Hunting in Tennessee

From the misty peaks of the Smokies to the fertile fields of the Mississippi River Valley, Hunting in Tennessee is an experience like no other. The state boasts long hunting seasons, allowing you ample time to strategize and maximize your hunting escapades.

But as you know, great hunting comes with great popularity, and let’s be honest, sometimes those coveted game animals play hard to get in the dense crowds of Tennessee’s hunting hotspots. Although worry not, because the state’s diverse habitats and vast hunting grounds can help you solve your pressure problem.

Looking to uncover the wonders of Tennessee’s wilderness? Then look no further! This comprehensive guide is your ultimate resource for all things hunting in Tennessee.

Tennessee Hunting Seasons

In Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) opens generous hunting seasons – meaning there are tons of opportunities for you year-round.

The state is known for its long hunting seasons, opening up a wider window of opportunity for hunters to enjoy the wilderness of Tennessee.

long season

Deer HuntingGeneral Season: Mid-November to early January
Archery: Late September to early November
Muzzleloader: Early to mid-November
Elk HuntingGeneral Season: Early to mid-October
Archery: Late September
Wild Turkey HuntingFall-Archery: Late September to early November
Fall-Shotgun: Mid- to late October
Spring-General: Mid-April to late May
Waterfowl HuntingDuck: Late November to mid-February
Goose: Early September to mid-February
Upland Game Bird HuntingQuail: Early November to late February
Grouse: Early October to late February
Small Game HuntingSquirrel: Late August to mid-March; Mid-May to mid-June
Rabbit: Early November to late February
Raccoon: Early September to late February
Skunk: Year-Round
Predator HuntingCoyote: Year-Round
Groundhog: Year-Round

With its rich biodiversity and varied landscapes, Tennessee offers many exciting hunting opportunities. Let’s dive into some of the most popular hunts that bring hunters from far and wide to this stunning state:

White-Tailed Deer Hunting

You can’t talk about hunting in Tennessee without talking about white-tailed deer. These species are like the star of the hunting show in the state.

White-tailed deer are widespread throughout Tennessee – they’re literally everywhere in the deep woods and farmlands. The state’s diverse ecosystems provide excellent habitats for these animals, ensuring a thriving population that offers great prospects for hunters.

Whether you’re a veteran deer hunter or a newbie on the trail, the chance of coming across a mature buck or a graceful doe is always high, adding an exciting dimension of anticipation to every hunting trip!

But remember, you must have a valid hunting license and a big game permit to harvest a deer in Tennessee legally. And yes, your harvested deer must be tagged and checked in within the day of harvest.

Wild Turkey Hunting

Turkey hunting in Tennessee is quite the tradition that residents and even nonresident hunters cherish. The wild turkey population has grown significantly over the past few decades thanks to conservation efforts, making Tennessee one of the top destinations for turkey hunters.

These elusive species inhabit diverse habitats in the state, from the Appalachian highlands to the Mississippi river lowlands, so you’ll surely come across wild turkeys’ territory if roaming across the state.

But before your dust off your hunting gear, note that the state requires every hunter to have a valid hunting license and a big game permit. Also, hunters can only harvest bearded turkey during spring, while either sex can be hunted in the fall.

Waterfowl Hunting

Waterfowl hunting in Tennessee is an exciting affair that combines the challenges of hunting with the beauty of watching migratory patterns unfold right before your eyes.

Located along the Mississippi Flyway, Tennessee offers rich hunting grounds for various waterfowl species. The main star for waterfowl hunting here are the ducks and geese, which are a spectacle as they descend onto the state’s plentiful lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

But before you load up your shotgun and put on your waders, remember that several pieces of paperwork must be done for legal waterfowl hunting in the state. Aside from the valid hunting license, the state requires every waterfowler to have a waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp.

Unlike deer and turkey, you don’t need to tag or check in your harvested waterfowl. However, you must leave a wing or head attached to the bird while transporting it for species identification.

Prime Hunting Locations in Tennessee

Nestled among stunning landscapes, scenic vistas, and tons of wildlife, Tennessee is truly a hunter’s paradise. In fact, it’s home to some of the best hunting grounds for hunters to explore opportunities and chase down their desired hunts.

Let’s look at the prime hunting locations in the state:

Cherokee WMA

The Cherokee Wildlife Management Area (WMA), sprawling over 400,000 acres, offers a diverse habitat teeming with wildlife, making it one of the prime hunting grounds in the state. Whether you’re an avid deer hunter, a turkey enthusiast, or someone who enjoys hunting for small game species, Cherokee WMA has got you covered.

