Kentucky is home to an estimated population of 900 000 white-tailed deer, with hunters annually harvesting over 132 000 deer on average. The state offers diverse hunting terrains, including rolling hills, open fields and dense forests, making it one of the best areas to hunt deer in the US.
Anyone interested in hunting deer in Kentucky must follow the state’s seasonal regulations and dates. We’ve taken the time to compile a list of all that you’ll need to know before hunting white-tailed deer in Kentucky.
Kentucky is divided into four Management Wildlife Zones, each with its own deer hunting regulations. Hunters that wish to harvest deer may only do so in the three (3) main deer hunting seasons; Modern gun, Muzzleloader, and Archery.
Muzzleloading season is split into two dates. There is a two-day preliminary early season towards the end of October, whilst the late season runs through the middle of December. In addition to the three (3) main seasons, the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife has included two seasons for Youth hunters to harvest white-tailed deer.
|Muzzleloader- Early Season||October 21st – October 22nd|
|Muzzleloader- Late Season||December 9th – December 17th|
|Modern Gun||November 11th – November 26th|
|Archery||September 2nd – January 15th|
|Youth Only Gun||October 14th – October 15th|
|Youth Only Weekend||December 30th – December 31st|
Youth hunters are between the ages of twelve (12) to fifteen (15) years old and must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter.
Anyone over twelve (12) interested in hunting white-tailed deer in Kentucky must purchase an annual hunting license and carry a statewide deer permit while hunting.
|Annual Youth Hunting License (12 – 15)||$6||$10|
|Youth (ages 12-15) Sportsman’s License* (Includes youth hunting license, youth deer permit)||$30||N/A|
|Annual Combination Hunting/Fishing||$42||N/A|
|Senior/Disabled Sportsman’s License* (includes the same license and permits as Resident Sportsman’s License, plus additional deer permits.)||$12||N/A|
|Sportsman’s License* (Includes combination hunting/fishing license, state-wide deer permit)||$95||N/A|
|Statewide Deer Permit||$35||$185|
|Youth Deer Permit||$10||$15|
|Additional Deer Permit (Two deer)||$15||$15|
Senior residents over sixty-five (65) years old and disabled hunters can purchase a senior/disabled sportsman’s license. This license permits them to hunt and fish in the state of Kentucky.
In addition to purchasing a hunting license and statewide deer permits, hunters must wear outer garments of hunter orange color or an orange hunting vest.
While there may be an abundance of white-tailed deer in Kentucky, hunters are limited to harvesting four (4) deer per season. Hunters can take up to one antlered deer and three antlerless deer or four antlerless deer using their statewide deer permit.
Hunters wanting to harvest more than four (4) deer can purchase an additional deer permit, which allows them to take another two (2).
Each Wildlife Management Zone has its own bagging restrictions for deer, and hunters must abide by the restrictions throughout each zone. Deer may only be harvested 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
|Zone 1||A hunter may harvest an unlimited number of antlerless deer using the statewide deer permit and additional deer permits.|
|Zone 2||Four (4) deer limit|
|Zone 3||Four (4) deer limit|
|Zone 4||A hunter may harvest no more than two (2) deer. Only one (1) deer is allowed to be antlerless.|
A firearm or airgun may only be used to harvest one antlerless deer in Zone 3.
What Weapons can you Hunt Deer with in Kentucky?
Kentucky is a hunter’s paradise and permits deer hunters to use various weaponry when harvesting their share of white-tailed deer. Hunters can use the following weapons for hunting deer in Kentucky:
- Archery- Bow & Arrow
- Muzzleloading rifles
- Centerfire Handgun
|Airgun||Must be .35 caliber or larger charged by an external tank, shooting single projectile ammunition designed to expand upon impact|
|Shotgun||Must not be larger than 10-gauge, shooting slug ammunition only (includes saboted bullets).|
|Rifle||May not be capable of holding more than 10 rounds|
|Centerfire Rifle||Any caliber centerfire rifle or centerfire handgun|
|Prohibited Ammunition||Full metal jacketed or tracer bullet ammunition is prohibited.|
Bow and Arrow:
|Arrows||Only wood, carbon or metal arrows. May not be chemically treated.|
|Broadheads||Broadheads may be fixed blade or mechanical and at least 7/8” wide (when blades extended), but broadheads may not be chemically treated.|
|Bow characteristics||No minimum draw weight.|
|Crossbow draw weight||No minimum draw weight.|
|Arrows/ bolts||Only wood, carbon or metal arrows/bolts, but arrows /bolts may not be chemically treated.|
|Broadheads||Broadheads, including mechanical broadheads, must be seven-eighths of one inch (7/8”) or greater at the widest point.|
|Powder||black powder or black powder substitute only.|
|Caliber||Muzzleloading rifles can be of any caliber.|
|Legal projectile||Must be a single barrel.|
|Muzzleloading Shotguns||Must be no larger than 10 gauge.|
|Ammunition||Must shoot round balls, conical bullets or saboted bullets.|
What Types of Deer Are Popular to Hunt in Kentucky?
Kentucky is only home to one (1) species of deer: white-tailed deer. They are fairly common throughout the US and are noticeable by their white tails. Their babies have brown fur with white spots.
What else is Popular to Hunt in Kentucky?
While there may only be one species of deer to hunt in Kentucky, there are hundreds of other large and small game species that will provide an exciting hunt for hunters of all ages. The most popular species of animal to hunt in Kentucky are:
- Black Bear
- Wild Boar
- Wild Turkey
- Bobwhite Quail