Kentucky Hunting Seasons 2023-2024: Latest Update

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Kentucky is one of the best choices for hunting since it has many hunting seasons every year for a diverse array of animals. Wildlife is abundant in the state’s forests, from the elusive wild turkey to the magnificent elk. However, before you go out into the wild, you should study up on Kentucky’s hunting rules and regulations and the licenses and permits you’ll need to do so. You may have a successful and fun hunting season if you know what you’re doing and are well-prepared. Lets find out!

Kentucky Hunting Seasons

The state’s forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife, from Coyote and bears to Goose, Teal ducks, and turkeys, all of which are fair game for hunters. Kentucky is a great hunting destination since it offers a wide variety of wildlife. Remember, however, that specific game requires a hunting license or permit, which may be obtained easily via licensing agents or over the phone, as well as online for both residents and visitors. The price of a license or permit changes depending on factors such as the time of year, the applicant’s location, the applicant’s age, and any special designations.

After a successful harvest, hunters must contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife either by phone or via their website. It is important to remember that no of the method of bagging, all elk, turkeys, bears, bobcats, and river otters must be checked in. Please go to the Fish and Wildlife Resources website for further information, since check-in times vary per species. In addition, federal military reserves may have their own hunting seasons and regulations that are different from the rest of the state. Get in contact with the appropriate organization for further details about federal properties including the Blue Grass Army Depot, Fort Campbell Military Reservation, and Fort Knox Military Reservation.

Below is a list of Hunting Schedules for Kentucky

Deer Season

SeasonStart DateEnd DateTypeZone
Archery2-Sep-2315-Jan-24Either sexStatewide
Crossbow16-Sep-2315-Jan-24Either sexStatewide
Crossbow Season16-Sep-2315-Jan-24Either sexStatewide
Senior/Youth Crossbow2-Sep-2315-Jan-24Either sexStatewide
Modern Gun11-Nov-2326-Nov-23Either sexZone 1, 2 and 3
Modern Gun11-Nov-2326-Nov-23Either sexZone 4
Muzzle-loader21-Oct-2322-Oct-23Either sexZones 1, 2 and 3
Muzzle-loader9-Dec-2317-Dec-23Either sexZone 4
Youth-Free30-Dec-2331-Dec-23Either sexStatewide
Youth-Only Gun14-Oct-2315-Oct-23Either sexStatewide
Free Youth Weekend30-Dec-2331-Dec-23Either sexStatewide

Elk Season

Elk SeasonHunting Dates
Either-Sex Archery/Crossbow9 Sep, 2023 - 22 Sep, 2023
Either-Sex Archery/Crossbow2 Dec, 2023 - 8 Dec, 2023
Cow Firearms25 Nov, 2023 - 29 Nov, 2023
Cow Firearms30 Dec, 2023 - 3 Jan, 2023
Bull Firearms30 Sep, 2023 - 4 Oct, 2023
Bull Firearms7 Oct, 2023 - 11 Oct, 2023

Turkey​ Season

Turkey SeasonHuntng Dates
Spring Turkey
Youths 15 & younger7 April, 2023 - 8 April, 2023
Regular Season15 April, 2023 - Closes on Sun after 23 consecutive days
Fall Turkey
ArcherySeptember 2, 2023 - January 15, 2024
Crossbow1 Oct, 2023 - 22 Oct , 2023
Crossbow11 Nov, 2023 - 31 Dec, 2023
Shotgun28 Oct, 2023 - 3 Nov, 2023
Shotgun2 Dec, 2023 - 8 Dec, 2023

Squirrel Season

Squirrel SeasonHunting Start DateHunting End Date
Spring20 May, 202316 June, 2023
Fall19 Aug, 202329 Feb, 2023

Dove Season

Dove SeasonHunting Dates
1st Segment1 Sep - 26 Oct, 2023
2nd Segment23 Nov, 2023 - 3 Dec, 2023
3rd Segment23 Dec, 2023 - 14 Jan, 2024

