Tennessee hunters should target these dates

Matthew Lane • Aug 22, 2019 at 3:24 PM

KINGSPORT — Tennesseans will be allowed to hunt without a license Saturday — the opening day of squirrel season.

And beginning on Friday and continuing through Sunday, Tennesseans will have two other hunting options:

— Archery hunters will be able to hunt antlered deer on private lands.

— Antlered deer hunts using muzzleloaders and bows will take place in CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) designated counties.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease of the nervous system of white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. To help control the spread of the disease, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is offering this three-day hunt in Fayette, Hardeman, Madison, Chester, Haywood, McNairy, Shelby and Tipton counties. 


The TWRA is again holding its annual Free Hunting Day, an event that basically aims to increase statewide interest in hunting. Squirrel hunting is one of Tennessee’s oldest and favorite traditions, and Free Hunting Day serves as an excellent opportunity for people to experience the enjoyment of the sport.

The TWRA encourages regular hunters to introduce friends and family members (young and old) to the outdoor pastime. The day is also an excellent opportunity for people who have not been hunting in awhile to be reintroduced to the sport.

This Saturday, state residents are exempt from hunting license and Wildlife Management Areas permit requirements. Many of the WMAs are open to hunters seeking public access on Saturday. Hunters are asked to check the information for particular WMAs in the latest Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. Sportsmen are reminded to ask for permission to hunt on private lands.


The TWRA reminds Tennesseans that hunter education requirements are not waived for Free Hunting Day. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to have successfully completed a hunter education course. There is an exemption in the form of the apprentice license available for purchase.

Hunters are allowed to harvest up to 10 squirrels a day from the opening day of squirrel season through Feb. 29, 2020 with each hunting day beginning 30 minutes before sunrise and ending 30 minutes after sunset.

In addition to squirrels, those species that have a year-round season will be open as well. The year-round species include armadillos, beavers, coyotes, groundhogs, and striped skunks.

For more information about hunting in Tennessee, visit www.tnwildlife.org.


Deer taken in CWD-designated counties have the option for voluntary sampling. If a hunter wants a deer tested, they may visit a processor or submit a head in a drop-off freezer location. The processors and freezer locations can be found at www.cwdintennessee.com.

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission voted last year to establish the three-day season this year to give hunters an opportunity to harvest a buck with velvet-covered antlers. Outside of the CWD counties, the hunt is not open on any of the TWRA’s wildlife management areas.

The annual bag limit for antlered deer is two, and no more than one per day. Deer taken during this three-day hunt will count toward the bag limit.