What is a WMA?
A Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a protected area set aside for the conservation of wildlife and for recreational activities involving wildlife such as hunting and fishing. The work done in these areas is focused on conservation, and where appropriate, the restoration of fish, wildlife, plant resources, and habitats for the benefit of all Tennesseans for generations to come.
There are over 100 WMAs and refuges across Tennessee managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Varying in size from 53 to 625,000 acres, all WMAs are available to the public for various outdoor activities, although certain regulations do apply.
On WMAs open with statewide seasons, the season dates, bag limits, weapon types, and ammunition types that pertain to the county where the WMA is located apply to that WMA, except special regulations listed specifically for those WMAs still apply.
General WMA Regulations
Acts of disorderly, obnoxious, or boisterous conduct, including acts that interfere with the orderly process of hunting, are prohibited. Violators shall be removed from the area and/or prosecuted.
Possession of any alcoholic beverage, narcotic drug, barbiturate, or marijuana while hunting within the management area is prohibited. No individual may be under the influence of these substances at any time while within a management area. The use of any alcoholic beverage is prohibited in these areas year-round: Catoosa, Cheatham, Chuck Swan, Forks of the River, Laurel Hill, Pea Ridge, and Prentice Cooper, except in designated camping areas.
Statewide bag and possession limits apply unless a special exception is indicated.
The placement or depositing of any type of food to feed or attract wildlife on WMAs is prohibited.
Year-round unless otherwise indicated.
Persons may possess handguns in addition to legal weapons used for hunting the entire year while on the premises of any TWRA refuge, public hunting area, state-owned wildlife management area, or to the extent permitted by federal law, national forest land maintained by the state, and private land. For other federally managed facilities or locations. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize a person to use any handgun to hunt unless such person is in full compliance with all wildlife laws, rules, and regulations.
Horses are permitted on roads and trails open to motorized traffic and other trails or routes established for their use, except as otherwise indicated. Riding off roads into fields, woods, or on foot trails is prohibited unless otherwise provided.
Hunters (except raccoon, opossum, and turkey hunters) may not enter prior to two (2) hours before sunrise and must be out of the area by one (1) hour after sunset or legal closing time. Raccoon and opossum hunters must be out of the area one (1) hour after sunrise, except in the Cherokee Wildlife Management Area. Public access is prohibited on Barkley-Unit 1, Beech River WMA, Big Sandy, Bogota (Pool 1), Camden Units 1 and 2, Chickamauga (Shelton Bottoms, Mud Creek, New Bethal, Moss Island, Cottonport, Washington Ferry, Goodfield Creek, Gillespie Bend, Agency Creek, Ledford Island, Sugar Creek, South Mouse Creek Units), Gooch WMA (Unit E), Hiwassee Refuge, Horns Bluff Refuge, Lick Creek Bottoms (Region IV), South Fork Refuge, Thorny Cypress WMA (Pools 10, 11, 12), Three Rivers WMA (East and West Units), Tigrett WMA, West Sandy, and White Oak WMA from two hours after legal waterfowl shooting has ended until 4:00 a.m. the following day during late duck season(s).
Hunting Near Private Dwellings
It is unlawful to hunt, shoot at, chase, or kill with or without dogs, any wild animal, wild bird, or wild fowl on public lands and waters within 100 yards of a visible dwelling house, without the owner's permission, whether or not such a dwelling is on public or private lands.
No litter or sewage shall be deposited in the area.
All motorized vehicles must be muffler-equipped to suppress noise and spark-arrestor-equipped to prevent fires. The operation of motorized vehicles 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 statute) and designated trails only. ORVs may be operated during daylight hours and at other times when participating in authorized activities. Driving off roads into woods, fields or utility right-of-ways is prohibited for all motorized vehicles. Motorized vehicles may be prohibited on any Agency-owned Wildlife Management Area if deemed necessary to protect wildlife, vegetation, and/or property. Some exceptions apply. See individual WMAs for specific restrictions.
