The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) publishes an annual Hunting and Trapping Guide to aid hunters in the current season. You can find the guide online, or at any local vendor that sells hunting and fishing licenses.
The questions below offer hunters a quick guide to the most frequently asked questions regarding deer hunting in Kentucky. The questions are covered in more detail in the hunting guide if you need further assistance. You may also call the KDFWR office 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. EST Monday through Friday at 800-858-1549 for answers to your hunting and fishing questions.
Before You Go
There are a few things you need to have or know before you leave for your hunt.
What do I need to hunt deer?
Unless a hunter is considered license exempt, he or she will need:
Annual hunting license, either Kentucky resident or non-resident
Statewide deer permit, either Kentucky resident or non-resident
Hunter education card for those 12 and older and born on or after Jan. 1, 1975
Purchase your license online now.
*Please note the 1-day and 7-day hunting license options are not available for deer, turkey, bear or elk.
Find out which type of license you need here.
Who does not need a hunting license or permit?
Children under age 12 (Kentucky resident or non-resident)
Kentucky resident owners of farmlands, their spouses and dependent children hunting their lands. This also applies to tenants actually engaged in work and residing on farmlands, their spouses and dependent children. To be classed as a tenant, a person must both live and work on a farm.
Kentucky resident servicemen or women on furlough of more than three days, carrying proper identification and papers showing furlough status.
View a complete list of license exemptions.
Please remember those exempt from purchasing license and permits are still required to follow hunting season laws, zone restrictions, bag limits, complete and carry a harvest log and follow checking and tagging requirements.
Know the zone restrictions in which you are hunting
All 120 Kentucky counties are identified as being in a particular zone (Zones 1-4). Each zone has different restrictions and hunters in those zones will need to abide by the regulations for that particular zone.
You can find out what zone you are hunting and the restrictions of each here.
Do I need to wear orange?
All hunters, and anybody accompanying them, must wear hunter orange that can be seen from all sides on the head, back and chest when hunting for any species during daylight hours in modern gun deer season. A simple, solid blaze orange vest and hat combo fulfills this requirement. Hunter orange apparel can be made of mesh-type material but the openings in the mesh weave cannot be wider than 1/4 inch. A small section of color such as a logo is permissible but camouflage-patterned hunter orange garments without additional solid hunter orange clothing on the head, back and chest do not satisfy the requirements. Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange during a firearms season on a state owned or managed Wildlife Management Area where firearms hunting for deer, elk or bear is prohibited.
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.
View more information regarding hunter orange.
Know the bag limits before you hunt
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 button bucks) in Kentucky on private land.
On some public hunting 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.
After the Hunt
After you’ve harvested a deer, you’ll need to record the information on your harvest log and report it to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources through our Telecheck system.
What is a harvest log?
A harvest log is a record of your harvests throughout the year. Each hunter will need to keep an accurate log on their person at all times while in the field during the current year. The log should be filled out immediately after taking a deer and prior to moving the carcass.
The log can either be handmade or printed here.
Information for the harvest log includes:
How do I telecheck a deer?
Hunters who successfully harvest a deer must report it to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife through the Telecheck system either online (using your My Profile account), or by telephone at 800-245-4263 (800-CHK-GAME).
All harvested animals must be telechecked by midnight on the day the animal is recovered.
You will be asked your Social Security number and code for the county in which the animal was taken. You will also be asked to indicate the animal’s species and sex and the type of equipment used to harvest the deer.
Those checking an antlerless male deer will also be asked to distinguish it as a male fawn – also known as a button buck – or as an adult that has shed its antlers. Hunters checking an antlered deer will be asked to enter the total number of antler points measuring 1 inch or longer and indicate if the outside antler spread is greater or less than 11 inches. The outside spread is the widest distance between the outside of the main beam antlers.
You will then get a confirmation number, which must be recorded on your harvest log and retained throughout the season.
How do youth hunters telecheck a deer?
Youth hunters telecheck a deer using their Social Security number and then following the same process as other hunters.
This also applies to youth hunters who are license exempt because they are under 12 or hunting on their parents’ land.
What county code am I in?
The county codes are listed on Page 7 of the current Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. (County Codes are located at the bottom of page 7 of the hunting guide). They can also be viewed here.
How do I report poaching, trespassing or other vioilations?
Those needing to report violations can call 1-800-25-ALERT (800-25-25378).
Do I need a license to hunt my own land?
If you are a Kentucky resident hunting on your own property, then neither you, your spouse nor your dependent children need a license or statewide deer permit to harvest a deer. Please remember those exempt from purchasing license and permits are still required to follow hunting season laws, zone restrictions, bag limits, complete and carry a harvest log and follow checking and tagging requirements.
You can make your own harvest log or print one here.
If you own land in Kentucky, on which you plan to hunt, but are not a Kentucky resident, you will be required to purchase a non-resident hunting license and a non-resident deer permit.
Can I hunt over bait?
Current Kentucky regulations allow hunters to hunt deer using bait while on private property. Hunting deer over bait on public property is not allowed. Current Kentucky regulations define “Bait” as “a substance composed of grains, minerals, salt, fruits, vegetables, hay, or any other food materials, whether natural or manufactured, that may lure, entice, or attract wildlife.”
Do I need a Hunter Education card?
In order to hunt in Kentucky, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, and age 12 or older must carry a Hunter Education card in their possession while hunting. The KDFWR now has a permit that allows someone to hunt without a Hunter Education card for up to one year. This is a one-time only exemption. View details regarding the One-Year Hunter Education Exemption Permit.
How do I replace or reprint a license or a Hunter Education card?