Wildlife Management Area General Regulations
There are over 100 WMAs and refuges across Tennessee managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Varying in size from 53 to 625,000 acres, all WMAs are available to the public for various outdoor activities, although certain regulations do apply.
On WMAs open with statewide seasons, the season dates, bag limits, weapon types, and ammunition types that pertain to the county where the WMA is located apply to that WMA except special regulations listed specifically for those WMAs still apply.
Acts of disorderly, obnoxious or boisterous conduct, including acts which interfere with the orderly process of hunting, are prohibited. Violators shall be removed from the area and/or prosecuted.
Alcoholic beverages: Possession of any alcoholic beverage, narcotic drug, barbiturate or marijuana while hunting within the management area is prohibited. No individual may be under the influence of these substances at any time while within a management area. The use of any alcoholic beverage is prohibited on these areas year round: Catoosa, Cheatham, Chuck Swan, Forks of the River, Laurel Hill, Pea Ridge and Prentice Cooper, except in designated camping areas.
Bag limits: Statewide bag and possession limits apply unless special exception is indicated.
Baiting: The placement or depositing of any type of food to feed or attract wildlife on WMAs is prohibited.
Dog training: Year round unless otherwise indicated.
Firearms: Use, possession or transportation of firearms, bows and arrows or other arms and ammunition is expressly prohibited except when authorized. Firearms loaded with ammunition in either the chamber or magazine may not be transported in vehicles. A muzzleloader is considered to be unloaded if the cap or primer is removed. A crossbow is considered to be unloaded if the bolt/arrow is removed from the device. See Manner & Means for handgun carry regulations.
Horses permitted on roads and trails open to motorized traffic and other trails or routes established for their use, except as otherwise indicated. Riding off roads into fields, woods or on foot trails is prohibited unless otherwise provided.
Access Hours: Hunters (except raccoon, opossum, turkey, and waterfowl hunters) may not enter prior to one hour before sunrise, and they must be out of the area by one hour after sunset. Raccoon and opossum hunters must be out of the area by one hour after sunrise except on Cherokee WMA. Public access will be prohibited in the subimpoundments of Barkley Unit I, Cheatham Lake, Haynes Bottom, Old Hickory Units I and II, Camden Units I and II, Big Sandy, Gooch Unit A, Tigrett, and West Sandy from two hours after legal waterfowl shooting hours have ended until 4:00 a.m. the following day during the late duck season(s).
Hunting near private dwellings: It is unlawful to hunt, shoot at, chase or kill with or without dogs any wild animal, wild birds or waterfowl on public lands and waters within 100 yards of a visible dwelling house, without the owner’s permission, whether or not such a dwelling is on public or private lands.
Litter: No litter or sewage may be deposited in the area.
Motorized vehicles: All motorized vehicles must be muffler equipped to suppress noise and be spark-arrestor equipped to prevent fires. Operation of motorized vehicles is confined to roads not designated as closed. Off-road vehicles are restricted to roads open to other motorized traffic (except where prohibited by state or federal statute) and designated trails only. ORVs may be operated during daylight hours and at other times when participating in authorized activities. Driving off roads into woods, fields or utility right-of-ways is prohibited for all motorized vehicles. Motorized vehicles may be prohibited on any agency-owned wildlife management area if deemed necessary to protect wildlife, vegetation and/or property. Some exceptions apply. See individual WMAs for specific restrictions.
No person shall damage or remove any trees or other plants, dirt, gravel or sod from any wildlife management area or other Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency-controlled lands without specific authorization.
No species of wildlife may be harassed except those authorized to be harvested and no animal killed shall be dismembered to the extent that its species and sex cannot be identified before checking out of the area.
Access to all caves on agency controlled lands is closed except to authorized personnel only, unless designated differently through signage or agency brochures.
Overnight camping may be permitted on designated areas by permission from area manager, park ranger, lake manager, park superintendent or national forest supervisor. Such camping is subject to the limitation prescribed in the permit, if required. Camping shall not exceed three (3) weeks in length from the beginning to the end of the camping stay. Owners contact information (name, phone number, address) or TWRA ID number and date of arrival must be displayed on camper, tent, vehicle, etc. at all times. On areas where overnight camping is allowed, firearms and archery equipment must remain in camp except during legal hunting hours.
Pen-raised game birds: The release of pen-raised game birds on WMAs is prohibited unless otherwise specified.
Safety zones: Hunting is prohibited in safety zones except where provided.
Target practice is prohibited except on designated ranges. See TWRA firing ranges.