WMA Property Conservation
No person shall damage or remove any trees or other plants, dirt, gravel, or sod from any Wildlife Management Area or other Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency-controlled lands without specific authorization.
No species of wildlife may be harassed except those authorized for the hunt and no animal killed shall be dismembered to the extent that its species and sex cannot be identified before checking out of the area.
Access to all caves on agency-controlled lands is closed except to authorized personnel only, unless designated differently through signage or agency brochures.
May be permitted in designated areas by permission from the area manager, park ranger, lake manager, park superintendent, or national forest supervisor. Such camping is subject to the limitation prescribed in the permit if required.
Camping shall not exceed three (3) weeks in length from the beginning to the end of the camping stay. Owners' contact information (name, phone number, address) or TWRA ID number and date of arrival must be displayed on a camper, tent, vehicle, etc. at all times.
In areas where overnight camping is allowed, firearms and archery equipment must remain in camp except during legal hunting hours.
Pen-raised Game Birds
The release of pen-raised game birds on WMAs is prohibited unless otherwise specified.
Hunting is prohibited in safety zones except where provided.
Target practice is prohibited except on designated ranges.
Unauthorized persons are prohibited from being in the area during big game hunts except when indicated. Unauthorized persons are prohibited from being in the wildlife management area during managed turkey hunts, except on the Cherokee, North Cumberland, and Tellico Lake wildlife management areas. Only persons having valid turkey hunt permits for the hunt date are authorized to be on the management area. Exception: A licensed turkey hunter, who has filled their bag limit or does not possess a valid permit for a quota hunt, may accompany another turkey hunter (except on Oak Ridge WMA) and assist him/her in calling, but may not have a gun or bow in his/her possession.
Fanning or Reaping Wild Turkeys: On WMA lands, the practice of fanning or reaping is prohibited. Fanning/reaping is defined as hunting or stalking wild turkeys while holding or using for hunter concealment any of the following items: a tail fan, a partial or full decoy with a tail fan, or a tail fan mounted to a firearm. Tail fans include those made of real or synthetic feathers or an image or likeness of a tail fan applied to any material.
Wild Turkey Calling
Calling or attempting to call wild turkeys using any sound that mimics those made by a wild turkey is prohibited from March 1 to the opening day of the spring turkey hunts on all WMAs.
Hunters are to retrieve all crippled or dead game if possible and prohibit disposal of dead wildlife on WMAs.
Wheelchair-bound Hunts, Zones, or Blinds
Wheelchair-bound Hunts, Zones, or blinds are open to hunters who are totally and permanently confined to a wheelchair as certified by a physician. On wheelchair-bound big game hunts, each wheelchair-bound hunter must be accompanied by a non-hunting assistant (age 16 years or older), except on Cordell Hull WMA where the assistant may also participate in hunting. On wheelchairbound waterfowl hunts, each wheelchair-bound hunter must be accompanied by at least one, but not more than three assistants (at least one of whom must be age 16 years or older), who may also participate in hunting.
Permits Required on WMAs
SG - Small game WMA permit or combination waterfowl and small game WMA permit.
A small game permit is also required for trapping.
WF - Combination waterfowl and small game WMA permit.
BG - Big game quota trip permit or non-quota WMA annual permit.
NP - No permit required.
Big Game Hunting on WMAs
There are two types of big game WMA permits for all WMAs depending upon the hunt: Quota and Annual Non-quota Special Season/WMA Big Game.
Quota Permits must be obtained by application to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and are allocated based upon a computer random drawing. Find out more here.
Annual Non-quota Special Season/WMA Big Game Permits are available at all license agents and offices of the TWRA and are valid for all non-quota big game hunts, including the Cherokee WMA, for the entire license year. Lifetime Sportsman and Sportsman License holders do not need to purchase the non-quota permit, and may apply for quota permits at no charge.
