Tennessee Hunting Season

Tennessee Hunting Season: Rules, Ethics, & Game Highlights

To participate in hunting activities in Tennessee, both experienced hunters and beginners must be comprehensively aware of the state’s hunting season calendar. This knowledge is necessary to ensure compliance with legal regulations and prioritize safety when hunting. This article will examine important dates hunters should remember for common game species such as white-tailed deer, turkey, and small game. In addition, we will provide a clear summary of any recent regulatory modifications or revisions released by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) to ensure your adherence to the most current regulations. Both hunters and landowners must possess a comprehensive understanding of the seasonal windows and governing criteria. Continue reading to familiarize yourself with the details and intricacies of Tennesse’s hunting calendar.

Tennessee's Hunting Scene: A Quick Glimpse

Basically, Tennessee has a robust hunting culture because of the state’s varied landscapes and plenty of natural resources. On the other hand, many desirable game species find their ideal home in Tennessee, which ranges from the Great Smoky Mountains’ thick woods to the Middle Tennessee’s rolling hills and agricultural fields. White-tailed deer are the most desired game animal. The state’s post-oak-hickory words, ridge tops, and river bottoms are also home to wild turkeys. In addition, those who enjoy hunting small game can find rabbits and squirrels in suitable wooded and brushy areas across the state. Additionally, there are public and private reserves in the northern parts, close to the Kentucky border, where you can go grouse or duck hunting. The diverse ecosystems in Tennessee have contributed to the state’s reputation as a top spot in the Southern for eco-conscious hunters. 

Tennessee Game Season: What You Can Hunt

Midway through the month, October marks the beginning of Tennessee’s general firearms deer season, which usually continues into mid-November. Hunting seasons for wild turkeys, small game, and black bears occur together. From the beginning of September into February, hunters can chase rabbits and squirrels. Depending on the zone, resident Canada geese can be lawfully harvested from late January to the end of September. From the end of November to the beginning of February, you can go duck hunting along the main rivers. There are a variety of short windows in September for several bird species, including doves, quail, woodcock, snipe, and gallinules. 

Overview of Tennessee Hunting Season Dates

Big Game in Tennessee

White-Tailed Deer

The state’s most popular big game animal, the white-tailed deer, is found in abundance throughout Tennessee hunting season. The state’s deer management program ensures a healthy population and sustainable hunting opportunities.

  • Archery Only: Aug 25-27 Units A, B, C, D, L, Private Lands, Antlered deer only.
  • G/M/A: Aug 25-27, Unit C, W, D, Private Land, and selected public lands.

Wild Turkey

Once on the brink of extinction in Tennessee hunting season, wild turkeys have made a spectacular comeback thanks to conservation efforts. Today, they thrive in forests across the state.

Spring Turkey

  • General Season 2024: April 13 – May 26, 2024
  • Bag Limit: 2 bearded turkeys
  • Young Sportsman: (6, 16) April 6, 7, 2024
  • Bag Limit: 1 Bearded Turkey per day

Fall Turkey: 

  • Season A:  Sep 23-Oct 27, Oct 30 to Nov 3, 2023
  • Season S: Oct 14 to Oct 27, 2023

Black Bear

With its sprawling forests and mountainous terrains, Tennessee is a prime location for black bear hunting. The state’s black bear population has increased, making it a sought-after destination for hunters.

Found primarily in the mountainous regions of East Tennessee, black bears are a prized game species for many hunters. However, hunting them requires skill, patience, and a deep respect for these magnificent creatures.

No Dogs:

  • Season Archery Only: Sep 23 – Oct 20 (All Zones)
  • Season G/M/A:  Nov 18 – 21, Zone 1, 2, 3
  • Young Sportsman: (6, 16) Oct 28 – 29, Zone 1, 2, 3

TN Hunting Season: Small Game


The general squirrel season begins in early September and runs through late February. Hunters can pursue both fox and gray squirrels throughout Tennessee’s 95 counties during this six-month period.


The rabbit season overlaps almost entirely with squirrels, typically opening in early September and extending into late February or early March depending on location. Cottontails can be found statewide in suitable brushy habitats.

Spring Squirrel

Additionally, some counties offer an optional spring squirrel season March 1-21 aimed at reducing population densities.

Bull Frog

The bullfrog season runs concurrently with other small games, usually from early September to late October or November before populations begin to decline for the year.


Hunting and trapping seasons help manage healthy populations of fur-bearing species.


Bobat can be hunted during a season from December to January, and trapped from November through the end of February.


