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Tennessee Elk Season Regulations and Information

History

It had been about 150 years since elk wandered throughout Tennessee.   Early records indicated that elk were abundant in the state prior to being settled by European explores and colonists.   As these settlers moved westward the elk population declined.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) decided to reintroduce elk to the state in the late 1990’s.   Part of the agency’s mission is to restore extirpated wildlife when and where it is biologically and sociologically feasible.   Beginning in December 2000, the agency began conducting small releases of elk from Elk Island National Park (AL, Canada) into the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.   There were 201 Elk in total that were released over a period of eight years.

It is currently estimated that the Tennessee elk herd numbers a little over 400.   With this estimate, in 2009, Tennessee announced their first ever elk hunt in almost 150 years.   

Several partners have been involved with the project and contributed by doing the things they do best.   The partners include the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation, Parks Canada, Campbell County Outdoor Recreation Association, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, University of Tennessee and the U.S. Forest Service and TWRA.   Recently, the Safari Club International (SCI) and the Chattanooga Chapter of SCI have also assisted with funding.

Elk Hunting Permits

Elk harvest is regulated by a quota permit system. Landowners are not exempt from this permit requirement and must be drawn for a quota permit to hunt.

Fifteen (15) quota permits will be issued. One of the fifteen (15) permits will be issued to a qualifying non-profit wildlife conservation organization with all proceeds benefiting the TWRA Elk Management Program. Another one of the fifteen (15) permits will be issued to a resident Young Sportsman who is able to hunt all open elk zones.

Elk permits are valid for designated Elk Hunt Zones (EHZs) on North Cumberland WMA and on private lands in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott counties.   All public land other than North Cumberland WMA is closed to elk hunting.   It is the responsibility of elk permit holders to obtain verbal or written permission to hunt on private property.   TWRA does not guarantee hunter access on private lands.

Check here for the application period for quota hunts.

READ THIS: Carcass Importation laws are in effect, don't let ignorance of the law cost you a trophy of a lifetime!

 

Application Period

The application period for the 2017 WMA Big Game Quota & Elk hunts is over.

Customers who are interested in applying for both the WMA quota hunt and elk quota hunt will have to submit two applications, one for each. The computer drawings will be handled separately. 

Quota Hunt applications can be conveniently submitted via Internet, TWRA Licensed Agent locations, or TWRA Regional Offices, via the TWRA Mobile App.   Applications cannot be accepted by mail.

All hunting seasons are closed unless opened by specific Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission Proclamation. Big game animals are deer, turkey, bear and elk.

 

Special Regulations

  • Upon harvesting an elk, the hunter must immediately attach the elk harvest tag provided by TWRA to the carcass. All harvested elk must be checked out at the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area Office on the day of harvest.
  • The harvest location must be adequately marked so that TWRA employees can identify the harvest site. This must be accomplished by either providing GPS coordinates or accompanying a TWRA employee to the harvest site
  • Use or possession of electronic tracking equipment is prohibited.
  • Bugling or calling of elk is prohibited within the EHZs during all elk hunts except by permitted hunters and their assistants.

Season Dates & Bag Limits

Season Type Season Dates Hunt Area Permits Bag Limit
Archery
(Regular Hunt)
Last Saturday of September through the following Friday (7 day season) 
EHZ's
and Counties designated
open by TWRA
7 1 antlered
elk per
permit
Gun/
Muzzleloader/
Archery
(Regular Hunt)
Second Saturday of October through the following Friday (7 day season)
7* 1 antlered
elk per
permit
Gun/
Muzzleloader/Archery
(Young Sportsman Hunt,
Ages 13-16)
First Saturday of October through the following Friday (7 day season)  7** 1 antlered
elk per
permit

Each of the seven hunters is assigned a separate EHZ or EHZ zone combination. EHZs are located on North Cumberland WMA only, located off I-75, north of Knoxville; all other public land is CLOSED to elk hunting. Hunting on private lands within the following counties is allowed with landowner permission: Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott Counties. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) importation restrictions for deer/elk apply.

* Permit issued to non-profit wildlife conservation organization season occurs from the second Saturday of October through the following Friday in EHZ 1 and Counties designated open by TWRA; and the third Saturday of October through the following Friday in any EHZ or Counties designated open by TWRA.

** Resident youths 13-16 may apply for quota permit. 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.

EHZs are located on North Cumberland WMA only; all other public land is CLOSED to elk hunting. Hunting on private lands within the following counties is allowed only with landowner permission: Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott Counties.

Elk Hunt Zones 

An elk quota permit is valid for a specific Elk Hunting Zone (EHZ) or specified combination of zones on North Cumberland WMA and for private lands in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott counties.  EHZ assignments are not transferable.  All public land other than North Cumberland WMA is closed to elk hunting.  It is the responsibility of elk permit holders to obtain verbal or written permission to hunt on private property.  TWRA does not guarantee hunter access on private lands.  Check out the interactive Elk Hunt Zone map here.