On the Cherokee WMA,
A WMA Non-quota Big Game Permit, Cherokee WMA Big Game Nonquota, or an Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman Permit is required to hunt big game and is valid for all non-quota Cherokee WMA big game hunts. Cherokee WMA Big Game Non-quota permits are not valid for any other WMA. Anyone hunting with a borrowed permit will be prosecuted for hunting during closed season. WMA permits are not transferable.
Cherokee Party Dog Hunts
Application Instructions and dates are available on the Quota Hunt page.
WMA permits are not transferable.
Youth Hunting Big Game On A WMA
Proof of hunter education certificate is required for youths 10 years of age and older. An appropriate hunting license is also required for youths 13 years of age and older. All youths, aged 6–16, are required to have a WMA Non-quota Big Game Permit or a quota permit where applicable unless they are hunting with a Lifetime License. Youths aged 6–16 may also apply for WMA quota hunts. Youths aged 6–16 must be accompanied by an adult, 21 years of age or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device, who is not required to have a license (if not hunting) but must wear 500 square inches of fluorescent orange.
Specific Young Sportsman's Hunts
Proof of hunter education certificate is required for youths 10 years of age and older. Young Sportsman's deer hunts are for youths 6 through 16 unless otherwise noted. Proper licenses and permits are required. Each youth must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult. Both adults and youth must wear 500 square inches of fluorescent orange.
Quota Hunt Permits
When available, you can obtain an instruction sheet at any TWRA license agent, TWRA regional office, or online. If applying in person, remain until your application is processed to verify that the information is correct and to receive your receipt with your confirmation number. DO NOT MAIL THE INSTRUCTION SHEET.
For more information view our Quota Hunt page or contact us. A computer drawing will be conducted to determine successful applicants. Permits are nontransferable and hunt dates may not be changed. Vacancy permits, if any, will be announced and sold on a first-come, first-served basis by TWRA license agents or online.
Muzzleloaders are legal on all gun hunts except where indicated under the individual WMA listings.
Deer Bag Limits
For WMAs open with the statewide deer season, deer harvested count towards statewide bag limits. Deer taken on antlered deer-only hunts male or female deer must have antler protruding above the hairline. On antlerless only hunts, antlerless deer are defined as male or female deer with no antler protruding above the hairline.
Turkey Bag Limits
Turkey bag limit for the spring turkey season is one bearded turkey per day unless otherwise indicated.
The use of wire, nails or other metal material is prohibited in the building or attaching of climbing devices or hunting stands. Portable devices or stands that do not injure trees can be used. Hunting from a permanent, attached stand is prohibited. Leaving any personal property, including treestands, unattended for more than 24 hours is prohibited without prior approval of the area manager. WMAs require that treestands must be marked with the hunter’s TWRAID number.
August Deer (Archery) Season
This season is closed on WMAs that are open to statewide big game seasons, except for certain WMAs in Unit CWD.
Small Game Hunting on WMAs
On WMAs open with statewide seasons, the season dates, bag limits, weapon types, and ammunition types that pertain to the county where the WMA is located apply to that WMA except special regulations listed specifically for those WMAs still apply. Small game hunters hunting on public lands must comply with blaze orange requirements during big game gun and Young Sportsman hunts on specific WMA's where noted.
In order to hunt or trap some small game on WMAs individuals are required to have one of the following permits in addition to the regular hunting or trapping license. (The exception: Lifetime Sportsman, Sportsman License holders or youths age 6-16 who are accompanied by an adult with a valid permit). Annual Senior Citizen Permit; Annual Small Game only; 1-Day Small Game and Waterfowl; or Annual Small Game and Waterfowl.
Closures during big game hunts
Closures may apply; see the specific WMA region above for listings of WMAs, for closures.
On WMAs open with the statewide seasons, quail season runs from the 1st Saturday in November until January 15, unless otherwise noted.
