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Tennessee residents are allowed to hunt without a license on Saturday, Aug. 26 which coincides with the opening day of squirrel season.

Free Hunting Day is an event the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency annually provides in hopes of increasing interest in hunting. Squirrel hunting is one of Tennessee’s oldest and favorite traditions. The day serves as an excellent opportunity for people to experience the enjoyment of the sport.

The TWRA encourages regular hunters to introduce friends and family members (young and old) to the outdoor sport. It is also an excellent opportunity for people who have not tried hunting in a while to be reintroduced to the sport.

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In addition to opening of squirrel season, the three-day archery only on private lands only antlered deer hunt is set for Aug. 25-27. The only exception is in Unit CWD where guns and muzzleloaders are allowed and select public lands are open for hunting.

On Free Hunting Day, state resident hunters are exempt from hunting licenses and WMA permit requirements. Many of the WMAs are open to hunters seeking public access on Aug. 26. Hunters are asked to check the information for specific WMAs in the 2023-24 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. Sportsmen are required to ask for permission to hunt on private lands they do not own.

The TWRA offers a reminder that hunter education requirements are not waived for Free Hunting Day. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to have successfully completed a hunter education course. An apprentice license is required for those born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 if the hunter education course has not been completed. This license exempts the hunter from the mandatory hunter education law for one year from the date of purchase but may only be purchased for up to three consecutive years during the lifetime of the hunter. Those under 10 years of age do not need a Hunter Education certificate but must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age who must remain in a position to take immediate control of the hunting device.

Hunters can harvest up to 10 squirrels a day from the opening day of squirrel season through March 15, 2024. The season ending date was extended last year from the final day of February by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. Each hunting day begins a half-hour before sunrise and ends a half-hour after sunset.

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For more information about hunting in Tennessee, visit TWRA’s website at or contact your nearest TWRA regional office.

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