Unauthorized persons are prohibited from being in the area during big game hunts except when indicated. Unauthorized persons are prohibited from being in the wildlife management area during managed turkey hunts, except on the Cherokee, North Cumberland, Tellico Lake and Land Between the Lakes wildlife management areas. Only persons having valid turkey hunt permits for the hunt date are authorized to be on the management area. Exception: A licensed turkey hunter, who has filled his/her bag limit or does not possess a valid permit for a quota hunt, may accompany another turkey hunter (except on Oak Ridge WMA) and assist him/her in calling, but may not have a gun or bow in his/her possession.
Calling or attempting to call wild turkeys using any sound that mimics those made by a wild turkey is prohibited from March 1 to the opening day of the spring turkey hunts on all WMAs.
Wanton waste: Hunters are required to retrieve all crippled or dead game if possible and are prohibited from disposing of dead wildlife on WMAs.
Wheelchair-bound hunts, zones, or blinds are open to hunters who are totally and permanently confined to a wheelchair as certified by a physician. On wheelchair-bound big game hunts, each wheelchair-bound hunter must be accompanied by a non-hunting assistant (age 16 years or older), except on Cordell Hull WMA where the assistant may also participate in hunting. On wheelchair-bound waterfowl hunts, each wheelchair-bound hunter must be accompanied by at least one, but not more than three assistants (at least one of whom must be age 16 years or older), who may also participate in hunting.
Big Game Hunting on WMAs
Permits: WMAs with a “BG” after the name require a Big Game WMA Permit in order to hunt big game, in addition to the regular hunting and big game licenses. There are two types of big game WMA permits for all WMAs depending upon the hunt: Quota and Annual Nonquota Special Season/WMA Big Game. Quota Permits must be obtained by application to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and are allocated based upon a computer random drawing. Annual Nonquota Special Season/WMA Big Game Permits (Type 094), or Type 167 permits are available at all license agents and offices of the TWRA and are valid for all nonquota big game hunts, including the Cherokee WMA, for the entire license year. Lifetime Sportsman and Sportsman License holders do not need to purchase the nonquota permit, and may apply for quota permits at no charge.
On the Cherokee WMA, a Type 094, Type 095 or Type 167 is required to hunt big game and is valid for all nonquota Cherokee WMA big game hunts. Type 095 permits are not valid for any other WMA.
Cherokee party dog hunts: Applications are available from the TWRA Region III Office (931) 484-9571 beginning the first of June.
WMA permits are not transferable.
Youths hunting big game on a WMA: Proof of hunter education certificate is required for youths 10 years of age and older. An appropriate hunting license is also required for youths 13 years of age and older. All youths, age 6–16, are required to have a WMA permit (Type 094) or a quota permit where applicable, unless they are hunting with a Lifetime License. Youths age 6–16 may also apply for WMA quota hunts. Youths age 6–16 must be accompanied by an adult, 21 years of age or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device, who is not required to have a license (if not hunting) but must wear 500 square inches of fluorescent orange.
Young Sportsman’s Hunts: Young Sportsman’s deer hunts are for youths age 6–16 unless otherwise noted. Proper licenses and permits required. Each youth must be accompanied by a nonhunting adult 21 years of age or older. Both adult and youth must wear 500 square inches of fluorescent orange.
WMA Big Game Quota Hunts: Deadline for applications is July 22, 2020.
Muzzleloading firearms are legal on all gun hunts except where indicated under the individual WMA listings.
Antlered and Antlerless Defined: Deer taken on antlered deer only hunts must be male or female with antler protruding three (3) inches above the hairline unless otherwise specified. Antlerless deer are defined as those deer with less than three (3) inches of antler protruding above the hairline.
Big Game Check-In Procedures: See Big Game Check-in.
Treestands: The use of wire, nails or other metal material is prohibited in the building or attaching of climbing devices or hunting stands. Portable devices or stands that do not injure trees can be used. Hunting from permanent, attached stands is prohibited. Leaving any personal property, including treestands, unattended for more than 24 hours is prohibited without prior approval of the area manager. WMAs require that treestands must be marked with the hunter’s TWRA ID number.
August Deer (Archery) Season: This season is closed on WMAs that are open to statewide big game seasons, except for certain WMAs in Unit CWD.
Small Game Hunting on WMAs
On WMAs open with statewide seasons, the season dates, bag limits, weapon types, and ammunition types that pertain to the county where the WMA is located apply to that WMA except special regulations listed specifically for those WMAs still apply. Small game hunters hunting on public lands must comply with blaze orange requirements during big game gun and Young Sportsman hunts.
