The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced the issuance of seven Special Elk Take Permits for the upcoming 2017 hunting season along with one Young Sportsman permit (resident only, ages 13-16). Six of the special permits will be issued through the TWRA quota hunt drawing system. The seventh permit for participation in Tennessee's ninth managed elk hunt will be awarded to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.

We awarded this permit to the successful high bidder through an eBay auction with the winning bid of $13,000.00. The auction started at 9:30 p.m. (CST) on July 27 and ended at 9:30 p.m. (CST) on August 6. The successful bidder will be a participant in the hunt along with six others who will be selected in a random computer draw later this summer. 

Click here to go to the eBay auction site.

The 7-day season dates for 2017 are October 14, through 20, with two more days added to the season from the previous years. The North Cumberland WMA will be sub-divided into five Elk Hunting Zones (EHZ). Each hunter will be designated an EHZ through a handheld drawing conducted at a TWRA Region IV location (location, dates and times TBA). The purchaser of this elk permit will be required to purchase an elk license before participating in the hunt. The resident elk license (Type 256) is $27.00, and a non-resident elk license (Type 257) is $300.00. Sportsman and Lifetime license holders are exempt from having to purchase the elk license. All other licenses and permits to hunt big game in Tennessee are required.

Proceeds from the sale of this remaining special bull elk tag will go to the elk restoration program. TWRF is partnering with Bill Swan, an active member of the Chattanooga Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI), on the promotion and sale of the elk tag.

Not only are there high odds of harvesting an elk, but this is an opportunity to do something we haven’t been able to do in over 150 years. Elk wandered throughout Tennessee years ago. This is a chance to do something our ancestors did when they were colonist.

Nicholas Nelson of Fayetteville, NC. - 2015‘s lucky high bidder harvested his 6x6 bull on the evening of the 3rd day of his hunt.

Nicholas Nelson of Fayetteville, NC. - 2015‘s lucky high bidder harvested his 6x6 bull on the evening of the 3rd day of his hunt.

Tommy Dail of Knoxville, TN. - 2013’s permit winner took a nice 5x5 bull. This was the 19th elk taken in Tennessee since their reintroduction.

Tommy Dail of Knoxville, TN. - 2013’s permit winner took a nice 5x5 bull. This was the 19th elk taken in Tennessee since their reintroduction.

Shane Alexander of Franklin, TN. - The winner of the eBay auction permit in 2014 tagged a 6x6 bull that dressed out at 520 pounds.

Shane Alexander of Franklin, TN. - The winner of the eBay auction permit in 2014 tagged a 6x6 bull that dressed out at 520 pounds.

Walt Kimberlin of Oak Ridge, TN. - On the second day of his hunt, 2012’s Ebay permit winner took a 6x6 elk that weighed 569 pounds.

Walt Kimberlin of Oak Ridge, TN. - On the second day of his hunt, 2012’s Ebay permit winner took a 6x6 elk that weighed 569 pounds.


TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter pictured with Chuck Flynn in October 2009. Flynn took the very first elk in Tennessee since the last documented kill in 1865.

TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter pictured with Chuck Flynn in October 2009. Flynn took the very first elk in Tennessee since the last documented kill in 1865.

It has been about 150 years since elk wandered throughout Tennessee. Early records indicated that elk were abundant in the state prior to being settled by European explores and colonists. Their numbers proved a plentiful resource that explorers, trappers, and settlers depended on for survival. But left unmanaged, unregulated hunting and loss of habitat eventually became too great, and elk herds east of the Mississippi disappeared by the late 1800s. Since then, efforts by hunter-conservationists and state wildlife agencies have helped restore elk populations across the nation. 

TWRA decided to reintroduce elk to the state in the late 1990’s. Part of the agency’s mission is to restore extirpated wildlife when and where it is biologically and sociologically feasible. Beginning in December 2000, the agency began conducting small releases of elk from Elk Island National Park (AL, Canada) into the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. There were 201 elk in total that were released over a period of eight years.

It is currently estimated that the Tennessee elk herd numbers a little over 300 head strong. With this estimate, in 2009, Tennessee announced their first ever elk hunt in almost 150 years.

TWRF is proud to be a part of this success story, where an animal reintroduction has been successful enough to allow for management through hunting. We look forward to many more successful hunts in years to come. 





Banner Image - Bull Elk in the Smoky Mountains, TN - Photo credit: Warren Price