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Wildlife Management Area Regulations

Gallatin Steam Plant WMA Sign

There are nearly 100 WMAs and refuges across Tennessee managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Varying in size from 53 acres to 625,000, all WMAs are available to the public for hunting and trapping, although certain regulations do apply.

 

See the current WMA Seasons PDF

 

 

General Regulations

Acts of disorderly, obnoxious or boisterous conduct, including acts which interfere with the orderly process of hunting, are prohibited. Violators shall be removed from the area and/or prosecuted.

Alcoholic beverages

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 on these areas year round: Catoosa, Cheatham, Chuck Swan, Forks of the River, Laurel Hill, Pea Ridge, and Prentice Cooper, except in designated camping areas.

Bag Limits

Statewide bag and possession limits apply unless special exception is indicated.

Baiting

The placement or depositing of any type of food to feed or attract wildlife on WMAs is prohibited.

Firearms

Use, possession or transportation of firearms, bows and arrows or other arms and ammunition is expressly prohibited except when authorized. Firearms loaded with ammunition in either the chamber or magazine may not be transported in vehicles.

Handguns

Recent legislative changes provide that individuals who possess a carry permit may possess their handgun while on TWRA wildlife management areas, public hunting areas or refuges open to hunter access. The handgun may not be used for taking game unless specifically permitted by TWRA regulation. This change will now allow those with carry permits to possess their handgun at times when previously it would not have been permissible such as during archery hunting. TWRA will apply this same interpretation to those possessing carry permits while hunting on private lands.

Horses

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.

Hunting Times

Hunters (except raccoon, opossum, turkey, and waterfowl hunters) may not enter prior to one hour before sunrise, and they must be out of the area by one hour after sunset. Raccoon and opossum hunters must be out of the area by one hour after sunrise except on Cherokee WMA. Public access will be prohibited in the sub-impoundments of Barkley Unit I, Cheatham Lake, Haynes Bottom, Old Hickory Units I and II, Camden Units I and II, Big Sandy, Gooch Unit A, Tigrett, and West Sandy from two hours after legal waterfowl shooting hours have ended until 4:00 a.m. the following day during the 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.

Litter

No litter or sewage shall be deposited in the area.

Motorized Vehicles

All motorized vehicles must be muffler equipped to suppress noise and be spark-arrestor equipped to prevent fires. 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.

Overnight camping may be permitted on designated areas by permission from 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. On areas where overnight camping is permitted, weapons must remain in camp except during legal hunting hours. Individuals authorized to carry handguns (those with handgun permits) may not carry their sidearms within Wildlife Management Areas except on authorized hunts and then only during specified hunting hours.

Pen-raised Game Birds

The release of pen-raised game birds on WMAs is prohibited unless otherwise specified.

Safety Zones

Hunting is prohibited in safety zones except where provided.

Target Practice

Target practice is prohibited except on designated ranges.

Unauthorized Persons

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, Royal Blue, Sundquist, Tellico Lake, and Land Between the Lakes 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 hunter may accompany a hunter with a valid permit to assist him in calling. The assisting hunter may not have a firearm in his possession at any time and may not harvest a bird. Check with the WMA area manager before to the hunt date.

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.

Wanton Waste

Hunters are to retrieve all crippled or dead game if possible and prohibits disposal of dead wildlife on WMAs.

Wheelchair-bound Hunts, Zones, or Blinds

These are open to hunters who are totally and permanently confined to a wheelchair as certified by a physician. On wheelchair-bound deer hunts, each wheelchair-bound hunter must be accompanied by a non-hunting assistant (age 16 years or older), except on Cordell Hull WMA and Yuchi WMA, where the assistant may also participate in hunting. On wheelchair-bound 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.

Permit Requirements Wildlife Management Areas

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 nonquota WMA annual permit.

NP - No permit required.

Big Game Hunting on WMAs

Permits

WMAs with a "BG" after the name require a Big Game WMA Permit in order to hunt big game, in addition to the regular hunting and big game licenses. There are two types of big game WMA permits for all WMAs depending upon the hunt: Quota and Annual Nonquota 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. Annual Nonquota Special Season/WMA Big Game Permits (Type 094) or Type 167 permits are available at all license agents and offices of the TWRA and are valid for all nonquota big game hunts, including the Cherokee WMA, for the entire license year. Lifetime Sportsman and Sportsman License holders do not need to purchase the nonquota permit, and may apply for quota permits at no charge.

On the Cherokee WMA, a Type 094, Type 095, or Type 167 permit is required to hunt big game and is valid for all nonquota Cherokee WMA big game hunts. Type 095 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.

Youth Hunting Big Game On A WMA
An appropriate hunting license and proof of Hunter Education certification is required if 10 years or older. All youths 6-16 are required to have a WMA permit (Type 094) or a quota permit where applicable, unless they are hunting with a Lifetime License. Youths age 6-16 may also apply for WMA quota hunts. Youths age 6-16 must be accompanied by a nonhunting 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 adult 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.

The applications can only be processed by TWRA license agents, personnel at a 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.

