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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.

Tagging and Checking Stations: It is unlawful to move, transport, or field dress any big game animal, without validating a properly completed temporary kill tag. If additional animals are to be harvested on that calendar day, the hunter is not required to stop hunting and tag the animal until he/she is ready to move, transport, or field dress the animal. All animals harvested must be accompanied by one animal with a validated temporary kill tag and must be checked in the same day at a big game checking station or the TWRA internet site where one new temporary kill tag will be issued. Evidence of species and sex must be available for inspection by a wildlife officer or agency-designated personnel prior to issuance of permanent game tag. The permanent harvest tag is a legal document and must be signed by the hunter. By signing the permanent harvest tag, the hunter is affirming that the information, as it appears on the permanent tag, is correct and valid. The permanent game tag must remain with each carcass until final processing. Persons legally hunting without a license are also required to check their animals in at a check station or at the TWRA internet check-in site on that calendar day. After receiving a temporary harvest tag, hunters must comply with all tagging regulations. All big game taken to a taxidermist to be mounted must be accompanied by documentation showing the permanent game tag number and date of kill. All bear harvested must be checked in at a TWRA Big Game Checking Station on the same calendar day. Bears may not be checked-in online.

New Big Game Tagging procedures are planned starting Spring Turkey Season 2013. Please visit or watch for agency news releases prior to the 2013 turkey season.

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.


  • Check Stations

There are over 800 check stations in Tennessee servicing hunters of our state. It is up to you to know where the check station(s) is in your hunting area. For a current listing of check stations, please visit us at

  • Internet

The internet allows hunters to check-in their harvest anywhere at any time, except bears which can not be checked-in online. As long as hunters have internet service, they may check-in their harvest at Upon completion of checking-in your harvest, a permanent kill tag and new temporary kill tag will need to be printed. Make sure to write down the transaction number in case you are unable to print your tag. Both temporary and permanent kill tags can be printed from the website If you have any problems, contact us at (615) 781-5262 for assistance.

Remember: Big Game Must Be Checked-In The Same Day As Harvested!



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 absolutely have 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:

  1. a. meat that has bones removed
  2. b. antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates or cleaned skulls (where no meat or tissues are attached to the skull)
  3. c. cleaned teeth
  4. d. finished taxidermy and antler products
  5. 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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