Deer Hunting in East Tennessee

Warlock

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Aug 10, 2021
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Good evening gentlemen. I just moved down here from North Dakota in January and was hoping to get some advice / insight. I’m currently living in Knox county and have started the process of e-scouting nearby public. Luckily it seems like Knox County seems to be within an hour or so of a lot of public hunting opportunity, which at first seems great, but I have some concerns. From reading on this forum and others it sounds like public land down here is just inundated with hunting pressure during the season - is this less so during archery season or is it extremely busy year round? I have no problem getting in deep and away from other hunters, or hunting overlooked spots on smaller parcels. Just seems like a lot of cynicism I’m reading and I’m trying to gauge whether it’s just a different frame of reference people have down here or if the public land is just in dire straits in terms of being over hunted. Additionally, I’ve heard some horror stories about vehicles being broke into at Cove Creek / Royal Blue? I’m looking for general information and tips about where to avoid and how to start - not trying to blow out anyones personal honey holes. I saddle hunt so I have no problem staying mobile and getting away from other folks. I just want to make the best of the opportunities I have, starting over in a new locale is never fun.

Anyway, anything helps. Cheers!
 

jimh406

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I haven't lived there in years. Pressure isn't necessarily a problem on public land. Follow the first rule, hunt where there are deer. ;). Seriously though, if there are lot of people, find where the people are and find a thick area in the middle of them and hang out in a tree stand early especially on opening day.

I have no idea what the populations look like now, but my favorite areas were Chuck Swan, Catoosa, and AEDC, but those decisions were based on the deer populations. Bowater paper company used to have permits and owned a lot of land, but again, I haven't hunted there in a very long time.

You probably want to check if you are near the drawing dates. Some areas are limited entry and permit required.

One more thing, if you are into archery, check out Smoky Mtn Archers in North Knox County. They have a nice range and also indoor season. There are a lot of good men/women there.

Good luck.
 
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Warlock

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Awesome, thanks for the tips, I atleast have a foot forward now. I'll definitely check out Smoky Mtn Archers, sounds awesome. My wife and I have been thinking of ways to meet new people, should've thought of that. Thank ya sir!
 

Kurts86

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Aug 15, 2020
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East TN has a lot of public land but low deer densities and relatively light hunting pressure.

As mentioned finding deer can be difficult, visibility is quite limited and they key in on acorn flats and other terrain funnels. It’s much different than the Midwest with more defined bed to feed patterns. The guys who have it dialed in are nearly arborist and know the order of which species of oak drop in which order. The better hunting is typically in areas with timber management going on as most of East TN is dominated by mature timber stands.

The muzzleloader season in TN is definitely the best season IMO and gets the 2nd and 3rd week of November rut. The rifle season is long and a lot of gun hunters don’t hunt the muzzleloader season for some reason.

The bow season has never been very attractive to me in TN. It is often summer hot well into late October and deer movement is meh. The best bowhunting is the week before muzzleloader season but it’s all weekdays between the youth season and muzzleloader opener. After that it’s gun season for 2 months straight.

The quota hunt application period just opened and you should check that out. There are some better east TN public areas that are draw areas.
 
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Warlock

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Thanks for the comment. I plan on hunting muzzle loader season with my bow for that exact reason - with things being as dense as they are I assume shots are limited to relatively short distance anyway, even with a muzzleloader. I’ll look into the quota hunts for sure.
 

Wardamntexas

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Jan 18, 2022
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I haven't made it out yet from Nashville but I contacted the state forester to ask about camping, they're really helpful. Pickett State Forest allows it, as long as your site is at least 100' from water and not visible from the road. Parking only allowed on state forest roads, not county roads. There's maps available. If there's a piece that allows hunting but the camping regs aren't clear it's worth a shout.
 

Lowg08

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I live 24 miles from the Tennessee line in North Carolina and have a place at lake Cherokee in Hamilton county. I don’t see tons of deer. I have seen three run over on 81 today. It is low deer density but it can be done. I haven’t seen tons of hunters the 6 years I’ve had it and the local guys at the bow shop have to hunt hard. I’ll add some screen shots of some places to scout I’ve learned from some locals. No one’s honey holes just places to look.
 

Lowg08

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Go check out the national forest near Stone Mountain. I don’t have any more specific stuff. I keep getting hung up on deer here at home.
 

Lowg08

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lol. Sure. My little one was watching Netflix on the way to the lake lol
 

sneaky

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Do you have a boat or access to a boat? If you do it opens up access to a lot of areas close to you. I grew up just an hour or so south of Knox county. Low deer density back that way is still a lot of deer compared to areas out here in the west lol.
 
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Warlock

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I was thinking about buying a duck boat with a little 10hp motor specifically for this purpose
 

Pickettpuncher

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Nov 12, 2020
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Not knocking this site as there’s lots of info, but check out tndeer.com as it’s geared more to hunting in Tn. Lots of public ground. But being on the eastern side is much tougher than the middle and western side.
 

Wardamntexas

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Not knocking this site as there’s lots of info, but check out tndeer.com as it’s geared more to hunting in Tn. Lots of public ground. But being on the eastern side is much tougher than the middle and western side.
I grew up in Texas, the quantity and quality of public land open to hunting in TN is still shocking to me
 

Pickettpuncher

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I grew up in Texas, the quantity and quality of public land open to hunting in TN is still shocking to me
Not all public land is equal. Some places are extremely good and others are tough. But we do have quite a few acres spread across the state. I can think of 4 different public areas within 45 minutes of my house and I’m sure there’s closer to 6-7.
 

Wardamntexas

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Not all public land is equal. Some places are extremely good and others are tough. But we do have quite a few acres spread across the state. I can think of 4 different public areas within 45 minutes of my house and I’m sure there’s closer to 6-7.
Yeah I meant more size and accessibility vs game populations. Texas is 97% privately owned, there is very nearly zero public hunting land.
 
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Warlock

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Yeah it’s a shame, Texas is in dire need of revamping their public land management and incentivize some of these ranchers to get on state hunting programs.
 

Wardamntexas

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Yeah it’s a shame, Texas is in dire need of revamping their public land management and incentivize some of these ranchers to get on state hunting programs.
If you can find it (I don't think it's streaming anywhere, at least not yet), the nature documentary Deep In The Heart is an incredible one. A look at the lifecycles of just about all the biomes in the state. Matthew McConaughey is a great nature doc narrator. Saw it in a theater last month on a trip back home and it made me want to stay.
 
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