Migratory Birds and Waterfowl Hunting Regulations
Steps to take if you did not receive your Sandhill Crane Permit:
Metal tags required for sandhill crane hunters were mailed Nov. 22 to those who successfully completed the exam by that date. Some hunters have informed the department that they have not received their tags.
If you are eligible for a tag and have not received it, take the following steps:
- Email the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at [email protected].
- Provide your name, email information and valid mailing address. Note: If your address was incorrect previously, you would not have received your permit.
- You will receive a confirmation email that your replacement tags have been sent.
- Replacement tags will be sent within 2-3 business days.
- Hunters who took the qualifying exam after Nov. 22 should wait up to 10 business days after passing the exam before requesting any replacement tags, if necessary.
Thank you and good luck hunting!
NEW FOR THE 2023-24 HUNTING SEASON!
Boatwright WMA regular waterfowl season hunts (including Thanksgiving week) will now require hunters to be drawn via the Boatwright Online Quota Hunt App or be assigned via in-person standby drawings. Also, hunters are no longer required to hunt from a blind. Hunters may hunt anywhere within the hunt unit drawn for that day. Boat hunters who are drawn can also hunt from their boats at any time, and not just in flood conditions. See the Waterfowl Quota Hunt page and the Boatwright WMA Waterfowl Hunting Fact Sheet and Rules for more details.
DAILY BAG AND POSSESSION LIMITS
Daily Bag Limit: The total limit of a specific migratory game bird species that may be taken during legal shooting hours for one calendar day, regardless of state boundaries.
Posession limit: The total limit of a specific migratory game bird species that may be in your possession at anytime, whether on your person or stored in another location (including your home or taxidermist).
Migratory birds shot in another state, count toward a hunter's daily and possession limits.
YOUTH/ MILITARY WATERFOWL DAYS
Seasons are statewide. Youths must be under the age of 16 on the day of the hunt (Nov. 19, 2022 and Feb. 11, 2023). Military seasons are for military on active duty and honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces only (Nov. 20, 2022 and Feb. 12, 2023). Per federal rule, National Guard members and reservists are only eligible if they are on active duty. Participants must have a proper license and permit, including federal duck stamp.
|SHOOTING HOURS (WATERFOWL)|
|Regular||One-half hour before sunrise to sunset|
|Snow Goose Conservation Order||One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset|
|Wildlife Management Areas||Regular unless noted otherwise in the Public Hunting section|
|Sandhill Crane||Sunrise to sunset|
SANDHILL CRANE SEASON
Sandhill crane season opens Dec. 7, 2022 and closes Jan. 31, 2023. The daily bag limit is two birds. Hunters must apply for a sandhill crane permit online from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30, 2022 and pay a $3 application fee.
Applicants must have a valid Kentucky hunting license or be license exempt when they apply. Results are posted to individual applicants online following the drawing. Drawn hunters must pass an online identification exam before receiving a sandhill crane hunting permit.
Hunters must telecheck harvested birds on the day taken.
Hunters participating in the sandhill crane hunting season must complete a post-season survey no later than 14 days after the close of the season or lose eligibility to apply the following year.
SNOW GOOSE CONSERVATION ORDER
The Snow Goose Conservation Order allows hunters to harvest Snow and Ross’s geese without daily bag and possession limits, and beyond the regular snow goose season. All other waterfowl species are closed to hunting during this special season. Hunters must obtain a free Snow Goose Conservation Order Permit prior to hunting. Hunters may also use electronic calls, use shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, and hunt one-half hour past sunset. All hunters who obtain the free Snow Goose Conservation Order Permit must submit a Snow Goose Conservation Order Permit Survey to the department by April 10, or forfeit the ability to participate the following year. Not all public lands are open for this opportunity. See the Waterfowl Public Lands Hunting page for specific area regulations.
SHOT SIZE, TYPE, SHOTSHELL LENGTH RESTRICTIONS
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service- approved nontoxic shot no larger than size “T” is required for all waterfowl and sandhill crane hunting. Shot larger than size “T”, or shotshells longer than 3.5 inches, MAY NOT BE POSSESSED OR USED while hunting waterfowl or sandhill cranes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may approve other types of nontoxic shot which, if approved, will be permitted for waterfowl and sandhill crane hunting. Possession or use of any lead shot or any shot not approved by USFWS while hunting or attempting to take waterfowl or sandhill cranes is prohibited statewide. Check the USFWS's Approved Shot Types for more information.
