top of page


Bear Hunting In Tennessee

Hunting Methods  Hunting With Dogs

Tennessee's early settlers killed black bears out of fear and for their meat and hides. Since the first settlers arrived, bear numbers have plummeted. Today, black bears inhabit only 11 of 95 counties in the State.


When Did Bear Hunting Start In Tennessee?

In 1949, Tennessee established hunting laws and guidelines.


Is The State Broken Down Into BMUs (Bear management units)?

The State is broken down into five Bear Hunt Zones (BHZs);
BHZ1; BHZ2; BHZ3; BHZ4; Transitional Zone 


When Is Bear Hunting Season?

All 5 Zones

  • No Dogs: Sept 26 - Oct 23


Young Sportsman

  • No Dogs: Oct 31 - Nov 1  


Zone 1:

  • Dogs allowed: Oct 3-5, Oct 10-11,  Nov 9 - 16 and Nov 30 - Dec 16

  • No Dogs: Nov 21 - 24  


Zone 2:

  • Dogs allowed: Oct 10 - 13, Oct 16 - 18,  Nov 26 and Nov 30 - Dec 24

  • No Dogs: Nov. 21-24


Zone 3: 

Dogs allowed: Oct 3-4, Oct 10 - 16, Nov 2 - 6, Nov 30 - Dec 13 and Dec 31 - Jan 3
No Dogs: Nov 21 - 24

Note: Archery season is the only season limited to which weapon a hunter can use. All other seasons, including when dogs are permitted, the use of archery, muzzleloading, and firearm (excluding shotguns) weapons may be used.


What Weapons Are Permitted?

Archery: Longbows, Recurve Bows, Compound Bows, and Crossbows with no draw weight limit; Sharpened Broadheads.

Firearms: Shotguns using ammunition loaded with single solid ball or slugs; Centerfire rifles and handguns; Airguns .35 caliber or larger. 

Muzzleloaders: Muzzleloading firearms .36 caliber or larger; Muzzleloading shotguns that use single ball or slug. 


Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

No. Killing cubs or mothers with cubs is illegal.


Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait?

No. The use of bait is illegal.


Is Dog Hunting Permitted In Tennessee?

Yes. Hunting with dogs is legal. 


What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

The day of the kill, all hunters must be checked in to the TWRA in one of three ways:

  • A TWRA checking station

  • The TWRA website

  • TWRA mobile application 

After the bear is checked in, the given harvest confirmation number must be available for inspection by TWRA personnel until the time of final processing.


What Is Their Reasoning For Hunting Bears?

  • Regulating bear population

  • Controlling nuisance problems

  • Recreational opportunity for sportsmen and women


What Is The Government Organization(s), That Is In Charge Of Bear Hunting/Wildlife?

  • Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA)

  • Tennessee Wildlife Federation


When Does The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Hold Their Meetings?

Upcoming TWRA meetings will be posted here -


Are The Meetings Open To The Public?

There are meetings open to the public. Dates, times and locations can be found here -


Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

The Governor and Tennessee’s elected General Assembly Members have the authority to introduce and vote on proposed law changes.


Kurt Holbert, Chairman of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.


Hunt Clubs And Organizations That Participate In And Fund Bear Hunting.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency -

Tennessee Bear Hunters Association -

bottom of page