Free Youth Hunting Season

SeasonHunting Dates
Youth ages 15 & younger30 Dec, 2023 - 5 Jan, 2024

Bear Season

KY Bear SeasonLocationSeason DatesHunt Type
Archery & Crossbow - Upcoming SeasonBear Zone 1Oct 28, 2023 - Oct 30, 2023Either Sex
Archery & Crossbow - Upcoming SeasonBear Zone 2Oct 28, 2023 - Nov 1, 2023Either Sex
Chase-Only - Past SeasonBear ZonesJun 1, 2023 - Aug 31, 2023Either Sex
Currently in SeasonBear ZonesSep 9, 2023 - Sep 30, 2023Either Sex
Firearm - Upcoming SeasonBear Zone 1Dec 9, 2023 - Dec 11, 2023Either Sex
Firearm - Upcoming SeasonBear Zone 2Dec 9, 2023 - Dec 13, 2023Either Sex
Hunt with Dogs - Upcoming SeasonBear Zone 1Oct 23, 2023 - Oct 27, 2023Either Sex
Hunt with Dogs - Upcoming SeasonBear Zone 2Nov 2, 2023 - Nov 10, 2023Either Sex

Furbearers, Small Game and Upland Game


Rabbit HuntingHunting DatesNote
Western Zone 3rd day of modern gun deer season thru Feb 10, 2024
Eastern ZoneNov 1, 2023 - Jan 31, 2024the first weekend of the Mordern gun deer season is closed


Quail Hunting SeasonHunting DatesNote
Western Zone 3rd day of modern gun deer season thru Feb 10, 2024
Eastern ZoneNov 1, 2023 - Jan 31, 2024the first weekend of the Mordern gun deer season is closed


Hunting SeasonHunting DatesNote
Grouse SeasonNov 1, 2023 - Feb 29, 2024n grouse zone only; closed during the first 2 days of modern gun deer season


Pheasant Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Green River Lake WMANov 3, 2023 - Nov 9, 2023
Clay & Yellowbank WMAsDec 1, 2023 - Dec 3, 2023

Raccoon and Opposum Season

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Raccoon and OpposumOct 1, 2023 to Feb 29, 2024

Coyote Season

Hunting SeasonHunting Start DateHunting End DateType
Coyote General Season1-Jan31-Deceither sex
Night Hunting - No Lights AllowedJun 1 2023Nov 30 2023either sex
Night Hunting with LightsMay 16 2023Jun 30 2023either sex
Trapping SeasonNov 13 2023Feb 29 2024either sex

Bobcat Season

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Bobcat SeasonNov 25, 2023 - Feb 29, 2024

Other furbearers Season

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Other furbearers3rd day of modern gun deer season thru Feb 29, 2024

Groundhog Season

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Groundhog SeasonYear Round

Falconry Season

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
FalconrySep 1, 2023 - March 30, 2024

KY Migratory Birds Season


Hunting SeasonHunting DatesNote
Woodcock Season28 Oct, 2023 - 13 Dec, 2023the first two days of the Modern guns deer season are closed.


Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Snipe Season20 Sep, 2023 - 29 Oct, 2023
Snipe Season23 Nov, 2023 - 28 Jan, 2024

Wood Duck

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Wood DuckSep 16, 2023 - Sep 20, 2023


Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
TealSep 16, 2023 - Sep 24, 2023

Rail and Gallinule

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Rail and GallinuleSep 1, 2023 - Nov 9, 2023


SeasonLocationHunting Season Start DatesHunting Season End Dates
Currently in SeasonStatewide1-Sep-237-Nov-23
Upcoming SeasonStatewide4-Jan-2429-Feb-24

Sandhill Crane

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Sandhill CraneDec 4, 2023 - Jan 28, 2024

Canada Goose

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Canada GooseSep 16, 2023 - Sep 30, 2023
Canada GooseNov 23, 2023 - Feb 15, 2024

Cackling, White-fronted & Snow Goose & Brant

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Cackling, White-fronted & Snow Goose & BrantNov 23, 2023 - Feb 15, 2024

Light Goose Conservation Order

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Light Goose Conservation OrderFeb 16, 2024 - March 31, 2024

Duck, Coot, Merganser

Hunting SeasonHunting Dates
Duck, Coot, MerganserSep 23, 2023 - Sep 26, 2023
Duck, Coot, MerganserDec 7, 2023 - Jan 31, 2024

Youth Waterfowl Hunting

Youth Waterfowl HuntingHunting Dates
Eastern ZoneNov 4, 2023 - Nov 5, 2023
Western ZoneFeb 3, 2024 - Feb 4, 2024

  • **Dates for each season vary by zone.
  • Small game seasons have nonspecific start and end times.

Variable bag limits, special seasons, and other hunting regulations in Kentucky vary with species and time of year. For more information on licensing, permits, and regulations in the state of Kentucky, check out their website.

