The 9 Lakes region is known as an outdoor sportsman’s playground for locals and visitors seeking hunting adventures. In early colonial days, long hunters would spend months in the region hunting meat and animal skins to sell in eastern settlements or to ship down the rivers to sell in European nations. They told stories of the abundance of game animals to hunt and the rich, deep forests resplendent with berries, nuts, and fruits. Their stories led to the early migration of pioneers into the region as early as 1750.
In today’s busy world, the fall season classically draws hunters to the woods for large game hunts including deer, bear, and elk. The week of Thanksgiving is often a family event shared by generation to generation. The crisp mornings and mast covered grounds provide forage for game animals that are fattening up for the winter.
To enjoy your adventure, come prepared:
Know your seasons: November 23 marks the opening of shotgun season for deer and beer. Wild hog has been reclassified and can be hunted during any bear-dog hunt season or by special regulations in Catoosa WMA and Big South Fork. Hunting hours begin 30 minutes before legal sunrise and end 30 minutes after legal sunset.
Know your location: Hunting land in the 9 Lakes region includes Wild Life Management areas, state lands, TVA public Lands, and national forests. In general, TWRA manages hunts on the public lands in all Tennessee regions. Three of the sixteen counties, Morgan, Roane, and Monroe fall in Region 3 for hunting regulations and the other thirteen counties, Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Scott, and Union are located in Region 4. In the 9 Lakes region, most of the public hunting lands border several counties, so a hunt can take you across county lines. Some favorite locations like the 189,000 acre North Cumberland Plateau straddle two TWRA regions. The 9 Lakes is made up of mountains and valleys, so be prepared for uneven terrain, large open fields, water hazards, and a lack of good cell phone service.
Know the rules: Each area has regulations on the use of motorized vehicles and OHVs. Know that not all units are closed to the general public during hunts, so adhere to safety practices. It is illegal to shoot across a road or from a vehicle. Dress to stay warm and bring a day’s worth of water. Hunting requires patience. Always practice Leave No Trace principles when hunting or camping on public lands.
Savor the day: Whether you bag your game or mentor a novice hunter to bag their first deer, a day in the woods will be a day of adventure requiring patience, skill, and some luck. At the end of the day, retire to your campsite, cabin, or lodge to swap stories and share a meal. Rest up for the next day’s hunt. The lore and lure of these woods is strong and will draw you back again and again for a hunting adventure.