.
  • 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” in the “General Information” section of this guide).
  • Use or possess an electronic or digital calling device.
  • Harvest a roosting turkey.
  • Use live decoys.

Hunting Method Exemptions

The department grants exemptions to hunters with certain physical disabilities to hunt with a crossbow during archery-only seasons, or to use a stationary vehicle as a hunting platform. However, persons with qualifying physical disabilities must first have an exemption form completed and signed by a licensed physician certifying why the exemption is necessary.

Forms are available online or by calling the department. Go to Hunting Method Exemptions page for more information. A completed exemption form serves as the hunter’s exemption permit. It should not be returned to the department. Persons who obtain an exemption are still required to have the appropriate hunting license and permits, and must carry the signed exemption form with their hunting license and permits while in the field.

Concealed Carry Deadly Weapons Permits

Anyone who may legally possess firearms may carry firearms while hunting, but any firearms carried concealed must be done so pursuant to KRS 527.020.

Convicted Felons

A person convicted of a felony is prohibited from possessing or hunting with a firearm in Kentucky. The prohibition on handguns applies to those co​nvicted after Jan. 1, 1975. The prohibition on other firearms applies to those convicted after July 15, 1994. See KRS 527.040 for more details, or contact your County Attorney.

Recording, Checking, and Tagging

All successful turkey hunters must follow the steps for recording, checking and tagging their harvest. See the Recording, Checking, Tagging and Transporting page for all info. View the County Code Numbers for Telecheck here.

Landowner Permission

A person shall not enter upon the lands of another to shoot, hunt, trap, fish or for other wildlife-related recreational purposes without the verbal or written permission of the landowner, tenant, or person who has authority to grant permission.

Those who fail to obtain permission are subject to arrest and prosecution.

Railroad tracks and rights of way are privately-owned property and permission to hunt, trap or fish must be obtained prior to entry.

Landowners are under no obligation to allow hunters to retrieve game or hunting dogs from their property.

Report Turkey Carcass Submission Protocol for Wart-like Growths

If a hunter harvests a turkey with wart-like growths on its head or legs, KDFWR is asking the hunter to submit the carcass for disease testing. The Wildlife Health Program and Turkey Program are conducting this scientific collection effort to better understand Kentucky's turkey population.

Learn More

We Need Your Help!

Please help us collect important observation data on turkey reproduction each summer, July 1-August 31!

Complete the summer brood survey one of these three ways:

  1. Paper Datasheet - print, write in your observations, and mail back to us on September 1st
  2. Web Page - makes entering observations easy
  3. App for Apple or Android smart phones – easy data entry on the go! (Survey Instructions for app)​