Bullfrog Season

Season TypeLocationSeason DatesHunt Type
Bullfrog Season - General (Opens at noon)StatewideMay 19, 2023 - Oct 31, 2023Either Sex

Kentucky hunting license.

A hunting license and, in certain situations, additional permits, such as a state-issued deer permit or a license to shoot birds, are required in Kentucky. Obtaining a license is easy at; just remember to carry a photo ID, driver’s license, Social Security card, and your date of birth whenever you go hunting.

Permit Types(Resident)(Non-Resident)
(Deer)USD 35USD 185
(Additional 2 deer)USD 15USD 15
Spring Turkey-statewide (2 turkeys)USD 30USD 85
Fall Turkey-statewide (4 Turkeys)USD 30USD 85
(Elk Drawing)USD 10USD 10
(Bear)USD 30USD 250

Licenses Types(Resident)(Non-Resident)
Yearly HuntingUSD 27USD 150
(Shooting Area-License)USD 5USD 5
(Yearly Combo Hunt/Fish)USD 42Not Applicable
(Sportsman)USD 95Not Applicable

Hunting Regulations

Hunting Hours: Kentucky allows shooting from 30 minutes before dawn to 30 minutes after sunset, except for waterfowl, migrating birds, raccoons, coyotes, turtles, and frogs. Hunters are allowed in the field without guns. Raccoons and opossums may be killed anytime. However, contemporary firearms deer season allows only nighttime shooting. See coyote furbearer hunting and trapping exclusions here. USNO provides dawn and sunset tables.

Hunting Exceptions: The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife enables hunters with physical disabilities to use crossbows during archery-only seasons and hunt from stationary vehicles. These hunters must receive a doctor’s exemption paperwork before hunting. Call 1-800-858-1549 or download a form from the website. After completion, the exemption form is the hunter’s permission and must not be returned to the department. Exempt hunters must have a signed exemption form, a hunting license, and permits.

Property Permission: Shooting, hunting, trapping, fishing, or other wildlife-related recreational activity on another’s property without permission is unlawful. Hunters must access private land, including railroad tracks and rights of way. Landowners are not required to let hunters return with their game or dogs. Undocumented people may be detained and convicted.

Hunter Education: Kentucky hunters born after January 1, 1975, must have hunter education certification or exemption permission. Hunting permits and digital paperwork with image identification meet this need. Hunter education is not necessary for non-licensed hunters. Since March 1, 2014, hunter education cards must be pre-registered online. A 9-year-old must complete the hunter education course to get an orange certification card. Kentucky allows out-of-state hunter education cards. Hunter Education is not required for children under 12, but they must be accompanied by a trained adult and have the weapon within reach. A hunter must accompany fewer than two or more two youngsters under 12.

Apprentice Hunting: Kentucky first-time hunters may get a temporary hunter education exemption permit online. First-time hunters must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter (at least 18 years old) who has completed the hunter education course and can assume immediate control of the novice hunter’s bow or rifle at all times to qualify for this permit. Hunter’s education is required when the exemption permission expires. It doesn’t matter the hunter’s age. Blue Grass Army Depot and Fort Campbell will not honor the temporary hunter education exemption permit outside Kentucky. Landowners, their wives, and dependent children may hunt on their own or work property without taking a hunter education course. Thus, Kentucky’s hunter-education laws apply even if they’re hunting elsewhere.

Hunter Orange: During contemporary gun, muzzleloading, youth firearm, and firearm elk or bear seasons in Kentucky, hunters and anyone accompanying them must wear a solid, unbroken hunter orange color on the head, back, and chest. This legislation exclusively covers daytime hunting. Duck and dove hunters are exempt from this rule. Mesh clothing branded hunter orange may have holes no bigger than one-quarter inch in any measurement and may disclose a small bit of another color. Without hunter-orange, squirrels, rabbits, and quail cannot be shot during rifle deer or elk seasons. This law also prohibits camouflage-patterned hunter-orange garments without matching head, back, and chest gear. Archery and ground blind hunters must paint their blinds hunter orange during deer firearms seasons.

