Tennessee Deer Population:    About 900,000 deer in 2023, down from about one million whitetail deer in 2019.  An estimate of 900,000 deer in 2018 and 2017.  Estimated at 950,000 deer in 2015 and 2014 with a modest upward trend into 2016 for about 970,000 deer, but a general downward trend into 2018.  About 925,000 deer in 2013 and one million before the hunting season in 2012.  An EHD outbreak in 2017. 

Tennessee Deer News

Will judges handcuff game wardens? June 12, 2024 Tennessee, Main Street Media of Tennessee

...  legally sticky issue is the practice of placing a stuffed deer by a roadside to entice a passing hunter into illegally shooting at it, then being nabbed by game wardens lying in wait.  Some legal experts claim it’s entrapment... 

New fawns dropping over next several days May 18, 2024 Tennessee  The Paducah Sun

... The breeding period for a majority of the adult does ... falls in mid-November   ... science tells us that most gestation times for whitetails run 180 to 210 days ... a great many brand-new deer hit the ground during the last couple of weeks in May and the first 10 days to two weeks of June...

Tennessee elk poacher pays $10,000 fine, loses firearms and hunting privileges April 10, 2024 WTVC

... early November 19, 2023 when TWRA Wildlife Manager Darrell England was contacted by an informant who reported that he had heard multiple shots while deer hunting on NCWMA...

Tennessee 2024-25 Hunting And Trapping Proposals Presented To Commission At March Meeting March 23, 2024 Tennessee, Chattanoogan.com

... The Agency proposed six deer units and no change to the statewide antlered bag limit of two... The proposal removes reference to “CWD” from the management units. Instead, disease management will continue to be regulated through the CWD feeding and transportation regulations ...

Hendersonville tables idea of culling deer herds to control population March 20, 2024, Tennessee, YAHOO!News

... the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency ... TWRA ... advised the city they were allowed to cull as long as they followed the right process... educating the public after conducting extensive research on other potential solutions, including control burns, sterilization, and relocating the deer ...

Discussion on thermal imaging in hunting could get heated March 17, 2024 Tennessee, Chattanooga Times Free Press

... This is not the "night vision" optics  ... When properly used, you can see animals or any source of heat, even on the darkest of nights ... for game animals such as elk, deer  ...Some states may have already banned the use of thermals and/or drones ... 

Pregnant elk soar through Tennessee skies in state's first-of-its-kind population study February 17, 2024 Tennessee, Yahoo News

... "We're putting a transmitter inside the pregnant cow, specifically targeting those, in hopes that when they give birth in May-June, we'll be able to go out and collar the calves and then monitor them over the course of their life to see when they're actually recruited into the population," ...

State's deer harvest declined by over 20,000 February 16, 2024 Tennessee Main Street Media of Tennessee

… The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reported 152,227 deer harvested statewide, compared to 163,244 the previous season… One reason for the drop-off could be a trend toward trophy hunting.  More and more hunters are passing up smaller bucks to wait for one with big antlers..,

Canopy reduction and fire seasonality effects on deer and turkey habitat in upland hardwoods - Forest Ecology and Management, 2024

... Our results indicate burning during different seasons following canopy reduction can promote different food and cover resources which are important for deer and turkeys during different times of the year... Deer and turkeys benefit from diverse understory conditions that result from forest management... Prescribed fire is one of the most important tools to maintain structure and forage for deer ...

TWRA Detects CWD in Lewis County November 21, 2023 Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency News

... The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has received a positive Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) test result in a hunter-harvested deer in Lewis County. This is the first positive CWD case for Lewis County and will result in changes to feeding and carcass transportation regulations...

