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Small Game and Bird Hunting in Kentucky

Small Game and Bird Hunting in Kentucky

  • Last updated May 16, 2021 at 5 PM EDT
A hound barks and a squirrel while small game hunting in Kentucky.

Exploring small game hunting dates and opportunities in the Bluegrass State

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 landowners.

Residents can either pay $27 for an annual hunting license, or $7 for a 1-day license. Nonresidents pay $150 or $25 respectively. A 7-day nonresident license costs $65. Residents cannot purchase this option.  

Bobwhite Quail 

Though populations have been in decline since the 1960s, numerous efforts are in place to grow bobwhite 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 Nov. 1-13, 2020, and Nov. 16 to Jan. 31, 2021. The western zone dates are Nov. 16 to Feb. 10, 2021. The daily bag limit for bobwhite quail is eight and the possession limit is 16.  

Ruffed Grouse

As in many states, there are currently strategies in place to enhance 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 in 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 first part of the season within the limited eastern zone runs from Nov. 1-13, 2020, and the second goes from Nov. 16 to Feb. 28, 2021. There is a daily bag limit of four and possession limit of eight. 

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 woodcock are Oct. 24 to Nov. 13 and Nov. 16 to Dec. 9, 2020. The daily bag limit is three with a possession limit of nine.

Because woodcock are migratory birds, be sure to fill out a HIP Survey.

Overlooked Wild Bird Hunting in Kentucky

There are a number of other species available for bird hunting in Kentucky.

Dove season is split into three parts, running from Sept. 1 to Oct. 26, 2020; Nov. 26 – Dec. 6; and Dec. 19 to Jan. 10, 2021. The bag limit is 15 per day with a possession limit of 45. Like woodcock, Kentucky requires you to fill out an HIP survey.

Hunt Virginia and Sora rail from Sept. 1 – Nov. 9, 2020, and take a daily bag limit of 25, singly or combined. Possession limit for rails is 75.

Snipe can be hunted from Sept. 16 to Oct. 25, 2020, and Nov. 26 to Jan. 30, 2021. with a daily bag limit of 8 and possession limit of 24.

Also do not forget about crow hunting! There is no daily or possession limit and the season runs Sept. 1 to Nov. 7, 2020, and then again from Jan. 4 to Feb. 28, 2021.

Squirrel Hunting in Kentucky

Kentucky is one of small group of states that allows a spring Eastern gray squirrel season. Running May 15 to June 18, 2021. The fall season is split into two parts, the first running from Aug. 15 to Nov. 13, and the second from Nov. 16 to Feb. 28, 2021. The daily limit on squirrels is six with a total possession of 12. The use of equipment is pretty diverse including .22 rimfire 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 holds a two-part season, the first running from Nov. 1-13, 2020, and the second from Nov. 16 to Jan. 31, 2021. The western zone has one season: Nov. 16 to Feb. 10, 2021. The daily limit is four rabbits with a total possession of eight.

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. 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, but you need to complete a Dog Training Permit Application for captive-reared bobwhite quail to 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 (NAVHDA)

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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