Cros may be taken on small game hunt days that coincide with the statewide crow season
Falconry open with statewide falconry seasons.
Raccoon and opossum
Raccoon and Opossum hunting is open on sunset of opening dates to sunrise of the next day. Raccoon dog field trials permitted Sept. 1–April 30 unless prohibited.
Small game (except raccoon) and retriever field trials permitted year-round with approval of the area manager unless otherwise specified on individual WMAs.
Allowed for small game hunting unless special exception is indicated. A permit is required for dog training on areas which require a small game permit. On Cherokee and LBL management areas, dogs are allowed on improved roads and in permitted camping areas. All dogs must be detained by chain or leash if not being legally used for hunting. Dogs are allowed during spring squirrel season except where noted.
Small game hunting with center-fire weapons
Rifles and handguns using center-fire ammunition are prohibited from hunting all small game species on Wildlife Management Areas with only a few exceptions: Rifles and handguns using center-fire ammunition are legal for hunting beaver, bobcat, foxes, coyotes, feral hogs, groundhogs, and crows, only during deer season and the hunter must be a licensed legal deer hunter. Coyotes and bobcats may be taken by big game hunters while hunting big game with any legal big game weapon or ammunition.
Youth Hunting Small Game On WMAs
Youths, ages 6-16, must be accompanied by a permitted adult, 21 years of age or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device except as otherwise noted.
Small Game Trapping on WMAs
Other TWRA lands not proclaimed as a WMA or refuge are open with statewide seasons unless otherwise indicated. A WMA small game permit is required to trap on all areas that require a small game hunt permit.
Waterfowl Hunting on WMAs
WMAs with a "WF" after the name require either an Annual Small Game and Waterfowl permit; or a 1-Day Small Game and Waterfowl permit in addition to a regular hunting license and Waterfowl license. There are three exceptions: Lifetime Sportsman License and Sportsman License holders, and youths age 6-16 who are accompanied by an adult with a valid permit, do not need a permits.
A designated waterfowl hunt location is a marked location (via physical stake or Global Positioning System [GPS] coordinates) established by the TWRA upon which a permanent blind may be constructed, depending on Tier designation as determined by TWRA, at Barkley Unit I, Big Sandy (including Gin Creek Unit), Camden Units I and II, Cheatham Lake, Gooch Unit A, Haynes Bottom, Old Hickory Units I and II, Tigrett, AEDC (Woods Reservoir), West Sandy, and Reelfoot.
- Tier 1 designated hunt location is a marked location with a permanent blind assigned by a random drawing to a permittee for an entire waterfowl hunting season.
- Tier 2 designated hunt location is a marked location with a TWRA constructed and maintained permanent blind assigned by a random drawing to a permittee for a period of time during the waterfowl hunting season.
- Tier 4 designated hunt location is a marked location that may be hunted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Tier 1 Blind Sites
Tier 1 permits will be valid for the entire regular waterfowl season. Learn more about applying on the Waterfowl Page. Tier 1 Locations shall have a permanent blind at the location built or maintained (if a permanent blind already exists) at the location, by the permittee(s). The maximum hunt party size for Tier 1 Locations is eight (8) adults, but there is no maximum party size for youth hunters. However, youth hunters (ages 6-15) must be accompanied by an adult at least eighteen (18) years of age while hunting a Tier 1 Location. All Tier 1 Location permanent blind construction and/or placement must be complete by the fourth Monday in October. To be considered complete, a permanent blind structure must be at least four (4) feet wide, four (4) feet high, and eight (8) feet long, but may not exceed thirty (30) feet in length and may not exceed three hundred (300) total square feet. The walls of the permanent blind structure must be solid material to which camouflage may be attached. A permanent blind structure at a Tier 1 Location must be in place and remain in place throughout the regular waterfowl season. All camouflage must be completed by the opening day of the regular waterfowl season. Any Tier 1 Location with a permanent blind structure not in compliance