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Kentucky Hunting Seasons

Mike Slinkard

January 18, 2023

Kentucky is known for many things: Its lush natural landscapes, abundant streams, and of course, its long-lasting hunting seasons spanning different types of game. Kentucky is a prime hunting destination if you want to hunt for small or big game like quail, rabbit, deer, elk, bear, and turkey, whether with a rifle, bow, or muzzleloader.

But first thing first: You need the proper permits and meet the local license requirements. Aspiring hunters can purchase harvest permits and licenses at various locations across the state or online at the state’s license sales website. Licenses for both Kentucky residents and non-residents are available, but the fees vary according to residency, hunting seasons, bag limits, and zones.

If you’re one of the thousands of people who get out on the field every fall, here’s a thorough rundown of Kentucky hunting seasons and their respective dates. 

Hunting Restrictions and Regulations in Kentucky

In some hunting zones in Kentucky, there are limits on the number of hunters, the gear they can carry, and the quantity of bags.

However, these limitations change depending on the species of wildlife hunted and the zone of the hunting area. Depending on the equipment you use and the game you choose to hunt, different seasons have different dates. 

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Zone 1May harvest an unlimited number of antlerless deer using a statewide deer permit and/or additional permits
Zone 2May harvest no more than 4 deer 
Zone 3May harvest no more than 4 deer, and a firearm or airgun cannot be used to kill more than 1 antlerless deer
Zone 4May harvest no more than 2 deer, and only one can be antlerless. Antlerless deer also cannot be harvested during modern gun season, the early muzzleloader season or the first 6 days of late muzzleloader season

*Only one deer with visible antlers may be harvested statewide per hunting license year, no matter the zone or method. 

Things You Need to Know as a Hunter in Kentucky

As with every state, there are specific rules unique to Kentucky. The last thing you want is to get caught in a bind, so keep these regulations in mind the next time you set out:

  • If you are hunting during firearm season, blaze orange requirements apply to hunters during deer, elk, and bear season. The solid, unbroken blaze orange must be visible on all hunters and those accompanying them without any blockage. Learn more about the requirements here.
  • Night hunting is only permitted for raccoons and opossums. Night hunting for coyotes is prohibited. All other game must only be hunted during daylight hours.
  • As long as game is only taken during an official hunting season, hunters are permitted to run or train dogs for rabbits, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and opossums.
  • You do not need a hunting license if you, your spouse, and/or your dependents are hunting deer on land you own.
  • It is prohibited to take any wildlife using lights or other devices intended to blind wildlife or make wildlife visible at night, except for raccoons, opossums, frogs, and fish.

Statewide Season Dates for Kentucky State 

There’s nothing more exciting than planning your upcoming season location for a great hunt. But when setting out in Kentucky, there are a few things to remember when you’ve bagged game:

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  • The State provides two options for reporting harvested game: Over the phone or online at the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website.
  • After bagging, all elk, turkeys, bears, bobcats, and river otters must be checked in regardless of the hunting method.

If you have questions, visit the Kentucky Department of Wildlife resources on the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife website for more details, as check-in times differ depending on the animal.

Deer Hunting Season Dates in Kentucky

Archery and CrossbowSept. 17 – Jan. 16
MuzzleloaderEarly: Oct. 15 – 16 Late: Dec. 10 – 18
Modern GunNov. 12 – 27
Youth-Only GunOct. 9 – 10
Youth-Free WeekendDec. 31 – Jan. 1
Youth-OnlyOct. 8 – 9

Turkey Hunting Season Dates in Kentucky

Fall ArcherySept. 3 – Jan. 16
Fall FirearmsOct. 22 – 28 Dec. 3 – 9
Fall Archery & CrossbowOct. 1 – 16 Nov. 12 – Dec. 31

Bear Hunting Season Dates in Kentucky

Archery & CrossbowOct. 22 – 28
Chase OnlyJune 1 – Aug. 31 Sept. 9 – 30
FirearmsDec. 10 – 16

Elk Hunting Season Dates in Kentucky

Archery/CrossbowSept. 10 – 23 Dec. 3 – 9
FirearmsBull: Sept. 24 – 28 and Oct. 1 – 5 Cow: Nov. 26 – 30 and Dec. 31 – Jan
Youth-OnlyAll Season Dates

Small Game Hunting Season Dates in Kentucky

CrowSept. 1 – Nov. 7
GroundhogMarch 1 – Feb. 28
SquirrelAug. 20 – Nov. 11 Nov. 14 – Feb. 28
GrouseNov. 14 – Feb. 28**
RabbitNov. 1 – Feb. 10**
QuailNov. 1 – Feb. 10**

**Disclaimer: Season dates may vary across the state and by county. For specific dates in your part of Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Division of Wildlife Resources website.

Are You Ready to Make the Most out of Kentucky’s Hunting Season?

Deer hunting requires substantial planning before you walk out into the woods: You must be sure of the appropriate hunting dates, adhere to the proper regulations, like your annual hunting license, and follow best practices for hunting safety, such as wearing the appropriate amount of visible blaze orange if hunting during firearm season.

But what’s equally as crucial is equipping yourself with the proper tools. With HECS® lightweight, breathable, and durable digital camouflage apparel, you will have not only an excellent visual camouflage but more importantly, you will be blocking the natural electrical emissions from your body. These fields allow game animals to key into you as a living being – so even if you’re wearing blaze orange, you will stay undetected longer while out in the field and improve your experience.

With cutting-edge hunting technology, HECS® hunting clothing and camo apparel reduce the ability of animals and birds to detect your presence, setting you up for a more successful experience.

Get the advantage you need by purchasing HECS® hunting apparel today.

Shop HECS Today
Shop HECS Now

Improve your hunting experience
with HECS clothing.

Shop HECS Today

About the Author : Mike Slinkard

A hunter displaying his bear on rocks near a lake

Mike Slinkard is a life long bow hunter, professional archer, successful entrepreneur, and self described science geek from the rural town of John Day Oregon. Mike has spent his life in close proximity to all types of animals. His grandfather was a well known cattle and horse rancher who first instilled Mike’s keen interest in animals and why they react the way they do in different situations. Mike’s insatiable curiosity in this realm led him to team with other professionals to make the HECS discovery in 2009. Mike has hunted all over the world and has taken over 30 species with archery gear including 48 elk to date. Mike currently hosts “Hunting with HECS TV” on the Pursuit Channel. He has also written many bow hunting and archery articles as well as being a guest on many different hunting podcasts.

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