Permits: In order to hunt or trap small game on WMAs with a “SG” after the name, individuals are required to have one of the following permits in addition to the regular hunting or trapping license: Annual Senior Citizen Permit (Type 167); Annual Small Game only (Type 093); 1-Day Small Game and Waterfowl (Type 092); or Annual Small Game and Waterfowl (Type 091). (Lifetime Sportsman, Sportsman License holders or youths age 6–15 who are accompanied by an adult with a valid permit are exempt from purchasing a permit.)
Closures during big game hunts: Closures may apply, see specific WMA listing for those closures.
Quail: On WMAs open with the statewide seasons, quail season runs from the 1st Saturday in November until January 15, unless otherwise noted.
Crow may be taken on small game hunt days that coincide with the statewide crow season (see Small Game Regulations).
Falconry open with statewide falconry seasons.
Raccoon and opossum hunting is open on sunset of opening dates shown from sunset of the date shown to sunrise of the next day. Raccoon dog field trials permitted Sept. 1–Apr. 30 unless prohibited.
Field Trials: Small game (except raccoon) and retriever field trials permitted year-round with approval of the area manager unless otherwise specified.
Dogs are allowed for small game hunting unless special exception is indicated. A permit is required for dog training on areas which require a small game permit. On Cherokee and LBL management areas, dogs are allowed on improved roads and in permitted camping areas. All dogs must be detained by chain or leash if not being legally used for hunting.
Dogs are allowed during spring squirrel season except where noted.
Youth hunting small game on a WMA: Youths, ages 6–16, must be accompanied by a adult, 21 years of age or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device except as otherwise noted.
Waterfowl Hunting on WMAs
Permits: WMAs with a “WF” after the name require either an Annual Small Game and Waterfowl permit (Type 091); or a 1-Day Small Game and Waterfowl permit (Type 092) in addition to a regular hunting license (Type 001) and Waterfowl license (Type 005). There are three exceptions: Lifetime Sportsman, Sportsman License holders and youths age 6–15 who are accompanied by an adult with a valid permit, do not need a permit. Nonresidents, however, must have either a Type 091 or Type 092 in addition to their license.
Blind Site Drawings: A hand drawing will be held on the first Saturday in August for permanent waterfowl draw blind sites on Barkley Unit I, Big Sandy (including Gin Creek Unit), Camden Units I and II, Cheatham Lake, Gooch Unit A, Harmon Creek, Haynes Bottom, Old Hickory Units I and II, Tigrett, AEDC (Woods Reservoir), West Sandy, and Reelfoot. Individuals wishing to compete in the drawing must appear in person at the designated location, with the appropriate licenses and permits and submit an application between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. The drawing will be held immediately after the last person signs up. One application is permitted per person and no one may apply for more than one area. Each applicant must be at least sixteen (16) years of age to compete in the drawing or sign-on.
Permanent registered and permanent draw blinds: Waterfowl hunting on all the above WMAs (except Big Sandy, Camden Unit II, Harmon Creek, Barkley Unit II, Reelfoot, and West Sandy) permitted only from permanent blinds allocated by the hand-held drawing, unless otherwise specified. On Big Sandy, Camden Unit II, Harmon’s Creek, Barkley Unit II, Reelfoot, and West Sandy hunting is permitted from registered blinds and from temporary blinds or hides. Blinds, blind materials, boats, hides, and decoys must be removed from temporary sites at the end of the shooting hours each day.
Blind permittee, the person to whom the TWRA issued the permit, must occupy his/her blind by the legal daily opening shooting time on days he/she wishes to hunt, and if the blind is unoccupied at that time by the permittee, the first person or party occupying the blind shall be entitled to the privilege of its exclusive and uninterrupted use until the end of shooting hours that day. Exclusive and uninterrupted use entitles the person or party the right to exclude all others from the blind at the person’s or party’s option, except for law enforcement personnel engaged in the performance of their duties. The permittee has priority use (exclusive and uninterrupted) only if he/she is at the blind on or before the legal daily opening shooting time, regardless of whether or not the blind is occupied by another person or party, provided the permittee produces identification and his/her blind permit. No more than 8 individuals age 16 or older may occupy a permanent draw blind at any time. No restrictions on the number of youths under age 16.
Computerized Drawings: Blind/pool sites at Bogota, Chickamauga (Candies Creek, Johnson Bottoms, Rogers Creek, and Yellow Creek Units), Gooch (Unit E), Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, Thorny Cypress, and White Oak (Lebanon Pond area) will be allocated by a computerized drawing. Hunters can apply through any TWRA license agent or at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com from Sept. 2-23, 2020.
