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Hunting in the State of Tennessee

Tennessee has a diverse array of species available for the game and can be an exciting place to hunt, especially if the proper preparations are taken. Below we have compiled a document that will give the reader all of the basic information he or she needs to become a successful hunter in the State of Tennessee, including licensing stipulations, species available, their seasons and the contact information for select hunting outfitters and lodges.

Tennessee Hunting License

To legally hunt in the State of Tennessee, a license is required with only a few exceptions. For instance, a person born before 1 March 1926 or military personnel on leave or a person hunting on their own farmland is exempt.  Besides that, it is mandatory for practically everyone else to get a general license in addition to individual permits that may be required to hunt particular species.

Hunting licenses are available to both residents and nonresidents of Tennessee, and like most States, the prices for nonresidents is significantly higher than it is for residents. For instance, for a resident, a basic license to hunt all game (with additional permits being needed for some species) costs a little over $30, while for a nonresident to have this privilege for an entire Tennessee hunting year (mid-February to mid-February), it costs over $300. Residency of Tennessee can be proven to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) using a valid driver’s license or State ID. There are also different licenses required for those who set out to hunt in a Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

For more information about hunting licenses in Tennessee and their current prices, please follow this link.

Tennessee Hunter Education

For anyone born after the date of 31 December 1968, it is mandatory to successfully complete the Tennessee Hunter Education Course and receive a Hunter Education Card before being eligible to purchase a license. More facts about the Tennessee Hunter Education Course include:

  • The minimum age to be eligible to complete the course is nine years old.
  • The course is only available to residents of Tennessee. Residents from other parts of the country are advised to take the particular Hunter Education course offered in their home State.
  • After the online segment is successfully completed, students must participate in a Tennessee Field Day, which can last up to six hours, in order to receive their Hunter Education Card.
  • The course can be taken online.
  • On average, the course (excluding quizzes and independent studying) takes four to six hours to complete. Participants can complete the course at their own convenience. However, they usually have to do so within 90 days after payment.
  • The Hunter Education Card is valid throughout the United States and Canada.
  • As of 2018, the course costs a little under $30. It is apparent the price will increase as time goes by.

Lifetime Sportsman License

Tennessee has a special license called the Lifetime Sportsman License. This license is available only to residents who have lived in the State for 12 consecutive months immediately before purchasing it. And as the name implies, the license is valid for the entire life of the registrant. Furthermore, having this license makes the holder exempt from having to purchase certain additional supplemental tags to hunt particular species. This special license can be purchased by Tennessee residents as young as three years old, though one would have to reach legal hunting age before being able to actually use it to hunt. The price of the license depends on the age of the applicant and can range from $200 to over $1,000. You can find more about the Lifetime Sportsman License via this link.

Tennessee General Hunting Regulations

Below are general hunting regulations that all hunters in Tennessee are required to follow. For more in-depth information, including additional universal rules, the reader is advised to peruse the latest Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide.

  • Hunters are not to possess or transport live animals, nor can a wild native species be possessed as a pet.
  • Species can be taken during seasons where it is legal to hunt them, and non-native species such as alligators and cougars that have recently come to Tennessee cannot be taken until a season to hunt them is legally declared.
  • Game species that are not legally protected and are unintentionally killed by a motor vehicle can be possessed. However, there are certain procedures when it comes to bears, deer, and elk.
  • Legal hunting hours, which generally fall within the range of sunrise to sunset, are different for particular species. However, others such as foxes, rabbits, and opossums can be hunted in the day or night.
  • Hunters cannot sport on private lands unless they get permission from the landowner, and in the case of trapping, this consent must come in the form of writing.
  • There are particular laws when it comes to hunting from vehicles, and people considering such should consult the Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide or TWRA website for more details.
  • While pursuing big game it is mandatory for hunters in Tennessee to wear fluorescent orange, visible from the front and back, on at least 500 square inches of their upper body.  However, during archery-only or turkey hunts a fluorescent orange hat and vest alone is sufficient.  When a big game kill is registered proof of sex must be intact, while a turkey’s entire body is to remain whole until registration. With the exception of feral hogs, big game cannot be transported unless it is properly tagged, and successful hunts must be reported to the TWRA within 36 hours of the kill.
  • The use of dogs is generally allowed in Tennessee when hunting small game animals. There are also specific regulations when it comes to using traps, and the TWRA’s website should be consulted for more details.

Where to Hunt in Tennessee

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has made over 7,000 acres of public land available to hunters. In general, they have regulations specific to particular areas, and these include National wildlife refuges and the Wildlife Management Areas managed by the TWRA. There are almost 100 WMAs, and they collectively comprise hundreds of thousands of acres. The TWRA has made these lands available to the public for hunting and trapping, but again, specific regulations apply.

The overwhelming majority of land in Tennessee is privately owned, and as aforementioned, these lands cannot be utilized by hunters unless they first get the consent of the respective landowner. Hunters interested in using private land are advised to contact the TWRA and allow them to act as intermediaries between the hunter and landowner.