Wildlife numbers in local woodlands not readily known other than for deer, turkey and bear November 20, 2023 Tennessee, The Erwin Record

... the estimated 6,500 black bears are shared with the neighboring states of North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia... the deer herd in the Tennessee consists of about 900,000 individuals while the wild turkey population is about 300,000 animals.  ... according to Matthew Cameron, the communications and outreach coordinator for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency...,

Deer nursed back to health by woman was shot, left to ‘bleed out’ by City of Dickson officers November 15, 2023 Tennessee, WSMV Nashville

... Police said that upon arrival at the Dickson residence on Sunday, a homeowner showed officers surveillance footage of the deer lowering his head and “forcing [the homeowner] off of his front porch.”  Lane said this was how BeeBee played.  “He does it with me and my children, and he’s never hurt anybody,” ...

'Don't veer for deer' says Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as animal activity increases November 12, 2023 WKRN

... According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), 4,175 deer-related crashes have occurred in Tennessee this year... Under Tennessee law, any wild game animal hit in an accident can be used for personal use or consumption...

Animal attacks, property damage, car crashes: Deer wreak havoc on a Middle Tennessee town November 2, 2023 Tennessee, The Tennessean

... Statewide, the average deer population density is estimated at 19.6 deer per square mile, according to the TWRA. Sumner County’s deer population density is estimated at between 15-30 deer per square mile, according to the Quality Deer Management Association.,,

Scott County's deer harvest declines again as muzzleloader hunt approaches October 30, 2023 Tennessee, Independent Herald

... The statewide harvest is down 22% from last year at the same time.  One reason for the decline is likely an abundant mast crop, including the preferred white oak acorn, which has deer on the move less in search of food. Another factor is less-than-ideal weather conditions during the youth hunt...

Tennessee couple spots rare white deer in backyard October 29, 2023 Business Insider

... Hunting, killing, or trapping an "albino" deer is a crime in Tennessee, according to the TRWA. Tennessee law describes an "albino" deer as having "a lack, or significant deficiency, of pigment in the skin and hair, and pink eyes,"  ...

   White deer spotted in Tennessee believed to be non-native October 27, 2023 UPI

... The animal was originally identified as an albino or piebald white-tailed deer after being spotted ... but Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials now believe it to be a fallow deer, native to Europe, or a sika deer, native to Asia...

Hendersonville revisits deer dilemma October 12, 2023 Tennessee, Main Street Media of Tennessee

...  survey found a total of 1,212 deer, or 31.7 deer/square mile across the city. The state average is around 19.6 deer/square mile...  a questionable 2018 aerial survey estimated the deer population at around 83, or 1.8 deer/square mile ...

CWD, Former Tennessee Wildlife and Resources Agency biologist:  agency manipulated data on deer disease September 7, 2023 Tennessee Lookout

... In a whistleblower lawsuit filed this week, Kelly alleges state officials manipulated data and misled the public about the prevalence of chronic wasting disease, a fatal and infectious disease that attacks deer populations.  He claims TWRA failed to follow best scientific practices and its own regulations in diagnosing potentially infected deer...

Be alert for white-tailed deer June 23, 2023 Tennessee, Kingsport Times News

... Due to over-harvesting, the white-tailed deer population in our area was reduced to dangerous levels by the 1970s.  To rescue the species from near extinction, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency embarked on a colossal undertaking to relocate deer to our area from West Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin..,

Tennessee Deer News and Information Archive by TopicPopulation and Management, Deer in the News, Disease, Suburban, Transportation

Tennessee Deer:   An estimate from the state of about 900,000 deer in 2023. The statewide deer density in 2023 was reported to be 19.6 deer per square mile.  The state expected a 1 to 2 percent increase in the deer population for 2021.  A rough estimate from the state of one million deer in 2019.  A significant increase in the deer kill for 2020, but the population is thought to have peaked and now leveling off with increased hunting due to the pandemic, weather, and liberal bag limits in the west accounting for much of the increase.   

About 900,000 deer in 2017, based a 14 percent drop in the deer harvest from 2015.  TWRA estimated 950,000 to one million  deer in 2015.   An EHD outbreak in 2017 reduced the herd.  Weather and a massive acorn crop also limited the deer kill.   A reported estimate of only 700,000 deer in 2018.  Hunting data for 2013 indicated a decline in population.  About one million deer in the state before hunting season in 2012 and 900,000 deer in 2011.  The state deer population has been approximately stable for several years.  Some estimates put the herd about 20 percent lower than these estimates from TWRA.  The agency expects the herd to grow by one or two percent with most growth in East Tennessee and along the Mississippi.  A two buck limit was set for 2015, the first change since 1999 when the limit went to three.  Fewer male deer and more does were killed in 2015.   

