TWRA Frequently Asked Questions

Email sign up link

What are legal firearms for hunting deer, bear, or elk?
Hunters can now use any rifles using center-fire ammunition for hunting deer, bear, or elk (if you are lucky enough to get drawn for an elk hunt). You may use shotguns using ammunition loaded with a single solid ball or slugs (no restriction on the number of rounds in the magazine). You may also use muzzleloading rifles, handguns, or shotguns of .36 caliber or larger.

Is there a length limit on arrows for archery hunting?

Is there a restriction on the broadheads that can be used for archery hunting in Tennessee?

Can Canada geese and doves be hunted at the same time?
Yes, HOWEVER, you must use a non-toxic shot when hunting geese and you CANNOT hunt over food plots or top sewn wheat or bush-hogged grain. In addition, you cannot hunt in a feedlot. Please refer to federal codes for additional information. 

How do I get in touch with my county wildlife officer?  
During regular business hours (8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. local time), contact the nearest of TWRA's four regional offices and ask that the officer, assigned to your particular county, give you a call. After hours (from 12:00 midnight - 7:00 a.m. local time), you may leave a message. Give your name, phone number, and the nature of your call. Someone will get back to you.

I've just hit a deer. What do I do? Who is responsible for the damage to my vehicle? 
All big game found dead should be left where found and need not be reported. If you are concerned about the dead deer on the state road, you can call the State Highway Department. If it is on a county road, you may call the County Road Department. Individuals wanting to keep big game found dead must first contact the local Regional TWRA office for authorization. Any vehicle in which an illegally possessed big game animal is found is subject to confiscation. Deer accidentally killed by a motor vehicle may be possessed by any person for personal use and consumption if the TWRA or a local law enforcement agency is notified within 48 hours. You will need to report the incident to your insurance company because the state is not liable for the damages caused by wild animals pursuant to T.C.A. 9-8-307.

To whom should I report a boating accident? A hunting accident?

Water Vessel Accident
Any water vessel or boating accident that involves death, disappearance, or serious injury of any person or property damage in excess of $2000.00 must immediately be notified to the TWRA.  An accident report shall be filed within 48 hours.  An accident report of property damage only in excess of $2000.00 shall be filed within 10 days.

Hunting Accident
Report any hunting accidents with injury, including falls from tree stands to the nearest TWRA four regional offices. 

Can I order my license online? 
Yes, you can order your license from the Tennessee Online Licensing System.

Where can I get my hunting/fishing/sportsman's license?
There are about 1,000 license agents which include most Wal-Marts and K-Marts; boat docks, bait & tackle, sporting goods, and convenience markets. You can also renew your boat registration at these locations.

I've lost my hunting/fishing/sportsman's license. What do I do?

If you have lost a copy of your annual license, you can now go online from your home/office/etc, and print a copy of the new license at no charge.  Please visit this website to order a new license:

f you have lost a hard copy of your sportsman’s license, or boat registration card, please contact our sales office for assistance at 615 615-781-6585.

Do I need a license to fish in my home county if I'm using a cane pole and natural bait? 
Yes. A County of Residence license (Type 020) is required for anglers fishing natural bait (worms, crickets, corn, etc), but not minnows to fish in their county of residence. No artificial lures can be used. The County of Residence fishing license can be purchased for $9.00. A supplemental license (Type 022) is required to fish for trout.

Who can hunt on a landowner's property without a license?
1. Landowners, their spouses,s, and children who hunt on farmland which is owned by said landowners. The aforementioned must be residents of Tennessee but need not reside on the land. This license exemption does not apply if the farmland is owned jointly or in common by unrelated persons.*

Landowner License Exemption: Persons hunting without a license under a farmland owner exemption must complete and sign a statement attesting where the property is located and how this land qualifies for a landowner exemption before hunting. All persons, including youth, hunting without a license under a farmland owner exemption must comply with the provisions of T.C.A. 70-2-204 (b). Landowners and their children hunting on their parent's land under this exemption are also exempt from Hunter Education Certification requirements.

