Complete Guide to Tennessee’s 2024 Spring Turkey Season

Video 2024 turkey season tn

In this article, we look at Tennessee’s turkey population, the state’s turkey hunting statistics, and opportunities, as well as the upcoming 2024 turkey season.

There’s little more exciting than the sound of a big tom turkey gobbling within shotgun range on a cool spring morning. Fortunately for Tennessee turkey hunters, there are plenty of opportunities to have such an encounter on both private and public lands across the state.

Like several southern states, however, the Volunteer State has made some significant changes to its turkey season regulations in recent years in response to declining turkey numbers across the southeast. We wanted to keep you abreast of these changes, so you can plan your turkey season accordingly.

Changes to the 2024 Season

  • Reduced the turkey bag limit to 2 birds
  • Only one jake may be harvested during the spring season
  • Two-week delay in opening turkey season statewide
  • Fanning or reaping turkeys on WMAs is now prohibited.

To address why these changes were necessary, we reached out to Roger Shields, the Wild Turkey Program Coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

“Regarding the recent regulation changes, the agency and our commissioners have heard for several years from hunters and landowners across the state concerned that turkey populations in the areas they live and hunt are declining,” said Shields. “And the regulation changes the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission enacted were an effort to address those concerns.”

Stats from 2022

During Tennessee’s 2022 spring turkey season, an estimated 95,905 hunters (72,307 adults and 23,598 youth) harvested an estimated 48,359 turkeys. That’s down about 10% from the 2021 harvest of 53,669. Of the 48,359 birds killed in 2022, 41,492 were gobblers, 6,676 were jakes, and 191 were bearded hens.

Overall, an estimated 53% of adult hunters and 35% of youth hunters harvested at least one turkey during the 2022 spring turkey season. Among all successful adult hunters, 64% reported harvesting only one bird, 24% reported two birds, and the remaining 13% reported three birds.

Keep in mind, these are not numbers from actual reported harvests, but instead, these figures were estimated from the TWRA’s annual post-season hunter survey and reported in their Spring Turkey Harvest Survey Report 2022.

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So, what can Tennessee hunters expect for 2024?

“Honestly it will be interesting to see what happens this year with the turkey season and harvest,” said Shields. “I suspect harvest will not change much as two competing forces are at play. Due to the reduced bag limit that goes into effect this spring, I would expect harvest to decline a bit.”

“However, we are two years out from one of the better hatches we’ve had in many years, so I suspect there will be some good hunting with an abundance of 2-year old birds on the landscape. We are also a few years out now from the very high harvest we saw during the Covid spring of 2022, so populations should have rebuilt some since then.”

“All in all, I suspect hunters will have a good season, but total harvest may not be much different from the past couple of years.”

2024 Turkey Season Dates

Bag Limits

One (1) bearded turkey per day, not to exceed two (2) per season, only one can be a jake. An adult gobbler is defined by having one of the following: wing feathers have white barring all the way to the tip, tail feathers are the same length, beard is longer than 6 inches, or a spur is at least 1/2 inch long.

Any turkey harvested during the Young Sportsman Hunt counts toward the statewide spring season limit of two (2).

Shooting Hours

Legal shooting hours for spring turkey season is 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

Best Counties to Kill a Turkey

Twelve Tennessee counties reported over 500 turkeys harvested during the 2022 spring turkey season. Ten of the twelve are in the central portion of the state, including:

One county in the far northwest corner of the state had a harvest of over 500 birds, and that was Weakley County with 557.

In the eastern part of Tennessee, Green County easily topped the 500 bird mark with a harvest of 840.

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It’s worth noting that a higher harvest doesn’t always mean a county offers better turkey hunting than one with a lower harvest. You also have to consider the hunting pressure of each to truly understand the quality of hunting.

Best Public Lands to Kill a Turkey

Tennessee hunters are blessed with over 2 million acres of public hunting lands in the form of wildlife management areas (WMAs), national forests, national wildlife refuges, national recreational areas, and public hunting areas (PHAs). Some of these areas operate on a quota hunt system and require an application and draw process to hunt, but many are open to anyone who purchases the proper permits.

Below is a table breaking down the 2022 spring turkey harvest on each tract of public land. As I mentioned with the county harvests above, just because a tract of public land has a higher number of turkeys harvested, doesn’t mean the turkey hunting is better than one with a lower harvest. You have to consider the size of the property and the number of hunters utilizing the property. But this table will at least give you an idea of which Tennessee public lands have huntable numbers of turkeys.

