General Hunting and Trapping Regulations in Tennessee

Possession of Live Animals

  • Rule: Possession or transport of live animals taken under hunting or trapping season proclamations is prohibited.
  • Native Species: It's illegal to take native species from the wild to keep as pets.

Protected Species

  • Prohibited Actions: The taking, killing, or illegal possession of protected species such as hawks, owls, songbirds, endangered species, or any other species without a set season (e.g., certain snakes) is against the law.
  • Expanding Species: Species like cougars and alligators, expanding into Tennessee, are protected. They cannot be taken until a hunting season is officially proclaimed.

Roadkill Law

  • Regulation: TCA 70-4-115 permits possession of wild game animals (except non-game and federally protected species) accidentally killed by a motor vehicle for personal use and consumption.
  • Deer and Bear: Special notification and possession rules apply for deer and bear killed by motor vehicles.

Hunting Hours

  • General Rule: Daylight hours only (30 minutes before legal sunrise to 30 minutes after legal sunset) for all big game and small game, except specific species like bullfrogs, raccoons, opossums, and for chasing foxes and rabbits.
  • Exceptions: Turkey and migratory birds hunting ends at official sunset, except sandhill cranes which end at 3 p.m. Dove season opens at noon on the opening day.

Hunting and Trapping on Private Land

  • Permission Requirement: Written permission is required to hunt or trap on private land in Tennessee, especially on land properly posted with "HUNTING BY WRITTEN PERMISSION ONLY" signs.

Hunting From a Stationary Vehicle

  • On Private Land: Legal to hunt from a stationary motorized vehicle, provided the vehicle is not moving (engine may be running). Hunting from or across public roads or right-of-ways is not permitted.

Assisting Hunters

  • After Bag Limit: Hunters who have reached their bag limit can accompany others, provided they don’t possess ammunition or hunting equipment and comply with all legal requirements.

Handgun Carry Regulations

  • Possession Rights: Handguns are allowed on TWRA refuges, public hunting areas, state-owned wildlife management areas, and certain national forest lands. Use of handguns for hunting must comply with all wildlife laws.

General Opening Dates for Various Species

  • Free Hunting Day: Fourth Saturday in August.
  • Squirrel: Fourth Saturday in August.
  • Grouse: Second Saturday in October.
  • Quail and Rabbit: First Saturday in November.
  • Deer (Aug. Hunt): Fourth Friday in August.
  • Deer/Archery: Fourth Saturday in September.
  • Deer/Muzzleloader (excluding Unit CWD): Third Saturday before Thanksgiving.
  • Deer/Gun (excluding Unit CWD): Saturday before Thanksgiving.
  • Deer/Young Sportsman: Last Saturday in October and first Saturday after the close of gun season.
  • Spring Turkey: Closest Saturday to April 15.
  • Turkey/Young Sportsman: Saturday and Sunday before Spring Turkey opens.

Sign Up for Huntlink!

Huntlink is a free program that will allow us to send you state regulations to your email for the states you hunt in. The benefits of this are:

1. PDF Format - Downloadable

2. Able to be read with or without reception

3. Delivered right to your email with no ads

And much more!


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.