Waterfowl & Migratory Birds

Migratory Bird Hunting Information

Migratory Bird Regulation

  1. Federal regulations relative to baiting, firearms, bag and possession limits, wanton waste, tagging, and methods of hunting are hereby adopted and will be applicable to hunting and/or taking of species listed.
  2. No person shall hunt migratory game birds, except crows, with a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three (3) shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three (3) shells.
  3. All persons who hunt migratory game birds are required to have in their possession a valid Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit in addition to other required Tennessee licenses and permits, with the following exceptions:
  4. disabled veterans
  5. landowners hunting on their own land
  6. lifetime license holders
  7. residents of Tennessee under 13 years of age
  8. residents of Tennessee who are 65 or older
  9. Military personnel on leave or furlough
  10. Refer to federal regulations 50 CFR Ch. 1 (21.41 and 21.43) for conditions and restrictions applicable to the taking of crows in certain depredation or health hazard situations outside of crow sport hunting season.
  11. Pursuant to federal regulations, during the Light Goose Conservation Season, waterfowl hunters may use unplugged shotguns and electronic calls.

Youth Hunting

Youths, ages 6–16, must be accompanied by an 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. 

Migratory Bird & Waterfowl  Season Charts + Bag Limits

Species Season Opens Season Closes Daily Bag Limit****
Woodcock*      
    Phase 1 Nov. 12, 2022 Dec. 4, 2022 3
    Phase 2 Jan. 10, 2023 Jan. 31, 2023 3
Snipe* Nov. 14, 2022 Feb. 28, 2023 8
Crow      
  Phase 1 Jun. 11, 2022 Jul. 12, 2022*** No Limit
  Phase 2 Sep. 1, 2022 Sep. 5, 2022 No Limit
  Phase 3 Sep. 10, 2022 Dec. 20, 2022*** No Limit
  Phase 4 Jan 1, 2023 Feb. 28, 2023 No Limit
Wood Duck/Teal Sep. 10, 2022 Sep. 14, 2022 6; no more than 2 wood ducks
Teal Sep. 15, 2022 Sep. 18, 2022 6
Virginia & Sona Rail* Sep. 1, 2022 Nov.  9, 2022 25
Moorhen & Gallinules Sep. 1, 2022 Nov. 9, 2022 15
Dove*      
    Phase 1 Sep. 1, 2022 Sep. 28, 2022 15**
    Phase 2 Oct. 8, 2022 Oct. 30, 2022 15**
    Phase 3 Dec. 8, 2022 Jan. 15, 2023 15**

* Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit required (license type 006 or 007).

** No limit on Eurasian collared doves; however, any doves not readily identifiable as Eurasian collared doves will be considered mourning doves and count towards the mourning dove daily bag and possession limits.

*** Hunting allowed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only.

**** The possession limit is three (3) times the daily limit for all migratory game birds, except opening day when it shall be the same as the daily bag limit, and the second day of the season when it shall be twice the daily bag limit, and except for crows which have no limit.

Species Season Opens Season Closes
Canada Goose, Brant, Light Geese    
    Phase 1 Sep.1, 2022 Sep. 18, 2022
    Phase 2 Oct. 8, 2022 Oct. 18, 2022
    Phase 3 Nov. 26, 2022 Nov. 27, 2022
    Phase 4 Dec. 5, 2022 Feb. 12, 2022

          The daily bag limit is five (5) Canada geese, one (1) brant, and twenty (20) light geese per day in Phase 1.

          The daily bag limit is three (3) Canada geese, one (1) brant, and twenty (20) light geese per day in Phase 2, Phase 3, and Phase 4.

White-fronted Goose Season Opens Season Closes
    Phase 1 Nov. 26, 2022 Nov. 27, 2022
    Phase 2 Dec. 5, 2022 Feb. 12, 2023
          The daily bag limit of white-fronted geese is 3 birds/day.

Sandhill Crane Season Chart & Bag Limits

Species Season Opens Season Closes
Sandhill Cranes    
      Statewide* Dec. 3, 2022 Jan. 31, 2023
          *Except Closed in Southeast Crane Zone  Jan. 13-15, 2023
           The daily bag, season bag, and possession limit for sandhill cranes is based on the number of tags awarded to an individual.

* Each harvested crane must be accompanied by a completed kill tag (each tag allows the harvest of 1 crane) and be checked in by the end of the calendar day of harvest by any Agency approved check-in method. Also, hunters issued sandhill crane tags MUST fill out and return a post-season survey at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com before February 10, regardless of whether they hunted or harvested a sandhill crane. Failure to return the post-season survey may result in hunters not being eligible to apply for a sandhill crane tag in future draws.

Sandhill Crane Zones
Ducks, Mergansers, and Coot Season Opens Season Closes
Phase 1 Nov. 26, 2022 Nov. 27, 2022
Phase 2 Dec. 5, 2022 Jan. 31, 2023
Youth Only Feb. 4 & 11, 2023  
Veterans and Military Only Feb. 5 & 12, 2023  
The daily bag limit of ducks is 6 birds/day which may include no more than 4 mallards (no more than 2 of which may be a female), 3 wood ducks, 1 pintail, 2 canvasbacks, 2 redheads, 2 black ducks, and 1 mottled duck.  The daily bag limit for scaup is 1 scaup on November 26, November 27, and December 5 through December 17 then 2 scaup from December 18 through January 31.  The daily bag limit of merganser is 5 birds/day, only 2 of which may be hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit of coots is 15 birds/day.

Wheelchair-bound Blinds Information and Applications 

Wheelchair-bound hunts, zones, or blinds are open to hunters who are totally and permanently confined to a wheelchair as certified by a physician.  

