NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission held meetings last week to announce the new hunting season dates and regulations for 2022-2023.

There were reports of a decrease in turkey populations and the commission voted to delay the statewide turkey season to improve reproduction and nesting success. The bag limit will also be decreased from three birds to two birds, and only one bird can be a juvenile or jake.

Statewide, 2022 spring turkey harvest averaged around 29,940 birds, which was a 10% decrease. The number of successful hunters were 21,209 which averaged around the same amount as the 5-year 21,259.

The Commission voted to extend the raccoon and opossum hunting season to March 15.

TFWC approved bobcat hunting during the statewide deer archery, muzzleloader and gun seasons.

The controversial practice of fanning or reaping turkey was banned on wildlife management areas (WMAs) to ensure public safety.

Updated regulations for hunters about CWD rates:

  • Hunters will no longer need the Type 94 licenses to hunt antlerless deer on private land (Required for WMAs).
  • Changes to deer season dates will be calendar year changes only.
  • Extend rifle season in the CWD zone by two weeks to increase the buck limit to three.
  • Adjust the “Earn-A-Buck” program to be one doe, instead of two that earns one buck tag.

There were no changes to the elk regulations; 15 elk tags are issued annually.

The commission voted to extend the rifle reason in the CWD zone by two weeks, to increase the buck limit to three and to adjust the “Earn-A-Buck” program.

Bear hunt zones will be adjusted, and the Kettlefoot and Laurel Fork bear reserve season expanded. There will be mandatory bear tooth submissions to allow for better population management and data collection on wildlife health.

The commission voted to add four Tier One duck blinds at the Big Sandy, West Sandy and Camden Unit 1 WMAs for the upcoming duck season.

“The area under consideration is difficult for hunters to access and the Commission believes it would be better served for conservation efforts,” according to the news release.

The TWRA completes a nine-month season setting process, which includes wildlife population surveys, date collection from partner organizations and research institutions, a public comment period on recommendations, and finally discussion and approval by the TN Fish and Wildlife Commission.

“Our goal for the 2023 hunting season setting process was to find the right balance between healthy wildlife populations and hunter satisfaction,” said Joe Benedict, Wildlife and Forestry Division chief Joe Benedict. “We feel confident we have met this goal with the help of the incredible volume of public input we received this year.”

For more information about the regulations, contact TWRA.huntingcomments@tn.gov.