Tennessee Bear Season Dates, Regulations, and Information

Tennessee Black Bear Hunting Regulations 

  • Bear limit: One (1) bear either sex per license year.
  • The bear bag limit for any person participating in the statewide or Bear Party-Dog hunt or both shall not exceed one bear per license year. This bear may be of either sex.
  • Cubs or female bears with cubs at the side may not be taken at any time. A cub is defined as a bear weighing 75 pounds or less.
  • Bears may be whole or field dressed but must weigh 75 pounds or greater when checked in.
  • If bears are quartered or boned out, the total of the meat, hide, etc. must equal or exceed 75 pounds.

Legal Hunting Equipment

See General Hunting Regulation 

Bear Dog Training Season

The following bear hunt zones (BHZ’s) are open for a bear dog training season during daylight hours only. No bears may be taken or attempted to be taken and no bait may be utilized. (Bear reserves closed to dog training, refer to pages 67 and 76):

  • BHZ1 and BHZ2: Aug. 21 - Sept. 26
  • BHZ3: Sept. 8 - 17
  • BHZ 4 and Transitional: Closed.
  • North Cherokee: Sept. 7 - Oct. 2
  • South Cherokee: Sept. 8 - 17

Bear Zones

For the purpose of these hunting regulations and better wildlife management, the State of Tennessee is hereby divided into five (5) bear hunt zones (BHZ’s) as follows:

BHZ1: Carter, Cocke (North of I-40), Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, & Washington.
BHZ2: Blount, Cocke (South of I-40), Jefferson (East of Hwy 411), Sevier
BHZ3: McMinn (East of Hwy 411), Monroe, Polk (East of Hwy 411 & North of Hwy 64)
BHZ4: Cumberland (North of I-40), Fentress, Morgan, Pickett (East of Hwy 111), & Scott (West of Hwy 27)
Transitional: Bradley, Hamblen, Hamilton (East of TN River), Hancock, Hawkins, Grainger, Jefferson (west of Hwy 411), Knox, Loudon, McMinn (West of Hwy 411), & Polk (West of Hwy 411)

Bear Hunt Zone (BHZ)





BHZ 4**


Young Sportsman* G/M/A (No Dogs Permitted)

Oct. 30 - 31

Oct. 30 - 31

Oct. 30 - 31


Gun/Muzzleloader/ Archery (Dogs Allowed)

Segment 1

Oct. 2 - 4

Oct. 9 - 12

Oct. 2 - 3


Oct. 9 - 10

Oct. 15 - 17

Oct. 9 - 15

Segment 2

Nov. 8 - 15

Nov. 1-5

Nov. 1-5

Segment 3

Nov. 29 - Dec. 15

Nov. 29 - Dec. 23

Nov. 29 - Dec. 12

Segment 4



Dec. 30 - Jan. 2

Archery (No Dogs Permitted)

Sept. 25 - Oct. 22

Sept. 25 - Oct. 22

Sept. 25 - Oct. 22

Sept. 25 - Oct. 22

Sept. 25 - Oct. 22

Gun/Muzzleloader/ Archery (No Dogs Permitted)

Nov. 20-23

Nov. 20-23

Nov. 20-23


* Youths 6-16 years of age may participate. Young sportsmen 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 who must also comply with fluorescent orange regulations, as specified for legal hunters. Multiple youths may be accompanied by a single qualifying adult.

** The following areas within BHZ4 are closed to bear hunting: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Obed Wild and Scenic River Corridor, Scott State Forest, Catoosa WMA, Mt Roosevelt WMA.

Black Bear Reserves

Appalachian Population: Including the Tennessee portion of the GSMNP, Bear Reserves totaling over 450,000 acres have without a doubt played a significant role in the recovery of bear numbers in the Appalachian Population.

Reserve Hunt Zone Total
Andrew Johnson 1 17,280
Kettlefoot 1 59,638
Laurel Fork 1 55,608
Ocoee 3 56,465
Tellico 3 22,957
Unicoi 1 38,906
  Total: 250,854

Andrew Johnson Bear Reserve

The Cherokee Wildlife Management Area and private inholdings lying southwest of Hwy. 70 east of Hwy. 107 and north of Hwy's. 25-70.

Kettlefoot Bear Reserve

The Cherokee Wildlife Management Area and private inholdings lying north of Hwy. 421, east of South Holston Lake, south of the Tennessee-Virginia state line, and west of Hwy. 91.

Laurel Fork Bear Reserve

The Cherokee Wildlife Management Area and private inholdings lying south of Hwy. 321, west of Poga Road, west of the Tennessee-North Carolina state line, and north or Hwy. 19E.

Unicoi Bear Reserve

The Cherokee Wildlife Management Area lying west of U.S. Hwy. 23, and the Devils Fork Road, north of the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, east of the Horse Creek Road to Hwy. 107 and south of Hwy. 107 to Erwin.

Ocoee Bear Reserve

The Cherokee Wildlife Management Area and private inhodings bounded on the north by the Ocoee Lake and Ocoee River, on the south by the Tennessee/Georgia state line and on the east and west by the National Forest Boundary.

Tellico Bear Reserve

The Cherokee Wildlife Management Area in Monroe County that lies north of the Tellico-Robbinsville Road, east of Forest Service Road 35, south of the Forest Service Road 26 and west of the ridge running from Farr Gap through Little Fodderstack to Big Fodderstack and following the North Carolina state line to the  Tellico-Robbinsville Road.

Restricted Bear Reserve Hunt

Open area: Private property located within the proclaimed boundaries of the Kettlefoot and Laurel Fork Bear Reserves.

Bag Limit and Season Dates






Laurel Fork


Only Sept. 18 - 20, 2021

Archery, Muzzleloader, Gun Dogs Allowed


20 Bears


20 Bears

1 Bear, Either Sex. **Does not count towards state- wide bag limit.


Special Regulations for Restricted Bear Hunt:

a.   If the cumulative harvest at the end of a day meets or exceeds 75% (at least 15) of the quota

(20) the hunt will conclude at the end of legal hunting hours on that day.

 » Kettlefoot: Intersection of Hwy 421 and Hwy 133, Shady Valley, TN (look for signs)

» Laurel Fork: Hampton Bait Shop. 126 First Avenue, Hampton, TN

Hunters should call a (423) 522-2467 or check the Agency web site to verify the hunt is open the following day. A message will be posted by 9:00 pm local time each day.

East Tennessee Black Bear Hunt