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.
Certain parts of the state have experienced tremendous turkey population growth. The popularity of the turkey as a game species versus concern about turkey depredation in some areas of the state have brought about new challenges concerning turkey management. Large numbers of turkeys in certain parts of the state have brought about conflicts and in some instances economic losses. The strategies in TWRA's current management plan seek to resolve these issues while optimizing the worth of the wild turkey.
In recent years, 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 poult survival in other localized flocks.
Good production in these areas provides an alternate place for hunters to hunt when local populations are low.
Turkey Disease Study
Thirty minutes before legal sunrise to legal sunset.
Legal Hunting Equipment
- Shotguns using ammunition with No. 4 shot or smaller. No restriction on 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.
Baiting, possessing rifles, using handguns, possessing or using electronic calls, using live decoys, and loaded ammunition larger than No. 4 shot are prohibited. Turkeys may not be shot or stalked from a boat in Dyer, Haywood, Lauderdale, Obion, Shelby or Tipton counties.
- 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.
- Turkeys defined as “bonus” animals on public land hunts do not count toward statewide bag limits (See WMA section for details).
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. 13, 2017 – Jan. 17, 2018.
Statewide Fall Turkey Season
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.
Sept. 23 - Oct. 27 and Oct. 3 - Nov. 3, 2017 (Same as deer archery-only season)
Oct. 14-27, 2017
Fall Turkey Bag Limit:
One (1) turkey, either sex, per county except that Bledsoe, Bradley, Crockett, Dyer, Giles, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Loudon, McMinn, Monroe, Polk, Shelby, Tipton, Unicoi, and Wayne counties are closed to all fall turkey hunting
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 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 a 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, Loudon, McMinn, Monroe, Polk, Shelby, Tipton, Unicoi and Wayne
The application period for the Spring Turkey Quota Hunt will be December 13, 2017 through January 17, 2018.
Statewide Spring Turkey Season
March 24-25, 2018
March 31-May 3, 2018
All Tennessee counties are open to wild turkey hunting including WMAs and refuges unless specifically listed.
One (1) bearded turkey per day, not to exceed four (4) per season. Turkeys taken on all quota hunts and specially designated WMAs are bonus turkeys.
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, unless taken on a WMA where turkeys are designated as bonus birds. 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 youth may be accompanied by a single non-hunting adult, who is not required to have a license.