Fox squirrel in a tree during the Tennessee squirrel season.

Tennessee Squirrel Season Dates & Info [2022-2023]

Last Updated on February 15, 2023 by Brian Grossman

Tennessee hunters are fortunate to have two squirrel seasons covering nearly eight months of the year! That means lots of opportunities to get out of the house and into the woods to hone your woodsmanship skills, practice shooting, and put some excellent game meat on your table if your aim is true.

If you’re interested in hunting Tennessee squirrels this season, we’ve provided all the necessary information below to ensure you’re legal and to give you your best odds for success.  

2022-2023 Tennessee Squirrel Season Dates

  • August 27, 2022 – March 15, 2023
  • May 13 – June 11, 2023

RELATED: 2022-2023 Tennessee Deer Season Dates & Info

Tennessee Squirrel Season Bag Limit

The bag limit for squirrels in Tennessee is 10 per day, and the possession limit is 20.

Legal Squirrel Hunting Hours

Legal hunting hours for squirrels in Tennessee is one half-hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset.

Tennessee’s Three Squirrel Species

Eastern Gray, Eastern Fox, and Red Squirrels can all be hunted in Tennessee. The most common species is the gray squirrel, which is typically associated with hardwood forests or a mix of pines and hardwoods. Gray squirrels are predominantly gray with white underparts, and appear more slender-bodied than fox squirrels, weighing anywhere from 12 ounces to 1.5 pounds.

Fox squirrels vary greatly in color, but usually have gray and black hairs on their back with an orange-colored belly. Generally larger than grays, fox squirrels range in weight from one pound to nearly three, and are closely associated with mature oak/hickory forest habitats.

Red Squirrels are small tree squirrels only found in the higher elevations of eastern Tennessee. They are the smallest of the three Tennessee squirrels, with reddish-gray or yellowish back with a white or cream-colored belly. The tail is similar in color to the body, but with a broad, black band edged in white. Their tails are typically less bushy than other tree squirrels. 

Tennessee Squirrel Hunting License Requirements

All that is required to squirrel hunt on private land is a Hunting and Fishing Combination license. If you’re going to chase bushytails on one of the state’s many WMAs, then a Small Game WMA Permit will be needed.   

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.

Legal Squirrel Hunting Weapons

  • Rifles and Handguns: Any .25-cal. or smaller rimfire, air rifle, or any muzzleloading firearm. 
  • Shotguns: Any, including muzzleloading shotguns, using ammunition loaded with No. 4 or smaller shot.
  • Archery: Crossbows, longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows are allowed for hunting squirrels.

Where to Hunt Squirrels in Tennessee

There are over 100 WMAs and refuges across Tennessee, varying in size from 53 to 625,000 acres. Many of these properties are open for squirrel hunting opportunities. Hunters are advised to check the current hunting regulations for specific WMA dates and info.

Wolves in Squirrels

A lot of hunters won’t go out early in the Tennessee squirrel season due to the presence of wolves, or warbles, on the squirrels. Wolves are the larvae of bot flies, which lay their eggs on vegetation in the woods. When a squirrel comes in contact with the larvae, the larvae grab onto the squirrel and burrow under the skin. 

Squirrels with wolves, or warbles, will have large lumps on the skin where the bot fly larvae are burrowed underneath. It’s not pretty, but wolves have no negative impact on the meat of the squirrel. 

So don’t let the thought of wolves keep you from hitting the woods this August or September in pursuit of a limit of bushytails. Not only will it give you an opportunity to hone your shooting skills before deer season, but it can provide excellent table fare as well. 

Tennessee Squirrel Hunting FAQs

Can I shoot squirrels in my yard in Tennessee?

That depends. There are no TWRA regulations that prohibit shooting squirrels around your house. There are, however, city and county ordinances that may prohibit discharging a firearm where you live. You also have to consider the safety of any neighbors you may have.

So, if your house is a safe distance from any neighbors, and there is no city or county ordinance that prohibits the discharge of firearms where you live, then there’s nothing wrong with putting a few home-grown bushytails in the freezer.

Do you need a license to hunt squirrels in Tennessee?

Yes. Most hunters will need a Tennessee Hunting and Fishing Combination license to hunt squirrels. The exception would be those exempt from Tennessee’s hunting license requirements.

Can you bait squirrels in Tennessee?

No. Baiting is not legal in Tennessee for any game species.

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