2. Resident Tenants, their spouses, and dependent children who hunt on farmland owned by an individual or a family. The aforementioned must be residents of Tennessee and must actually reside on the land and have the permission of the landowner to hunt. A tenant is a person who, for money, free rent, or other consideration, cares for farmland. The tenancy must be agricultural in nature. Property owned by grandparents does not qualify their grandchildren for this exemption. (See Landowner Exemption above)

3. First cousins who own farmland jointly or in common may fish and hunt small game on the farmland. Their children may fish and hunt small game on the land as well. (See Landowner License Exemption above)

I own land in Tennessee but reside in another state. Do I qualify for the landowner license exemption?

Can grandchildren of farmland owners hunt on the farmland without a license?
Yes. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren, under the age of 16, may hunt without a license as long as they are Tennessee residents. The grandparent or great-grandparent must be the bona fide owner of the land and the grandchildren must have the landowner's permission. Hunting must only be done in a season when it is lawful to do so.

Are senior citizens required to have a hunting and fishing license? 
No license is required if you were born before March 1, 1926. Residents born after that date may purchase a Permanent Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap license (Type 166) when they reach their 65th birthday. This license may be obtained from any TWRA license agent. A valid Tennessee driver's license or proof of age and residency is required. Federal Duck Stamp, Special Quota Hunts, and WMA permits are still required (where applicable).

At what age must one have a hunting or fishing license?

The following applies to both resident and nonresident juvenile hunters. Those under the age of 10 may hunt without a license anywhere in Tennessee but must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older. Any hunter ages 10-12 needs only a hunter education certificate. There is a special Junior Hunt/Trap/Fish license available for ages 13-15. Hunters ages 13-15 are also required to have a Migratory Bird Permit. All hunters 16 and over must have a valid hunting license, and all necessary supplemental licenses (including Federal Duck Stamp and Migratory Bird Permit). See Senior Citizen requirements above.

The following applies to both resident and nonresident juvenile anglers: Those under the age of 13 may fish without a license anywhere in Tennessee. (Certain permits may be required for all ages). There is a special Junior Hunt/Trap/Fish license available for ages 13-15. All persons who fish, age 16 and over, must have a valid fishing license, and any necessary trout license or fishing permits where applicable. See Senior Citizen requirements above.

My son/daughter is 16 and has an adult license. Can he/she still participate in youth hunts?
Yes. The criteria for youth hunts is the hunter's age, not the hunter's license type. There are, however, special age requirements for youth waterfowl hunts.

What is a TWRA ID number?
It is a unique customer number generated when a TWRA license or registration is first purchased. This number will stay the same for that person in subsequent years for all license and registration purchases.

How do I become a TWRA License Agent?
If you are interested in becoming a TWRA License Agent, please contact the TWRA Revenue Office at 1-800-648-8798.

What law requires Hunter Education in Tennessee?  
Tennessee Code Annotated 70-2-108.

When did the Tennessee Hunter Education law become effective? 

What does TCA 70-2-108 say with regard to the Hunter Education Course? 
(a) Every person born on or after January 1, 1969, before hunting shall possess, in addition to all other licenses and permits required, proof of satisfactory completion of an agency approved hunter education course, except this provision shall not apply to persons under ten (10) years of age accompanied by an adult at least twenty-one (21) years of age. Additionally, the commission is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to create a one-time-only permit for a fee exempting persons from the hunter education requirements of this section for a twelve-month period, as long as the person possesses all other licenses and permits required, and if ten (10) years of age or older, the person must be accompanied by a licensed adult at least twenty-one (21) years of age or older who is hunter-education certified or otherwise exempt by law. For the purposes of this section, "accompanied" is defined as being able to take immediate control of the hunting device.
(b) The state board of education is encouraged to develop a section related to hunter education as a part of its safety education curriculum.
(c) This section does not apply to persons hunting and fishing within the guidelines of TCA 70-2-204 (Exemption )
(d) As punishment, any person violating the provisions of this section shall have all hunting privileges suspended and the person's license shall be taken by the arresting officer. Submission of proof of satisfactory completion of an Agency approved hunter education class shall entitle a person to the return of that person's license and the restoration of hunting privileges.

Who is exempt from TCA 70-2-108?
TCA 70-2-204 outlines the exemption(s) for the hunter education requirements. Basically the owners and tenants of farmlands, and their spouses and children, along with the owner's grandchildren and great-grandchildren under the age of 16.

How old must I be to take the Hunter Education class in Tennessee? 
According to Agency policy, you must be at least 9 years old on the day the class starts to be certified. This allows for situations where a 9-year-old will turn 10 during the upcoming hunting season.

