Open carry rifle on WMA out of legal hunting season, ok?

tazunemono

Fawn
Jan 21, 2023
8
Louisville, KY
So, my 2023 hunting license doesn't start until March 1. I didn't hunt in 2022, so don't have a current 2022 license active. However, tomorrow I want to go to a gun range to sight in my new rifle AND I also want to explore a nearby WMA since it's close.

Really don't want to keep my rifle (even locked up) in the car while I'm exploring the WMA, so can I carry my rifle in the WMA woods without "hunting"? Nothing is in season now (groundhogs, coyote, I guess) but I don't want to get in trouble because my license is not active yet. I don't even want to target shoot on the WMA, I'm doing that at the range beforehand. As I said, I'm just not comfortable leaving my $1000 rifle in the car even locked up.

Any thoughts on this? I can open carry this rifle in public, or wear my sidearm, but if I go to a WMA with a rifle, is that "intent to hunt" something (and I could get in trouble with the law)?

Hope I'm just overthinking this, and it's no big deal. Told a friend what I was doing and he said Johnny Law would tear me a new one.
 

tazunemono

Fawn
Jan 21, 2023
8
Louisville, KY
I agree with your buddy.
Well, I guess I'll have to pick one activity and save the other for another day. Bummer.

I suppose if I had my license current I could claim I was hunting groundhog or coyote and get away with it. I'm not going to pay for a 1-day license just for that.
 

Luther's Feist

10 pointer
Oct 25, 2014
1,752
Coeburn, Va
My opinion only is that they would consider you hunting even without ammo. To me kinda like being on a boat with a rod and reel with no bait and trying to say I want gonna fish. If any type season is in and you have a valid hunting license just carry it with you and say you were hunting whatever is in season. Most likely it will also depend on the particular warden. I'd call and ask like advises above but got a feeling they will say not to carry it without a license for whatever is in season
 

tazunemono

Fawn
Jan 21, 2023
8
Louisville, KY
My opinion only is that they would consider you hunting even without ammo. To me kinda like being on a boat with a rod and reel with no bait and trying to say I want gonna fish. If any type season is in and you have a valid hunting license just carry it with you and say you were hunting whatever is in season. Most likely it will also depend on the particular warden. I'd call and ask like advises above but got a feeling they will say not to carry it without a license for whatever is in season
Makes sense, thanks for the reply. Better safe than sorry. Sidearm should be ok though, right? I would carry that even if I was just out hiking. No restrictions on open carry of a personal defense weapon without a hunting license, right? I mean, just hiking around, glassing, etc. We're talking small frame 9mm here, not a .44 mag with a scope lol
 

Luther's Feist

10 pointer
Oct 25, 2014
1,752
Coeburn, Va
Makes sense, thanks for the reply. Better safe than sorry. Sidearm should be ok though, right? I would carry that even if I was just out hiking. No restrictions on open carry of a personal defense weapon without a hunting license, right? I mean, just hiking around, glassing, etc. We're talking small frame 9mm here, not a .44 mag with a scope lol
I carry mine if I'm hunting or not and have spoke to wardens before none have ever questioned or mentioned it. I personally don't see how that would be a problem
 

Little FR

12 pointer
Nov 10, 2021
4,693
West Kentucky
No restrictions on concealed carry. Open carry is in the eye of the beholder. They used to have a weird rule about open carrying while bow hunting. I think they did away with it.

There are several seasons in right now, squirrel, coon, possum, fox, bobcat, rabbit, groundhog, duck, goose, skunk, more if you count other fur bearers. That said, I would carry my rifle, ammo and go on, I haven’t seen a GW in a while. Any GW with sense would understand.
 

slobear

12 pointer
Nov 20, 2014
6,250
Trump town, USA
No restrictions on concealed carry. Open carry is in the eye of the beholder. They used to have a weird rule about open carrying while bow hunting. I think they did away with it.

There are several seasons in right now, squirrel, coon, possum, fox, bobcat, rabbit, groundhog, duck, goose, skunk, more if you count other fur bearers. That said, I would carry my rifle, ammo and go on, I haven’t seen a GW in a while. Any GW with sense would understand.
I always open carry while hunting. I don’t remember open carry being regulated while hunting. I’m not sure that they even could if they wanted to.
 


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