If you’re fortunate enough to own land in Tennessee, but you’re not sure what, if any, licenses you need to hunt there, you’ve come to the right place. State hunting regulations can be complicated and confusing, but this article should clear up any confusion and get you outdoors legally hunting your property in no time.
If you still have questions after reading this, feel free to drop them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.
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Hunting License Requirements
Tennessee resident landowners DO NOT need a hunting license to hunt on property that they own. However, they still have to abide by the same hunting seasons, bag limits, and tagging/checking requirements as everyone else. More on that below.
Resident Tennessee Landowners
It’s worth noting that any big game (deer, turkey, or bear) killed by a landowner on their own property still must be checked in on your smartphone or physically tagged before moving the animal and checked in before midnight. That can be done through the official TWRA On the Go mobile, online at GoOutdoorsTN.com app or by visiting a physical check-in station.
In addition to not needing a hunting license and various permits, resident landowners are also exempt from the Hunter Education Certification requirements and blaze orange requirements.
Resident landowners are not required to buy the Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit, but are encouraged to obtain one if hunting doves, ducks or geese. Duck and goose hunters still need to purchase the federal duck stamp, even when hunting on their own land.
Nonresident Tennessee Landowners
If you are a nonresident who owns land in Tennessee, then you ARE required to purchase a nonresident hunting license, as well as any other necessary non-resident permits. Basically, there are no special privileges for those owning land in Tennessee who don’t reside in the state.
What About Family Members?
The answer to that question is a little more complicated. If the family members in question are the landowner’s spouse, child, spouse of a child, or grandchild, AND they are residents of Tennessee, then they DO NOT need a hunting license. They fall under the same requirements as the resident landowner.
If they are not Tennessee residents, then the landowner’s family members will need a nonresident hunting license and any other necessary permits just as he/she does.
Can I hunt year-round on my own property in Tennessee?
No. Landowners must still abide by Tennessee’s hunting season dates and bag limits even when hunting on their own property. All deer and turkey harvested by a landowner on their own property must be checked in by smartphone or physically tagged before moving the animal and checked in before midnight.
There are situations where a landowner raising agricultural crops for profit can take deer out-of-season if they are causing damage to those crops, but they must first contact the TWRA to obtain a permit.
Minimum Acreage to Hunt
Tennessee law does not specify a minimum acreage to be able to hunt. Technically you could hunt on a 1/2-acre lot. However, wherever you hunt, you have to be able to do so in a safe manner. That means not shooting in the direction of roads or other houses. Some cities and counties may also have regulations regarding the discharge of firearms. So you’ll want to make sure you are aware of any local rules that may be in place before hunting on your property.
Can I shoot deer at night on my own property in Tennessee?
No. It is illegal to shoot deer outside of legal shooting hours in Tennessee, regardless of whether you own the property or not. Legal shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset.
Farmland Owner Exemption
TCA 70-2-204. Hunting and fishing on farm land — License exemption to owner, tenants and their spouses and children. – (a) The owners and tenants of farmlands, and their spouse and children, have the right to engage in the sport of hunting and fishing, subject to all the provisions of all laws or regulations concerning wildlife, upon such lands and waters thereon of which they or their spouses or parents are the bona fide owners or tenants with the permission of the landowner, during the season when it is lawful to do so, without procuring a hunting and sport fishing license. Tenants and their spouses and their dependent children must be bona fide residents of the state and must actually reside on the land. Owners and their spouses and children must be bona fide residents of the state. Land may qualify as farmland only if it is owned by no more than one (1) individual or a family; provided, that if land is owned jointly or in common by persons who are first cousins related by blood, then such cousins and their children may hunt small game and fish on such land under the provisions of this subsection. “Family” means any combination of kinship within the third degree including any spouse who has an interest in the property. “Tenant” means an individual who receives compensation such as free rent or money for acting either in the place of or at the direction of the landowner in tending to the requirements needed to care for the farmland. The primary purpose of the tenancy shall be agricultural in nature.
I hope this article clears up any questions you had on hunting on your own land in Tennessee. If not, feel free to drop your unanswered questions in the comments section below. We may end up adding them to the article for others who may have that same question in mind. Be safe out there, and I hope you have a great hunting season!