REPORTING BIRD BANDS
To report bird bands, visit www.reportband.gov. Many existing bands list a toll-free number that can no longer be used for reporting. Consequently, hunters may now only report bands online.
Banding plays a critical role in the management of migratory bird species. The data you provide by reporting bands gives wildlife biologists information on harvest rates and movements of migratory game birds. Please report the bands you recover.
BALLARD ZONE BOUNDARY
Starting at the northwest city limits of Wickliffe in Ballard County to the middle of the Mississippi River, then north along the Mississippi to the low water mark of the Ohio River along the Illinois shore to the Ballard-McCracken County line; then along the county line south to KY 358, then south along KY 358 to its junction with U.S. 60 at LaCenter; then following U.S. 60 southwest to the northeast city limits of Wickliffe.
All constructed or used blinds (including boats) must be at least 100 yards apart and at least 50 yards from any property line. A waterfowl hunter shall not possess more than one shotgun while in the blind.
LICENSES AND PERMITS
WATERFOWL (DUCKS, GEESE, COOTS AND MERGANSERS)
|Ages 12-15||Youth Hunting License *|
|Ages 16-64||Annual** or 1-Day Hunting License + Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit ** + Federal Duck Stamp|
|Ages 65 and older OR Disabled||Senior/Disabled License + Federal Duck Stamp|
|NONRESIDENTS ( MUST BUY NONRESIDENT LICENSES/PERMITS)|
WATERFOWL (DUCKS, GEESE, COOTS AND MERGANSERS)
|Ages 12-15||Youth Hunting License|
|Ages 16-64||Annual, 1-Day or 7-Day Hunting License + Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit + Federal Duck Stamp|
|Ages 65 and over OR Disabled||Annual, 1-Day or 7-Day Hunting License + Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit + Federal Duck Stamp|
* Included in Youth Sportsman's License
** Included in Resident Sportsman's License
NOTE: HIP survey required for all migratory bird hunters 16 and over
LICENSE AND PERMIT FEES
View license and permit fees
Unless license-exempt under KRS 150.170, all hunters must possess a valid Kentucky hunting license when waterfowl hunting. Persons using a license authorization number in lieu of a paper license must have the authorization number and a picture ID with them while hunting. All Kentucky residents 65 years of age and older and Kentucky residents who are certified totally and permanently disabled by the Federal Social Security Administration, by a state Workers Compensation Board, by the Kentucky Teacher’s Retirement System, by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, by the United States Railroad Retirement Board, or Kentucky resident veterans who have a permanent 50 percent disability as the result of military-related injuries are required to purchase the Senior/Disabled combination hunting and fishing license ($12) and carry it while hunting or fishing. This license includes all the following state permits: deer, turkey, migratory bird, waterfowl and trout.) and carry it while hunting or fishing. This license includes all the following state permits: deer, turkey, migratory bird, waterfowl and trout
KENTUCKY MIGRATORY BIRD/WATERFOWL PERMIT
Any person required to possess a hunting license, except children under the age of 16, taking or attempting to take waterfowl must possess a Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit. (This permit is included with the Senior/Disabled and Sportsman’s License). The waterfowl permit covers all species of migratory birds. Those who buy a Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit, senior/disabled license, or Sportsman's license MUST COMPLETE a Harvest Information Program Survey (HIP) by going online here before they are legal waterfowl hunters. This takes you to a page that asks for some basic information to confirm your identity. Then, click on the “HIP Migratory Bird Survey” on the right of the page. After completing the HIP survey, you receive a confirmation number that must be written on your hunting license or Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit. Hunters may call 1-800-858-1549 for questions.
Harvest Information Program (HIP) Requirement
Before hunting doves, ducks or any other migratory birds, hunters must now go online to My Profile and fill out the Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey to be legal to hunt.
FEDERAL DUCK STAMP
In addition to the Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit requirement listed above, all persons age 16 or older must carry a valid federal migratory bird hunting stamp (commonly called duck stamp) to hunt waterfowl. Hunters younger than 16 must possess a youth hunting license but the Federal Duck Stamp and Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit are not required. The federal stamp must be validated by the hunter’s signature written across the face of the stamp in ink.
Electronic duck stamps may now be purchased from many state license vendors. When you buy an E-Stamp, you will receive an E-Stamp certificate. This certificate is unique to the purchaser and is valid as a Federal Duck Stamp across the nation for up to 45 days from the date of purchase. Within that time, a physical Duck Stamp will be mailed to you. Your E-stamp certificate may be printed out or downloaded onto your mobile device and must be carried on your person while hunting waterfowl.