Tennessee Hunting Guides & Outfitters

Using a good guide or outfitter is not only one of the safest ways to hunt but can also help you avoid the hassle of gathering the necessary equipment, securing land leases, etc.  Below are some of the premier professionals and institutions available to assist you in having a successful hunting expedition in Tennessee:

Here are also directories compiled to help a hunter conduct his or her own search for outfitters in Tennessee:

Hunting Seasons in the State Of Tennessee

Below is a condensed list highlighting hunting seasons in Tennessee. For more information, including permissible zones, bag limits, and applicable tagging, hunters are advised to peruse the Tennessee Hunting Seasons Summary or the Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide, both published by the TWRA.

Deer Hunting Seasons

Only one deer can be taken per day.

  • Archery (Private Land, Antlered): Dates in August; September through October; October through November
  • Gun, Muzzleloader, Archery: Dates in November through January
  • Gun, Muzzleloader, Archery (Young Sportsman): Dates in October and January
  • Gun, Muzzleloader, Archery (Private Land, Antlerless): Dates in January
  • Muzzleloader, Archery: Dates in November

Elk Hunting Seasons

Hunting elk is classified as a quota hunt by the State of Tennessee and requires a separate application.

  • Archery: Dates in September through October
  • Gun, Muzzleloader, Archery: Dates in October
  • Gun, Muzzleloader, Archery (Young Sportsman, Residents Only): Dates in October

Black Bear Hunting Seasons

Only one bear can be taken per license year.  Also, cubs that weigh less than 75 pounds are not to be taken.

  • Archery (No Dogs): Dates in September through October
  • Gun, Muzzleloader, Archery (No Dogs): Dates in November
  • Gun, Muzzleloader, Archery (No Dogs, Young Sportsman): Dates in October
  • Gun, Muzzleloader, Archery (Dogs Allowed): Dates in September through October; November through December

Fall Turkey Hunting Seasons

Fall turkey can only be hunted in permissible counties.

  • Archery: Dates in September through October; October through November
  • Shotgun: Dates in October

Spring Turkey Hunting Seasons

  • Archery, Shotgun (Young Sportsman): Dates in March
  • Archery, Shotgun: Dates in March through May

Game Birds Hunting Seasons

  • Grouse: Dates in October through February
  • Quail: Dates in November through February

Migratory Birds Hunting Seasons

Hunters are advised to consult the Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide for more information regarding the hunting seasons of species that fall under this category.

  • Canada Goose: Dates in September
  • Mourning Dove: Dates in September, October through November; December through January
  • Snipe: Dates in November through February
  • Teal: Dates in September
  • Wood Duck / Teal: Dates in September
  • Woodcock: Dates in November through December

Small Game Hunting Seasons

  • Rabbit: Dates in November through February
  • Squirrel: Dates in August through February; May through June

Raccoon Hunting Seasons

  • Private Land: Dates in July through September
  • Statewide: Dates in September through February

For the complete and up-to-date information on the hunting seasons the State of Tennessee, we recommend you visit the official website of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Animal & Bird Species Hunters Are Likely To Come Across While Hunting In Tennessee

There are a number of diverse species hunters can legally make a game out of in the State of Tennessee. Here are some of them:

  • Big Game: Big game species you can find in abundance in Tennessee include the likes o bears, boars, deer, elk, and turkeys.
  • Small Game: Huntable small game species in Tennessee include armadillos, beavers, bobcats, bullfrogs, coyotes, crows, doves, foxes, groundhogs, grouse, minks, muskrats, opossums, otters, quail, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, snipe, teal, weasels, and woodcocks.
  • Waterfowl & Migratory Birds: Species that fall under this classification include brant, doves, ducks, geese, sandhill cranes and others. All these species and more can be found and hunted in Tennessee.

It is noteworthy that different species have different hunting seasons and regulations, all of which can are found on the TWRA’s website.

Accommodation for Hunters in Tennessee

Hunting is a sport unlike many others in that it can take days in order to achieve your goal. As such having the proper accommodations is crucial to pulling off a successful hunting expedition. Below is a list of some institutions in Tennessee that cater specifically to hunters and offer them decent accommodation.

Clarkrange Hunting Lodge
Address: 1640 Campground Road, Clarkrange 38533
Telephone: 931-863-3203

Goodman Ranch
Address: 770 Proctor Road
Telephone: 901-734-7818

Loshbough Hunting Lodge
Address: 224 Martin Burgess Road, Crossville 38572
Telephone: 931-788-5408

Standing Rock Hunting Lodge
Address: 4420 Standing Rock Road, Jamestown 38556
Telephone: 931-863-4868

Wilderness Hunting Lodge
Address: 553 Cedar Chapel Road, Monterey 38574
Telephone: 931-839-2091


We hope that this text has proven useful in providing you with the necessary basic information to become an effective hunter in Tennessee. Interested parties are encouraged to visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency websites and documents that are hyperlinked throughout this document.  Happy hunting!

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