Tennessee Small Game Hunting Laws & Regulations

Small Game Hunting Regulations in Tennessee

Hunting Seasons for Small Game

In Tennessee, all hunting seasons for small game are determined by specific proclamations issued by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. These regulations ensure the management and conservation of wildlife populations.

Key Points:

  • Closed Seasons: Unless explicitly opened by the Commission, all small game hunting seasons remain closed.
  • Possession Limits: Generally, the possession limit is double the daily bag limit. This rule does not apply to migratory game birds and the opening day of the season.
  • Use of Dogs: Dogs are permitted for hunting all small game species, with exceptions in certain Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as specified.

Regulations for Dog Training

Dog training for hunting purposes follows distinct guidelines to ensure both the safety of the animals and the adherence to wildlife management principles.


  • Training Periods: Training of bird and squirrel dogs is allowed year-round on private lands during daylight hours. Rabbit dog training is permitted any time, day or night. Fox chasing with hounds is also allowed throughout the year.
  • Licensing Requirements: A hunting license is necessary during dog training, except when participating in recognized field trials. Training on a WMA requires a small game permit.
  • Restrictions on Taking Animals: Capturing animals during dog training sessions is strictly prohibited.
  • Bear Dog Training: Separate regulations exist for bear dog training, as outlined in the Bear Regulations.
  • WMA Regulations: Specific WMAs have designated dog training seasons, which should be referred to for compliance.

Raccoon Dog Training Regulations

The training of dogs for raccoon hunting is subject to certain county-specific regulations and timeframes.

County-Specific Rules:

  • General Regulations: Raccoon dog training is allowed year-round except in areas regulated by Private Acts.
  • DeKalb County: The entire county permits year-round training except in areas south and west of State Hwy. 96 and U. S. Hwy. 70. Here, the training season begins 30 days prior to the hunting season.
  • Prohibition on Taking Animals: Similar to other training categories, capturing animals during raccoon dog training is not allowed.

Raccoon and Opossum Hunting Guidelines

Specific regulations govern the hunting of raccoons and opossums, especially concerning hunting seasons and bag limits.

Season and Bag Limit:

  • Private Land Season: From sunset on July 1 to sunrise on September 16, 2023, raccoon and opossum hunting is open on private lands. The bag limit is set at two per person per night.
  • Public Lands: WMAs and other public lands are closed for raccoon and opossum hunting during this period.
  • County Restrictions: Hunting is prohibited in Scott, Morgan, Roane, Rhea, Hamilton counties, and all counties east of these.
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