An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources encourages your outdoor recreational pursuits, but they should be done in a manner consistent with social distancing guidelines and in compliance with any orders from federal, state and local government. For the latest information on the novel coronavirus in Kentucky, please visit kycovid19.ky.gov.
Open-air sites, such as public lands and streams and wildlife management areas remain open. Kentucky hunting and fishing license requirements, seasons and bag/creel limits remain unchanged.
Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Watching Opportunities
Participating in outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing in Kentucky are great ways to safely recreate, connect with nature, spend quality time with family and friends, and potentially harvest your own healthy protein.
At this time, we do not anticipate any travel or other public health restrictions that would impede hunters from participating in these activities. However, please recreate responsibly by following applicable public health guidelines.
You can purchase your licenses (and permits, if necessary) here. Please follow the guidance and regulations provided in our Fishing & Boating Guide and Fall Hunting Guide regulations summary booklets, available on the Hunt or Fish tabs from our home page.
Face Covering Mandates and Recommendations
To follow the reopening plan for Kentucky, visit the Healthy at Work page developed by the state.
Effective July 29, 2021, face coverings (masks) are required of all staff and visitors in department buildings.
Salato Wildlife Education Center is open for the 2021 season! Visitors may reserve tickets by visiting our Salato web page.
All visitors over the age of five are required to wear a face covering while inside. Masks are required while in outdoor spaces only when visitors cannot maintain physical distance of six feet from individuals who are not members of the same household. All employees will be wearing masks covering the mouth and nose.
For continued virtual education during this time, we have many online resources for teachers and students. Check them out here:
Teacher Resources for Distance Learning
Fall hunting seasons will be open under normal regulations.
Please consult the Fall Hunting Guide regulations summary booklet for season dates, bag limits, public lands opportunities, and other details.
Please reference the websites of the US Army Corps of Engineers, United States Forest Service, National Park Service, and Kentucky State Parks for hunting and camping information on their properties.
Is the department considering opening up hunting seasons early, or changing bag or daily catch limits?
No. Kentucky's hunting seasons and fishing regulations have not been expanded. These seasons and limits remain set by regulation for their regular time and length in order to conserve our fish and wildlife populations for the present and future, and to provide maximum sustainable recreation opportunities for the public.
Are we waiving license and permit fees?
No. Hunting and fishing licenses and permits are required to fish and hunt as always. The new license year started March 1. Licenses and permits can be purchased online at
fw.ky.gov, in many retail stores, or by phone at 877-598-2401.
Is the department closing any of its wildlife management areas?
No. All department-owned and managed wildlife or hunter access areas remain open. You can find maps and other access information online at
Researchers and biologists are uncovering more information about this topic daily. For the latest information compiled by KDFWR, please watch the video above and/or visit
Wildlife Health Update
In August 2021, the USDA confirmed the world's first cases of SARS-CoV-2 in free ranging white-tailed deer in Ohio. The virus (which causes COVID-19) has been previously detected in wild mink, but this is the first instance of the virus being detected in white-tailed deer. In March, the results of an experimental infection trial demonstrated that white-tailed deer were susceptible to the virus but didn't develop clinical signs of the illness in the laboratory setting. In late July, the USDA released its findings from a multi-state sampling effort that demonstrated free-ranging white-tailed deer in Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and developed antibodies but the virus was not detected.
The following information developed by department staff based on the Ohio deer study and the latest public health guidance is provided for your reference.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO HUNTERS
• There is no evidence at this time that animals, including deer, play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people, but caution is recommended.
• Hunters are encouraged to wear a face covering, eye protection and surgical-type gloves when field dressing or processing a deer out of an abundance of caution.
• Until more is known, we recommend that hunters field quarter (use gutless method) deer to avoid potential exposure to the virus if it is present in a deer.
• Public health officials encourage people ages 12 and older to get vaccinated for protection from COVID-19.
• For more information, visit our Wildlife and Disease Health page.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife encourages anglers to be aware of COVID-19 related actions taken by the Governor, and follow the latest guidelines issued by public health experts. Please allow for social distancing at boat ramps, docks, or other high traffic areas.
Effective August 27, 2020, the hunter education exemption is FREE for a limited time.
The permit allows new hunters in Kentucky to hunt for up to one year without a hunter education card. The permit must be carried while hunting and 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 exemption permit holder is an adult. The permit is available only one time. Once it expires, hunters are no longer exempt and must successfully complete a hunter education course. Obtain your
hunter education exemption and please refer to the
fall hunting guide for more information.
Are Hunter Education classes and range days still open for participants?
A virtual range day option is currently available in lieu of in-person range days to meet certification requirements. Complete information is available on the department’s
Hunter Education webpage, including how-to and sample “virtual range day” videos.
Please also note that the department recognizes state-approved Hunter Education certifications from all other states, regardless of their course format.
Is the department waiving the requirements for hunter education because of canceled classes?
No. If you are required to have a hunter education card to hunt in Kentucky, you will still be required to do so. The department has a one-year
Hunter Education exemption permit available for those who can’t obtain their Hunter Education card in time for a hunting season; this permit allows people of any age to hunt with an adult mentor who has completed Hunter Education or was born before 1975. To obtain this permit, start by clicking
Guidance that is being provided by public health experts to maximize public safety and minimize the spread of the coronavirus is subject to change weekly or even daily. We may have to make further changes.
Please continue to monitor this page for updates. We’ll also keep you informed by posting updates to our Facebook page (@kdfwr) and on Twitter (@kyfishwildlife).
We encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Go fishing, hunting or wildlife watching. You can purchase hunting and fishing licenses and permits
online. Register your boat through your local county clerk’s office and get out on the water. Take your family outdoors for a hike, to go fishing, or to go turkey hunting. Kentucky offers almost endless outdoor opportunities. Let’s get out and enjoy them today, and safely.