If you have questions, call (615) 781-6621 during regular business hours (8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Central Time). 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.

Cherokee Party Dog Hunts

Applications are available from the TWRA Region IV Office (423) 587-7037.

Muzzleloading Firearms

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 buck-only hunts must have at least one antler a minimum of three (3) inches in length unless otherwise specified. On antlerless only hunts, antlerless deer are defined as those deer with no antlers or deer with antlers less than three (3) inches in length.

Turkey Bag Limits

Turkey bag limit for spring turkey season is one bearded turkey per day unless otherwise indicated.

Tree Stands

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 permanent, attached stands is prohibited. Leaving any personal property, including tree stands, unattended for more than 24 hours is prohibited without prior approval of the area manager.

Small Game Hunting on WMAs

Permits

In order to hunt or trap small game on WMAs with a "SG" after the name, 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 (Type 167); Annual Small Game only (Type 093); 1-Day Small Game and Waterfowl (Type 092); or Annual Small Game and Waterfowl (Type 091).

Closures during big game hunts

Closures may apply; see specific WMA listing for those closures.

WMA Availability For Hunting Small Game

Fox, groundhog, and striped skunk hunting permitted on all Wildlife Management Areas during any scheduled small game hunt unless special exception is indicated.

Crow may be taken on small game hunt days that coincide with the statewide crow season.

Falconry open with statewide falconry seasons.

Bobcat may be taken on any hunt that coincides with the statewide bobcat season except Oak Ridge WMA.

Raccoon and opossum hunting is from sunset of the date shown to sunrise of the next day. Raccoon hound field trials permitted September 1 - April 30 unless prohibited.

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.

Field Trials

Small game (except raccoon) and retriever field trials permitted year-round with approval of the Area Manager unless otherwise specified.

Dogs During Hunting

Dogs 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 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 not allowed during spring squirrel season except where noted.

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.

Waterfowl Hunting on WMAs

Permits

WMAs with a "WF" after the name require either an Annual Small Game and Waterfowl permit (Type 091); or a 1-Day Small Game and Waterfowl permit (Type 092) in addition to a regular hunting license (Type 001) and Waterfowl license (Type 005). 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 permit. Nonresidents, however, must have either a Type 091 or Type 092 in addition to their license.

Blind Site Drawings

A hand drawing will be held on the first Saturday in August for permanent waterfowl draw blind sites on Barkley Unit I, Big Sandy (including Gin Creek Unit), Camden Units I and II, Cheatham Lake, Cordell Hull, Gooch Unit A, Harmon Creek, Haynes Bottom, Old Hickory Units I and II, Tigrett, AEDC (Woods Reservoir), West Sandy, and Reelfoot. Individuals wishing to compete in the drawing must appear in person at the designated location, with the appropriate licenses and permits and submit an application between 7:00 am and 10:00 am. The drawing will be held immediately after the last person signs up. One application is permitted per person and no one may apply for more than one area. Each applicant must be at least sixteen (16) years of age to compete in the drawing or sign-on.

Permanent registered and permanent draw blinds
Waterfowl hunting on all the above WMAs (except Big Sandy, Camden Unit II, Harmon's Creek, Barkley Unit II, Reelfoot, and West Sandy) permitted only from permanent blinds allocated by the hand-held drawing, unless otherwise specified. On Big Sandy, Camden Unit II, Cordell Hull, Harmon Creek, Barkley Unit II, Reelfoot, and West Sandy hunting is permitted from registered blinds and from temporary blinds or hides. Blinds, blind materials, boats, hides, and decoys must be removed at the end of the shooting hours each day.

The permittee, who is the person to whom the TWRA issued the permit, must occupy his/her blind by the legal daily opening shooting time on days he/she wishes to hunt, and if the blind is unoccupied at that time by the permittee, the first person or party occupying the blind 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 to the right to exclude all others from the blind, 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 on or before the legal daily opening shooting time, regardless of whether or not the blind is occupied by another person or party, provided the permittee produces identification and his/her blind permit. No more than 8 individuals age 16 or older may occupy a permanent draw blind at any time. No restrictions on the number of youths under age 16.

West Sandy (Springville Bottoms) and Reelfoot registered blinds
West Sandy blind sites must be registered at the designated location on the first Saturday in August by 10:00 a.m. Central Time. Reelfoot blinds must be registered with the TWRA manager prior to August 1. A Lifetime Sportsman License, Sportsman License, or an Annual Small Game and Waterfowl Permit (Type 091) or Type 167 is required at registration except Reelfoot where a Reelfoot Duck Blind Permit is required. 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 for regulations if applicable.

Decoys & Temporary Blinds

Temporary blinds and decoys must be removed at the end of shooting hours each day.

All decoys must be removed by the owner of the blind within ten days after the close of waterfowl season. Consult the 2010 Waterfowl Guide for additional restrictions.

Youth Hunting Waterfowl On A WMA

Youths, ages 6-16, must be accompanied by an adult, 21 years of age or older, who must remain in position to take immediate control of the hunting device except as otherwise noted.