Skip to main content

Tennessee Bear Hunting: All the Info You Need to Know

Tennessee Bear Hunting

Brush up on these details before heading out on a black bear hunt in Tennessee.

If you're looking for a new adventure this fall, hit the road for Tennessee and chase black bears.

Of course, the main decision-maker in this state's bear hunting is the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, or TWRA, and their website is the place to find the most up-to-date rules.

Seasons and regulations differ from many other bear hunting states, so here's what you need to know.

Tennessee Bear Hunting Regulations

With the 2018 Tennessee black bear hunting season in the books, hunters harvested a record 759 black bears last year...

Posted by Radio Greeneville on Friday, January 25, 2019

Tennessee hunting licenses for non-residents currently run $214.50 for a 7-day or $305 for an annual.

While the Tennessee bag limit allows hunters to take one black bear of either sex per year, cubs - defined by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) as any bear weighing 75 pounds or less - as well as female bears with cubs by their side are off-limits throughout the entire bear season.

Hunters must take any bear they kill to an official checking station. While you can field dress your black bear before taking it to the checking station, it must still weigh 75 pounds or more and the reproductive organs must be intact.

Tennessee hunters cannot shoot bears over bait sites during hunting season, unless the bait has been removed 10 days prior. Hunting bears with dogs is permitted, but only in certain areas and certain times of year.

For what it's worth, bear hunters can harvest invasive wild hogs while actively pursuing bear at the same time.

Bear Zones in Tennessee

TWRA

For wildlife management purposes, the TWRA divides Tennessee into five bear hunt zones (BHZs) - falling mostly throughout east Tennessee. Popular bear hunting areas in Tennessee include Blount, Cocke and Sevier counties falling in both BHZ1 and 2.

The five bear hunting zones are located in all or portions of these counties:

  • BHZ1: Carter, Cocke (North of I-40), Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, & Washington Counties.
  • BHZ2: Blount, Cocke (South of I-40), Jefferson (East of Hwy 411), Sevier Counties.
  • BHZ3: McMinn (East of Hwy 411), Monroe, Polk (East of Hwy 411 & North of Hwy 64) Counties, excluding South Cherokee WMA.
  • BHZ4: Cumberland (North of I-40), Fentress, Morgan, Pickett (East of Hwy 111), & Scott (West of Hwy 27) Counties.

Tennessee black bear hunting is prohibited on several bear reserves throughout the state, including the Unicoi reserve in BHZ 1, unless special permission is received.

Bear Seasons in Tennessee

Tennessee Bear HuntingBear seasons in Tennessee vary based on the BHZ, with archery season kicking off September 26, 2021. Hunting opens up to gun and muzzleloader hunters throughout October and runs through early January. Again, dogs are permitted only during certain times of the season, so be sure to check regulations before heading out.

Bear Hunting Outfitters in Tennessee

While the opportunities are there for public land bear hunting, private property is typically going to give you a better shot. If you're not a Tennessee resident, you can book a hunting trip with one of many outfitters and enjoy the perks of bear hunting on private land.

It's the sort of hunting situation plenty of outdoorsmen and women put on their to-do lists, and can often be exactly what bear hunting promises: excitement as anticipation builds, and an opportunity to take a big game animal anyone would be proud of.

NEXT: 4 WAYS TO USE YOUR TRAIL CAMS DURING THE HUNTING OFF SEASON

WATCH

Tennessee Bear Hunting: All the Info You Need to Know