Deer Hunting in Kentucky

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  • A
  • 827,355

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 196,707

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $62

    The annual resident hunting license is $27. The deer permit is $35.

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $335

    The annual non-resident hunting license is $150. The deer permit is $185.

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • 204 2/8"

    Taken by Robert W. Smith in Pendleton County in 2000, ranked as No. 5 of all time.

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • 680

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 271 7/8"

    Picked up in Henry County in 2004.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 325

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Kirsten Godfrey arrowed this fine Kentucky buck. (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Godfrey)

 

Season Dates (2019):

These were the proposed season dates at the time of publishing.

Zone 1

Archery: Sept. 7, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020 (either sex)

Crossbow: Sept. 21, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020 (either sex)

Youth Weekend: Oct. 12-13, 2019 (either sex) / Dec. 28-29, 2019 (either sex)

Early Muzzleloader: Oct. 19-20, 2019 (either sex)

Modern Firearm: Nov. 9-24, 2019 (either sex)

Late Muzzleloader: Dec. 14-22, 2019 (either sex)

Zone 2

Archery: Sept. 7, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020 (either sex)

Crossbow: Sept. 21, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020 (either sex)

Youth Weekend: Oct. 12-13, 2019 (either sex) / Dec. 28-29, 2019 (either sex)

Early Muzzleloader: Oct. 19-20, 2019 (either sex)

Modern Firearm: Nov. 9-24, 2019 (either sex)

Late Muzzleloader: Dec. 14-22, 2019 (either sex)

Zone 3

Archery: Sept. 7, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020 (either sex)

Crossbow: Sept. 21, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020 (either sex)

Youth Weekend: Oct. 12-13, 2019 (either sex) / Dec. 28-29, 2019 (either sex)

Early Muzzleloader: Oct. 19-20, 2019 (either sex)

Modern Firearm: Nov. 9-24, 2019 (either sex)

Late Muzzleloader: Dec. 14-22, 2019 (either sex)

Zone 4

Archery: Sept. 7, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020 (either sex but exceptions apply)

Crossbow: Sept. 21, 2019 to Jan. 20, 2020 (either sex but exceptions apply)

Youth Weekend: Oct. 12-13, 2019 (either sex) / Dec. 28-29, 2019 (either sex)

Early Muzzleloader: Oct. 19-20, 2019 (antlered only)

Modern Firearm: Nov. 9-24, 2019 (antlered only)

Late Muzzleloader: Dec. 14-19, 2019 (antlered only) / Dec. 20-22, 2019 (either sex)

The Grade: A

Kentucky’s mixed terrain offers a diverse landscape. Western Kentucky has your typical flat, agricultural land not unlike the Midwest. The entire northern and western edges of the state are bordered by river, which leads to fertile soils and great river bottom whitetails. Large expanses of forests are found in the central and eastern portions of the state, the latter through some very rugged mountain terrain. Central Kentucky has a good mix of rolling hills, hardwoods, crops and pasture fields. Eastern Kentucky gives the mountain man his paradise as he chases whitetails in the foothills of the Appalachians.

More than 1.5 million acres of public land is available, but much of it receives heavy pressure. Trophy bucks can be found on ground open to all. But pockets of private property are where the bulk of the big boys roam. Secure a decent piece of private ground in the state and you’re well on your way to tagging a big whitetail.

There really isn’t much you can say negative about Kentucky. The rifle season does coincide with the rut. And proposed changes for 2018 has introduced a doe-only two-day gun season in September for Zone 1 counties. Plus, the rifle season has been extended state wide. Most Kentucky hunters view these as negative changes. Other than that, the Bluegrass State gets green lights. Hunters can use crossbows and archery gear or choose from lots of options for firearm hunting including handguns, shotguns, muzzleloaders and high-powered rifles.

Antler Nation Knowledge

Probably the best thing about hunting deer in Kentucky is the potential for taking a trophy all over the state. Unlike some states where the trophy potential is isolated to select areas, Boone & Crockett bucks are showing up from literally every section of the state. Of course, certain areas and counties have traditionally produced more trophies, but in recent years, B&C bucks have turned up in counties that had never before produced a trophy and also on many different public lands.

Kentucky has more than 1.5 million acres of public land and at least one B&C buck comes from public land almost every year. Some of the larger WMAs in the Bluegrass and Green River regions offer the best chance at a trophy. Other places to consider are the Fort Knox and Fort Campbell military complexes. Hunting restrictions there are a little difficult to grasp and negotiate, but the potential is well worth the extra effort.

If planning an out-of-state hunt to Kentucky -- avoid the eastern third of the state for the next year or two. A heavy dose of EHD hit the state in 2017 that really impacted the herd. In some areas, more than 60 percent of the population was lost. All in all, though, Kentucky doesn't dissapoint.



Kentucky Harvests

  • Chase Brown

    Fleming co, Kentucky

  • Michael Kelley

    Kentucky, Kentucky

From the Realtree Trophy Den