Photo of a youth hunter and her dad with a deer.

Tennessee Youth Hunting Opportunities and Requirements

Last Updated on September 17, 2022 by Brian Grossman

There’s nothing better than watching a young hunter take their first deer, turkey, or other game animal. And fortunately, Tennessee is a great state when it comes to youth hunting opportunities. It’s not as youth-friendly as other southern states when it comes to license and permit requirements for young hunters, but overall, it’s still a great state to take a kid hunting.

This article quickly breaks down what licenses and permits Tennessee youth hunters need, as well as some of the excellent youth hunting opportunties the state offers. If by the end of the article, you still have questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to get them answered.

Tennessee Youth Hunting License Requirements

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Tennessee Wildife Resources Agency doesn’t makes it as easy to get youth hunters out in the field as other states in the area. For the purpose of this article, we’ll break youth hunters into three age classes: ages 6 to 9, ages 10 to 12, and ages 13 to 15. Hunters 16 and older are not considered youth and must purchase the same licenses and permits that a hunting adult would need.

Ages 6 to 9

Tennessee hunters between the ages of 6 and 9 do not require any hunting license or permits to hunt, nor do they need to complete hunters education certification at this point. However, all hunters in this age group must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the child’s weapon.

Ages 10 to 12

Hunters age 10 to 12 must complete a hunter’s education course OR have a Tennessee apprentice hunting license (Type 12).

Ages 13 to 15

Tennessee hunters age 13 to 15 also must complete a hunter’s education course OR have a Tennessee apprentice hunting license (Type 12). Those who have completed hunter education will need a valid hunting license and a migratory bird permit if hunting waterfowl.

Everyone who hunts on a WMA is required to have a WMA permit except Sportsman License holders and youths under 16 hunting small game and waterfowl when accompanied by an adult with a valid permit.

Tennesse Hunter Education Requirements

Anyone Tennessee hunter age 10 or older, born on or after January 1, 1969, must complete an approved hunter education program before being eligible to hunt in Tennessee. Hunter education certification is accepted from all other states. Those under 10 do not need a hunter education certificate, but must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the youth’s weapon.

Forunately for Tennessee hunters, the TWRA offers a free online course available at tnwildlife.org that meets the requirement. There is no need to attend a field day or in-person test.

Tennessee Youth Hunting Opportunities

NOTE: For the purpose of all the youth hunting seasons and special opportunties discussed below, Tennessee considers a youth as someone who is 16 years old or younger.

Youth Deer Season

The TWRA offers four days of youth deer season for each of Tennessee’s six deer units.

Youth Season Dates: October 29-30, 2022 and January 14-15, 2023

Antlered Bag Limit: 2 in Units A, B, C, D, and L; 3 in Unit CWD; only one antlered deer per day.

Antlerless Bag Limit: 2 in Units A,B,C, and D; 3 per day in Units L and CWD.

In addition to the statewide youth deer season, many of Tennessee’s wildlife management areas offer young sportsman hunts. So, if you’re looking for more opportunities to get a youth deer hunter in the field, be sure to check those out.

Youth Turkey Season

Photo of a youth hunter with a big gobbler taken during a youth turkey hunt.

In a similar fashion as deer season, Tennessee gives youth turkey hunters a jump on the spring turkey season. The youth turkey season is the Saturday and Sunday prior to opening day of the regular spring turkey season. For 2023, those dates are listed below.

Youth Season Dates: April 8-9, 2023

This is a statewide youth turkey season, and the young hunters are permitted one bearded turkey per day, which counts toward their statewide bag limit.

Youth Bear Season

Another popular Tennessee youth hunting event is the youth bear season.

Youth Season Dates: October 29-30, 2022

Tennessee youth bear hunters are limited to one bear per year, either sex. Hunting is only permitted in bear hunting zones 1, 2, and 3. No dogs allowed.

Youth Waterfowl Season

Youth hunter hunting during a youth duck hunt in Tennessee.

In addition to deer, turkey, and bear hunting opportunities, Alabama also offers a special youth waterfowl hunting opportunity.

Youth Season Dates: February 4 and 11, 2023

The daily bag limits for the Tennessee youth waterfowl season are the same as for the regular season. Adults and other persons accompanying youth hunters are not allowed to hunt during these youth waterfowl hunts. Geese, coot, gallinules, moorhens, and ducks may be taken by youth during the Young Sportsman Waterfowl Hunts. WMAs with special closing times are open all day for each day of the Young Sportsman Waterfowl Hunts.

Summary

The future of Tennessee’s hunting heritage lies in the hands of our youth. It is our responsibility to introduce them to hunting, get them in the field as much as possible, and to teach them woodsmanship and proper hunting ethics. Make it a goal to find a local youth this fall who wants to try hunting, and be a mentor to them. That may be your own child, grandchild, or nephew, or it may be a neighbor or coworker’s child.

Regardless of who it is, taken them hunting and give them the same opportunity to develop that passion that you were given. When they pull the trigger on their first deer, turkey, or other game animal, and you see that excitement in their eyes, you’ll be glad you made the effort!

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