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Hunting Equipment & Methods

All hunting seasons are closed unless opened by specific Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission proclamation.

Big Game Legal Hunting Equipment

Firearm, hunting device and ammunition Deer Bear Elk Turkey
Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with Number Four (4) or smaller shot No No No Yes
Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with T shot (0.20 inch diameter) or smaller No No No No
Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with single solid ball or slugs Yes Yes Yes No
Rifles and handguns using rimfire ammunition and air guns (.25 caliber or smaller) No No No No
Rifles and handguns using centerfire ammunition (full metal jacketed ammunition prohibited) Yes Yes Yes No
Muzzleloading firearms (rifles and handguns) .36 caliber or larger Yes7 Yes7 Yes7 No
Muzzleloading firearms (rifles and handguns) less than .36 caliber No No No No
Archery equipment (longbows, recurves, compounds, and crossbows) Yes2 Yes2 Yes2 Yes2

 

  1. If using this equipment while hunting during deer, elk or bear season you must be a legal big game hunter.
  2. Hunting arrows and bolts must be equipped with sharpened broadheads.
  3. Waterfowl may only be hunted with non-toxic shotof size T or smaller.
  4. Furbearers are defined as beaver, bobcat, coyote, fox, groundhog, mink, muskrat, nutria, opossum, river otter, raccoon, skunk, and weasel.
  5. It is illegal to use rifles & handguns using centerfire ammunition from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  6. Migratory birds, except waterfowl, may only be hunted with ammunition loaded with Number (4) or smaller shot.
  7. Muzzleloading firearms are defined as those firearms which are incapable of being loaded from the breech.

Small Game Legal Hunting Equipment

Firearm, hunting device and ammunition Migratory Birds Furbearers4 and crow All other small game
Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with Number Four (4) or smaller shot Yes3 Yes Yes
Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with T shot (0.20 inch diameter) or smaller Yes3,6 Yes No
Shotguns (including muzzleloading shotguns) using ammunition loaded with single solid ball or slugs No Yes1 No
Rifles and handguns using rimfire ammunition and air guns (.25 caliber or smaller) No Yes Yes
Rifles and handguns using centerfire ammunition (full metal jacketed ammunition prohibited) No Yes1,5 No
Muzzleloading firearms (rifles and handguns) .36 caliber or larger No Yes1,7 Yes1,7
Muzzleloading firearms (rifles and handguns) less than .36 caliber No Yes7 Yes7
Archery equipment (longbows, recurves, compounds, and crossbows) Yes Yes Yes

 

  1. If using this equipment while hunting during deer, elk or bear season you must be a legal big game hunter.
  2. Hunting arrows and bolts must be equipped with sharpened broadheads.
  3. Waterfowl may only be hunted with non-toxic shot of size T or smaller.
  4. Furbearers are defined as beaver, bobcat, coyote, fox, groundhog, mink, muskrat, nutria, opossum, river otter, raccoon, skunk, and weasel.
  5. It is illegal to use rifles & handguns using centerfire ammunition from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  6. Migratory birds, except waterfowl, may only be hunted with ammunition loaded with Number (4) or smaller shot.
  7. Muzzleloading firearms are defined as those firearms which are incapable of being loaded from the breech.

Illegal Hunting Equipment & Methods

Prohibited Acts

  • Possession of ammunition except that as specifically authorized is prohibited while hunting. The use or possession and/or the accompanying of anyone using or possessing raccoon calls, squallers, weapons, ammunition, or climbers while training dogs is prohibited during training season.
  • The use or possession and/or the accompanying of anyone using or possessing raccoon calls, squallers, weapons, ammunition, or climbers while training dogs is prohibited during training season, except raccoon calls may be used during authorized field trials.
  • The use of dogs in taking or attempting to take deer or elk is prohibited. Taking or attempting to take deer being pursued by dog, or dogs, is prohibited.
  • Juveniles under the age of eighteen (18) are prohibited from using handguns for the purpose of hunting.
  • No person shall make use of bait to take wildlife unless the bait has been removed and any electronic feeder disabled at least 10 days prior to hunting.
  • Possession of firearms prohibited while chasing coyote, fox, and bobcat with dogs from the first Saturday in November through the end of the deer season.
  • Predator calls while night hunting.
  • Pod arrows (any pod-type device for holding drugs or chemicals on an arrow) or any drugs or chemicals used in pod arrows while archery hunting.
  • Explosive arrowheads while archery hunting.
  • Firearms capable of fully automatic fire.
  • Firearms or archery equipment with any device utilizing an artificial light capable of locating wildlife.
  • Any electronic light amplifying night vision scope or device while in possession of a firearm or archery tackle between sunset and sunrise.
  • Electronic calls or live decoys while hunting wild turkey, foxes, and waterfowl (except electronic calls are legal during the Conservation Season for Blue, Snow, and Ross' geese).
  • Rifles or handguns with full metal jacketed ammunition.
  • Rifles or handguns with centerfire ammunition between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • Any loose shot other than non-toxic (as approved by U.S. Fishing and Wildlife Service) or any shotgun shell loaded with shot other than non-toxic while hunting waterfowl, coots, gallinules, Virginia rails, and sora rails.
  • Any firearm including air guns using archery bolts.
  • Tracer ammunition

