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Hunting Regulations Icon Tennessee Hunting

Big Game

Small Game

Firearm, hunting device and ammunition

Deer

Bear

Elk

Turkey

Migratory Birds

Furbearers4 and Crow

All Other Small Game

Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with Number Four (4) or smaller shot No No No Yes Yes3 Yes Yes
Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with T shot (0.20 inch diameter) or smaller No No No No Yes3, 6 Yes No
Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with single solid ball or slugs Yes Yes Yes No No Yes1 No
Rifles and handguns using rimfire ammunition and
air guns (.25 caliber or smaller)
No No No No No Yes Yes
Rifles and handguns using centerfire ammunition
(full metal jacketed ammunition prohibited)
Yes Yes Yes No No Yes1, 5 No
Muzzleloading firearms (rifles and handguns)
.36 cal. or larger
Yes7 Yes7 Yes7 No No Yes1, 7 Yes1, 7
Muzzleloading firearms (rifles and handguns)

less than .36 cal.

No No No No No Yes7 Yes7
Air guns .35 cal. or larger Yes8 Yes8 Yes8 No No Yes1, 8 No
Pre-charged pneumatic gun which shoots an arrow
(special conditions apply)
Yes9 Yes9 Yes9 Yes9 No Yes1, 9 No
Archery equipment (longbows, recurves, compounds,
and crossbows)
Yes2 Yes2 Yes2 Yes2 Yes Yes Yes
Raptors that are legally possessed under a valid falconry permit No No No No Yes Yes Yes

Legal Hunting Devices

All firearms, hunting devices, and ammunition listed in the below table are legal for hunting purposes according to the individual species listed. If a firearm, hunting device, or ammunition is not listed in the below table it is illegal to hunt with within the State of Tennessee. Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) may have additional restrictions on some legal hunting devices.

Prohibited Acts

  1. Possession of ammunition except that as specifically authorized is prohibited while hunting.
  2. The use or possession and/or the accompanying of anyone using or possessing raccoon calls, squallers, weapons, ammunition, or climbers while training dogs is prohibited during training season, except raccoon calls may be used during authorized field trials.
  3. The use of dogs in taking or attempting to take deer or elk is prohibited. Taking or attempting to take deer being pursued by dog, or dogs, is prohibited.
  4. Juveniles under the age of eighteen (18) are prohibited from using handguns for the purpose of hunting.
  5. No person shall make use of bait to take wildlife unless the bait has been removed and any electronic feeder disabled at least 10 days prior to hunting.
  6. Possession of firearms prohibited while chasing coyote, fox, and bobcat with dogs from the first Saturday in November through the end of the deer season.
  7. Use or possession of the following equipment is prohibited:
    • Predator calls while night hunting.
    • Pod arrows (any pod-type device for holding drugs or chemicals on an arrow) or any drugs or chemicals used in pod arrows while archery hunting.
    • Explosive arrowheads while archery hunting.
    • Firearms capable of fully automatic fire.
    • Firearms or archery equipment with any device utilizing an artificial light capable of locating wildlife.
    • Any electronic light amplifying night vision scope, thermal imaging device, or device while in possession of a firearm or archery tackle between sunset and sunrise.
    • Electronic calls or live decoys while hunting wild turkey, foxes, and waterfowl (except electronic calls are legal during the Conservation Season for Blue, Snow, and Ross’ geese).
    • Rifles or handguns with full metal jacketed ammunition.
    • Rifles or handguns with centerfire ammunition between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise.
    • Any loose shot other than non-toxic (as approved by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) or any shotgun shell loaded with shot other than non-toxic while hunting waterfowl, coots, gallinules, Virginia rails, and sora rails.
    • Tracer ammunition
  8. UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) cannot be used to hunt any wildlife.
  9. The use or possession of natural cervid urine while hunting is prohibited unless the product is clearly labeled bearing certification from the manufacturer that the urine was produced in a facility that:
    • Complies with a federal or a federally approved chronic wasting disease herd certification program and any federal chronic wasting disease protocols and record requirements;
    • Does not allow importation of live cervids;
    • Requires that all cervids exported from the facility be tested for chronic wasting disease upon death and the results are reported to the facility;
    • Is inspected annually by an accredited veterinarian, including inspection of the herd and applicable records; and
    • Maintains a fence at least 8 feet high around the facility and, if the facility is located within 30 miles of a confirmed positive occurrence of chronic wasting disease, is double fenced to prevent direct contact between captive and wild cervids.

Legal Trapping Devices and Definitions

  1. Steel traps may only be used in accordance with TCA 70-4-120. Steel leg-hold traps must have an outside measure of jaw spread that is 9 inches or less, as measured at the widest point. Steel square instant-kill traps must have an exterior jaw measurement 16 inches or less, as measured at the widest point, and steel circular instant-kill traps must have an exterior measurement 12 inches or less, as measured at the widest point.
  2. Live traps are legal for taking any species of wildlife listed as having a trapping season. Live traps are defined as those traps that act as a cage after capture.
  3. Steel cable snares having a minimum cable diameter of 5/64 inch and a maximum cable diameter of 3/32 inch are legal for all legal furbearer species during the legal trapping season. All snares shall have affixed a tag bearing the name of the owner. Spring activated snares other than Collarum snares are prohibited.
  4. Commercially available dog-proof traps, also known as species-specific traps are legal for trapping.
  5. Cushion-hold traps, laminated jaw traps, off-set wide jaw traps, off-set maintained jaw traps and wide jaw traps with an outside measure of jaw spread that is 9 inches or less, as measured at the widest point and a minimum jaw thickness of 1/4 inch, may be used for all sets. Double-jaw traps with an upside spread of 9 inches o less of the upper and lower jaw combined and a minimum jaw thickness of 1/4 inch may be used for all sets.

