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General Hunting Regulations

  • Possession of Live Animals

No person shall, at any time or by any means, possess or transport live animals taken under the authority of the hunting and trapping season proclamations. No native species may be taken out of the wild and kept as pets.

The taking, killing and/or illegal possession of hawks, owls, songbirds, endangered species or any other species (i.e. snakes) for which a season is not set is prohibited.

There is evidence that alligator populations are expanding north along the Mississippi River into Tennessee. Species which expand their ranges into Tennessee (such as alligators) are protected and may not be taken until a hunting season is proclaimed. Alligators are protected by both state and federal laws in Tennessee.

  • Roadkill Law

TCA 70-4-115 allows that, except for non-game and federally protected wildlife species, wild game animals accidentally killed by a motor vehicle may be possessed for personal use and consumption. However, possession of a deer killed by a motor vehicle is permitted only if the person notifies the TWRA or any law enforcement officer and supplies his/her name within 48 hours. A bear killed by a motor vehicle may be possessed only upon the issuance of a receipt from the TWRA.

  • Hunting Hours

Crows, doves, ducks (including the early duck season), geese, gallinules, rails, turkey, woodcock, Wilson snipe: Shooting hours one-half hour before legal sunrise to legal sunset, except for dove hunting on opening day when shooting hours will begin at noon.

For all other game species except those listed below, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before legal sunrise to one-half hour after legal sunset. Fox and rabbit chasing, furbearer trapping, raccoon, opossum, and bullfrog hunting may be done day or night.

  • Hunting And Trapping On Private Land

In Tennessee, state wildlife laws have always required hunters and trappers to obtain permission from landowners to use private property. In fact, it is advisable to get written permission to hunt and is required to trap. With the passage of TCA 70-4-106 in 1990, a “Hunting By Written Permission” law went into effect. Simply, the law states that if private land has been properly posted by the owner with signs that include his or her name and address plus the wording “HUNTING BY WRITTEN PERMISSION ONLY,” a hunter or trapper must carry the owner’s written permission. (Form available at If a hunter or trapper is found without that written permission, that hunter or trapper is subject to prosecution.

  • Hunting From a Stationary Vehicle

On private property, hunting while in or on a vehicle that cannot be legally licensed to operate on public highways in Tennessee (ORV, OHV, ATV) is permitted providing that the vehicle is stationary (engine may be running). Hunting from any vehicle, stationary or otherwise, is prohibited from a public road, right-of-way or on public property, including WMAs.

  • Assisting Hunters

Hunters who have filled their seasonal or daily bag limit for any species may continue to accompany other hunters provided they are not in possession of any ammunition or any firearm or archery equipment. This person must also comply with all other legal requirements.

  • Handgun Carry General Regulations

Persons with a handgun carry permit pursuant to TCA 39-17-1351 may possess a handgun the entire year while on the premises of any TWRA refuge, public hunting area or wildlife management area, including the North and South Cherokee. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize a person to use any handgun to hunt unless such person is in full compliance with all wildlife laws, rules and regulations.

For all other Federally managed properties such as refuges and military installations (example: Oak Ridge WMA and Enterprise South Park WMA), contact that specific facility or location.

  • Mandatory Hunter Education

All hunters, resident or nonresident, born on or after Jan. 1, 1969, must possess proof that they have successfully completed a hunter education course. Those under 10 years of age do not need a Hunter Education certificate, but must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device. Call your local TWRA office or visit the TWRA’s website at for a listing of scheduled Hunter Education classes.

  • Apprentice Hunting License

This supplemental license is in lieu of a hunter education certificate. All other applicable licenses are required. This license is available to all hunters 10 years of age or older who have not completed the mandatory hunter education course. It exempts the hunter from the mandatory hunter education law for one year from the date of purchase, but may only be purchased once during the lifetime of the hunter. Hunters who possess this license must be accompanied by an adult, 21 years of age or older, who must meet the hunter education requirements and is able to take immediate control of the hunting device. Apprentice Hunting License Type 012 for $11.00


Permanent Opening Dates

Free Hunting Day

Fourth Sat. in Aug.


Fourth Sat. in Aug.


Second Sat. in Oct.


First Sat. in Nov.


First Sat. in Nov.


Fourth Sat. in Sep.


Third Sat. before Thanksgiving


Sat. before Thanksgiving

Deer/Young Sportsman

Last Sat. in Oct.


Tentative Quota Hunt Application Deadlines

WMA Quota Big Game Hunts

Fourth Wed. in July

WMA Waterfowl Blind Site Drawing

First Sat. in Aug.

Spring Turkey

First Wed. in Feb.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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