Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Answers to common questions about Kentucky’s modern gun deer season

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Information Center at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources fields approximately 100,000 phone calls annually, and the call volume peaks from late October into early November as hunters inquire about rules and regulations for the statewide modern gun deer season. This year, it opens Nov. 14.

An informal poll of Information Center staff members this week identified common questions about the season. Some of those questions – and answers to them – appear below.

When does the modern gun deer season start and end in my county?

The season opens statewide on the second Saturday in November and a county’s zone assignment dictates when it closes. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife takes a four-zone approach to the management of the state’s deer herd. The modern gun season runs for 16 consecutive days in Zones 1 and 2 and for 10 consecutive days in Zones 3 and 4. A map of the deer hunting zones is published on Page 11 of the Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide is available online at and where licenses are sold.

What licenses and permits are needed to hunt deer in Kentucky during the modern gun season?

Unless license exempt, hunters must obtain and carry while in the field proof that they have purchased an annual hunting license and statewide deer permit. The license and permit are included in a Senior/Disabled license, which is available to Kentucky residents only. Resident and nonresident youth hunters ages 12-15 will need a youth hunting license and youth deer permit unless they are license exempt.

Who needs a hunter education card?

Kentucky’s hunter education law specifies that all license-required hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1975 must pass a hunter education course and carry the course completion card while hunting. Pre-registration is done online at

For those who have not completed a hunter education course in time, the Hunter Education Exemption Permit is an option. This one-time only exemption is available to Kentucky residents and nonresidents. Sold online at, the $5 permit is good for one year from the date of purchase.

Hunters using the exemption permit must be accompanied by an adult who meets Kentucky’s hunter education law. The adult must remain in a position to take immediate control of the exempted hunter’s bow or firearm while hunting.

Children aren’t required to take a hunter education course until they are 12 years old. Those who are younger than 12 don’t need a hunter education card, but must be accompanied by an adult while hunting.

What are the hunter orange requirements during the modern gun deer season?

All hunters, and anybody accompanying them, must wear hunter orange that can be seen from all sides on the head, back and chest when hunting for any species during daylight hours in modern gun deer season. A simple, solid hunter orange vest and hat combo fulfills this requirement. Hunter orange apparel can be made of mesh-type material but the openings in the mesh weave cannot be wider than 1/4 inch. Camouflage-patterned hunter orange garments without additional solid hunter orange clothing on the head, back and chest do not satisfy the requirements.

How many deer can a hunter harvest?

Hunters may take a total of four deer statewide. However, in Zone 1 counties, hunters may take an unlimited number of antlerless deer provided they have purchased the appropriate number of additional deer permits. One deer permit allows a hunter to take two deer – one antlered and one antlerless, or two antlerless – but there is a statewide limit of one antlered deer per license year. As a reminder, only antlered deer may be taken in Zone 4 counties during the modern gun deer season.

What do I need to do after I’ve harvested a deer?

Hunters must fill out a harvest log as soon as the deer is taken and prior to moving the carcass. Any deer taken in Kentucky also must be telechecked. Hunters can do that online at or by calling 1-800-245-4263. Callers will be asked their Social Security number and code for the county in which the animal was taken. County codes are printed on Page 7 of the Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide. Callers must also indicate the animal’s species and sex. Harvested deer must be telechecked by midnight on the day the animal is recovered.

Where can I get more information?

In addition to consulting the Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, or calling Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at 1-800-858-1549, there soon will be a detailed list of frequently asked questions about deer hunting in Kentucky available on the department’s website.

Hunters also will have an opportunity to submit questions during Kentucky Afield’s fall hunting call-in show on Nov. 14. It will air live starting at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Kentucky Educational Television (KET). Scheduled to join host Tim Farmer are Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator; John Morgan, upland game program coordinator; and a representative from the department’s Law Enforcement division.

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