Tennessee is listed as one of the top ten states in the nation with massive turkey population numbers and is one of the more open states in terms of bag limits and season longevity. In other words, it’s a great place to turkey hunt, and the ease of obtaining a hunting license is a plus.
There are 120+ Wildlife Management Areas throughout the state open to turkey hunters each year, whether it’s the Spring hunt or Fall hunt. The Cherokee National Forest is a massive park that’s ripe for Tennessee turkey hunting all on its own.
Tennessee is also home to a variety of guided hunts for steep prices. If you would prefer to hunt turkey with a guide, a couple of nights in an upscale lodge and a few class A meals, a guided tour is the thing for you.
Where is the Best Turkey Hunting in Tennessee
Talk to any Tennessean, and they’ll quickly tell you that central Tennessee is a white hot spot for turkey hunting right now. Why? Who knows? But it’s where you want to be if bagging a few turkeys is on your to-do list this year.
If you’re heading into Nashville, you practically have to beat the turkeys off your vehicle to get there in the Spring and Fall seasons. Middle Tennessee is nothing but rolling hills, massive crop fields that stretch as far as the eye can see, and wide-open cattle pastures.
Tennessee can be a funny place when it comes to the native habitats of wildlife. For instance, you won’t see any black bears on the Cumberland Plateau, but head west for a few miles, and they’re eating out of your garbage at midnight.
The same goes for the turkey population. Middle Tennessee is the place right now, but there’s no telling what it will be in five years. Yanahli Wildlife Management Area is often touted as an overlooked spot in central Tennessee.
Natchez Trace State Forest is another hot spot right now, located between Memphis and Nashville, as well as the Land Between the Lakes in Tennessee’s Region 1.
Tennessee Turkey Hunting Season
Like most states, turkey hunting in Tennessee has a Spring and a Fall season. The upcoming Spring season for youth hunters is only 2 days long for youths, starting on April 8, 2023, and ending on April 9.
Of course, youngsters can hunt with adults during the regular Spring season, which starts on April 15 and ends on May 28. Fall starts on September 24 for archery hunters and runs until October 28. It picks up again on October 31 (Halloween) and ends on November 4.
The shotgun season starts on October 15 and only goes until October 28. If you prefer to hunt turkey with a bow, you’ll have a lot more time on your hands. You can hunt from half an hour before sunrise to sunset every day. Bag limits are determined by individual counties but it’s usually three.
How Much Does it Cost to Hunt
Before you hunt anything in Tennessee, you have to take a hunter education class, so long as you were born after January 1, 1969. Hunting and fishing combination licenses are $28 per year, as well as the Annual Big Game Gun or Muzzleloader and the Annual Big Game Archery. But they are all separate licenses.
You can also opt for a permanent license, which will cover you for the rest of your life.
- Under 3—$320
- Age 3 to 6—$659
- Age 7 to 12—$988
- Age 13 to 50—$1,976
- Age 51 to 64—$1,153
- Age 65+—$329
Tennessee is right up there with Nebraska as one of the top states in the country for hunting turkey, especially if you are in the middle of the state or willing to travel there. That doesn’t mean turkeys are rare in the East or West.
You’ll find plenty of turkey hunting potential on the Cumberland Plateau and the same west of Nashville. Getting your hunting license is easy in Tennessee, especially with the fishing combination. You just need to be a resident for a minimum of 90 days.
Permanent hunting licenses are a bit on the expensive side, especially if you fall in the age 13 to 50 group, but once you have them, you’ll never have to worry about it again. With a bag limit of three turkeys in most counties, it’s hard to argue with Tennessee being well inside the top ten turkey hunting states.
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