How much does it cost to take the Tennessee Hunter Education Class?
There is no cost for taking a "Traditional" Tennessee Hunter Education Course. There is, however a fee for taking the "Online" course ranging from around free to $49.95. The "online" course fee is charged by the companies maintaining the course program/servers and not TWRA.

What is the difference in the "Traditional" and the "Online" hunter education class? 
The TWRA, along with all 50 states and foreign countries comprising the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA), has agreed upon a set of minimum standards for all hunter education courses. Those standards include 8 hours of classroom instruction. In the late 1990s, the members of the Region IV Federal Aid section (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico & and the U.S. Virgin Islands) of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service began to respond to the need for an alternative delivery method for hunter education. People working 2nd and 3rd shift jobs had a difficult time attending traditional courses taught in the evening hours of most days. A Compact Disc or CD-ROM was developed which later led to today's Web courses. This alternative delivery method was designed to alleviate having to sit in a classroom for 8 hours of instruction. 

Who teaches the Tennessee Hunter Education Class?
In Tennessee, a number of TWRA Personnel are certified to teach hunter education, however, the bulk of classes are taught by Certified Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors. This is common in almost every state. Many of these volunteers are hunters and responsible gun owners who have a desire to share their knowledge and expertise with others.

When are hunter education classes scheduled in my county?
Historically, the classes were taught in August, September, and October. In recent years, with the significant rise in statewide turkey populations, the number of hunter education courses have two annual spikes, one in February and March and another in the August, September, and October period. Since the majority of the hunter education courses are taught by volunteers who also enjoy hunting and outdoor shooting sports, most of the courses are still offered before hunting seasons. Waiting until the last minute is not advisable because there are very few courses offered after the hunting season starts. Instructors must then give up their own hunting time to teach courses and that is too much to ask of a volunteer. Also, TWRA employees are busy working on enforcement and biological data collection details and are not available to teach courses during this time.

When are hunter education "Field Days" scheduled in my county?
As explained above, most courses and Field Days are scheduled prior to hunting seasons. In the case of Field Days, approximately 5 instructors are usually needed to conduct a typical Field Day. Since a Field Day only lasts 4 hours, a class of 50 students becomes a major task. All the students must be registered at the beginning of class. Then, while someone teaches the review, one or two instructors must go over each registration form to ensure accuracy and completeness. Each student's name and date of birth are transferred by hand to the permanent card. Another instructor will then prepare certificates for the potential graduates. Not all volunteer instructors have been trained in administering a "Field Day", so not all offer this option.

Do I bring my own guns to the hunter education class?
No. It has always been the policy of the TWRA that no students bring guns from home to a Tennessee Hunter Education Class. TWRA will provide the firearms and the ammunition needed to complete the course.

What kinds of guns will we shoot in class and how many shots will we fire? 
Live firing in a Tennessee Hunter Education Class varies depending upon the facilities an instructor has available. Live firing typically consists of 3 to 5 shots with a shotgun, rifle, air rifle, or sometimes a bow. The primary focus at live firing is not just accuracy, but more about safe gun handling.

What will I learn in the Tennessee Hunter Education course? 
Many people choose not to enroll in a Tennessee Hunter Education Course because they say they do not hunt or they do not plan to hunt. Hunting is the "theme" used in this course of instruction, but there are many more important elements to the course. A typical hunter education course will teach the student the following topics: (1) Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety (important not only for hunting but any activity where guns are involved, including home firearms ownership). (2) History and reasons we teach hunter education (3) Ethics and Responsibilities of hunting and firearms use and ownership. (4) Primitive hunting equipment such as archery and muzzleloaders. (5) Tree Stand Safety (This section is in response to the fact this is the nation's number one reason for hunting accidents, injuries due to falls from tree stands). (6) Modern Firearms (including today's rifles, pistols, and shotguns). (7) Basic shooting skills. (8) Learning to be safe with firearms (including home firearms safety, transporting firearms in vehicles and boats, and ATVs). (9) Hunting skills, such as planning, preparation, hunting strategies, vital shots, and field care of game after harvest. (10) Wildlife Conservation and Identification. (11) Preparation and survival skills (including basic first aid). So, even the occasional home firearms owner can surely benefit from this course by applying basic, simple, safe firearms handling skills at all times when firearms are present.

