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General Hunting Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon Tennessee Hunting

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.

Protected Species

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 cougars and alligators are expanding their territories into Tennessee. Species expanding their ranges into Tennessee are protected and may not be taken until a hunting season is proclaimed. Alligators and cougars are protected by state laws in Tennessee.

Roadkill Law

TCA 70-4-115 allows wild game animals, except for non-game and federally protected wildlife species, accidentally killed by a motor vehicle to 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 www.tnwildlife.org) 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.

General Opening Dates

Species

Date

Free Hunting Day Fourth Sat. in Aug.
Squirrel Fourth Sat. in Aug.
Grouse Second Sat. in Oct.
Quail First Sat. in Nov.
Rabbit First Sat. in Nov.
Deer/Archery Fourth Sat. in Sept.
Deer/Muzzleloader Third Sat. before Thanksgiving
Deer/Gun Sat. before Thanksgiving
Deer/Young Sportsman Last Sat. in Oct.
Spring Turkey Sat. closest to April 1

General Quota Hunt Application Deadlines

Species

Date

WMA Big Game Hunts Fourth Wed. in July
WMA Waterfowl Hunts Last Wed. in Sept.
WMA Spring Turkey Hunts Third Wed. in Jan.
Statewide Sandhill Crane Hunts Last Wed. in Sept.