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Big Game Hunting


All hunting seasons are closed unless opened by specific Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission proclamation. Big game animals are deer, red deer, turkey, bear, and elk.

Fluorescent Orange: Hunters must wear on the upper portion of their body and head a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange (blaze orange), visible front and back while hunting big game except on archery-only and turkey hunts. (A hat and vest fulfills requirements.) Blaze orange camo is legal if it contains 500 square inches of fluorescent orange. In those areas where the archery-only deer season dates overlap with another big game gun season (i.e. bear), archers are required to wear 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange.

Field Dressing Big Game: Evidence of species or sex of big game animals must not be destroyed prior to a permanent kill tag having been issued. Normal field dressing, quartering, and icing down of the meat is permitted.

Big Game Found Dead: All big game found dead should be left where found and need not be reported. Individuals wanting to keep big game found dead, or any portion of the animal, must first contact the local Regional TWRA office within 48 hours for authorization.

Any vehicle in which an illegally possessed big game animal is found is subject to confiscation. Big game, except bear, accidentally killed by a motor vehicle may be possessed by any person for personal use and consumption if the TWRA or a local law enforcement agency is notified within 48 hours. A bear killed by a motor vehicle may be possessed only upon the issuance of a receipt from the TWRA.

Legal Bucks: Deer must have at least one antler measuring a minimum of three (3) inches in length on buck-only or antlered-only hunts.

Antlerless Deer: Defined as those deer with no antlers or deer with both antlers less than three (3) inches in length.

Albino Deer:Hunting, trapping or possession of albino deer is prohibited as set forth in TCA 70-4-130. An albino deer is a deer with a lack, or significant deficiency, of pigment in the skin and hair, and has pink eyes.

  • » Checking In Big Game

Big changes have occurred regarding big game check in. Temporary and permanent kill tags are no longer used in Tennessee. The new system uses confirmation numbers that are documented on TWRA Forms (including printout from check stations, online check-in, or harvest logs) or Mobile Application as final proof of check in. Harvested animals may be moved/transported without documentation but must be checked in the same calendar day. No animals can be gifted or transported out of state prior to check in. TWRA forms that are received following check-in (including the digital log on the mobile application) must be available for inspection until final processing of the animal. This documentation must accompany any big game animals taken to a taxidermist or meat processor and is no longer required once processing is completed.

Deer and wild turkey may be checked in using any method. However, bear must be checked in at a physical check station. Hunters drawn for an elk hunt must check in harvested elk according to instructions in their informational packet.

There Are Three Ways You May Check-In Big Game Animals

Checking Station

On the Internet

Mobile Application

  1. Take your harvest to the
    local checking station
  2. Provide your harvest information
  3. Finalize the process:
  • Keep your printout


  • Write confirmation
    number on a harvest log
  1. Go online to
  2. Provide your harvest information
  3. Finalize the process:
  • Print final harvest record


  • Write confirmation
    number on a harvest log
  1. Use your mobile device and go to
  2. Provide your harvest information
  3. Finalize the process:
  • Verify final harvest record in your digital harvest log & diary


  • Write confirmation
    number on a harvest log

For an instructional video on how to properly tag your big game animal, visit!


Harvest Log

Although you are rarely required to have a harvest log, we have provided a log for your convenience. If you write the confirmation number (received at the end of all check in procedures) on a harvest log, you are good to go! Take a harvest log with you when you go hunting and you can’t go wrong. Harvest logs are available from many different sources including: on your hunting license, in the hunting guide, on the TWRA website (, and at your local checking station. Multiple logs may be used.

Mobile Application

If an animal is checked in using the TWRA Mobile Application, the “app” will automatically self-populate an entry in the Hunter’s Harvest Log & Diary found on the mobile application. That digital version containing a confirmation number is all that is required as long as you have an operating cell phone or other mobile device. If there are concerns about losing signal or battery power, it is advisable for you to complete a harvest log.


Don’t let ignorance of the law cost you a trophy of a lifetime.

Stop the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

Carcass Importation Laws are in effect.

Chronic Wasting Disease, otherwise known as CWD, is a transmissible, neurological disease of deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals. It is characterized by loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities and death. CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), and is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep.

While the possibility of human infection remains a concern, it is important to note there have been no verified cases of humans contracting CWD.

CWD has NOT yet been found in Tennessee and does not pose a risk to human health. Should CWD ever be discovered in Tennessee it will absolutelyhave an affect on the way we manage our whitetail deer herd.


If you plan on hunting cervids (mule deer, whitetail deer, moose, or elk) in the United States and Canada that have CWD, you must properly prepare the carcass according to the instructions below before transporting it into Tennessee.

Visit for a list of CWD states and detailed information regarding importation regulations.

  • Carcass Preparation Procedures

Carcasses and other parts from these areas that may be brought into or possessed in Tennessee include:

a. meat that has bones removed
b. antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates or cleaned skulls (where no meat or tissues are attached to the skull)
c. cleaned teeth
d. finished taxidermy and antler products
e. hides and tanned products.

Failure to comply with the above will be in violation of Tennessee law!

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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