Kentucky is often one of the states that comes to mind, even though it’s not one of the hottest states in the country for waterfowl hunting. That doesn’t mean duck hunting is bad in Kentucky—quite the opposite, especially in the western portion of the state.
Like most states, Kentucky has set limits on the kind of ducks you can bag, at least in terms of numbers and possession limits. They separate some of them out and offer a youth/military season as well, which kicks off on different dates.
Kentucky Duck Hunting
Regardless of the duck hunting season dates (which are subject to change every year), youth and military service members get their own dates, which usually amount to two days—one in mid-November and one in Mid-February. The hunts take place on two different days.
The youths go first, followed by a day just for active duty military service members.
Early Teal and Wood Duck
The early season only runs for about three days, and it comes around in mid-September each year. It’s three days’ worth of opportunity for teal and wood ducks only. The bag limit is six, but you can’t bag any more than two wood ducks.
Almost immediately after the early teal and wood duck season closes, you get an additional three days of teal hunting. If you’re interested in hunting geese, the Canada Goose season opens up at this point and runs for about two weeks.
Duck and Coot
Regular duck season kicks off in the latter half of November, but it’s a short run—around three, maybe four days. Coot and merganser run around the same time frame, and though it’s the same season, Kentucky keeps regular duck, coot, and merganser seasons separated.
If you like to hunt duck with falcons, a pretty rare sport in most states, the season opens up in very late November, lasting about a week.
Where to Hunt
If you packed a room full of Kentucky waterfowl hunters and asked them all to direct you to the best place to hunt duck on public land, the majority will point you toward Ballard WMA (Wildlife Management Area.
Ballard is lucky to see fewer than 100,000 ducks there during the season. However, as we mentioned above, Kentucky is a do-or-die state, and sometimes Ballard isn’t on the duck flight itinerary.
You have to enter a drawing if you want to pick up a blind at Ballard, as you will in most WMAs in Kentucky. Ballard isn’t the lone hot spot, however. There are also Barlow Bottoms, Peabody, Boatwright, Dale Hollow, and Doug Travis.
These are all WMAs, so if you don’t have a private land option or plan on hooking up with one of Kentucky’s many outfitters, these are your best opportunities.
What Ducks can you Shoot
Kentucky separates some of what you can and can’t shoot into different seasons. The regular duck season is the period when just about everything is on the table. However, there is also a teal season, teal and duck, coot, and merganser seasons as well.
- Wood ducks
- Black ducks
The bag limit is pretty standard fare, with a possession limit that’s three times the daily bag limit.
During early teal and duck season, you have a bag limit of 6 total, with no more than 2 wood ducks. Teal season alone kicks off right after, and you have a bag limit of 6. Since it’s a three-day affair, you can potentially reach your possession limit.
For regular duck season, the bag limits are as follows:
- Mallards – 4 (only 2 of which may be hens)
- Wood ducks – 3
- Redheads – 2
- Pintails – 1
- Black ducks – 2
- Canvasbacks – 2
- Scaup – 1 (November 25 through the 28 and December 7 through the 17)
- Scaup – 2 (December 18 through January 31)
- Coot – 15
- Merganser – 5 (only 2 of which may be hens)
For the youth and military hunts, bag limits are the same, except both hunts are allowed to take two scaups for the day.
Kentucky is generally a great place for duck hunting, though it will have its off-and-on dry spells from time to time. If you know where to go, you’ll have much better luck each season, rather than hunting on the same spot of private land each year.
Youths have to be under 16 when their hunting day comes along. All Kentucky waterfowl hunters have to have a hunting license, permit, and a federal duck stamp, the latter of which you can usually pick up at the local post office, assuming you have your license and permit already.
Plus, you have to apply for a hunting site at most WMAs throughout the state, so it’s best to hit them up as early in the year as possible. Then it’s just a matter of playing the waiting game until waterfowl season finally rolls around.
Visit the OutdoorWorld Reviews homepage for more expert information and advice.