with the above requirements will result in the Tier 1 Location Permit being canceled and the Tier 1 Location being designated as a Tier 4 Location for the remainder of the waterfowl season. Tier 1 Locations designated as Tier 4 Locations may be drawn as Tier 1 Locations the following year. If adverse environmental conditions prevent the construction and/or placement of a permanent blind at the site by the deadline, as determined by the TWRA, the area manager may grant an extension. The area manager must receive a written request for an extension, from a permittee, prior to the fourth Monday in October. Should these adverse environmental conditions persist and completely prevent the construction and/or placement of blind on the site, as verified by the area manager, a permittee shall not be denied the opportunity to participate in the drawing the following year. Blinds rendered unusable or destroyed may be repaired or replaced at the discretion of the area manager. Permanent blinds built on Tier 1 locations must be within five (5) feet of designated stakes or GPS coordinates. Permittee(s) must remove all associated blind materials, including all litter and trash, stakes, weights, and lines within fifteen (15)days after the last day of the regular waterfowl season or the last day of a special youth or military hunt, whichever occurs later. All blinds must be removed from Tier 1 locations by April 30, but an area manager may allow more time for removal upon written request. Any blind not removed will become the property of the TWRA for future use and/or destruction. If a Tier 1 Location permit does not meet the deadline for having the blind onsite or violates any other provision of this rule, the permittee forfeits the permittee’s opportunity to participate in any waterfowl quota hunt drawing the following year. Successful applicants drawn for Tier 1 Locations are prohibited from applying, as an individual or in a party, for a Tier 2 or quota permit.
Tier 2 Blind Sites
Typically, Tier 2 permits will be valid for a two, three, or four-day hunt period. Hunters can apply through any TWRA license agent or at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com during three separate application periods, learn more here. Tier 2 Locations shall have a permanent blind at the location built and maintained by the TWRA. The maximum hunt party size for Tier 2 Locations is eight (8) adults, but there is no maximum party size for youth hunters. However, youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least eighteen (18) years of age while hunting a Tier 2 Location. A Tier 2 Location permittee must be present any time a Tier 2 Location is hunted. No other individual may hunt a Tier 2 Location even if a permittee is not in the blind by the legal daily opening shooting time. No access is allowed until 4:00 a.m. on the day of the drawn hunt. Permittee(s) are responsible for the removal of all decoys, litter, and trash on the last day of the hunt period.
Tier 4 Locations
Tier 4 Locations may or may not have permanent blinds. Any permanent blinds at Tier 4 Locations are structures leftover from Tier 1 Sites that have become Tier 4 Locations because the successful applicant failed to construct a blind by the deadline. No person may construct new permanent blind structures at Tier 4 Locations. Temporary blinds may be used at Tier 4 Locations, but the blinds must be removed at the end of each day. Any temporary blinds and decoys must be removed from the area at the end of shooting each day. All temporary blinds must be within twenty-five (25) feet of designated stakes or GPS coordinates. No permit is required to hunt Tier 4 Locations, but the first person or party to the location before the legal daily opening shooting time has priority use (exclusive and uninterrupted use) of the location until the end of the shooting hours that day. Exclusive and uninterrupted use entitles the person or party to the right to exclude all others from the location, at the person’s or party’s option, except for law enforcement personnel engaged in the performance of their duties. The maximum hunt party size for Tier 4 Locations is eight (8) adults, but there is no maximum party size for youth hunters. However, youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least eighteen (18) years of age while hunting a Tier 4 Location. Any person or party hunting a Tier 4 Location is responsible for the removal of all decoys, litter, and trash at the end of each day.