Hunting From Motorized Vehicles or Vessels

Where hunting is allowed from vessels, it is legal to hunt from any vessel, so long as the vessel is not under forward motion from any influence of mechanical means or sail. On private property, it is legal to hunt from any motorized vehicle (to include ATVs, golf carts, etc.), provided the vehicle is stationary. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as authorizing hunting from a vessel, automobile or other motor vehicle while under power. Nothing in this subsection permits hunting from or across a public road or right-of-way.

Bag Limit

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 weapon. This person must also comply with all other legal requirements. Access for hunters accompanying may be limited on some WMAs. A bear hunter who has filled the daily or seasonal limit may continue to carry a firearm and take hogs where incidental taking is allowed.

Legal Hunting Hours

  • All big game and small game species (except bullfrogs, raccoons, opossums, migratory birds, and the chasing of foxes and rabbits) daylight hours only (30 minutes before official sunrise and until 30 minutes after official sunset) except turkey open only until official sunset.
  • Hunting of bullfrogs, raccoons, opossums, the chasing of foxes and rabbits, and the trapping of furbearers is permitted day or night unless restricted by Proclamation. No foxes or rabbits may be shot while chasing/training at night.
  • Hunting of migratory birds is to comply with federal regulations for migratory birds, unless restricted by proclamation.

Migratory Bird Regulations

  • Federal regulations relative to baiting, firearms, bag and possession limits, wanton waste, tagging, and methods of hunting are hereby adopted and will be applicable to hunting and/or taking of species listed.
  • No person shall hunt migratory game birds, except crows, with a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three (3) shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three (3) shells.
  • All persons who hunt migratory game birds are required to have in their possession a valid Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit (TMBP) in addition to other required Tennessee licenses and permits, with the following exceptions:
    • disabled veterans
    • landowners hunting on their own land
    • lifetime license holders
    • residents of Tennessee under 13 years of age
    • residents of Tennessee who are 65 or older
    • Military personnel on leave or furlough
  • Refer to federal regulations 50 CFR Ch. 1 (21.41 and 21.43) for conditions and restrictions applicable to the taking of crows in certain depredation or health hazard situations outside of the crow sport hunting season.
  • Pursuant to federal regulations, during the Blue, Snow, and Ross’ Geese Conservation season, waterfowl hunters may use unplugged shotguns and electronic calls.

Miscellaneous

  • Every game animal, wounded or unwounded by hunting and/or trapping and taken into possession by the hunter or trapper shall be immediately slain and become part of the daily bag limit. No person shall, at any time, or by any means, possess or transport live animals taken under the authority of hunting season proclamations.
  • Gigs, angling equipment, archery, rimfire, and air firearms are legal for taking bullfrogs.
  • Archery equipment is permitted during the archery, muzzleloader and gun seasons. Muzzleloader equipment is permitted during the muzzleloader and gun seasons.
  • Pursuant to TCA 39-17-1351, persons with a valid handgun carry permit may possess a handgun the entire year while on the premise of any TWRA refuge, public hunting area, wildlife management area (including the North and South Cherokee WMA), and private land. 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.
  • During a deer archery only season, a fall turkey hunter may not be in possession of both archery equipment and firearms.
  • During archery deer/bear seasons a properly licensed big game hunter may use air guns .25 caliber or smaller to hunt small game while archery hunting for deer/bear. During the muzzleloader and gun deer/bear season, a legal deer or bear hunter may use rimfire or air guns .25 caliber or smaller to hunt small game.
  • During an archery only or muzzleloader/archery only deer, bear or elk season, furbearers may not be taken with rifles and handguns using centerfire ammunition. During the gun/muzzleloader/archery seasons, furbearers may be taken by legal big game hunters licensed for the weapon they are using.
  • The use of suppressors/silencers is legal for persons possessing the required federal license from the United States Department of Treasury. Hunters using these devices must have proof of such license on their person.