I took hunter education in another state when I was younger. Is this still good? Is this good in Tennessee? 
Tennessee has reciprocity with all members of the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) and honors all other certifications of fellow IHEA members. You must have proper documentation to show proof of successful completion should you be checked by a TWRA Officer.

I took the course in Tennessee many years ago and I have lost my card and certificate. What must I do to get a new one? 
You must call the Regional office where you live and have them verify that you successfully completed the course. Then you can go to any TWRA license agent that sells licenses on the Remote Easy Access Licensing (REAL) System and purchase a Type 500 hunter education replacement card for $7.00.

I took the course in another state many years ago and I have lost my card and certificate. What must I do to get a new one? 
You must call that state and comply with their regulations to get a new card.

I took the course in Tennessee many years ago and I have lost my card and certificate and I have called and there seems to be no record that I took the course. What do I do now? 
Go back and try to remember all you possibly can about your course. What year was it? How old were you? Who was the instructor? What County was it? Did you ever use a "nickname"? Did you get certified under a maiden name? Occasionally we are not able to find the necessary proof and you will have to take the course again.

I took hunter education in Tennessee and passed the course and I have all the proof and documentation. Does this count for states that require bowhunter education? 

I took bowhunter education in another state and passed the course and I have all the proof and documentation. Does this count for hunter education in Tennessee? 

I am exempt from hunter education in Tennessee, but I want to go to another state and hunt. What are their requirements? 
You can go to the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) and click on "Hunter Education" or go to this link and you can see all the requirements for all states.

Does Tennessee require bowhunter education for bowhunting? 

Which states require bowhunter education for bowhunting? 
At least 16 states currently require bowhunter education for bowhunting. You may find that on the IHEA website or go to this link for more information.

Why is my Social Security Number needed to take this course? 
Because the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is a Law Enforcement Agency with regulatory authority, it is required by law to record the Social Security Number of each student applicant for hunter education. Your SSN is protected and becomes part of your permanent record with TWRA, but it is not used openly or printed on any public document.

Hunting Regulations

How do I prepare my dove field so it will not be baited? 
Contact the TWRA office in your region and request the brochure "Dove Hunting in Tennessee". This publication will give you detailed information on how to prepare a wildlife food plot for doves. It will also provide examples of normal agricultural practices over which doves may be hunted.

Is it legal to use a crossbow during archery season?
Yes. It is legal for anyone to use a crossbow during any season that allows archery.

Is it legal to use an electronic call to hunt coyotes?
Yes. It is legal to use an electronic call (during daylight hours only) for all game species except for fox, wild turkey, and waterfowl.

If I shoot a deer and it makes it across a property line before it falls, do I have the right to go get it?
No. You must always obtain permission from a landowner to go onto his property even if the deer is in plain sight.

Can I shoot an albino deer?
No. Hunting, trapping, or possession of albino deer is prohibited. An albino deer is a deer with a lack, or significant deficiency, of pigment in the skin and hair, and has pink eyes. White deer that are not albino can be taken during deer seasons.

How do I know if a deer counts as a statewide deer or a bonus deer?
Some deer killed on WMA hunts may count as bonus deer, not counting against the statewide bag limit. For WMAs that list a specific hunt date and bag limit, these deer are considered bonus deer and do not count against the statewide bag limit unless otherwise noted.

How many antlered bucks can I harvest?
The antlered buck limit is one per day not to exceed 2 for the year. The overall limit of 2 bucks also includes any antlered bucks taken on the special statewide youth hunts.

Can I take a limit of deer from Unit A and another limit from Unit B?
A hunter may harvest a limit of antlerless deer in both units, except that the hunter may take no more than a total of 2 antlered bucks per year (statewide limit).

How long do the antlers have to be to constitute a deer qualifying as a buck?
Antlered deer are male or female deer with antlers that are a minimum of three inches (3") in length.

Can I use my bow or crossbow during the muzzleloader and gun seasons and kill both of my bucks with a bow?

Can I hunt with a handgun?
Yes, (depending on the season) but you must be 18 years of age.

For Deer, Bear, and Elk hunting, center-fire handguns are legal in all counties except where regulated by legislative acts. Full metal jacketed ammunition is prohibited.

Handguns using rim-fire ammunition and air rifles are legal for hunting small game except for migratory birds.

Can I take a child, who is under 10 years of age, hunting?
Yes, but you must be at least 21 years of age and always in a position to take control of the child's hunting device.

