Tennessee’s 2016-17 gun hunting season for deer opens Saturday, Nov. 19. Deer gun season has the traditional opening date of the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. During gun season, sportsmen may also use muzzleloader or archery equipment. As the gun season begins, sportsmen are reminded of changes made for the 2016-17 season in regard to the definition of antlered deer. Anyone born on or after January 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the Apprentice Hunting License (along with other required licenses) while hunting any species in Tennessee. For more information about Tennessee’s 2016-17 deer hunting seasons, refer to the 2016-17 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide available at all license agents, TWRA regional offices in Jackson, Nashville, Crossville, and Morristown or on the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org.
An antlered deer is now defined as any male or female deer with an antler protruding above its hairline. An antlerless deer is now defined as any deer with no antler protruding above its hairline. The new definition was established by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its season-setting meeting this past May. The definition is also listed with photo examples on page 23 of the 2016-17 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide as produced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Male fawns with no antler protruding above the hairline do not count toward a hunter’s antlered bag limit, rather toward the hunter’s antlerless bag limits. Deer having already shed their antlers and does without antlers are also considered antlerless. This is the second year that the statewide bag limit for antlered deer is now two. The number includes those taken during the archery only, muzzleloader, and gun seasons. Unit C and D are new management units this year. Unit C includes Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Jefferson, Unicoi, Union, and Washington counties. Unit D includes the four counties of Blount, Monroe, Polk, and Sevier. The complete deer hunting units are listed on page 22 of the Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. Since archery only season began in late September, there have been 30,505 deer harvested through the first weekend of muzzleloader season, which also includes the Young Sportsman Hunt in late October. Temperatures have been above normal this fall across the state. The total is 2,341 less than through the same period in 2015.