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General 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.

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

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.

Crows, doves, ducks, geese, gallinules, rails, turkey, woodcock, and snipe: Shooting hours are one-half hour before legal sunrise to legal sunset, except for dove hunting on opening day when shooting hours will begin 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 in Farmland Owner License Exemption Statement or 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

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 Sportman

Sat. and Sun. before Spring Turkey opens

Summer feeding of deer could be hurting turkeys. Consider abstaining from summer wildlife feeding.

We all are aware that wild turkey numbers have been in decline across the Southeast US. Research has confirmed that declining populations are primarily due to poor reproduction and recruitment, not overharvest. Supplemental feeding of wildlife, which has grown as a common practice in Tennessee and elsewhere, may be contributing to these declines. Wildlife managers are concerned that corn put out for deer, especially during the summer, is hurting turkey numbers. A fungus called Aspergillus flavus grows in feed exposed to hot, humid conditions. This fungus produces toxins, known as aflatoxins, that are highly toxic to game birds, especially turkey poults and quail. New research has shown that in the summer, aflatoxin levels in feed can reach deadly levels to wild turkeys after only a few days (read the full report at:

Besides the risk of aflatoxin poisoning, other consequences to wild turkeys from feeding wildlife may include:

  • Boosting population numbers of small mammal nest predators
  • Concentrating nest predators near nesting sites and brooding cover which may lead to higher predation rates
  • Unnaturally concentrating game animals (e.g., deer and turkeys) which increases the chances of disease outbreaks and spread

Please consider these potential unintended consequences as you make decisions about wildlife feeding, especially during the hot, humid summer months. Contact Regional offices with questions.