Do I have to tag an otter or bobcat and how do I get them tagged?
Bobcat pelts are not required to be tagged unless they are to be sold. If so, the hunter/trapper needs to contact their TWRA regional office to obtain a tag. All river otters must be tagged by the harvester with the U.S. CITES tags. Before the end of the legal taking season, the hunter/trapper needs to contact the TWRA regional office for tags to be attached to the pelts.

TN Deer Unit Map


What unit am I located in?

Unit A

Unit A includes Bradley, Carter, Hamilton, Hawkins, Johnson, Knox, Loudon, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Rhea, Roane, and Sullivan counties.

Unit B

Unit B includes Anderson, Bledsoe, Campbell, Claiborne, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Grundy, Hancock, Jackson, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Scott, Sequatchie, Van Buren, Warren, and White counties.

Unit C

Unit C includes Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Jefferson, Unicoi, Union, and Washington counties.

Unit D

Unit D includes Blount, Monroe, Polk, and Sevier counties.

Unit L

Unit L includes Bedford, Benton, Cannon, Carroll, Cheatham, Coffee, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Franklin, Giles, Hardin, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lake, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Moore, Obion, Perry, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Wayne, Weakley, Williamson, and Wilson counties.

Unit CWD

Unit CWD includes Chester, Crockett, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Shelby, and Tipton counties.

What permits/licenses do I need to hunt waterfowl?

TN Resident

Combo Hunt and Fish

Migratory Bird


Federal Duck Stamp
(Plus any WMA or Reelfoot permits if applicable)

Sr/Disability/Disabled Vets
Their license includes everything but the :

Federal Duck Stamp

Migratory Bird (is included but they still have to go through checkout and fill out the survey)
Plus any WMA or Reelfoot Permits

Sportsman holders (both annual and lifetime)
Their license includes everything (including Reelfoot and WMAs) but the :
Federal Duck Stamp

Migratory Bird (is included but they still have to go through checkout and fill out the survey)


Small Game and Waterfowl

Migratory Bird

Federal Duck Stamp

(Plus any WMA or Reelfoot permits if applicable)

Can I kill both bucks for my statewide limit during the velvet hunt?

Yes, but that is their limit for the entire season. The statewide limit is 2 antlered deer, no more than one per day. The only exceptions would be if you drew a quota hunt with a bonus deer. Unit CWD may differ.

Hog Hunting:

Technically, there is no hog "hunting" in Tennessee anymore, so there is no license needed or seasons/weapon types setup.  However, landowners can control wild hogs on their own property with few restrictions.  if they want to enlist the help of others such as yourself they need to obtain a Landowner Wild Hog Control Exemption for their property from TWRA and list you as a designee.  On public land, only specific designated Wildlife Management Areas allow the incidental take of wild hogs during certain big game seasons.  Here's a link to the Wild Hog page in our hunting guide

The fish in my pond died. Did someone poison my pond?  
If it is more than one species, it is usually the result of a low dissolved oxygen fish kill. This occurs when the oxygen level in the pond water becomes too low for the fish to survive. An inverse relationship exists where the warmer the water, the lesser its ability to retain oxygen. Therefore, most fish kills occur during the summer. Pond "turnovers" (the destratification of water layers) during the late summer and early fall can also cause low dissolved oxygen fish kills.

Sunlight drives photosynthesis in phytoplankton or aquatic plants which produces oxygen that becomes dissolved in the water and that fish breath. During prolonged cloudy periods with no direct sunlight, and oxygen deficiency occurs. Oxygen levels can become too low to support the fish.

Feeding fish can compound this problem or result directly in a low dissolved oxygen fish kill. Adding fish food increases organics in the form of either fish waste or uneaten food. The decomposition process of both can utilize enough oxygen that levels become lethally low. Probably 95% of the people who call regarding a fish kill, admit they feed their fish. As a result, we do not recommend feeding fish.