As soon as you receive your physical stamp, you must sign it and use it for hunting. Your E-Stamp certification is no longer valid once you receive your physical stamp. Regardless of whether you received your physical stamp, the E-Stamp certificate is no longer valid after 45 days from the date of purchase. You must carry your current, signed Federal Duck Stamp while hunting.
All hunters born on or after January 1, 1975, must carry a valid hunter education course completion card while hunting, in addition to the appropriate Kentucky hunting license, federal duck stamp and Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit. Hunters not required to have a hunting license are not required to possess the hunter education card. Hunters under the age of 12 may hunt without a course completion card, but must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who remains in a position to take immediate control of the child’s firearm.
A one-time temporary hunter education exemption permit is available online. This free (for a limited time) permit allows hunting without a hunter education card for one year from the date of purchase. After it expires, the hunter is no longer exempt and must complete a hunter education course.
In addition to the state regulations, the following federal laws apply to the taking, possession, shipping, transporting and storing of migratory game birds.
Note: The material below is only a summary. Each hunter should also consult the actual federal regulations, which may be found in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20 - Migratory Bird Hunting.
More restrictive regulations may apply to National Wildlife Refuges open to public hunting. For more information on Federal Regulations, consult Assistant Regional Director - LE, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 4839, Atlanta, Georgia, 30302-4839; or call (404) 331-5872.
No person shall take migratory game birds:
- With a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than a 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, fishhook, poison, drug, explosive or stupefying substance;
- With a shotgun capable of holding more than three shotshells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler which is incapable of removal without disassembling the gun;
- From a sink box (a low floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water);
- From or with the aid or use of a car or other motor-driven land conveyance, or any aircraft, except that paraplegics and single or double amputees of the legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle or stationary motor-driven land conveyance. “Paraplegic” means an individual afflicted with paralysis of the lower half of the body with involvement of both legs, usually due to disease of or injury to the spinal cord;
- From or by means of any motor boat or sail boat unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or the sail furled, and its progress therefrom has ceased;
- By the use or aid of live decoys. All live, tame or captive ducks and geese shall be removed for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to hunting, and confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such tame birds from the sight of migratory waterfowl;
- Using records or tapes of migratory bird calls, or sounds, or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls (except electronic calls may be used during the Snow Goose Conservation Order);
- By driving, rallying or stirring birds with any motor-driven land, water or air conveyance or any sail boat to put them in the range of the hunters; or
- By the aid of baiting (placing feed such as corn, wheat, salt or other feed to constitute a lure or enticement), or on or over any baited area. Hunters should be aware that a baited area is considered to be baited for 10 days after the removal of the bait.
- Areas manipulated for dove hunting are not legal for waterfowl hunting.
- Over areas where farmers feed livestock or areas where grain is stored, such as grain bins and elevators.
No person shall take migratory game birds during the closed season.
No person shall take migratory game birds except during the hours open to shooting as prescribed.
DAILY BAG LIMIT
No person shall take in any one day more than one daily bag limit.
FIELD POSSESSION LIMIT
No person shall possess more than one daily bag limit while in the field or while returning from the field to one’s car, hunting camp, home, etc.
All migratory game birds shall be retrieved, if possible, and retained in the custody of the hunter in the field.
No person shall put or leave any migratory game birds at any place or in the custody of another person unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the following information: a) the hunter’s signature; b) the hunter’s address; c) the total number of birds involved, by species; d) the dates such birds were killed.Tagging is required if the birds are being transported by another person for the hunter or if the birds have been left for cleaning, storage (including temporary storage), shipment or taxidermy services.
POSSESSION OF LIVE BIRDS
Wounded birds reduced to possession shall be immediately killed and included in the daily bag limit.
No person shall completely field dress any migratory game bird (except doves and pigeons) and then transport the birds from the field. The head or one fully feathered wing must remain attached to all such birds while being transported from the field to one’s home or to a migratory bird preservation facility.
No person shall ship migratory game birds unless the package is marked on the outside with: a) the name and the address of the person sending the birds; b) the name and the address of the person to whom the birds are being sent; and the number of birds, by species, contained in the package.
For information regarding the importation of migratory birds killed in another country, hunters should consult 50 CFR 20.61 through 20.66. One fully feathered wing must remain attached to all migratory game birds being transported between the port of entry and one’s home or to a migratory bird preservation facility. No person shall import migratory game birds killed in any foreign country, except Canada, unless such birds are dressed (except as required in 20.63), drawn, and the head and feet are removed. No person shall import migratory game birds belonging to another person.
Violating state migratory game bird regulations is also a violation of federal regulations.