Prohibited Hunting Practices: Kentucky prohibits hunting on highway medians and rights-of-way with weapons, bows, arrows, crossbows, and similar equipment. Hunting from a car is illegal unless permitted by law. However, boat-hunting small game and furbearers are allowed. It’s also illegal to annoy wildlife from an airplane or shoot at animals to capture or kill them. Dogs, mounts, and sneaking up on water-bound deer, elk, and turkeys are forbidden. Dogs can only find and flush turkeys in the autumn. Feeding bears, hungry or not, is illegal. Animals cannot be caught using fire, smoke, explosives, or gas. All state parks, WMAs, the Daniel Boone National Forest, Jefferson National Forest, Land Between the Lakes, Big South Fork National River, and Recreation Area allow hunting; however, baiting is prohibited. Hunting deer and elk using electronic decoys and sounds, hunting turkeys while roosting, using live turkeys as decoys, and baiting wild turkeys or bears are illegal. The region is deemed baited for 30 days after all bait is removed, making hunting unlawful.

Licenses to carry deadly weapons in concealed Form: Kentucky hunters may use any legal rifle, but they must legally catch animals.

Devices Restrictions: Kentucky only allows furbearer season electronic calls and lures. The state allows the hunting of other species using hand or mouth-operated calls. Only during crow season can mechanical or electronic calls catch crows. Electronic calling devices are prohibited for deer, turkey, and elk hunters.

Spotlighting: In Kentucky, it is prohibited to shine a spotlight or artificial light onto a private dwelling or other building or any public or private field, pasture, forest, or woodland where wild or domestic cattle are reasonably anticipated. Landowners, their immediate family members, and any paid employees working on the land at the time are exempt from this law, as are vehicles using their headlights in the ordinary course of travel, lights used in legitimate agricultural activities, and anyone engaged in legitimate business or occupation activities, including lawful hunting. Except for raccoons, opossums, frogs, and fishes, it is forbidden to blind or illuminate wildlife at night. See coyote furbearer hunting and trapping exclusions here.

Live Native animal transport & Holding: Wild animals cannot be collected or kept without proper documentation in forbidden regions. Selling, trading, or bartering wild-caught native species or their parts is forbidden. Wildlife obtained illegally may be confiscated and punished. People who illegally transport live deer or other cervids (deer family members) or keep them in unlicensed facilities or cages risk having their animals taken, killed, and fined heavily. Wildlife rehabilitators must care for orphaned creatures.

Hunting with Dogs: As long as they hunt during legal seasons, Kentucky hunters may run or train dogs for rabbits, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and opossums year-round. Pets must be checked before entering a Wildlife Management Area. Unless exempt, you need a hunting license to legally hunt rabbits or furbearers, even if you’re training your dogs. Dogs can hunt bears during designated seasons, not deer or elk. Dogs on leashes can locate and find injured deer, elk, and bears. Raccoon squallers may flush raccoons and opossums from trees and dens year-round, except during hunting season.

Bobwhite Hunt: Bobwhite Shoot-to-Train season allows private landowners to harvest captive bobwhite quail for bird dog training. Except for bobwhites, the season spans from August 15–May 15. Before releasing pen-reared birds, you must have a hunting license or be exempt from one, fill out and submit an application to the department, show proof of sale or ownership, have a captive wildlife permit if you keep more than 100 birds or for more than 10 days, clear the training area of wild quail, and band them with No. 7 leg bands or department bands.

Convicted Felons: Breech- and muzzleloading rifles, shotguns, and pistols are illegal for felons in Kentucky (the prohibition on handguns applies to those convicted after January 1, 1975, and the prohibition on other firearms applies to those convicted after July 15, 1994). Ask the county or commonwealth attorney whether a hunting firearm is legal in your jurisdiction.

FAQs related to Kentucky Hunting Seasons

Which animals are permissible to hunt in Kentucky?

Kentucky has a wide variety of game species that are legal to hunt. These include deer, elk, bear, grouse, rabbit, quail, coyote, bobcat, fox, turkey, hog, coyote, and groundhog.

Are deer bailable on privately owned property in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, hunters on private land are allowed to use bait while shooting deer. Bait deer hunting is prohibited on any publicly accessible lands.

How long is the Kentucky hunting season?

Beginning in the middle of November, the Kentucky season lasts for 16 days, coinciding with the rut, or peak of fall mating, when deer are more active than normal. Deer get more active and roam greater distances if food sources become scarce.

Is a license required in Kentucky to hunt squirrels?

Trappers above the age of 12 are required to get a license. Unless they have a permission from the Kentucky Fish and Species Cabinet, trappers must swiftly catch squirrels and rabbits.

Can you shoot deer using bait in Kentucky?

It all depends on where you go hunting. Only on privately owned property is it acceptable to use bait when hunting.

John Lewis

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