For 2012, population estimates of one million from a press source and 586,000 post harvest from a state source.  An estimate of one million and growing in 2011.  A state estimate of 900,000 in 2005 and 800,000 in 1993.  A population estimate of 900,000 in 2009 and 750,000 in 1990.

The state increased hunting pressure in 2004 and into 2005 to reduce the deer population. 

Peak of the rut is around November 20.

Chronic Wasting Disease  The first cases of chronic wasting disease were detected in December, 2018 in Fayette, Hardeman, and Madison Counties.   As of November, 2017, no chronic wasting disease discovered from testing in the state.  By January, 2018, 91 reported cases, for the 2018-19 hunting season 168 positives.  By fall of 2019, 10 counties tested positive with 149 positive cases for the year. By the end of the 2019-20 deer season there were a total of 648 CWD-positive deer detected, 462 were detected during the season.  In 2021 the state opened its first testing lab.  More in positive cases in 2022 with 20,726 harvested deer sampled during the season and 798 returning CWD positive.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD).  Reports in 2019.  The 2017 outbreak of EHD was the worst since 2007 which killed tens of housands of deer.  A limited outbreak in 2018.

History:  Deer populations were hunted to near extinction in the early 1900's and hunting was closed to protect the herd.  One estimate puts the deer population in the early 1900s at 350 deer, another estimate of less than 1,000.  An estimated 12 deer in the state in 1934.  In the 1940's there were fewer than 1,000 to 2,000 deer, all located in the hills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Hunting was reopened in the 1950's. 

From the 1950s to 1985, about 9,000 deer were relocated into the state.  "During 1966-67, 75 black-tailed deer purchased from Oregon were released at the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant. They were used in an experimental breeding program until 1973. At that time, the 46 remaining black-tailed deer were released in Hamblen County and the hybrids were released at Milan Arsenal. Because of the blacktail's susceptibility to meningeal worm, the gene pool is believed to have been eliminated from Tennessee."  From:  A History of Deer Restoration in Tennessee.    Over hunting reduced the state's deer population to low levels in the 1970s, deer were relocated from other areas to help rebuild the population.  Archaeological evidence indicates declines in deer population far earlier that the arrival of Europeans. 

Population Estimates:  1,000 in 1940, 75,000 in 1968.  In 1989:  625,000.  In the 1940s about 2,000.

Woodland Buffalo:  Hunted to extinction by 1805.   

Elk a 2018 estimated population of over 400, about 400 in 2015 after a restocking effort.  Plentiful in 1783, as reported by road surveyors.  By the 1820's they were gone from the middle of the state, western herds soon followed.  The last known wild elk was killed in 1865.  Beginning in December of 2000, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) began the reintroduction of elk with the release that were relocated from Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada, to the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.  Through 2007, 201 elk were released.

Mountain lions were in remote areas of Tennessee until the late 1800's and are occasionally reported.  The last confirmed sighting in 2015.

Bear  In 2023 an estimated 6,500 black bears shared with the neighboring states of North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia

Stop Poaching Hotlines:  For Middle Tennessee, the number is 1-800-255-8972. For West Tennessee, including Stewart, Houston and Humphreys counties, call 1-800-831-1173.

Other useful links

- Tennessee Wildlife Federation   -

- Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

- Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo

Amicalola Deer Park This 1200-acre park is nestled in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains along the headwaters of the Amicalola River. It serves the needs of 150 rescued animals, primarily Sika and Fallow Deer, as a place of retreat, restoration, recreation, preservation and conservation. Amicalola Deer Park is now a toured facility offering many special events throughout the year to promote awareness and funding for their mission.