Turkey Hunting Regulations
Turkey Hunting and Safety Tips
If you are new to turkey hunting or looking for a refresher, visit our Learn to Hunt Turkey page. It covers a wide range of information designed to help new turkey hunters.
Kentucky Afield Videos
View our Turkey Hunting Playlist on YouTube.
Field to Fork Program
Check out the Field to Fork Program to find informational classes about hunting wild game, including hunting wild turkey.
Unless exempt, all spring turkey hunters ages 16 and older must carry with them in the field proof of purchase of a valid Kentucky hunting license and a valid spring turkey permit. Short-term (1- or 7-day) hunting licenses are not valid for turkey hunting. The spring turkey permit is valid for the general spring season and allows a hunter to harvest up to the spring season bag limit of turkeys. Persons ages 16 and older may not hunt turkeys during the youth-only season.
Children aged 15 and younger may hunt turkeys during the youth-only hunting weekend and the general spring season. Visit our special Youth Turkey Weekend FAQs page to learn more about this hunting opportunity just for ages 15 and younger.
Youths younger than age 12 are exempt from license and turkey permit requirements. Unless exempt, all spring turkey hunters aged 12-15 must carry with them in the field proof of purchase of a valid Kentucky hunting license and a valid Spring Turkey Permit. Youths aged 12-15 are eligible to purchase a Youth Turkey Permit, valid for harvesting one turkey during a license year. Youth hunters must abide by season bag limits and harvest restrictions. The resident-only Youth Sportsman’s License includes two (2) Youth Turkey Permits.
Youth hunting licenses and permits are valid for the entire year if purchased before the child’s 16th birthday. Youths who hunt turkeys with a firearm must be accompanied by an adult who shall remain in a position to take immediate control of the firearm at all times.
In some cases, a resident hunter may not be required to buy a hunting license, permits to hunt deer, bear or turkey, or a Migratory Game Bird-Waterfowl Permit.
Here are those situations:
- Resident and non-resident children younger than the age of 12 are not required to purchase licenses and permits, except the elk hunt drawing application.
- Kentucky resident owners of farmlands, their spouses and dependent children hunting upon their own farmlands during an open season.
- Tenants, their spouses and dependent children hunting on farmlands where they reside and work.
- Kentucky residents on military leave of more than three days in this state who carry identification and papers verifying their leave status.
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces based in Kentucky engaged in sport hunting or fishing on the following Kentucky National Guard properties: Hidden Valley Training Area in Powell County and the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Muhlenberg County.
Report Game Law Violations
Anyone may report wildlife law violators anonymously by calling 1-800-25-ALERT (1-800-252-5378).
Rules and Regulations
Feeding of Wildlife
From March 1 through July 31, it is illegal to feed wildlife with grain, seed or manufactured animal feed outside the curtilage of the home (the area immediately surrounding a home or group of homes). This regulation does not apply to normal agricultural practices or food plots, or municipal areas not open to legal hunting or trapping.
No Pre-Season Calling
A person shall not mimic the sound of a turkey in an area open to turkey hunting and where turkeys are reasonably expected to be present from March 1 until the opening of the youth-only turkey season, and from the close of the youth-only turkey season until the opening of the state-wide turkey season. However, locating turkeys with an owl, crow, coyote, or woodpecker call is permitted when scouting.
Spring Season Bag Limits
A legal turkey is defined as a wild turkey that is male or has a visible beard. During the spring season, hunters may only harvest one bearded turkey per WMA. No more than one (1) bird may be taken per day. No more than two (2) birds may be taken per spring season. Any combination of male turkeys, or turkeys with visible beards, may be included in this two-bird season limit. Turkeys taken by youths during the youth-only season count toward their spring turkey bag limit.
Report Turkey Carcass Submission Protocol for Wart-like Growths
If a hunter harvests a turkey with wart-like growths on its head or legs, KDFWR is asking the hunter to submit the carcass for disease testing. The Wildlife Health Program and Turkey Program are conducting this scientific collection effort to understand Kentucky's turkey population better.
