An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
A person shall not enter upon the lands of another to shoot, hunt, trap, fish or for other wildlife-related recreational purposes without the oral 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.
Persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, must carry proof of valid hunter education certification or a hunter education exemption permit while hunting. Hunters may use hunting licenses or electronic documentation with proof of identity.
Persons not required to have licenses or permits are exempt from hunter education certification. Persons currently serving in the Armed Forces, veterans of the Armed Forces and Kentucky peace officers are exempt from the live-fire exercise.
Hunter education courses are held online and throughout the state. Effective March 1, 2014, pre-registration must be done online in order to receive the hunter education card. More information about the registration process is available
here or by calling Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. 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.
Hunters can add or view their hunter education certification through their online
MyProfile account. Printed licenses will include proof of certification.
Free replacement hunter education cards can be printed online. For name changes and/or other problems, please call 1-800-858-1549.
Persons new to hunting who have not taken the hunter education course may obtain for FREE (limited time only) one-time temporary hunter education exemption permit online.
This apprentice hunting opportunity allows new hunters in Kentucky to hunt for up to one year (from the 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.
All hunters and persons accompanying them must wear outer garments of hunter orange color visible from all sides on the head, back, and chest when hunting during daylight hours for any species during the modern gun, muzzleloader, and youth firearm deer seasons or a firearm elk or bear season.
Waterfowl and dove hunters are exempt from this requirement.
Hunter orange garments can be of mesh type material, as long as openings in the mesh weave are no wider than one-quarter inch by any measurement. Garments may display a small portion of another color.
The following are common examples of
violations related to hunter orange clothing:
Hunters using archery equipment during deer firearms seasons must wear hunter orange clothing.
Whenever gun deer hunting is allowed on a wildlife management area, state park or Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, a person who will be hunting from inside a ground blind must first attach a hat or vest made of solid, unbroken hunter orange material to the blind so it is visible from all sides. Hunter orange clothing requirements still apply for anyone inside the blind.
Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange clothing or display hunter orange on ground blinds during a firearms season on a state-owned or managed WMA where firearms hunting for deer, elk, or bear is prohibited.
Unless otherwise noted, shooting hours for most species are 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Exceptions include waterfowl, migratory birds, raccoons, coyotes, turtles and frogs. Hunters may be in the field outside of shooting hours.
Raccoons and opossums may be taken day or night, except during modern gun deer season when raccoon and opossum hunting is permitted only at night.
Exceptions also apply to coyotes. See the
Furbearer Hunting and Trapping page for more information.
Sunrise and sunset tables are provided by USNO.
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 1-800-858-1549. 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.
Anyone who may legally possess firearms may carry any legal firearms while hunting, but only legal methods may be used to take the game.
A person convicted of a felony is prohibited from possessing or hunting with a firearm in Kentucky. Breech and muzzle-loading rifles, shotguns and handguns are all considered firearms. The prohibition on handguns applies to those convicted after Jan. 1, 1975. The prohibition on other firearms applies to those convicted after July 15, 1994. (See KRS 527.040 for more details.) If you need further clarification on your ability to hunt with a particular weapon, please contact the county or commonwealth attorney in your county of residence.
No person may deliberately cast the rays of a spotlight or other artificial light into any field, pasture, woodlands or forest, whether public or private, where wildlife or domestic livestock may reasonably be expected to be located. Shining artificial lights into private residences or other structures also is prohibited.
This does not apply to: headlights of vehicles engaged in a normal course of travel; lights being used in legitimate agricultural activities; anyone involved in activities legitimate to his or her business or occupation; circumstances including lawful hunting activities; or any landowner, his or her immediate family, or any paid employee while working on his or her land at that time.
No person shall take wildlife, except raccoons, opossums, frogs and fishes, using lights or other means designed to blind wildlife or make wildlife visible at night. Exceptions also apply for coyotes.
See the Furbearer Hunting & Trapping section.
A person may not take or possess live wildlife without first obtaining a permit when prescribed by regulation.
See the Transportation and Holding of Live Native Wildlife page for detailed information.
A person shall not hold live native wildlife in captivity that was not legally taken or possessed. A person shall not buy or sell, offer to buy or sell, trade, or barter native wildlife or parts thereof obtained from the wild, unless in possession of the proper up-to-date commercial or non-commercial captive wildlife permit per each holding facility. Wildlife acquired prior to obtaining the proper permits may be confiscated and the holder fined.
Orphaned wildlife may only be possessed by a
licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Persons transporting live deer or other types of cervids (members of the deer family) without proper documentation or permits, or holding live deer captive in unpermitted facilities or pens, are subject to severe fines and may have their animals confiscated or destroyed.
Legaclly trapped rabies vector species shall be dispatched before being moved unless immediately released at the capture site. Permit holders shall report all bites and exposure to their local county health department within twelve (12) hours. If a legally obtained native mammal in possession bites a person or shows symptoms of a rabies infection, the animal shall be dispatched immediately. Permit holders shall immediately submit the animal heads for testing to an approved laboratory.
Hunters may run or train dogs for rabbits, foxes, coyotes, raccoons and opossums year-round as long as game is harvested only during an open hunting season.
Some WMAs have special restrictions on using dogs, so check ahead of time. All members of the party must have a valid hunting license (unless license-exempt) to pursue rabbits or furbearers, even when training dogs without taking game.
Dogs may not be used to chase, molest or hunt deer and elk. Dogs may be used to chase or
hunt bears if a legal season is open.
Dogs are permitted for locating and flushing turkeys during the fall turkey season only, and dogs on leash are permitted for tracking and locating wounded deer, elk and bear. Except during the hunting season, raccoon and opossum hunters shall not use any device to force a raccoon or opossum from trees or dens. Raccoon squallers may be used year-round.
See the Dog Training Areas page for detailed information.
For the purpose of bird dog training on private lands only, pen-reared bobwhite quail may be harvested August 15 through May 15 (excluding bobwhite hunting season), provided that prior to shooting a person must:
Hunters are required to make a reasonable effort to recover big game and upland birds harvested, including the removal of edible parts from the field.
A person with a federal permit for a firearm noise suppressor (silencer) may use it to hunt legal game animals. A valid hunting license is required.