Hunters that are successful in drawing a blind/ pool site on Gooch (Unit E), Bogota and Thorny Cypress must, two weeks or more prior to their hunt date, return to TWRA a “Notice of Intent” which states they do intend to hunt their assigned blind/pool. Hunters that are successful in drawing a blind site on Chickamauga (Candies Creek, Johnson Bottoms, Rogers Creek and Yellow Creek), Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park and White Oak must by Nov. 6, 2020 return to TWRA a “Notice of Intent” which states they do intend to hunt their assigned blind pool.
If the “Notice of Intent” is not received by TWRA by the specified deadline, the blind/pool will become vacant. Any vacant blinds/pools, will be reallocated by a hand-held drawing.
Candies Creek, Johnson Bottoms, Rogers Creek and Yellow Creek Units of Chickamauga hand-held drawings for vacant blind sites will be held Monday, Nov. 17, 2020 at 6 p.m. (EST) at the Birchwood Community Center 5623 Hwy. 60, Birchwood, TN 37308. Information concerning availability of vacant blind sites can be obtained by contacting the Region III Office at 1-833-402-4698.
Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park hand-held drawing for vacant blind sites will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. and take place at 10 am. at the Park Recreation Lodge (for information contact Chris Park at (901) 876-5169.
Gooch (Unit E) hand-held drawings for vacant blind sites will occur each Monday from Nov. 23, 2020 – Jan. 25, 2021 at 6 p.m. at the Kenton Gym, 206 West College St., Kenton, TN 38233. For more information contact Rob Lewis at (731) 749-5587.
White Oak (Lebanon Pond area) will conduct a hand-held drawing for vacant blind sites on Saturday Nov. 14, 2020. Registration will begin at 8:30 am and the drawing will begin at 10:00 am at the Milledgeville City Park, behind the Milledgeville Fire Station, off of Highway 22A. For information contact Chad Harden at (731) 687-3444.
Bogota and Thorny Cypress, hand-held drawings for vacant blind sites will occur each Monday from Nov. 23, 2020 – Jan. 25, 2021 at 6 p.m. at the Dyersburg TWRA Workbase (355 Menzies Rd. Dyersburg, TN 38024). Information concerning availability of vacant blinds/pools can be obtained by contacting Josh Emerson at (731) 285-6124.
All hunting on computer drawn areas is permitted only from designated temporary blind sites. A blind may not be hunted unless a hunter who was drawn for that blind site and hunt date is present and possesses a valid TWRA blind site confirmation number. If a drawn hunter is not present the blind site will not be hunted. A hunter drawn for a blind may bring up to four additional hunters. Decoys and temporary blinds may be left out during the specified hunt period. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, hand-held drawing procedures may differ than described in this guide. Go to www.tnwildlife.org for updated information.
West Sandy (Springville Bottoms) and Reelfoot registered blinds West Sandy blind sites must be registered at the designated location on the first Saturday in August by 10:00 a.m. CDT. Reelfoot blinds must be registered with the TWRA manager prior to August 1. Lifetime Sportsman License or Sportsman License or an Annual Small Game and Waterfowl Permit (Type 091), or Type 167 is required at registration except Reelfoot where a Reelfoot Duck Blind Permit (Type 025) is required. Individuals claiming blind sites on these areas may not compete for blind site drawings on other areas.
All blind sites will be given a registration number, which must be displayed, using lettering 2 inches or larger inside the blind, or on a stake at floating blind sites. When floating blinds are moved to designated blind stakes, the number must be immediately transferred from the stake to the blind. No blind may be constructed, repaired or any floating blinds moved onto the area that have not met the deadlines for registering the blind and displaying the registration number. Unregistered and/or unnumbered blinds are subject to removal.
No blind may be locked or barricaded to deny entrance to other hunters when the blind is not in use.
Wheelchair-bound blind sites – Certain WMAs have special blind sites established for wheelchair-bound hunters. See specific WMAs for regulations if applicable.
Temporary blinds and decoys must be removed at the end of shooting hours each day, unless otherwise indicated under the individual WMA listing.
All decoys must be removed by the owner of the blind within ten days after the close of waterfowl season, unless otherwise indicated under the individual WMA listing.
Youths hunting waterfowl on a WMA: Youths, ages 6 – 16, must be accompanied by an adult, 21 years of age or older, who must remain in position to take immediate control of the hunting device except as otherwise noted.
Trapping on WMAs
Other TWRA lands not proclaimed as a WMA or refuge are open with statewide seasons unless otherwise indicated.
Permits: A WMA small game permit is required to trap on all areas that require a small game hunt permit.
On some WMAs, antlered bucks legal for harvest must have an outside antler spread of 15 inches or larger. When judging the size of antlers in the field, remember the general guideline that if the outside antler spread is wider than the buck’s ears, then the outside antler spread is at least 15 inches.