FRANKFORT — Youth-only waterfowl hunting opportunities will undergo significant changes beginning this year. Veterans and active-duty military personnel also will be provided with special waterfowling days starting this fall.
Changes now in effect in state regulations include:
- The youth-only waterfowl hunting days are now statewide. Zones have been eliminated.
- Youth waterfowl days are now the Saturday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 19, 2022) and the second Saturday in February (Feb. 11, 2023).
- Veterans and active-duty military members now have special hunt dates on the Sunday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 20, 2022) and the second Sunday in February (Feb. 12, 2023).
“These changes were made in an effort to provide a better experience for our youth hunters and to recognize the important service provided by our veterans and active members of the military,” said John Brunjes, migratory bird program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Previously, the department set aside a weekend in November for youth hunters in Kentucky’s Eastern Duck Zone, and a weekend in February exclusively for youth hunters in the state’s Western Duck Zone.
“Historically, few ducks have migrated into central and eastern Kentucky by early November, so youth hunter participation rates have been low based on limited duck numbers,” Brunjes explained. “February also often presents harsh winter conditions and closures of public hunting areas in western Kentucky due to flooding.”
He continued: “By allowing youth to hunt anywhere in the state during these special waterfowl days, they aren’t putting all their eggs into one basket. They can pick which date works best for them, or hunt both days. They can hunt wherever waterfowl are holding the best, or when the weather is milder. It gives hunters more flexibility.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows states to have two days of hunting for youth hunters and two days of hunting for veterans during special waterfowl seasons. These special waterfowl days are in addition to the 60 days of duck hunting allowed in the Mississippi Flyway, the geographic region whose regulatory framework for waterfowl is set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with inter-agency input that includes Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Special hunt days for veterans/active-duty military were recently established by the U.S. Congress. Kentucky will take full advantage of these days going forward to honor the country’s service members. Special waterfowl seasons will now be available for veterans in most states of the Mississippi Flyway. Kentucky’s special waterfowl days will be similar to the special seasons in Arkansas.
Participants in the military-only waterfowl days must have a valid Kentucky hunting license and migratory bird/waterfowl permit, unless license exempt, plus the federal duck stamp.
Hunters eligible to participate in the veterans/active-duty military special waterfowl hunt days include those on active duty with all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible as well. Per federal rule, National Guard members and reservists are only eligible if they are on active duty.
Veterans/active-duty military must carry proof of that status in the field; please consult the 2022-23 Kentucky Hunting Guide for Waterfowl or go online to fw.ky.gov and search under the keywords, “Waterfowl Hunting Regulations” for acceptable forms of identification.
Youth hunters must be under the age of 16 on the day of the hunt.