EHZ 1: Chestnut Ridge and Fork Mountain

EHZ 1 is a 6,827 acre zone that has been hunted since 2009.  The zone was rested during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.  The zone has a very high success rate.  The zone is contains multiple wildlife openings.

Zone Description-That portion of the North Cumberland WMA west of I-75 and east of the Southern railroad tracks. All safety zones designated by TWRA and private property excluded.

EHZ 2: Adkins and Turley Mountain

EHZ 2 is a 6,919 acre zone that has been hunted since 2009.  The zone has a good success rate.  The zone contains multiple wildlife openings.

Zone Description-That portion west of the Southern Railroad tracks, east of Red Ash Rd. to Wheeler Gap, northeast of Adkins Mountain Road to Jenny Gap, east of Straight Fork Rd. to State Highway 63, east of Hwy 63 to the Southern Railroad tracks. All safety zones designated by TWRA and private property excluded.

EHZ 3: Horse Gap and Wolf Ridge

EHZ 3 is a 6,362 acre zone that has been hunted since 2009.  The zone has a moderate success rate.  The zone contains multiple wildlife openings.

Zone Description-That portion of North Cumberland WMA south of Adkins Mountain Rd. to Huckaby Knob, west of the trail on Brushy Mountain Ridge to Montgomery Fork Creek, north of Montgomery Fork Creek (downstream) to the North Cumberland WMA boundary line and east of the North Cumberland WMA boundary line to Jenny Gap. All safety zones designated by TWRA and private property excluded.

EHZ 4: Anderson and Massengale Mountain

EHZ 4 is a 6,298 acre zone that has been hunted since 2009.  The zone was rested during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.  The zone has a very high success rate. The zone is contains multiple wildlife openings.

Zone Description-That portion on the North Cumberland WMA south of Montgomery Fork Creek to Little Bruce Ridge, west of Little Bruce Ridge to Short Haul Rd. to Grave Gap, north of Massengale Mountain road to Poor Mountain Road, north of Poor Mountain Rd. to Norma Rd., east of Norma Rd. to Montgomery Fork Creek. All safety zones designated by TWRA and private property excluded.

EHZ 5: Cross Mountain and Red Ash

EHZ 5 is a 4,752 acre zone that has been hunted since 2009.  The zone has a good success rate.  The zone contains multiple wildlife openings.

Zone Description-That portion on the North Cumberland WMA South of Red Ash Rd. to Wheeler Gap, west of Adkins Mountain Rd. to Huckaby Knob, east of the trail on the Brushy Mountain Ridge to Montgomery Fork Creek, east of Little Bruce Ridge to Short Haul Rd., east of Massengale Rd. to Ash Log Gap, north of boundary back to Southern Railroad, west of Southern Railroad to Red Ash Church. All safety zones designated by TWRA and private property excluded.

EHZ 6: Braden Mountain

EHZ 6 is a 6,363 acre zone that has been hunted since 2015.  The zone has a low success rate.  Elk within this zone are transient.  The zone contains multiple wildlife openings.

Zone Description-That portion of the North Cumberland WMA, north of State Hwy 63, west of State Hwy 297, and east of the Rock House community. EHZ 6 also includes the Mon Petit / Atlas Petroleum property which joins the North Cumberland Boundary on the north. All safety zones designated by TWRA and private property excluded.

EHZ 7N: Tackett Creek - North

EHZ 7 was established in 2015, and divided into two zones (EHZ 7N and EHZ 7S) in 2018.  EHZ 7N is a large 15,278 acre zone with a moderate success rate expected.  The zone contains few wildlife openings and requires scouting to locate elk.

Zone Description -That portion of the North Cumberland WMA, Tackett Creek Unit, south of Tennessee and Kentucky State Line, north of the Cumberland Trail State Park and east of Rock Ridge Road to Straight Creek Road to Mountain Road to Hwy 132 (Fork Ridge Road). All safety zones designated by TWRA and private property excluded.

EHZ 7S: Tackett Creek - South

EHZ 7 was established in 2015, and divided into two zones (EHZ 7N and EHZ 7S) in 2018.  EHZ 7S is a large 26,107 acre zone with a moderate success rate expected.  The zone contains few wildlife openings and requires scouting to locate elk.

Zone Description-That portion of the North Cumberland WMA, Tackett Creek Unit, south of Tennessee and Kentucky State Line, north of the Cumberland Trail State Park, and east of US Hwy 25W, and west of Rock Ridge Road to Straight Creek Road to Mountain Road to Hwy 132 (Fork Ridge Road).  All safety zones designated by TWRA and private property excluded.

Tennessee Elk Hunting Zones