  6. For trapping purposes “water set” is defined to mean traps set in water adjacent to and part of streams, ponds, lakes, wetlands or other water courses and includes floating sets.
  7. Trappers shall mark all of their traps with their name or TWRA ID number.
  8. Steel traps placed inside a hole, cave or den or in a hollow log, hollow stump or any like place shall be placed twelve (12) or more inches inside the entrance of such place, and it is unlawful to place steel traps in the open, except for water sets and traps listed in number five (5) above.
  9. Lethal sets such as instant kill traps and water set (“drowning”) traps must be inspected every seventy-two (72) hours. All other traps must be inspected every thirty-six (36) hours and any wildlife caught in the traps shall be removed.
  10. The #110 body grip or equal with maximum jaw size 6 inches x 6 inches is allowed for land use adjacent to waterways not to exceed 50 feet from the shoreline. The 6 inches x 6 inches trap shall be single-spring with a factory spring designated for that trap. The lowest point of the trap closest to the ground shall not be elevated more than one-half (1/2) inch above the surface of the ground. The trap shall be used as a non baited or lured set unless it is set at a minimum of 12 inches inside a hole, den or cubby.
  11. For trapping seasons, see Small Game Regulations.

Legal Hunting Hours

  1. All big game and small game species (except bullfrogs, raccoons, opossums, migratory birds, and the chasing of foxes and rabbits) daylight hours only (30 minutes before official sunrise and until 30 minutes after official sunset) except turkey open only until official sunset.
  2. Hunting of bullfrogs, raccoons, opossums, the chasing of foxes and rabbits, and the trapping of furbearers is permitted day or night unless restricted by Proclamation. No foxes or rabbits may be shot while chasing/training at night.
  3. Hunting of migratory birds is to comply with federal regulations for migratory birds, unless restricted by proclamation.

Migratory Bird Regulations

  1. Federal regulations relative to baiting, firearms, bag and possession limits, wanton waste, tagging, and methods of hunting are hereby adopted and will be applicable to hunting and/or taking of species listed.
  2. No person shall hunt migratory game birds, except crows, with a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three (3) shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three (3) shells.
  3. All persons who hunt migratory game birds are required to have in their possession a valid Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit (TMBP) in addition to other required Tennessee licenses and permits, with the following exceptions:
    • disabled veterans
    • landowners hunting on their own land
    • lifetime license holders
    • residents of Tennessee under 13 years of age
    • residents of Tennessee who are 65 or older
    • Military personnel on leave or furlough
  4. Refer to federal regulations 50 CFR Ch. 1 (21.41 and 21.43) for conditions and restrictions applicable to the taking of crows in certain depredation or health hazard situations outside of the crow sport hunting season.
  5. Pursuant to federal regulations, during the Blue, Snow, and Ross’ Geese Conservation season, waterfowl hunters may use unplugged shotguns and electronic calls.

Miscellaneous

  1. Where hunting is allowed from vessels, it is legal to hunt from any vessel, so long as the vessel is not under forward motion from any influence of mechanical means or sail. On private property, it is legal to hunt from any motorized vehicle (to include ATVs, golf carts, etc.), provided the vehicle is stationary. Nothing in this subsection (1) shall be construed as authorizing hunting from a vessel, automobile or other motor vehicle while under power. Nothing in this subsection permits hunting from or across a public road or right-of-way.
  2. 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 weapon. This person must also comply with all other legal requirements. Access for hunters accompanying may be limited on some WMAs. A bear hunter who has filled the daily or seasonal limit may continue to carry a firearm and take hogs where incidental taking is allowed.
  3. Every game animal, wounded or unwounded by hunting and/or trapping and taken into possession by the hunter or trapper shall be immediately slain and become part of the daily bag limit. No person shall, at any time, or by any means, possess or transport live animals taken under the authority of hunting season proclamations.
  4. Gigs, angling equipment, archery, rimfire and air firearms are legal for taking bullfrogs.
  5. Archery equipment is permitted during the archery, muzzleloader and gun seasons. Muzzleloader equipment is permitted during the muzzleloader and gun seasons.
  6. Pursuant to TCA 39-17-1351, persons with a valid handgun carry permit may possess a handgun the entire year while on the premises of any TWRA refuge, public hunting area, state owned wildlife management area or, to the extent permitted by federal law, national forest land maintained by the state, and private land. For other federally managed properties hunters should contact that specific facility or location. 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.
  7. During a deer archery only season, a fall turkey hunter may not be in possession of both archery equipment and shotguns and/ or rifles.
  8. During archery deer/bear seasons a properly licensed big game hunter may use air guns .25 caliber or smaller to hunt small game while archery hunting for deer/bear. During the muzzleloader and gun deer/bear season, a legal deer or bear hunter may use rimfire or airguns .25 caliber or smaller to hunt small game.
  9. During an archery only or muzzleloader/ archery only deer, bear or elk season, furbearers may not be taken with rifles and handguns using centerfire ammunition. During the gun/muzzleloader/archery seasons, furbearers may be taken by legal big game hunters licensed for the weapon they are using.
  10. The use of suppressors/silencers is legal for persons possessing the required federal license from the United States Department of Treasury. Hunters using these devices must have proof of such license on their person.
  11. A falconry permittee whose hunting raptor accidentally kills wildlife out of season, or the wrong species or sex, shall leave the dead wildlife where it lies; except that the raptor may feed upon the wildlife prior to leaving the site of the kill.