Tennesseans love to hunt. In fact, with roughly 700,000 paid license holders, it’s the fourth most active hunting state. With long seasons and few restrictions, Tennessee hunters especially enjoy whitetail deer hunting, many single counties reporting harvests of over 4,000 animals. If you want to help increase those numbers even further, start by learning the dates of the Tennessee deer hunting season and other important regulations.
Table of Contents
Tennessee Deer Hunting Season Dates for 2022-2023
The deer hunting seasons in Tennessee are determined by the deer hunting unit of which there are six. Seasons are generally specified by method of take, but there are some special seasons.
|Season||Unit A||Unit B||Unit C||Unit D||Unit L||Unit CWD|
|Archery (A)||Sept. 24-Oct. 28|
Oct. 31- Nov. 4
|Sept. 24- Oct. 28|
|Young Sportsman** (G/M/A)||Oct. 29-30|
|Muzzleloader/Archery (M/A)||Nov. 5-18||N/A|
|Gun/Muzzleloader/Archery (G/M/A)||Nov. 19-Jan. 8||Oct. 31-Jan. 13|
|Private Lands Only (G/M/A)||N/A||Jan. 9-13||N/A|
**A young sportsman is defined as a youth six to 16 years of age.
Tennessee Bag Limits
Unlike many other states, Tennessee has no statewide bag limit. Rather, bag limits are determined by the unit. Each of the six units has separate antlered and antlerless bag limits, and the antlerless bag limits also vary by season.
Antlered deer are defined as deer of either sex with at least one antler at least three inches long. Antlerless deer are all others. This means that rare antlered does still count as antlered deer while button bucks do not.
Antlerless Bag Limits
The antlerless bag limits are determined by both deer hunting unit and season. If you reach your limit during that season, you can continue taking antlerless deer in another unit.
|Season||Unit A||Unit B||Unit C||Unit D||Unit L||Unit CWD|
|August||Closed (No antleress deer harvest allowed)|
|Archery (A)||4||3 per day|
|Young Sportsman (G/M/A)||2||3 per day|
|Muzzleloader/Archery (M/A)||2||1||3 per day|
|Gun/Muzzleloader/Archery (G/M/A)||2||1||1 (Nov. 19-Dec. 4 only)||1 (Nov. 19-25 only)||3 per day|
|Private Lands Only (G/M/A)||N/A||3 per day||N/A|
Antlered Bag Limits
The antlered bag limits are a bit more straightforward. It’s two antlered deer for the entire deer hunting season and one per day in Units A, B, C, D and L. You may take three antlered deer in Unit CWD over the entire hunting season and one per day.
Tennessee Deer Hunting License Requirements and Costs
Anyone hunting deer in Tennessee must have a license with the following exceptions:
- Tennessee residents born before March 1, 1926
- Military personnel on leave in Tennessee
- Resident landowners and their immediate family, including their children’s spouses, who hunt on their own land
- Resident grandchildren and great-grandchildren under age 16 who hunt on land owned by their resident grandparents or great-grandparents
- Tenants and their immediate family hunting on the farmland they care for
To hunt whitetail deer in Tennessee, you’ll need a base hunting license as well as a supplemental big game license based on your preferred method of take. If you plan to use multiple methods of take, you’ll need multiple supplemental licenses.
Alternatively, you can purchase a sportsman license that includes the privileges of all the supplemental licenses.
Annual Resident Licenses
The following people qualify for Tennessee resident licenses:
- People with a valid Tennessee driver’s license or state ID
- People who have lived in Tennessee for 90 consecutive days with the “genuine intent” of making the state their permanent home, proving so with any of the two following documents:
- Current Tennessee voter registration card
- Current Tennessee vehicle registration title
- Form I-94 from the US Citizenship & Immigration Service
- Current rental or mortgage contract or deed of sale for property or receipt for Tennessee real estate taxes within the last year
- Military personnel on active duty in Tennessee
- Students with a student ID from a Tennessee school, colelge or university they are attending for at least six months
Additionally, Tennessee allows “Native Tennessean” nonresidents to purchase licenses at the same cost as residents. A Native Tennessean is someone who was born in the state but no longer resides there.
|Hunting and Fishing Combo||001||Base license||$33.00|
|Big Game Gun||009||Supplemental license required to hunt deer with guns||$33.00|
|Big Game Archery||010||Supplemental license required to hunt deer with archery equipment||$33.00|
|Big Game Muzzleloader||011||Supplemental license required to hunt deer with muzzleloaders||$33.00|
|Sportsman||004||All-inclusive license with all supplemental privileges||$165.00|
|Junior Hunt/Fish/Trap||002||Ages 13-15, includes all supplemental privileges||$9.00|
|Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap||164||65 or older, includes all supplemental privileges||$4.00|
|Senior Citizen Sportsman||167||65 or older, includes all supplemental privileges as well as free quota applications||$49.00|
Additional annual resident licenses are available by application for certain groups such as the intellectually disabled and wheelchair bound.
