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Turkey Season Regulations and Information

Draft Wild Turkey Strategic Management Plan Available for Review

Biology & Management

Now that the wild turkey has been restored to Tennessee, our goal is to ensure that a vigorous, self-sustaining population is maintained in all suitable habitats of the state. 

Turkeys will be managed to best meet the needs and desires of the people of Tennessee. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a long-range plan for managing Tennessee’s wild turkey resource; this plan will direct wild turkey management for the anticipated future.

Following restoration, certain parts of the state experienced tremendous turkey population growth. Large numbers of turkeys in these areas of the state have brought about conflicts and, in some instances, economic losses. The popularity of turkeys as a game species versus concern about turkey depredation in some areas of the state have brought about new challenges concerning turkey management. The strategies in TWRA's current management plan seek to resolve these issues while optimizing the worth of the wild turkey.

Wild turkey populations in many counties increased rapidly during restoration, reached a peak, and then declined for a time before stabilizing around carrying capacity, a natural occurrence for most restored wildlife populations. Localized annual fluctuations in population numbers are expected moving forward because spring turkey production, which primarily drives turkey populations, can be particularly affected by weather and other factors, especially when a population has reached the habitat’s carrying capacity.

More severe population declines have been observed in other areas of the state, causing local residents, hunters, and managers concern that additional population-level factors are impacting these populations. In response, TWRA seeks to determine the factors impacting these affected regions and as appropriate make management and hunting recommendations designed to improve conditions and wild turkey numbers.

Fortunately, as a result of the wild turkey restoration efforts, Tennessee has a wider distribution of huntable flocks which can absorb declines in some local populations without a significant drop in the total harvest. Since weather conditions vary greatly across the state some flocks exist in areas that will be unaffected by the same storms which could be detrimental to poultry survival in other localized flocks.

Good production in these areas provides an alternate place for hunters to hunt when local populations are low.

Wild Turkey Summer Brood and Fall Harvest Report

Turkey Disease Study

General Turkey Hunting Regulations

Hunting Hours

Thirty minutes before legal sunrise to legal sunset.

Legal Hunting Equipment

  • Shotguns using ammunition with No. 4 shot or smaller. No restriction on the number of rounds in the magazine.
  • Archery equipment (longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows).
  • Sighting devices including scopes are legal. Night vision, infrared, and other devices using artificial light to locate wildlife are illegal.
  • A pre-charged pneumatic gun (Airbow) which shoots an arrow is legal for all hunters to use during statewide Spring turkey season.

Prohibited Acts 

Baiting, possessing rifles, using handguns, possessing or using electronic calls, using live decoys, and loaded ammunition larger than No. 4 shot is prohibited. Turkeys may not be shot or stalked from a boat in Dyer, Haywood, Lauderdale, Obion, Shelby or Tipton counties.

Special Regulations

  • A licensed turkey hunter who has filled his/her bag limit or does not possess a valid permit for a quota hunt, may accompany another turkey hunter who has a valid permit (except on WMAs where prohibited) and assist them in calling, but may not have turkey hunting weapons in their possession.
  • On a Young Sportsman Hunt, youths must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 21 years of age or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device and is not required to have a license. Multiple youths may be accompanied by a single qualifying adult.
  • Turkeys must remain intact until checked in.
  • All turkeys harvested on public land hunts count toward statewide bag limits.   (See our WMA section in the Tennessee Hunting Guide for details about public land hunts.).

Wildlife Management Areas

  • Many WMAs are open with statewide seasons and bag limits, though some have restricted dates or quota hunts (see WMA section for details).
  • Calling or attempting to call turkeys using any means to mimic the sounds made by turkeys is prohibited from March 1 to opening day of spring turkey hunts on all WMAs.
  • WMA spring turkey quota hunt application period is from Dec. 9, 2020 – Jan. 13, 2021

Statewide Fall Turkey Season Dates

During the fall turkey seasons, a turkey hunter may not be in possession of both archery equipment and shotguns and/or rifles. Any turkey harvested during these seasons count toward the county bag limit. Hunters may move to a different county and hunt turkey after filling their bag limit in a county.

Archery:

Sept. 26- Oct. 30 and  Nov. 2 - Nov. 6, 2020 

Shotgun/Archery:

Oct. 17-30, 2020

Fall Turkey Bag Limit:

One (1) bearded turkey, per county, except that Bledsoe, Bradley, Crockett, Dyer, Giles, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lincoln, Loudon, McMinn, Monroe, Polk, Shelby, Tipton, Unicoi, and Wayne counties are closed to all fall turkey hunting.​

Hours:

Thirty (30) minutes before legal sunrise to sunset.

The following map shows the counties that are open for fall turkey shotgun/archery hunting. If a county allows Fall turkey hunting, the turkey may also be harvested with archery equipment during the deer/archery-only season. Turkeys harvested during the deer/archery-only season count toward the county bag limit. During deer archery-only season, a fall turkey hunter may not be in possession of both archery equipment and firearms. Counties closed to Fall turkey hunting:  Bledsoe, Bradley, Crockett, Dyer, Giles, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lincoln, Loudon, McMinn, Monroe, Polk, Shelby, Tipton, Unicoi, and Wayne.

State Wide Fall Turkey Seasons

Statewide Spring Turkey Season

Apply for the Spring Turkey Quota Hunt Online Here

Or use the mail-in form.

Note:  The new Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) Unit consists of Dyer, Lake, Lauderdale, Shelby and Tipton Counties.

Statewide (excluding the MAV Unit and Giles, Lawrence, Lincoln and Wayne Counties)

Young Sportsman1: March 27-28, 2021

Shotgun/Archery: April 3 – May 16, 2021

MAV Unit and Giles, Lawrence, Lincoln and Wayne Counties

Young Sportsman1,2: April 10-11, 2021

Shotgun/Archery: April 17 – May 16, 2021

Bag Limits

One (1) bearded turkey per day, not to exceed three (3) per season, except the season limit in the MAV Unit shall not exceed two (2) bearded turkeys, which count toward the statewide season limit.

1 Any turkey harvested during the Young Sportsman Hunt counts toward the statewide spring season limit of three (3).

2 Any turkey harvested during the Young Sportsman Hunt in the MAV unit counts toward the Unit spring season limit of two (2).

Spring Turkey Shooting Hours

Thirty (30) minutes before legal sunrise to sunset.

Spring Turkey On WMAs

The use of any type of food to feed or attract wild turkeys on WMAs is prohibited. Calling or attempting to call wild turkeys using any means to mimic the sounds made by turkeys is prohibited on all WMAs from March 1 until the opening day of the spring turkey hunts on the WMA.

Statewide Spring Young Sportsman Hunt

Ages 6-16. One (1) bearded turkey per day, which counts toward the statewide bag. Each young sportsman must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, 21 years of age or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device. Youth 10 years of age or older must meet Hunter Education requirements. Multiple youths may be accompanied by a single non-hunting adult, who is not required to have a license.

Spring Turkey Drawings

The application period for the 2021 Spring Turkey Quota hunts will be December 9, 2020, until midnight January 13, 2021.