Tennessee Turkey Hunting


Seven-Bearded Turkey Harvested, Spring 2023 

Tennessee turkey hunter Cameron Freshour harvested this seven-bearded gobbler in Greene County. Cameron's bird weighed 18.5 lbs., had 1 1/16" spurs, and over 46 total inches of beard!

Multiple bearded turkeys are uncommon, with estimates suggesting less than 10% of gobblers have more than one beard.

While TWRA does not keep turkey records, NWTF does and unsurprisingly, multiple bearded birds top the list with the world record having 13 beards! Want to know how your spring gobbler stacks up? Visit https://www.nwtf.org/the-lifestyle/turkey-records-home and run it through their scoring calculator.

How to identify an Adult Gobbler

General Turkey Hunting Regulations

Legal 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) that shoots an arrow is legal for all hunters to use during statewide turkey gun seasons.

Prohibited Acts (see General Regulations for more details)

  • 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.

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 tagged and checked in.
  • All turkeys harvested on public land hunts count toward statewide bag limits (see WMA section for details).
  • Fanning or reaping turkeys on WMAs is prohibited. (See WMA General Regulations for more detail)

Wildlife Management Areas

  • Many WMAs are open with statewide seasons and bag limits, though some have restricted dates or quota hunts.
  • Calling or attempting to call turkeys using any means to mimic the sounds made by turkeys is prohibited from March 1 to the opening day of spring turkey hunts on all WMAs.
  • See the Quota Hunt page for turkey quota hunt application dates.

Spring Turkey Seasons Dates & Limits

All counties are open to spring turkey seasons, however, there are some exceptions on WMAs and public lands.  General Turkey Hunting Regulations apply.


Young Sportsman: April 6 - 7, 2024

Shotgun/Archery: April 13 - May 26, 2024

Bag Limits

One (1) bearded turkey per day, not to exceed two (2) per season, only one can be a jake.  An adult gobbler is defined by having one of the following: wing feathers have white barring all the way to the tip, tail feathers are the same length, beard is longer than 6 inches, or a spur is at least 1/2 inch long.  (Learn how to spot the difference)

Any turkey harvested during the Young Sportsman Hunt counts toward the statewide spring season limit of two (2).

Spring Turkey Shooting Hours

Thirty (30) minutes before legal sunrise to sunset.

Statewide Spring Young Sportsman Hunt

Ages 6-16. One (1) bearded turkey per day, which counts toward the statewide bag of two (2), only one can be a jake. 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 Quota Draw

The application period for 2024 Spring Turkey Hunts will be December 20, 2023 -  January 10, 2024.  Find out how to apply on the Quota Hunt Page

Fall Turkey Season Dates & Limits

Open in all counties, except: Bledsoe, Bradley, Crockett, Dyer, Giles, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lincoln, Loudon, McMinn, Monroe, Polk, Shelby, Tipton, Unicoi, and Wayne counties.  General Turkey Hunting Regulations apply.

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 the fall season counts towards the county bag limit.  Hunters may move to a different county and hunt turkey after filling their bag limit in a county.


Sept. 23, 2023 - Oct. 27, 2023, and Oct 30, 2023 - Nov. 3, 2023 (same as deer archery-only season)


Oct. 14 -27, 2023

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.​


Thirty (30) minutes before legal sunrise to sunset.

Wild Turkey 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. Read the full plan:  2020-2025 Wild Turkey Strategic Management Plan

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 has 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.

Biological Technical Reports

Turkey Disease Study