Lifetime Sportsman Licenses
Tennessee offers lifetime licenses with the cost depending on age. These licenses are valid for hunting, fishing and trapping and include all supplemental privileges as well as WMA permits. They are only available by application.
|Age Range||License Code||Cost|
|65 and over||405||$329.00|
|Adopted child under 13||407||$320.00|
Additionally, senior citizens aged 65 and older can purchase a Permanent Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap License for $49.00. It includes all supplemental privileges but no WMA permits, and fees apply for quota hunt permits.
Nonresident licenses are available for those who don’t meet Tennessee’s resident or native requirements. These do not include any WMA permits or quota hunt permits. You can purchase nonresident licenses for the full season or just seven days.
|License||License Code||Time Frame||Cost|
|Junior* All Game||085||Seven Days||$26.00|
|All Game||074||Seven Days||$214.00|
Hunter Education Requirement
To obtain a license in Tennessee, you must present proof of having completed an agency-approved hunter education course if you were born on or after January 1, 1969. If you have not completed one of these courses, you can apply for an apprentice hunting license (code 012) for $11.00. This allows you to hunt accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years old or older.
You may only purchase an apprentice license for up to three consecutive years. It is a supplemental license, so you have to purchase all other required licenses and permits including the base license.
Wildlife Management Area Permits
If you wish to hunt in a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), you must purchase a permit unless you already receive this privilege via a Lifetime or Sportsman license. A WMA permit for big game is $24.00 except in the Cherokee WMA where it’s $18.00.
What Weapons Can You Hunt With in Tennessee?
In seasons during which archery equipment is allowed (those marked with an A), longbows, recurve bows, compound bows and crossbows are all legal for hunting whitetail deer. There is no minimum draw weight. The only restriction is that arrows and bolts must be equipped with sharpened broadheads.
In seasons during which muzzleloaders are allowed (those marked with an M), the following firearms are legal for hunting whitetail deer:
- Muzzleloading shotguns using ammunition loaded with a single solid ball or slug
- Muzzleloading rifles and handguns shooting .36 caliber or larger
Muzzleloading shotguns may not shoot ammunition loaded with Number Four shot or smaller or T shot or smaller.
In seasons during which modern guns are allowed (those marked with a G), the following firearms are legal for hunting whitetail deer:
- Shotguns using ammunition loaded with a single solid ball or slug
- Rifles and handguns using centerfire ammunition
The following firearms are prohibited:
- Shotguns shooting ammunition loaded with Number Four shot or smaller
- Shotguns shooting ammunition loaded with T shot (0.20 inches in diameter) or smaller
- Rifles and handguns shooting rimfire ammunition
- Rifles and handguns shooting full metal jacketed ammunition
- Fully automatic firearms
Can You Hunt With an AR-15 in Tennessee?
You can hunt with an AR-15 in Tennessee. The original AR-15 shoots centerfire ammunition and is therefore legal for hunting whitetail deer in the state. That said, since many people use the term “AR-15” loosely to refer to any similarly styled rifle, make sure that your model doesn’t break any of Tennessee’s restrictions on firearms.
What Types of Deer Are Popular in Tennessee?
However, it’s actually not the only deer species in the state. In 2000, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency began an elk restoration project which has involved introducing 201 elk into the North Cumberland WMA.
Now Tennessee actually has an elk hunting season, though it’s strictly controlled with only a handful of permits issued by lottery. Each permit allows the harvest of a single antlered elk. The season is confined to certain elk hunting zones within the North Cumberland WMA as designated by the TWRA.
Tennessee Elk Season Dates and Permit Quotas
|Season Type||Season Dates||Permits Issued|
|Archery-Only (A)||Sept. 30-Oct. 6||7|
|Young Sportsman (G/M/A)||Oct. 7-13||1|
|Gun/Muzzleloader/Archery (G/M/A)||Oct. 14-20||7|
What Else Is Popular to Hunt in Tennessee?
Aside from whitetail deer and elk, Tennessee has two other animals they define as “big game.” These are wild turkey and black bear. However, there’s a lot more to hunt than just big game. The TWRA manages hunting seasons in these other categories as well:
- Game Birds
- Migratory Birds
- Sandhill crane
- Mourning dove
- Canada goose
- Wood duck
- Small Game
- Spotted skunk
- Striped skunk