Deer season is almost here. For archery deer the first segment is Sept. 24 – Oct. 28; then, after a respite weekend for the first youth deer hunt, the second archery segment is Oct. 31 – Nov. 4. All the big game units, A, B, C, D, and L have the same dates; all of the units – except L – have the same bag limits: Two antlered and four antlerless. Unit L bag limits are two antlered and three antlerless per day. Those two bucks are the season maximum for all of the weapons, gun and muzzleloader included.
Coincidently bear hunting begins on Sept. 24. The archery season is Sept. 24 – Oct. 21, without dogs, for all of the Bear Hunting Zones: BHZ1 – BHZ4 and Transitional. The annual bag limit is one bear either-sex, sows without cubs.
Next, bear hunting with dogs and all weapons opens in three zones: Sept. 26 – Oct. 2 in BHZ2, which includes Blount, Cocke (south of I-40), Jefferson (east of Hwy 411), and Sevier counties; Oct. 1-9 in BHZ3, which is McMinn (east of Hwy 411), Monroe and northeastern Polk counties; Oct. 3-7 in BHZ1, which is Carter, Cocke (north of I-40), Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties.
On Oct. 31 – Nov. 4 the above three zones, BHZ1, BHZ2 and BHZ3, are open again for dogs and all weapons. The same three zones host the Young Sportsman bear hunt on Oct. 29-30 for all weapons and no dogs. The late season bear hunts will be listed here later, but you can see them all on page 28 of the 2016 hunting guide, www.tnwildlife.org.