Waterfowl hunting regulations updated at Boatwright WMA

​​​​FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 23​, 2023)– Hunting regulations at Boatwright Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Ballard County have undergone significant revisions aimed at providing a better experience for hunters beginning with the 2023-24 season.​​

Boatwright will now be managed under hunting rules similar to those already in place at Ballard and Sloughs WMAs.

These changes are part of the continuing effort to improve the experience of waterfowl hunters utilizing wildlife management areas in the Commonwealth.​​

The new rules for Boatwright WMA include:

Shifting to a quota hunt system for opening week​​

The traditional system of allowing unlimited numbers of hunters into the area during the Thanksgiving week opener created the potential for user conflicts and overcrowding. Instead, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will transition to the quota hunt system already in place for December and January. ​​

All regular season duck hunts, including hunts set aside for youths and military, will now require hunters to be drawn via the online Waterfowl Hunt Application portal for the Boatwright waterfowl​ quota hunts or be assigned via in-person stand-by drawings. Applications for Boatwright hunts will remain free. A person drawn for a quota hunt may invite up to three additional hunters. ​​

​​The shift from an open hunt to a quota one is modeled after a similar transition made at Sloughs WMA’s Jenny Hole Unit several years ago, which has been well received by hunters. The method limits hunting pressure and spreads out hunters.

Limiting boaters to quota hunters only from Dec. 1 - Jan. 31 ​​

The presence of boats throughout the day during hunting seasons disturbed waterfowl in resting areas. New rules for boaters are designed to reduce this disturbance to provide better opportunities for those using Boatwright WMA for waterfowl hunting.​​

​​Beginning Dec. 1 of each year, boating will be limited to only those drawn for that day’s quota hunt. All boats must be off the water by 2 p.m. In addition, boating will not be permitted on days that quota hunts are not being held. These restrictions will not be in place prior to Dec. 1, however. This will continue to provide deer hunters boat-in access during modern gun season.

Creating hunt units and lifting blind restrictions​​

​​Hunters will now be assigned hunting units within Boatwright; they no longer are restricted to blinds and may hunt most locations within that unit. This change opens several new areas at Boatwright to waterfowl hunters.

Under optimal backwater conditions, Boatwright will offer more than four dozen hunting units with a total capacity exceeding 200 hunters. A map of the hunting units may be found online at Boatwright Interactive Waterfowl Map​.​​

Hunting parties may still use department blinds or they may move within the unit to best meet their needs. Some locations, however, may retain a requirement to hunt from specific blind or location. Hunting parties must remain at least 50 yards from a property boundary and 200 yards from another hunting party. ​​

Hunting from boat blinds​​

Previously, hunters were only allowed to hunt from boat blinds during periods of backwater. Now, if the unit allows use of a boat, it may also be used as a blind at any time.​​

​​Applying for a quota hunt at Boatwright WMA

​​Waterfowl hunting at Boatwright requires selection through online application or through the stand-by hunter process. The following fact sheet contains details of applying for a quota hunt and additional information about hunting at the WMA. For more information about waterfowl hunting regulations, visit the website of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at and search under the keyword, “waterfowl.”

Boatwright WMA Waterfowl Hunting Fact Sheet and Rules

Boatwright WMA Check Station location:
362 Broadway Street, Barlow Ky.

Deadlines (All times Central):
Check station doors open: 4:15 a.m.
Check-in deadline: 4:44 a.m.
Stand-by drawing begin: 4:45 a.m.

Finish Hunting/Off Area: 2 p.m.
Check out (box at check station): 3 p.m.

Note: Boatwright WMA is closed to hunting on Mondays, Tuesdays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Online Application

  • Apply online at
  • Hunters may apply Wednesday – Sunday for hunts the following week.
  • A random computer drawing will be conducted the Monday morning prior to the intended hunt date.
  • Drawn hunters have until 7 a.m. the following Tuesday to surrender any spots they do not desire to hunt that week. Previously, hunters could surrender a spot daily.
  • If a hunter is drawn for a location on a specific date, and does not surrender that spot, they may not enter the stand-by drawing or hunt with party drawn for another hunting unit.

Online Application

  • Hunters not drawn for a hunt may come to the check station at check-in time in the morning to apply for any available vacant units. This is known as a stand-by drawing. Check the2023-24 Kentucky Waterfowl Guide for more information on when stand-by drawings are held.
  • Hunters drawn in the stand-by drawing may choose from available hunting units based on the order of the drawing.

Hunt Rules

  • Hunting is allowed from ½ hour before sunrise to 2 p.m.
  • All regular season waterfowl hunting at Boatwright WMA requires a separate WMA-issued Waterfowl Permit. All hunters must still possess a valid federal duck stamp, Kentucky migratory bird/waterfowl permit and Kentucky hunting license.
  • The WMA-issued Waterfowl Permit is provided to hunters drawn through the online application, or those selected through the standby drawing conducted at the WMA check station. The person drawn in one of these lotteries becomes the area Waterfowl Permit holder for that day.
  • The waterfowl permit holder may invite up to three (3) guest hunters to form a hunting party.
  • All hunting party members must report at the check station the morning of their hunt. This must be done before going to the assigned unit.
  • All waterfowl permit holders and their parties must check out by depositing the card supplied by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife in the box at the check station by 3 p.m. the day of their hunt. Cards must be completed fully and accurately. Failure to check out or accurately complete the card may result in loss of hunting privileges.
  • The waterfowl permit holder must be present for the party to hunt. All hunt party members must hunt in the Unit/Blind assigned to the waterfowl permit holder.
  • At least one (1) member of each party shall be eighteen (18) years of age or older.
  • A hunter must stay within twenty-five (25) feet of another party member; the furthest members of the party can be is no more than 75 feet apart.
  • Each hunter may possess no more than 25 shells on each day of hunting. Hunters may only use non-toxic shells approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Parties shall not hunt within 200 yards of another legal waterfowl hunting party.
  • Parties shall not hunt within 50 yards of a property line.
  • ​Boats shall be less than 22 feet in length and operate at idle speed only.

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