I have a lot of algae in my pond. How do I get rid of it?
Grass carp (white amur) should be stocked at a rate of 15 fish per acre. They should be at least 10" in length when stocked in ponds with established fish populations so the largemouth bass does not eat them. They can be purchased at most farm stores, however, call to get delivery schedules. They usually cost around $10 per fish. In 4-5 years when the grass carp get very large, they will become inefficient and need to be replaced. Grass carp are not effective at controlling watermeal and duckweed. Young (1-3 yr. old) grass carp can usually give at least partial control of duckweed, especially when no other aquatic plants are present. (Note: If you are not careful, grass carp can swim out of a pond by way of an outlet or spillway when overflows occur if you do not have a barrier or screen in place)

If I use herbicides to kill algae in my pond, can it harm my fish?
Herbicides can result in a low dissolved oxygen fish kill if applied improperly. Always read and follow label directions. Treat at most only 1/4 of the pond's surface area at once. Wait a week before treating the next 1/4 of the pond's surface. If you treat too large an area, the decomposition of dead plant matter will consume too much oxygen resulting in a fish kill. Also, plan treatments during sunny, clear days so that photosynthesis is occurring in the untreated areas of the pond and producing oxygen required for fish survival.
Always suggest stocking grass carp as an alternative or possibly after the initial herbicide application has reduced the aquatic vegetation to an acceptable level. Grass carp are a biological control with no adverse impacts to the pond ecosystem.

What species of fish should I stock in my pond?
If your pond exceeds 1/2 surface acre, you can stock bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish. The stocking rates are 500 bluegill fingerlings per acre, 100 largemouth bass fingerlings per acre, and 50-100 channel catfish per acre. We usually recommend 50-75 channel catfish per acre. Higher stocking rates can result in competition for food, slower growth rates, and possible disease outbreaks. The 500 bluegill fingerlings per acre can be a mix of 75% (375) bluegill and 25% (125) redear sunfish (shellcracker). Do not stock hybrid sunfish with the above combination of fish species as they usually revert back to an undesirable such as a green sunfish or warmouth.

The bluegill should be stocked in the fall, usually October. They will grow through the fall, winter, and spring and should be sexually mature by the summer. Largemouth bass fingerlings are stocked at this time, usually in early June. The newly hatched bluegill fry provides food for the largemouth bass fingerlings. Largemouth bass keeps the bluegill from overpopulating. It is hard to maintain population balance with multi-species such as largemouth bass and bluegill in very small ponds i.e. < 1/2 acre. We recommend stocking only channel catfish. Most people, however, are determined to stock largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. In this case, give them the stocking rates and explain they can harvest very few fish, especially largemouth bass. Overharvesting largemouth bass will result in overcrowded, stunted bluegill. Recommendations for harvests are provided in our pond booklet, Managing Small Fishing Lakes and Ponds in Tennessee.

How do I stop my pond from leaking?
This is not an easy process. It usually involves heavy equipment and clay materials. Bentonite is a powdered, clay material that expands when wet. You can purchase it at most farm stores. If the location of the leak can be determined, a mix of clay dirt and bentonite can be compacted into the area using heavy equipment such as a sheep's foot roller. Smaller areas can be dug out and replaced with clay and bentonite. In these small areas, a handheld "wacker packer" vibrating compactor can be rented to provide compaction of the clay fill. You may want to contact your local NRCS office for technical advice. They can get the number of the local office by calling the statewide NRCS office at 615-277-2531.

The Tennessee mandatory boating education law is similar to the driver’s license law.  You acquire the study materials, study, purchase the $10.00 Type 600 boating safety exam permit, then take an approved boating safety exam administered by an approved representative of the TWRA.

Who is required to get a boating safety education certification?
Any Tennessee resident born after January 1, 1989, must show the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Card as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam.
Non-Tennessee residents born after January 1, 1989, must show proof of successful completion of a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved course.  

Where can I prepare for the exam?
There are many avenues to study: 

You may call 615-837-6013 and have study materials sent to you (free) and self-study, or send an email with your name and address, and materials will be sent to you.

You may log onto and study online for free.  There are practice tests on this site that are a great study tool to prepare for the exam. 

Boating Safety Class: There are many classroom classes offered throughout the state.  

US Power Squadron and US Coast Guard Auxiliary – hold classes periodically.  Classes are usually scheduled after the boat shows.

Note: The TWRA-issued wallet card is the only certification that will be recognized as meeting the requirements of the law for Tennessee residents.

I live in another state but have a house on a Tennessee lake. My boats are registered in Tennessee. Does my 14-year-old need to be certified in Tennessee?
This law applies to Tennessee residents however, if an out-of-state person is in this age category and is operating a boat in Tennessee, he/she must show proof of successful completion of any NASBLA-approved boating safety course.