The general raccoon season occurs from mid-October through February during overnight hours.

Tennessee Bird Game:

Tennessee offers world-class waterfowl hunting in addition to grouse and quail. Every fall and winter, hunters go to the Mississippi and Tennessee river flyways in search of ducks, geese, and coot. Peak months are December and January, with seasons typically lasting from late October to mid-January, though certain zones may stretch into late January or early February. Quality public properties like Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, Cameron Gove WMA, and Shelby Forest WMA lure shooters hoping to bag mallards, gadwalls, northern pintails, green-winged teal, and geese. Early woodcock season begins in the Cumberland and Tennessee river valleys in mid-September.


While more abundant in the north, ruffed grouse have a season that lasts from mid-October to late December/ early January. Mixed Hardwood forests with aspen, birch, and mountain laurel provide ideal habitat.


Lastly, bobwhite quail, the quintessential Southern upland bird, can be abundant in good cover across Middle and West Tennessee. On average, the season lasts from mid-October to late November / early December, while certain places have shorter seasons. Birds are hunted in early successional thickets, fencerows, and field edges.

Must-Have Equipment for Tennessee's Top Game Species

Deer Hunting Rifles and Shotguns

Centerfire/rimfire rifles and shotguns in calibers such as 270, .30-06, .30, .243, and 20/12 gauges are safe bets.

Waterfowling Equipment for Success

Waders, coats, and gloves aid in weather resistance. Kayaks and john boats offer mobility for recovering downed birds.

Upland Bird Hunting Essentials

Flying birds can be quickly targeted with lightweight shotguns or over/under with binoculars.

Outfitting for Tennessee's Diverse Hunting Opportunities

Tennessee’s varied terrain, from rolling plains to mountain valleys, offers a variety of hunting opportunities that necessitate versatile equipment. Whether pursuing whitetails in farm areas, waterfowl along major rivers, or ruffed grouse in dense woodlands, versatile equipment provides various wildlife experiences. Several options, such as treestands, ground blinds, watercraft, or adaptable weaponry, allow you to march the best configuration to changing conditions throughout the season. Scouting also aids in locating game-rich areas.

Firearms and Archery Supplies

The match game is pursued with appropriate draw-weight bows centerfire/shotguns in legal calibers/gauges.

Outfitting for Waterfowl Hunting

Waders, boats, and insulating apparel can withstand harsh conditions.

Small Game Hunting Equipment

Shotguns, for example, Squirrels, rabbits, and other animals can be effectively hunted with 22-caliber rifles and dogs.

Required Safety and Compliance

During seasons, individuals must wear Gear Blaze orange clothing from all angles as required by regulations. Authorities issue tags and permissions as necessary.

Tennessee Hunting Licenses and Regulations

How Can I Get a Tennessee Hunting License?

Licenses can be obtained from TWRA-authorized agents online, by phone, or in person. There are annual choices for residents and non-residents and more minor game-specific permits. When hunting, a valid license must be clearly displayed.

Important Regulations Every Hunter Should Be Aware of

Rule include:

  • Restricted hunt dates.
  • Bag limits.
  • Authorized weapons.
  • No-hunting area buffers.
  • License and blaze orange requirements.

Regulations also enforce ethical hunting techniques, including responsible retrieval, proper animal handling, and respecting private property, are also regulated. Before stepping out, familiarize yourself with the rules.

Penalties for Violations of Hunting Regulations

Willfully breaking Tennessee’s hunting restrictions carries serious consequences designed to encourage cooperation. Fines for small transgressions range from $50 to $2500-5,000 for significant criminal offenses. Loss of hunting privileges is another typical consequence, with first offenses resulting in a one-year suspension. For crimes such as night hunting, hunting over bait, or other malicious infractions, even more significant fines and imprisonment of up to 30 days can be enforced. Hunters are responsible for studying and following all legislation regulations to prevent unwanted consequences.

Ending Notes

Finally, in order to have fun and be prosperous during Tennessee hunting season, it is essential to follow the annual schedules and rules. With some planning ahead ( in terms of licenses, gear, and area scouting), hunters can reap world-class rewards in the form of abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes in the volunteer state. Whether you’re a first-time deer hunter, interested in upland bird or waterfowl hunting, or want to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, it’s important to participate responsibly and legally to appreciate the state’s rich history As regulations change with research-based management, staying up-to-date with TWRA news is essential for compliance. Above all else, be careful and fair when pursuing your quarry, and remember to respect your fellow hunters and their land. If stakeholders take the right measures, hunters will retain access to Tennessee’s land for years to come.