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Small Game and Bird Hunting in Kentucky

Small Game and Bird Hunting in Kentucky

A hound barks and a squirrel while small game hunting in Kentucky.

Exploring small game hunting dates and Opportunities in the state of Kentucky

While most of Kentucky is privately owned, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife owns or operates over 85 wildlife management areas available to the public. In addition to these WMAs, the state of Kentucky has opened up private properties to the public known as Hunting Access Areas in partnership with land owners.

Residents can either pay $20 for an annual small game hunting license, or $7 for a 1-day license. Nonresidents pay $140 or $15, respectively. A 7-day license costs $55. 

Bobwhite Quail 

Though populations have been in decline since the ‘60s, numerous efforts are in place to grow quail numbers across Kentucky. Some counties possibly worth checking out for quail are Perry, Allen, and Graves. Rockcastle River and Clay WMA are open for quail hunting. Within Peabody WMA, there are three quail focus areas: Ken, Sinclair, and Homestead. You will need to purchase a Peabody User Permit if you are 16 years old or older before hunting. 

Check out: All the Bobwhite Quail in the South Aren’t Gone

The eastern zone quail season runs from November 1-8, 2019 and November 11-January 31, 2020. The western zone dates are November 11-February 10, 2020. The daily bag limit for bobwhite quail is 8.  

Ruffed Grouse

As in many states, there are currently strategies in place to increase habitat for ruffed grouse by increasing the amount of early successional forests. You will find ruffed grouse in the eastern portion of the state. The hunting zone begins east of I-75 and extends across 53 counties. 

There is a December-exclusive season for ruffed grouse hunting on three areas: the Tradewater Wildlife Management Area, Ft. Knox Military Reservation, and Pennyrile State Forest. 1-Day quota hunts on Clay WMA offer another option for bird hunting in Kentucky.

The season for ruffed grouse within the limited eastern zone begins November 1 to November 8th, 2019 and November 11th to February 29th, 2020. There is a daily bag limit of 4. 

American Woodcock

Hunting woodcock in Kentucky is not exactly popular. Less than 1,000 people look for woodcock while bird hunting in Kentucky. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your hand at hunting this evasive, migratory species. 

The season dates for hunting American woodcock are October 26-November 8, and November 11-December 11. (2019) The daily bag limit is 3 with a possession limit of 9. 

(Governed by federal migratory laws. HIP survey required)

Overlooked Wild Bird Hunting in Kentucky

There are a number of other species available for bird hunting in Kentucky. The season dates for dove are September 1-October 26, November 28-December 8, and December 21-January 12, 2020. The bag limit is 15 dove per day with a possession limit of 45 —and Kentucky requires you to fill out an HIP survey if you are going to hunt dove. Hunt Virginia rail from September 1-November 9. The daily bag limit is 25. Snipe can be hunted from September 18-October 27, 2019 and November 28-February 2, 2020 with a daily bag limit of 8. 

Also do not forget about crow hunting! There is no daily limit and the season opens September 1 to October 27, 2019 and then again January 4th to February 29th, 2020.

Squirrel Hunting in Kentucky

Kentucky is one of small group of states that allows a Spring Eastern gray squirrel season. Running May 18th to June 21st (2019). The regular season runs from August 17th to November 8th (2019) and November 11th, 2019 to February 29, 2020. The daily limit on squirrels is 6 with a total possession of 12. The use of equipment is pretty diverse including rimfire .22 all the way to archery gear. Look at the latest abstract to get the full details.

Rabbit Hunting in Kentucky

If squirrel was not tempting enough the idea of a freezer full of rabbit always sounds good. The season is split into two zones, the eastern and the western. The eastern zone runs from November 1st to the 8th (2019) and November 11, 2019 to January 31, 2020. The western zone runs November 11, 2019 to February 10, 2020. The daily limit is 4 rabbits with a total possession of 8.

Dog Training and Hunter Education for Bird Hunting in Kentucky

Anyone born after 1976 must complete a hunter education course in order to purchase a license for bird hunting in Kentucky. Kentucky residents must complete both an online course and attend a Range Day in order to fulfill the requirements for a hunter education certificate. You can take a class online for a $13 fee. Anyone who purchases a $5 temporary hunter education exemption permit may hunt for one year without completing a hunter education course. They must be accompanied by a licensed adult.

You may train a dog for bird hunting in Kentucky on specific WMAs within designated dog training areas. You may need a Dog Training Permit Application depending on the management area. Captive-reared bobwhite quail may be taken on a dog training area year-round. The dog training area must be mowed and between 10 and 75 acres. A hunter can possess 100 bobwhite quail for personal use without a captive wildlife permit—as long as they are not sold. 

Ruffed Grouse Society

Quail Forever

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association

The hunting season dates, species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the website for the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in Kentucky.

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