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Answers to your questions about turkey hunting as the spring season approaches

April 1, 2011

Kentucky Afield Outdoors:

Answers to your questions about turkey hunting as the spring season approaches

March 31, 2011 Contact: Art Lander, Jr. 1-800-858-1549, ext. 4414

FRANKFORT, Ky. – With Kentucky’s spring youth-only wild turkey season coming this weekend, April 2-3, and the general season opening April 16, here’s what you need to know before going afield:

Author Lee McClellan operates a box call while turkey hunting at a farm in Shelby County. Turkey hunting calls operated by hand or mouth are legal for use in Kentucky. Electronic or digital calls, however, are against state regulations. Kentucky's general spring turkey season opens statewide April 16 and continues through May 8. Photo: Dave Baker, KDFWR

Q: What are the season dates and bag limits?

A: Kentucky’s spring youth-only turkey season is April 2-3. The 23-day general spring turkey season opens Saturday, April 16 and continues through Sunday, May 8. The spring bag limit for all hunters is two turkeys with visible beards (male or female), but hunters may take no more than one bird a day.

Q: What license and permits are needed to hunt turkeys?

A: All hunters, unless license exempt, are required to purchase and carry an annual hunting license and spring turkey hunting permit. A resident sportsman’s license includes both of these. Non-residents who own land in Kentucky must purchase a non-resident license and permit. A short term, one- or five-day license is not valid for turkey hunting. Resident and non-resident youth hunters 12 to 15 years old can purchase youth hunting licenses and youth turkey permits at reduced prices. Resident and non-resident hunters under 12 years old are not required to purchase hunting licenses or turkey permits.

Q: Who qualifies as a license exempt hunter?

A: License exempt hunters include: Kentucky resident owners of farmlands, their spouses and dependent children, hunting upon their own farmlands; tenants, their spouses and dependent children hunting on farmlands where they reside and work; and Kentucky residents on military furlough of more than three days in this state who carry identification and papers that verify their furlough status.

Q: When it gets light enough to see, can a hunter shoot a roosting turkey out of a tree?

A: No. Hunters cannot shoot a roosting turkey out of a tree at any time. Shooting hours for the spring turkey season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Hunters may be in the field before and after shooting hours.

Q: Is it legal to hunt turkeys with a .22-caliber rifle?

A: No. Hunters may only use the following to take turkeys during the spring season: A breech-loading or muzzle-loading shotgun no larger than 10-gauge and no smaller than 20-gauge (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 number 4; longbows, recurve and compound bows of any draw weight (no minimum); crossbows of any draw weight (no minimum) with a working safety; and broadheads at least 7/8-inch wide. Arrow broadheads cannot be barbed, chemically-treated, or have attachments that contain chemicals.

Frankfort resident Lee McClellan uses a hand-operated slate call during an early morning turkey hunt in Shelby County. While hand-operated or mouth calls are legal for use in Kentucky, hunters may not use electronic or digital calls. Kentucky's general spring turkey season is from April 16 to May 8. Photo: Dave Baker

Q: What types of turkey calls may be used during the spring season?

A: Hand or mouth-operated turkey calls, including box calls, friction calls, and mouth diaphragms, are legal. Electronic or digital calling devices are prohibited.

Q: What’s required after a hunter harvests a turkey?

A: All hunters, including landowners and other license exempt hunters, must report their turkey harvest by calling 1-800-245-4263. Hunters must complete a hunter harvest log by filling in the blanks on the back of their license, or creating a log on any piece of paper. Hunters must record the date of harvest, the county in which the turkey was harvested, the sex of the bird and Telecheck confirmation number. Additionally, a carcass tag must be filled out with the hunter’s name, telephone number and Telecheck confirmation number before the carcass leaves the hunter’s possession.

Q: Can a person gather wild turkey eggs?

A: No. It is illegal for anyone to collect, possess, buy, sell or attempt to hatch wild turkey eggs.

Q: Can a person sell the beard or spurs from a harvested turkey?

A: Only licensed taxidermists may sell inedible parts of wildlife.

For additional information, and a summary of the regulations for Kentucky’s spring turkey season, visit the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website at fw.ky.gov or pick up a copy of the 2011 Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide available wherever hunting licenses are sold.

Author Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.


The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. For more information on the department, visit our website at fw.ky.gov.

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