Out of state is determined by the legal address of the person.

If you are certified in another state, and you were born after January 1, 1989, and move to Tennessee, then you must pay the $10.00 Type 600 boating safety exam permit to a licensed agent and take the TWRA-administered exam.

Is there an age restriction for anyone wanting to take the exam?
Yes, 11 years old. The type 600 boating education permit will not be sold to anyone younger than 11. 

Boat Registration

Do I have to register my ______? (jet ski, sailboat, canoe, etc) 
All vessels powered by a motor, trolling motor, or sail must be registered. Boats powered by paddles or oars do not have to be registered.

How do I register my boat?

Note: Because documentation requirements vary from county to county, please call your County Clerk's office prior to going there to ensure that you take the proper documentation in order to register your boat.

Initial Registration
The Tennessee Department of Revenue requires proof that sales taxes have been paid before the boat's initial registration. If the boat was purchased from a Tennessee boat dealer, the dealer should provide the owner with an application that has been certified showing taxes have been paid. The white copy of the application is mailed in for processing. The yellow copy is kept as a temporary permit to operate until the application has been processed.

Boats Transferred from one Individual to another
A Tennessee County Clerk must certify applications for boats purchased between individuals. The clerk will collect taxes and usually requires a bill of sale from the individuals involved. The white copy of the application is mailed in for processing. The yellow copy is kept as a temporary permit to operate the boat until the application has been processed.

Renewing a Registration That Does Not Involve a Change of Ownership.
Complete the renewal notice that was mailed to you and return it along with the correct fee to the address shown on the notice.


Renew your registration at a business that sells TWRA hunting and fishing licenses (i.e. many Wal-Marts and K-marts, etc.). The business will collect the fee and issue a receipt that serves as a temporary permit until the new certificate and decals arrive by mail in about 2 or 3 weeks.

Note: After 10 years without renewing your boat, you are dropped from the system and need to register as if it were your initial registration.

Registration by Boat Docks or Boat Rentals or Registration by Dealers or Manufacturers.
Call the Boat Registration Office of the TWRA in Nashville, (615) 781-6618 and ask for details.

How long does it take for my application to be processed?
Please allow 30 days for your registration to be processed and returned. If your new decals and certificate have not arrived within 30 days, call (615) 781-6585 to check on the progress.

How do I get a new card or decals for the one I've lost?
Go to your nearest TWRA license agent. There are about 1,000 license agents which include most Wal-Marts and K-Marts; boat docks, bait & tackle, sporting goods, and convenience markets. The replacement cost is $7.00.

What is the minimum age to operate a boat?
Persons under 12 years old may not operate a powered boat of more than 8.5 horsepower unless they are accompanied by an adult who can take immediate control of the vessel. If the accompanying adult is born after January 1, 1989, then he/she must have the boating safety certification card onboard. Personal watercraft may not be rented by anyone younger than 16 years of age.

Where can I find my boat's hull identification number?
The boat's hull identification number should be a combination of 12 letters and numbers. It is generally located in the upper right corner of the boat's transom (the flat part of the boat where the motor is mounted). The number for pontoon boats can also be found on a bracket between the pontoon and deck in the lower right corner of the back of the boat.

I've moved and need to notify TWRA of my new address. How do I do that? Either call your new address to (615) 781-6618 or send a letter to the main TWRA office to the attention of the Boating Division notifying them of the change.

Boating Regulations

What is the current life-jacket law?
All boats, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one wearable Personal Flotation Device (life jacket) for each person on board or for each person being towed on water skis, etc. Boats 16 feet in length or over (except canoes and kayaks) must also be equipped with one Type IV (throwable) Personal Flotation Device in case someone falls overboard. All children 12 years of age and younger are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while on the open deck of a recreational boat except when anchored, moored, or aground. 

Are there cougars in Tennessee?  

Cougar related evidence

Can deer with EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) be harmful to humans? 
The most important thing for hunters, landowners, and the public to know is that this is a regular and natural event that routinely afflicts white-tailed deer and that it is not transmissible to humans or any other animals.

I've found an orphaned animal. How can I care for it? 
It is best not to pick up any wild animal. Most "orphans" have parents nearby waiting for you to leave. If you know for certain the animal is orphaned, call the nearest of TWRA's four Regional Offices, and they will put you in touch with the nearest rehabilitator. DO NOT try to take care of the animal yourself.

