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General Regulations

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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. Personal possession of bear accidentally killed by a motor vehicle is only lawful once a TWRA enforcement officer issues a possession tag for it.

Hunting Hours

All big game and small game species (except bullfrogs, raccoons, opossums, and the chasing of foxes and rabbits) are daylight hours only (30 mins before legal sunrise to 30 mins after legal sunset) except turkey and migratory birds which ends at official sunset. Exceptions under the migratory birds are sandhill cranes which end at 3 p.m. Along with opening day of dove season opens at noon.

Hunting and Trapping on Private Land

In Tennessee, state wildlife laws require hunters and trappers to obtain permission from landowners to hunt or trap on 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 here). 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, it is legal to hunt from any motorized vehicle (to include ATVs, golf carts, etc.), provided the vehicle is stationary (engine may be running). 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.

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

A person may possess a handgun at any time while lawfully 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. 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.

General 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.

Deer (Aug. Hunt)

Fourth Fri. in Aug.


Fourth Sat. in Sept.

Deer/Muzzleloader (excluding Unit CWD)

Third Sat. before Thanksgiving

Deer/Gun (excluding Unit CWD)

Sat. before Thanksgiving

Deer/Young Sportsman

Last Sat. in Oct.

First Sat. after the close of gun season

Spring Turkey

The closest Saturday to April 15

Turkey/Young Sportsman

Sat. and Sun. before Spring Turkey opens