Certain WMAs have special blind sites established for wheelchair-bound hunters which include: Camden, Cheatham Lake, North Chickamauga Creek, Old Hickory, Reelfoot, and West Sandy.   See specific WMAs for regulations

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 the hunt.

Applications for wheelchair-bound hunts must be received by noon on the fourth Friday of October at the Region I Office (Camden), Reelfoot Office (Reelfoot), or Region II Office (Cheatham and Old Hickory)

Temporary Blinds & Decoys on a WMA 

Temporary blinds and decoys must be removed at the end of shooting hours each day unless otherwise indicated under the individual WMA listings. 

All decoys must be removed by the owner of the blind within ten days after the close of waterfowl season unless otherwise indicated under the individual WMA listing

Refer to the Waterfowl Guide for additional restrictions.

Waterfowl Counts

Federal Migratory Bird Regulations

In addition to state regulations, the following federal rules apply to taking, possessing, shipping, transporting, and storing migratory game birds. This is only a summary. Each hunter should also consult actual regulations, which may be found in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20.

Restrictions

No person shall take migratory game birds:

  • With a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler which cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.
  • From or with the aid or use of a car or other motor-driven vehicle, or any aircraft, except that paraplegics and single or double amputees of the legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle. “Paraplegic” means an individual afflicted with paralysis of the lower half of the body with involvement of both legs, usually due to disease or injury to the spinal cord.
  • From or by means of any motorboat or sailboat unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or the sail furled and its progress therefrom has ceased.
  • By the use or aid of live decoys. All live, tame or captive ducks and geese shall be removed for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to hunting and confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such tame birds from the sight of migratory waterfowl.
  • Using recordings of migratory bird sounds, or electronically amplified imitations of bird calls.
  • By driving, rallying, or chasing birds with any motorized conveyance or any sailboat to put them in range of hunters.
  • By the aid of baiting (placing feed such as corn, wheat, salt, or other feed to constitute a lure or enticement), or on or over any baited areas.
  • Hunters should be aware that a baited area is considered to be baited for 10 days after the removal of the bait, and it is not necessary for the hunter to know an area is baited to be in violation.

Closed Season

No person shall take migratory game birds during the closed season.

Shooting or Falconry Hours

No person shall take migratory game birds except during the hours open to shooting and falconry as prescribed.

Daily Bag Limit

No person shall take more than one daily bag limit per day.

Field Possession Limit

No person shall possess more than one daily bag limit while in the field or while returning from the field to one’s car, hunting camp, home, etc.

Wanton Waste

All migratory game birds killed or crippled shall be retrieved, if possible, and retained in the custody of the hunter in the field.

Tagging

No person shall give, put or leave any migratory game birds at any place or in the custody of another person unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the following information: The hunter’s signature, address, the total number of birds involved by species and the dates such birds were killed. No person or business shall receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged.

Possession of Live Birds

Wounded birds reduced to possession shall be immediately killed and included in the daily bag limit.

Dual Violation

Violation of state migratory bird regulations is also a violation of federal regulations.

Dressing

No person shall completely field dress any migratory game bird (except doves and band-tailed pigeons) and then transport the birds from the field. The head or one fully feathered wing must remain attached to all such birds while being transported from the field to one’s home or to a migratory bird preservation facility.

Shipment

No person shall ship migratory game birds unless the package is marked on the outside with: (a) the name and address of the person sending the birds, (b) the name and address of the person to whom the birds are being sent, and (c) the number of birds, by species, contained in the package.

Importation

For information regarding the importation of migratory birds killed in another country, hunters should consult 50 CFR 20.61 through 20.66. One fully feathered wing must remain attached to all migratory game birds being transported between a port of entry and one’s home or to a migratory bird preservation facility. No person shall import migratory game birds killed in any foreign country, except Canada, unless such birds are dressed (except as required above), drawn and the head and feet are removed. No person shall import migratory game birds belonging to another person.

Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp

The law requires that each waterfowl hunter, 16 years of age and over, must carry on his or her person a valid Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp) signed in ink across the face.

Caution

More restrictive regulations may apply to National Wildlife Refuges open to public hunting. For additional information on federal regulations, contact:

Special Agent-in-Charge,, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
RM 132-C, U.S. Courthouse,
801 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203.
Telephone: 615-736-5532.

Please Report Banded Birds!

Reporting Banded Birds

The USGS Patuxent Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) encourages hunters to report banded birds. Band reports must be submitted through the mobile-friendly website, www.reportband.gov, by persons in the US and other countries, aside from Canada. Those who call the toll-free line will hear a message announcing the change and directing them to the website.

The BBL encourages everyone reporting a band to use www.reportband.gov. A report requires only around 5 minutes to complete online. After a report is submitted, the date and location where the bird was originally banded are provided and a Certificate of Appreciation along with additional banding details (date, location of banding) will be sent via email.

Capturing and banding birds requires considerable effort, and documenting the recovery or re-sighting of banded birds is essential to profit from that effort. Band recovery data are the basis for improving the conservation and knowledge of bird populations in North America. Please help the BBL, its many partners, and the birds of North America by continuing to report your band recoveries.

To Report Recovered Duck and Goose Bands: www.reportband.gov

Attention Hunters  ***  Special Regulations ***  Plugged Shotguns

No person shall hunt migratory game birds, except crows, with a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three (3) shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three (3) shells.

Legal Shot

All federally approved non-toxic shot (bismuth-tin, steel, tungsten-bronze, tungsten-iron, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-nickel-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-tin-bismuth or tungstentin- iron-nickel) are legal for waterfowl and sandhill crane hunting. 

Possession or use of any loose shot other than non-toxic shot or any shotgun shells other than non-toxic while hunting waterfowl, sandhill cranes, coots, gallinules, Virginia rails, and sora rails is prohibited.