Turkey Hunting Regulations Overview

General Hunting Guidelines

Hunting Hours

Turkey hunting is permitted from thirty minutes before legal sunrise until legal sunset. These times may vary depending on the specific location and time of year, so hunters should verify local sunrise and sunset times.

Legal Hunting Equipment

The following equipment is authorized for turkey hunting:

  • Shotguns: Ammunition must be No. 4 shot or smaller. There is no restriction on the number of rounds in the magazine.
  • Archery Equipment: Includes longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows.
  • Sighting Devices: Scopes and other sighting devices are legal. However, devices that use artificial light, such as night vision or infrared, to locate wildlife are prohibited.
  • Pre-Charged Pneumatic Guns (Airbows): These guns, which shoot arrows, are legal for all hunters during statewide turkey gun seasons.

Prohibited Practices

Certain actions and equipment are not allowed:

  • Baiting.
  • Possession or use of rifles and handguns.
  • Electronic calls.
  • Live decoys.
  • Ammunition larger than No. 4 shot.
  • Shooting or stalking turkeys from a boat in specific counties (Dyer, Haywood, Lauderdale, Obion, Shelby, Tipton).

Special Regulations

  • Licensed hunters who have reached their bag limit, or do not have a valid permit for a quota hunt, can assist another hunter with calling but cannot possess turkey hunting weapons.
  • During Young Sportsman Hunts, youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult (21 or older) who is capable of controlling the hunting device. Multiple youths can be supervised by one adult.
  • Turkeys must remain intact while in the field until they are officially checked in.
  • All turkeys harvested on public lands count towards the statewide bag limit; there are no bonus turkeys.
  • Fanning or reaping turkeys on WMAs is prohibited.

Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)

  • Many WMAs adhere to statewide seasons and bag limits, but some have specific dates or quota hunts.
  • From March 1 to the opening day of spring turkey hunts, calling or attempting to call turkeys using any method to mimic their sounds is prohibited on all WMAs.
  • The application period for WMA spring turkey quota hunts is from December 20, 2023, to January 10, 2024.

How to Identify an Adult Gobbler

Recognizing an adult gobbler is essential for turkey hunters, especially where regulations differentiate between juvenile and adult birds. Adult gobblers typically display one or more of these distinct characteristics:

  1. Beard Length: An adult gobbler often possesses a beard that extends over 6 inches in length. This is a prominent feature that can be easily spotted, even from a distance.

  2. Tail Feather Uniformity: The tail feathers of an adult gobbler are uniform in length, creating a symmetrical fan shape when displayed. This is in contrast to younger birds, whose tail feathers may be uneven.

  3. Spur Length: Adult gobblers have spurs on their legs, and these are usually at least 1/2 inch long. Spurs are pointed, bony projections that grow from the legs, and their length can be a reliable indicator of age.

  4. Wing Feather Bar Patterns: Another distinguishing feature is the wing feather pattern. Adult gobblers' wing feathers have white barring that extends all the way to the tip. This pattern is more defined and reaches farther than in younger birds.

Tennessee Turkey Hunting Laws & Regulations
Tennessee Turkey Hunting Laws & Regulations

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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.