License Requirements and Exemptions

​​​All persons (residents and nonresidents) must fill out and carry the proper license and permit to fish any Kentucky waters or to hunt in Kentucky. A trapping license is required of all resident and nonresident trappers ages 12 and older, including landowners/tenants unless otherwise provided by law. Landowner/tenant trapping licenses are only valid for landowners, tenants or their dependents trapping on their own property. A youth trapping license is available for resident trappers ages 12-15. Trappers under the age of 12 are not required to purchase a trapping license.

A resident is any person who has established permanent and legal residence in Kentucky, and resided in Kentucky for 30 days prior to applying for a license, full-time students enrolled in an educational institution for at least six months, or military service personnel on permanent assignment in Kentucky.

A person who does not meet the definition of a Kentucky resident is considered a nonresident and must purchase nonresident licenses and permits. Nonresident youth hunters are subject to the same requirements as resident youth hunters. A nonresident who owns land in Kentucky must purchase nonresident licenses and permits.

PAY LAKES (KRS 150.660) A person fishing in a pay lake licensed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources needs either a Kentucky fishing license or a free permit issued by the operator. If the lake is not licensed by the operator, anglers need a valid Kentucky fishing license.

The following do not have to have sport hunting or fishing licenses:

  • Resident and nonresident children under the age of 16 may fish without a license.
  • Resident and nonresident hunters under the age of 12 are not required to purchase hunting license or permits, except for the elk lottery application, elk quota hunt permit, out-of-zone elk permit and bear permit.
  • Resident owners of farmland, their spouse and dependent children hunting or fishing on their land. This also applies to tenants actually engaged in work and residing on the farmland, their spouses and dependent children. To be classified as a tenant, a person must both​ live and work on the farm.
  • Kentucky resident servicemen or women on furlough of more than three days, carrying proper identification and papers showing furlough status.
  • Residents or nonresident participating in a field trial authorized by the department are exempt from license requirements if game is not taken.
  • Hunters eligible to participate in the Free Youth Hunting and Trapping Week or Free Youth Deer Hunting Weekend, and adults who accompany a youth hunter but are not hunting themselves, are not required to have a license or permit during these seasons.
  • Persons fishing on the first Saturday and Sunday in June during Free Fishing Days are not required to have a license or permit
  • Persons fishing within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park.

Hunting Method Exemptions

See Hunting Method Exemptions

Other Laws Apply!

Hunters exempt from buying licenses and permits are required to follow hunting season laws, bag limits, comply with the hunter orange clothing law, and follow hunter harvest recording, checking and tagging requirements. Kentucky landowners, their legal dependents and tenants, are subject to the usual license requirements anytime they hunt somewhere other than their own lands.