A waterfowl hunt permittee, an individual to whom the TWRA issued a permit for Tier 1 blinds, must occupy his/her blind or hunt location by the legal daily opening shooting time on days he/she wishes to hunt, and if the blind or hunt location is unoccupied at that time by the permittee, the first person or party occupying the blind ("blind hopper") shall be entitled to the privilege of its exclusive and uninterrupted use until the end of shooting hours that day. Exclusive and uninterrupted use entitles the person or party the right to exclude all others from the blind or hunt location at the person’s or party’s option, except for law enforcement personnel engaged in the performance of their duties. The permittee has priority use (exclusive and uninterrupted) only if he/she is at the blind or hunt location on or before the legal daily opening shooting time, even if the blind or hunt location is occupied by another person or party, provided the permittee produces identification and his/her permit. The “blind hopping” allowance does not apply to Tier 2 blinds.
Temporary Hunt Locations
Hunting will be permitted from permanent draw blinds and temporary blinds on Camden-Unit II, Big Sandy (including Gin Creek Unit), Barkley Unit II, Cordell Hull, Reelfoot, Tigrett, and West Sandy in accordance with statewide rules and regulations. Any temporary blinds and decoys must be at least two hundred (200) yards from any Tier 1, 2, or 4 waterfowl hunt locations blind and must be removed from the area at the end of shooting each day.
View current dates on the Waterfowl page.
Claiming Your Permit
Successful applicants who are drawn for a Tier 1, Tier 2, or Quota Permit must log into their GoOutdoorsTennessee.com account to claim their permit. Claiming your permit will meet the requirements formerly known as the NOI (notice of intent). Successful applicants for Tier 1 sites will need to claim their permit by August 14, 2023; Tier 2 permits must be claimed by the following dates: Early Segment Oct. 30, 2023; Mid Segment Nov. 27, 2023; Late Segment Dec. 18, 2023). Each party member must claim their own permit. Permits will be available to print after the permit has been claimed. A confirmation number will be issued upon completion. Successful parties drawn for Tier 1 sites who do not claim any permits will result in the Tier 1 Site location being forfeited. Individuals in the party who fail to claim their permit will forfeit their individual permit. Any unclaimed or forfeited Tier 1 Site will be re-allocated at the respective regional office for that Tier 1 Site. For Tier 2 and Quota Permit sites, any license holder may enter for a leftover drawing, but any applicant drawn must be present at the prescribed time and location to claim the permit Reelfoot and West Sandy (Springville Bottoms) permanent registered blinds
Reelfoot and West Sandy (Springville Bottoms) permanently registered blinds:
Reelfoot blinds must be registered with the TWRA from February 18 through July 31 and require the purchase of a Reelfoot Duck Blind Permit. To register a permanent blind at West Sandy an individual must purchase a combination waterfowl and small game annual WMA permit or a sportsman’s license on or before July 31. By the first Saturday in August, the TWRA will verify whether a permanent registered blind site was renewed. Registration of permanent blinds at West Sandy will be in-person at Henry County Fairgrounds on the first Saturday in August. Individuals claiming blind sites on these areas may not compete for blind site drawings on other areas. All blind sites will be given a registration number, which must be displayed, using lettering 2 inches or larger inside the blind, or on a stake at floating blind sites. When floating blinds are moved to designated blind stakes, the number must be immediately transferred from the stake to the blind. No blind may be constructed, or repaired or any floating blinds moved onto the area that have not met the deadlines for registering the blind and displaying the registration number. Unregistered and/or unnumbered blinds are subject to removal. No blind may be locked or barricaded to deny entrance to other hunters when the blind is not in use.
Wheelchair-bound blind sites
Certain WMAs have special blind sites established for wheelchair-bound hunters. See specific WMAs, if applicable. Properties with accessible blinds:• Camden• Cheatham Lake• Cordell Hull• North Chickamauga Creek Varner Unit• Old Hickory Unit 1• Reelfoot• West Sandy
Youths hunting waterfowl on a WMA
Youths, ages 6–16, must be accompanied by an adult, 18 years of age or older, who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device, except as otherwise noted. Veterans and active military waterfowl on a WMA. Veterans and members of the Armed Forces on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty(other than for training), participate in the special.