Since the discovery of CWD, hunters and landowners are our greatest partners in the fight against CWD. We believe the following programs will motivate some hunters to harvest more deer and therefore help reduce deer density and prevent the spread of CWD. Unfortunately, management options for CWD are limited, but TWRA staff will continue to do our part to identify new ways to help hunting continue to be the number one tool in keeping this disease in check.
Hunter incentive programs may not be applicable to all CWD affected counties. Those hunting in Unit CWD (Chester, Crockett, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, McNairy, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Tipton counties) have access to each of these programs. Those hunting in Carroll, Decatur, Dyer, Hardin, Henry, Wayne, and Weakley Counties have access to the Fight CWD Incentive Program and the Replacement Buck Program, but NOT the Unit CWD Earn-a-buck Program.
Please note that CWD affected counties may also fall under different Hunting Unit Regulations. If a county becomes CWD-positive or CWD high-risk, ONLY carcass transport restrictions and wildlife feeding restrictions immediately go into effect. Other Unit CWD regulations including methods of take and deer season dates, however, do NOT automatically go into effect. These changes require action by the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission. Check out this Deer Hunting Unit map to know which Unit you will be hunting in.
Fight CWD Incentive Program
TWRA has developed the Fight CWD Incentive Program (FCIP) which contains hunting incentives to support TWRA’s CWD management efforts.
1. Voucher Incentive:
- Hunters who receive a CWD-positive test result for a harvested deer will receive a voucher redeemable for $75 of processing fees at participating processors.
- Voucher is not redeemable for cash.
- Voucher may be gifted to another individual.
- Voucher may be redeemed during the 2022-2023 or the 2023-2024 deer season.
- Vouchers will be emailed and must be printed in order to be redeemed. Please ensure that your TWRA account has an up to date email address (Go to GoOutdoorsTennessee.com and login to update your information).
- Contact your local processor and ask if they are participating in this program.
- Thanks to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation for partnering with TWRA to make this program possible.
2. License Incentive:
- Any resident hunter who harvests two or more CWD-positive deer will be given an Annual Sportsman license for the 2023-2024 hunting season.
- If hunter has a lifetime license, the earned license may be gifted to another TN resident.
- Thanks to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation for vital support of this program.
Unit CWD Earn-a-Buck Program
Unit CWD hunters can earn additional bucks by harvesting antlerless deer and submitting them for CWD testing. This helps to increase the number of deer that are harvested and submitted for CWD testing.
Unit CWD includes Chester, Crockett, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, McNairy, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Tipton counties. Unit CWD does not include Carroll, Decatur, Dyer, Hardin, Henry, Wayne, or Weakley Counties at this time.
- Tennessee’s antlered deer bag limit (2) did not change; therefore, it still applies to hunters hunting Unit CWD as well as the rest of the state.
- Unit CWD hunters may earn an unlimited number of antlered deer for harvest in Unit CWD, in addition to the statewide antlered deer bag limit of two.
- An additional antlered deer is earned for every two antlerless deer harvested in Unit CWD and submitted for CWD testing.
- Earned antlered deer must be harvested in Unit CWD.
- Earn Bucks are valid for the current hunting season and do not roll over into the following season.
Replacement Buck Program
To assist CWD management efforts, replacement bucks will encourage hunters to continue hunting and harvesting. The Replacement Buck Program is an added incentive for hunters to have their deer tested for CWD.
This program is available to those hunting in CWD-affected counties including Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Madison, McNairy, Lauderdale, Shelby, Tipton, Wayne, and Weakley counties.
- Hunters will receive a replacement buck if they harvest an antlered deer with an official test result other than "not detected."
- There is no limit on the number of replacement antlered deer.
- Replacement bucks may only be harvested in Unit CWD or in the county where the qualifying CWD-positive antlered deer was harvested.
- Replacement bucks must be harvested in the current deer season or during the following year's deer season.
TWRA has developed two landowner programs as tools to manage CWD and stop the spread. These programs act on the principle “Fewer Deer = Fewer CWD-Positive Deer = Less CWD Transfer".
1. Landowner CWD Management Permits
These permits are issued by County Wildlife Officers directly to landowners or their designated agents to allow the removal of deer on their property outside of deer season for the purpose of CWD management. This program is available only in Fayette and Hardeman counties OR on properties that are within a 3-mile radius of a TWRA-confirmed CWD-positive location. If the property lies within a county other than Fayette or Hardeman county, the property owner must submit all deer harvested on the property to TWRA for CWD testing. If you own land in Chester, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henry, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Shelby, Tipton, or Weakley county and are interested in Landowner CWD Management permits, please contact your County Wildlife Officer or the Region 1 TWRA office at 731-423-5725 or TWRA.ASKRegion1@tn.gov.
TWRA provides CWD testing services for deer removed as a part of this program in all counties except for Fayette and Hardeman. If desired, landowners in Fayette and Hardeman counties can work directly with diagnostic laboratories that accept public testing requests.
Labs Providing Public CWD Testing Services:
Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Phone Number
Colorado State University 970-297-4168
University of Pennsylvania 717-787-8808 ext. 200
University of Wisconsin 608-262-5432 or 608-574-0432
University of Missouri 573-884-9280
Michigan State University 517-353-1683
Kansas State University 785-532-5650
Texas A&M University 979-845-3414
Utah State University 435-797-1895
Bronson Animal (Florida) 321-697-1400
2. Targeted Removal
Targeted removal of deer is one of the most promising tools for managing CWD in a recently affected area. The idea is to remove infected deer at the leading edge of an area affected by CWD and curtail the spread into unaffected areas. TWRA is contacting landowners with land that lies within a 3-mile radius of CWD-positive deer on the outskirts of the range of CWD in Chester, Crockett, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henry, Lauderdale, Madison, and Weakley counties to recruit them as partners to help fight CWD.
TWRA is partnering with USDA Wildlife Services to remove deer in these areas after hunting seasons through March 31st. With landowner permission, this additional take will occur on properties where the greatest potential exists to stop the spread of CWD. The goal is not to eliminate all deer from the area, but to remove as many deer as necessary to decrease the rate of infection and stop the spread.
This method, known as Targeted Removal, has proven to be successful in Illinois and is making a positive difference in Minnesota, Michigan, and Missouri. No removal will occur without the written consent of the landowners. All deer will be tested for CWD and, if CWD is not detected, the meat will be available to the landowner or donated to charity. Please visit the National Deer Association webpage to learn more about what targeted removal is and how it can be used to manage CWD.
If you own land in Chester, Crockett, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henry, Lauderdale, Madison, and Weakley counties and are interested in this program, please contact the Region 1 TWRA office at 731-423-5725 or TWRA.ASKRegion1@tn.gov.