Turkey Hunting in Tennessee

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  • B
  • 270,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 603,995

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

With abundant public land, Tennessee offers room to roam for spring gobblers. Wildlife Management areas are good places to start, though for some, hunter pressure is high.

If you can picture a Mid-South setting in which to chase gobblers, Tennessee probably has it.

  • Low-lying river bottoms are found throughout West Tennessee.
  • Middle Tennessee is full of crop fields, cattle pastures and rolling hills.
  • East Tennessee is mountain country.

Recent hunting regulation changes over the past several years have been based on turkey population declines. As this goes, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officially states:

Wild turkey populations in many counties increased rapidly during restoration, reached a peak, and then declined for a time before stabilizing around carrying capacity, a natural occurrence for most restored wildlife populations. Localized annual fluctuations in population numbers are expected moving forward because spring turkey production, which primarily drives turkey populations, can be particularly affected by weather and other factors, especially when a population has reached the habitat’s carrying capacity.

More severe population declines have been observed in other areas of the state, causing local residents, hunters, and managers concern that additional population-level factors are impacting these populations. In response, TWRA seeks to determine the factors impacting these affected regions and as appropriate make management and hunting recommendations designed to improve conditions and wild turkey numbers.

Fortunately, as a result of the wild turkey restoration efforts, Tennessee has a wider distribution of huntable flocks which can absorb declines in some local populations without a significant drop in the total harvest. Since weather conditions vary greatly across the state some flocks exist in areas that will be unaffected by the same storms which could be detrimental to poultry survival in other localized flocks.

Good production in these areas provides an alternate place for hunters to hunt when local populations are low.

License fees are a bit expensive for out-of-state hunters, but if you buy an annual all-game license and hunt year-round, you have everything you need for deer and fall turkey hunting, too. The state offers a variety of license options here.

Hunter registered 40,105 Tennessee turkeys during the 2020 spring season, jumping to 53,669 last year.

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in Tennessee (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

Go here for more Realtree turkey hunting.