WMATotal HarvestAdultJuvenileUnknown A.E.D.C. WMA9167231 Arnold Hollow WMA6510 Bark Camp Barrens171250 Barkley WMA10820 Battle Creek PHA3210 Bean Switch Refuge6510 Bear Hollow Mountain WMA181620 Beason Creek1010 Beaver Dam Creek WMA6420 Beech River3210 Big Sandy WMA6330 Big South Fork514650 Big Spring Access PHA1100 Blackburn Fork3300 Bogota WMA9540 Bridgestone Firestone WMA – Big Bottom Unit9801 Bridgestone/Firestone WMA11920 Browntown WMA3300 Buffalo Springs WMA2200 C. M. Gooch WMA5410 Camden WMA101000 Catoosa WMA6046131 Cedar Hill Swamp1100 Charlotte Anne Finnell Neal WMA2110 Cheatham Lake WMA201550 Cheatham WMA6850171 Chickamauga WMA363150 Chickasaw NWR242220 Chickasaw SF & WMA221660 Chuck Swan WMA & SF322480 Colonel Forrest V. Durand1100 Cordell Hull Wildlife Refuge191531 Cordell Hull WMA242130 Cove Creek WMA11920 Cross Creeks NWR221570 Dry Creek WMA9810 Eagle Creek WMA271980 Eagle Lake Waterfowl Refuge1100 Edgar Evins SP & WMA241770 Ernest Rice WMA2200 Fall Creek Falls SP 1100 Flintville WMA3300 Foothills WMA4220 Forks of the River WMA2110 FT Campbell2110 Haley-Jaqueth WMA5500 Hampton Crossroads PHA1100 Happy Hollow2110 Harmon Creek WMA7610 Harp 3210 Hart’s Mill6510 Hatchie NWR5410 Haynes Bottom WMA7511 Headwaters3300 Henderson Island Refuge5500 Henderson Swamp PHA3300 Hick Hill WMA15960 Hickory Flats WMA2200 Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge221570 Holston AAP6510 Horns Bluff Waterfowl Refuge3120 Jarrell Switch Waterfowl1100 John Tully WMA11920 Keyes-Harrison WMA3210 Kingston Wildlife Refuge1100 Kyker Bottoms WMA1100 Kyles Ford WMA1100 Land Between The Lakes WMA302910 Laurel Hill WMA9450 Lick Creek Bottoms WMA155100 Lower Hatchie NWR9810 Luper Mountain2200 Maness Swamp Refuge4220 Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park and Natural Area5410 Mingo Swamp1100 Moss Island WMA4400 Mt. Roosevelt WMA7610 MTSU WMA5401 Natchez Trace SF & WMA6442211 Nolichucky WMA9450 Normandy WMA10820 North Cherokee NF & WMA11993233 North Chickamauga Creek WMA8530 North Chickamauga Creek WMA – Patton Unit1100 North Cumberland WMA189167211 Oak Ridge WMA4400 Obed Wild and Scenic River3120 Obion River WMA212010 Old Hickory Lock 5 Refuge3111 Old Hickory WMA6040200 Owl Hollow WMA161240 Paint Rock Refuge1100 Parker Branch2200 Pea Ridge WMA111001 Percy Priest WMA10383173 Pickett SF151140 Prentice Cooper SF & WMA3623130 Rankin Bottom WMA5410 Reelfoot NWR4310 Reelfoot WMA3300 Shady Park PHA2110 Shelton Ferry WMA6330 Skinner Mountain WMA7700 South Cherokee WMA12792323 Standing Stone SF & WMA191900 Tellico Lake6243190 Tennessee NWR261781 The Boils WMA2200 Thorny Cypress3210 Three Rivers WMA3210 Tie Camp WMA6411 Tigrett WMA3210 Tumbleweed WMA191630 Watts Bar WMA4310 West Sandy WMA2110 White Lake Wildlife Refuge5410 White Oak WMA101000 Williamsport WMA2919100 Wolf River and Ghost River SNA Unit 18620 Wolf River and Ghost River SNA Unit 23300 Yanahli WMA12182363 Yuchi Refuge6330 Grand total 2199169847625

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Keep in mind that calling or attempting to call wild turkeys using any means to mimic the sounds made by turkeys is prohibited on all WMAs from March 1 until the opening day of the spring turkey hunts on the WMA. Fanning or reaping turkeys on WMAs is also prohibited.

Final Thoughts

Despite the regional decline in turkey populations, Tennessee hunters continue to post some excellent harvest numbers. Hopefully, the conservative measures that the TWRA is taking will ensure those opportunities continue well into the future. Here’s to hoping each of you have a fantastic and safe 2024 spring turkey season!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>