Almost every state in the country has their own unique laws regarding hunting certain beasts. Some can only be hunted during certain months while others are game year-round, with certain restrictions in place, of course. However, most states have come to a consensus that coyotes – the four-legged beasts that prowl our farmlands and enter residential neighborhoods – are varmints and cause substantial amounts of damage. This is what gives them their unprotected status and makes them hunted all year long in Kentucky.
Coyotes are curious creatures, and it is that curiosity which causes them to take few precautions when venturing into populated counties and residencies. Farmers have also expressed their distaste of the omnivores whose diet consists of 90% meat and 10% fruits and vegetables. They are especially a threat towards livestock like chickens, turkeys, and cattle. They also like to stir trouble with pet dogs and are even known to attack humans. Basically, coyotes are too much trouble and cause too much damage to be ignored. Their accelerating birthrate makes it apparent that there will be no solution for handling the overgrown coyote population.
For the people of Kentucky, the best thing to do against coyotes is to shoot and kill. Although slaying a few coyotes won’t make a single dent in their overall population, it will at least deter some of their friends from entering our property, even if it’s just temporary. Kentucky residents and nonresidents can legally pick up arms and shoot coyotes, but there are certain state laws that we must abide by.
License and Permit
There are several laws about required licenses and permits and several more exceptions to those laws. Essentially, hunting coyotes on your own piece of land is legal, provided that the bullets used to kill the coyote do not exit the boundaries of your home. In addition, the immediate family members of a landowner (spouse and dependent children) are exempt from requiring a license to shoot and kill on the landowner’s property.
If you wish to hunt coyote on public land or on another person’s private property (with their consent), then you’ll need a license and/or permit to do so.
Coyotes are considered a furbearing animal in Kentucky. Among the different furbearing beasts recognized by the state, coyotes are the only species where hunting season is open for the whole year. Trapping coyotes, however, is a different story, and it can only be done between November 13th and February 28th.
Coyotes may be hunted all year long at any time of the day. However, certain lands prohibit hunting coyotes during the nighttime. These areas are managed by Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Land between the Lake National Recreation Area, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, and Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge which includes Beaver Creek, Mill Creek, Cane Creek, Pioneer Weapons and Redbird Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
Coyotes and certain other furbearing species do not have a bag limit. This means that hunters and trappers can expend an infinite amount of legal ammo or traps on an infinite amount of coyotes. The lack of a bag limit restriction is in place to encourage hunters and trappers to stalk, capture, and kill as many of coyotes as possible.
Within Kentucky boundaries, the choice of hunting coyotes are limited to centerfire or rimfire guns, muzzleloaders, handguns, breach-loading shotguns with less than or equal to 10 gauges. Breech-loading shotguns must contain a maximum of three shells: one in the chamber and two in the magazine. When it comes to shot size, there is no specific limitation.
Shotguns can only be fired from the shoulder, and single-projectile shot shells can only be used during the daytime. The only legal firearm that hunters can use for nighttime hunting of coyotes is shotguns. However, the shotgun shells used on the coyotes must not contain only a single projectile. Air guns that use bullets of at least .22 calibers can also be used, as well as bows and crossbows.
The use of hand calls, mouth calls, electronic calls which simulate the sound of vulnerable or wounded prey, and coyote calls are legal.
Baiting a coyote with a statue or plush doll is allowed in Kentucky. Even using an animal’s carcass to bait coyotes in the state is perfectly legal. However, hunters are prohibited from placing or scattering bait or attracting wildlife on all WMAs, Daniel Boone National Forest, Land between the Lakes, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Jefferson National Park, and other state parks open for hunting coyote.
Lights or other means to make coyotes visible at night cannot be connected to or cast from a mechanized vehicle. However, they can be hunted using lights or night vision equipment after daylight hours from Feb. 1 – May 31 only.
Lights from cars or other mechanized vehicles used with the intent to see coyotes at night are strictly prohibited, but they can be used to navigate your way through the dark. An exception is made for after daylight hours starting from February 1st to May 31st where the use of lights and other night vision equipment can be used to hunt coyotes and other furbearers.
In Kentucky, trading the pelts of furbearing animals by trappers or hunters, even after the end of the furbearer hunting season, is allowed any time of the year. Raw furs can legally traded to professional taxidermists, licensed pelt buyers, or fur processors.
Permission from Landowners
Any person is prohibited from entering upon the lands owned by another person with the intent to shoot or capture coyotes and other game animals without a written or orally-expressed permission of that landowner or person who has the authority to grant and remove permission. Hunters who fail to abide by this law can be arrested and prosecuted.
Additionally, railroad tracks and right of way are considered private property, so hunters must get expressed consent from managers before entering that property. Landowners have no obligation to allow hunters entrance onto their land who want to either retrieve their game animal or their hunting dogs.