All harvested turkeys must be logged and telechecked. See the Recording, Checking, Tagging and Transporting section of our site.
Anyone may call turkeys, or assist in the hunt. Callers and assistants are not required to possess a hunting license or turkey permit, and may carry equipment while in the field.
Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange clothing during the spring turkey seasons. However, wearing an article of hunter orange clothing while carrying a harvested turkey is a simple and effective way to help prevent hunting accidents that can occur when a hunter is mistaken for game.
Possession of Live Wild Turkeys and Eggs/Release of Wild Turkeys
Due o the potential for spread of disease and genetic pollution, it is illegal to possess live wild turkeys. For the same reasons, domestic or pen-raised turkeys should not be released into the wild. It is also illegal to possess or attempt to hatch wild turkey eggs. It is further recommended that turkeys not be artificially fed during any time of the year. Providing standing corn, wheat or clover patches is a much better alternative.LEGAL SPRING TURKEY
Hunters may only use the following to take turkeys during the spring seasons:
- Breech-loading or muzzle-loading shotguns no larger than 10 gauge and no smaller than .410.
- Breech-loading shotguns must be plugged to hold a maximum of three shells (two in magazine and one in chamber).
- Lead or non-toxic shot no larger than No. 4.
- Longbows, recurve bows and compound bows of any draw weight (no minimum).
- Crossbows of any draw weight (no minimum) with a working safety device.
- Non-barbed broadheads with a minimum cutting diameter of 7/8-inch, whether expandable or non-expandable.
A person hunting wild turkeys shall not:
- Hunt over bait. An area is considered baited until 30 days after the bait has been removed. However, a person may hunt wild turkeys on an area where grain, feed or other substance exists as the result of a bona fide agricultural practice or manipulating a crop for a wildlife management purpose.
- Use a dog during the spring season.
- Hunt from a boat, or from any type of vehicle unless prescribed by regulation (see “Hunting Method Exemptions” in the “General Information” section of this guide).
- Use or possess an electronic or digital calling device.
- Harvest a roosting turkey.
- Use live decoys.
Hunting Method Exemptions
The department grants exemptions to hunters with certain physical disabilities to hunt with a crossbow during archery-only seasons, or to use a stationary vehicle as a hunting platform. However, persons with qualifying physical disabilities must first have an exemption form completed and signed by a licensed physician certifying why the exemption is necessary.
Forms are available online or by calling the department. Go to the Hunting Method Exemptions page for more information. A completed exemption form serves as the hunter’s exemption permit. It should not be returned to the department. Persons who obtain an exemption are still required to have the appropriate hunting license and permits, and must carry the signed exemption form with their hunting license and permits while in the field.
Concealed Carry Deadly Weapons Permits
Anyone who may legally possess firearms may carry firearms while hunting, but any firearms carried concealed must be done so pursuant to KRS 527.020.
A person convicted of a felony is prohibited from possessing or hunting with a firearm in Kentucky. The prohibition on handguns applies to those convicted after Jan. 1, 1975. The prohibition on other firearms applies to those convicted after July 15, 1994. See KRS 527.040 for more details, or contact your County Attorney.
Recording, Checking, and Tagging
All successful turkey hunters must follow the steps for recording, checking and tagging their harvest. See the Recording, Checking, Tagging and Transporting page for all info. View the County Code Numbers for Telecheck here.
A person shall not enter upon the lands of another to shoot, hunt, trap, fish or for other wildlife-related recreational purposes without the verbal or written permission of the landowner, tenant, or person who has authority to grant permission. Those who fail to obtain permission are subject to arrest and prosecution. Railroad tracks and rights of way are privately-owned property and permission to hunt, trap or fish must be obtained prior to entry. Landowners are under no obligation to allow hunters to retrieve game or hunting dogs from their property.