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Tennessee Elk Season Regulations and Information


It had been about 150 years since elk wandered throughout Tennessee.   Early records indicated that elk were abundant in the state prior to being settled by European explores and colonists.   As these settlers moved westward the elk population declined.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) decided to reintroduce elk to the state in the late 1990’s.   Part of the agency’s mission is to restore extirpated wildlife when and where it is biologically and sociologically feasible.   Beginning in December 2000, the agency began conducting small releases of elk from Elk Island National Park (AL, Canada) into the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.   There were 201 Elk in total that were released over a period of eight years.

It is currently estimated that the Tennessee elk herd numbers a little over 400.   With this estimate, in 2009, Tennessee announced their first ever elk hunt in almost 150 years.   

Several partners have been involved with the project and contributed by doing the things they do best.   The partners include the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation, Parks Canada, Campbell County Outdoor Recreation Association, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, University of Tennessee and the U.S. Forest Service and TWRA.   Recently, the Safari Club International (SCI) and the Chattanooga Chapter of SCI have also assisted with funding.

Elk Hunting Permits

Elk harvest is regulated by a quota permit system. Landowners are not exempt from this permit requirement and must be drawn for a quota permit to hunt.

Fifteen (15) quota permits will be issued in 2017. One of the fifteen (15) permits will be issued to a qualifying non-profit wildlife conservation organization with all proceeds benefiting the TWRA Elk Management Program. Another one of the fifteen (15) permits will be issued to a resident Young Sportsman.

Elk permits are valid for designated Elk Hunt Zones (EHZs) on North Cumberland WMA and on private lands in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott counties.   All public land other than North Cumberland WMA is closed to elk hunting.   It is the responsibility of elk permit holders to obtain verbal or written permission to hunt on private property.   TWRA does not guarantee hunter access on private lands.

After the elk permit holders have been drawn, additional hand-held drawings will be held to allocate the seven (7) open EHZs designated on the North Cumberland WMA to permit holders.   Each permit holder will be allocated a separate EHZ. The Young Sportsman is able to hunt all seven (7) open EHZs.

Check here for the application period for quota hunts.

READ THIS: Carcass Importation laws are in effect, don't let ignorance of the law cost you a trophy of a lifetime!


Application Period

The application period for the 2017 WMA Big Game Quota & Elk hunts is over.

Customers who are interested in applying for both the WMA quota hunt and elk quota hunt will have to submit two applications, one for each. The computer drawings will be handled separately. 

Quota Hunt applications can be conveniently submitted via Internet, TWRA Licensed Agent locations, or TWRA Regional Offices, via the TWRA Mobile App.   Applications cannot be accepted by mail.

All hunting seasons are closed unless opened by specific Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission Proclamation. Big game animals are deer, turkey, bear and elk.


Special Regulations

  • Hunters will be assigned an EHZ as designated by TWRA. However, if during the course of the hunt, one hunter remains with an unfilled tag, that hunter may be re-assigned an EHZ according to TWRA specifications.
  • Upon harvesting an elk, the hunter must immediately attach the elk harvest tag provided by TWRA to the carcass. All harvested elk must be checked out at the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area Office on the day of harvest.
  • The harvest location must be adequately marked so that TWRA employees can identify the harvest site. This must be accomplished by either providing GPS coordinates or accompanying a TWRA employee to the harvest site
  • Use or possession of electronic tracking equipment is prohibited.
  • Bugling or calling of elk is prohibited within the EHZs during all elk hunts except by permitted hunters and their assistants.

Season Dates & Bag Limits

Season Type Season Dates Hunt Area Permits Bag Limit
(Regular Hunt)
Sep. 30- Oct. 6, 2017 EHZ's
and Counties designated
open by TWRA
7 1 antlered
elk per
(Regular Hunt)
Oct. 14 - 20, 2017 7 1 antlered
elk per
(Young Sportsman Hunt,
Ages 13-16)
Oct. 7-13, 2017 1* 1 antlered
elk per

Seven Elk Hunting Zones (EHZs) have been designated on the North Cumberland WMA. Each of the seven hunters is assigned a separate EHZ. EHZs are located on North Cumberland WMA only, located off I-75, north of Knoxville; all other public land is CLOSED to elk hunting. Hunting on private lands within the following counties is allowed with landowner permission: Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott Counties. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) importation restrictions for deer/elk apply.

Resident youths 13-16 may apply for quota permit. Young sportsmen 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 who must also comply with fluorescent orange regulations, as specified for legal hunters.

EHZs are located on North Cumberland WMA only; all other public land is CLOSED to elk hunting. Hunting on private lands within the following counties is allowed only with landowner permission: Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott Counties.