Does your agency pick up dead deer or need to know about one on the road? 
No longer. If you wish to report a deer found dead on a state road, please call the State Highway Department. If it's on a county road, please call the County Road Department.

My child wants to make a pet of a box turtle (or any wild animal) we found in the woods. How do I care for it? 
In Tennessee, no one is allowed to keep any animal as a pet taken from the wild, which to many people's surprise includes tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, baby birds, squirrels, raccoons, and young deer. If the animal is injured, call the nearest of TWRA's four Regional Offices for a list of permitted rehabilitators, who will keep the animal until it can be returned to the wild. If it cannot be returned, the rehabilitator will turn the animal over to someone with a special Educator's Permit, who may be able to use the animal in a classroom or teaching setting.

How do I keep deer off of my property? 
There are several options available to you that should prevent deer from coming into your property. These solutions involve various fencing types, repellents, or scare tactics. TWRA distributes a brochure called Managing Deer Damage in Tennessee which discusses these options. This brochure should be available at your regional TWRA office or can be requested from the Wildlife Division (615) 781-6610.
Coping with Deer Damage in Your Flower Garden is another brochure that lists natural deterrents such as trees, shrubs, vines, etc. that may deter deer from entering your garden. This brochure is available from the Wildlife Division at the main TWRA office.

What do I do about other wildlife damage to my garden? 
Call the Wildlife Division in the Nashville office and someone there will be able to discuss the issue with you and find an appropriate solution.

There's a skunk, opossum, etc. living under my house will you remove them? 
TWRA permits certain private individuals who do animal damage control. For a list of animal damage control permit holders, click here.

What permits/licenses do I need to ride ATVs on WMAs?

  • Resident options:
    • Combo hunt/fish plus WMA small game Permit (type 001 and 093)
    • Annual Sportsman (type 004)
    • OR High Habitat Conservation Permit (annual-type 035 or daily-type 036)
  • Nonresident options:
    • 7-day hunt/small game/waterfowl plus WMA small game permit (type 072 and type 093)
    • Annual hunt- small game/ waterfowl plus small game WMA permit (type 071 and type 093)
    • OR High Habitat Conservation Permit (annual- type 037 and daily- 038) 

Where can I get a Wildlife Management Area map? 
Black and White WMA maps are available free of charge from the regional and main offices. Either stop by an office to pick up the map you need (generally found in the lobby) or call the regional office in which the WMA is located and have them mail a map out to you. Some downloadable maps are available from our GIS (Geographic Information System) Department by clicking here: GIS WMA Maps.

May persons possessing handgun carry permits possess their handguns while on WMAs, PHAs, or refuges open to hunter access? 
Recent legislative changes provide that individuals who possess a carry permit may possess their handgun while on TWRA wildlife management areas, public hunting areas, or refuges open to hunter access. The handgun may not be used for taking game unless specifically permitted by TWRA regulation. This change will now allow those with carry permits to possess their handgun at times when previously it would not have been permissible such as during archery hunting. TWRA will apply this same interpretation to those possessing carry permits while hunting on private lands.

When is a muzzleloader or crossbow considered to be unloaded?
A muzzleloader is considered to be unloaded if the cap is removed from the nipple. A crossbow is considered to be unloaded if the bolt is removed from the device.

Where can I ride my ATV?
The operation of any motorized vehicle is confined to roads not designated as closed. Off-road vehicles are restricted to roads open to other motorized traffic (except where prohibited by state or federal law). ATVs, dirt bikes, and other non-licensed motorized vehicles cannot legally be operated on public roads. If you have questions about specific roads on a WMA, it is best to contact the Wildlife Area Manager listed in the Hunting Guide.

How can I get a job as a Wildlife Officer?
All applicants for the position of Wildlife Officer with the TWRA must have a bachelor's degree in wildlife management, fish management, or wildlife biology, or a related degree. If the potential applicant meets that requirement, he or she needs to submit a completed online application that provides the details of your related working experience, educational accomplishments and you must attach a copy of your latest transcript and diploma. After the application is submitted, the applicant is rated based on education and experience. Qualifying applicants will be listed on the State's employment register.
Hiring usually takes place once a year at the end of May or the beginning of June.

TWRA Human Resources office: (615) 781-6594