The lure of this hunting area lies in its vastness and variety. The area’s terrain is a mix of lush hardwood forests, thickets, and open valleys that harbor a diverse and plentiful wildlife population.

This, coupled with the scenic views of the Appalachian Mountains, elevates the hunting experience and makes it memorable.

President’s Island WMA

Located near the bustling city of Memphis, President’s Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA) offers a unique urban hunting experience revered by hunters nearby. Don’t let its relatively small size of around 10,000 acres fool you – this WMA is one of Tennessee’s hidden gems for deer hunting.

What sets President’s Island apart from other hunting areas in the state is its thriving population of white-tailed deer. This compact yet fertile island habitat provides an excellent environment for deer to flourish, making them really big!

The bucks on President’s Island are known for their size and the quality of their antlers, which is why this WMA is a top destination for deer hunters seeking a trophy buck.

Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area (LBL)

This expansive area, covering approximately 170,000 acres, offers a bounty of game species and surrounds hunters with diverse and stunning landscapes.

LBL is renowned for its rich population of white-tailed deer, turkey, and even small game species. So whichever game you prefer, this hunting area has something for you.

But remember, some areas within LBL are designated as wildlife refuges and are off-limits to hunting. And if available, you must have an LBL hunter-use permit, which costs $25.00 for all hunters.

Tennessee Hunting Regulations

License and Permits

Before heading afield, the TWRA requires all hunters to have all the necessary licenses and permits for a legal hunt. And truth be told, it can be quite confusing.

But fear not; below is the list of the state’s available hunting licenses and permits.

Resident License

Combination License
(Hunting and Fishing)
Big Game hunting
(Archery, Gun, Muzzleloader)
Waterfowl Hunting$37.00
Junior License
(Hunt, Fish, Trap)
Senior License
(Hunt, Fish, Trap)
Annual: $4.00

Nonresident License

All Game Hunting7-Day: $305.00
Small Game Hunting7-Day: $61.00
All Game-Junior Hunting7-Day: $26.00
Small Game-Junior Hunting$10.00
Elk License

Permit Types

Big Game Supplement$29.00$91.00
WMA Permit-Big Game$27.00$27.00
WMA Permit-Small Game$21.00$21.00
LBL Permit$25.00$25.00
Waterfowl Permit$38.00$38.00
Federal Duck Stamp$25.00$25.00

Hunter Education

In Tennessee, safety and responsibility go hand-in-hand with the fun and excitement of hunting. That’s where the state’s hunter education comes into play. They ensure everyone in the woods is well-prepared and well-versed in hunter safety, ethics, and wildlife conservation.

So, if you were born on or after January 1, 1969, you must complete a hunter education course before you can hunt in Tennessee. It’s an important step in becoming a hunter.

But hey, don’t worry if you’re under 10. You’re exempted from this requirement, but you must be accompanied by an adult who must remain able to take immediate control of your hunting device.

Once you pass the course, you’ll receive a Hunter Education Card. Carry this card with pride – it’s a testament to your dedication to the sport and the great outdoors!

Hunter Orange Regulation

This is a biggie for safety. When hunting during a big game gun season or in a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), you must wear at least 500 square inches of Hunter Orange on your head and upper body.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “500 square inches? That’s a lot of orange!”

But it’s a vibrant way to stay safe and be seen by other hunters. Hunter Orange, sometimes called blaze orange, is like your hi-vis safety gear in the woods.

Remember, this rule doesn’t apply during turkey season – those turkeys have keen eyesight and could spot you!

Tagging and Checking

Think of this as your post-hunt paperwork. After you successfully harvest a game animal, Tennessee requires you to tag and check it in. This helps the state track animal populations and ensure everyone sticks to their bag limits.

Here’s how it works: As soon as you’ve harvested an animal and before you move it, you’ll need to complete a temporary transportation tag. You can create your own with basic information like your name, license number, date, and location of the hunt. You can even use a pre-made one from your hunting guide.

Next, you’ll need to check in your harvest. You can do this online, by mobile application, or at a physical check station within the state. After you’ve reported, you’ll receive a confirmation number, which you should record on your transportation tag.


Although some are less accessible, hunting in Tennessee is still something you should experience. It has a vast expanse of hunting grounds and abundant game species for an exciting venture into the state’s wilderness.

Our hunt-by-state guide awaits you if you want to widen your horizon with hunting opportunities across the United States.