The number of deer hunters in Tennessee has declined slightly in recent years. However, wildlife officials say there are nearly 200,000 people who pursue whitetails. (Photo: Richard Simms)

One of the most popular hunting seasons in Tennessee opens Saturday.The annual rifle season for deer always opens the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency divides the state into three deer hunting units: A, B and L. During the rifle season, hunters are also allowed to continue using archery equipment or muzzleloaders (allowed in special earlier seasons). However, they can take only one antlered buck per day, up to a statewide limit of three bucks.

The Tennessee deer harvest to date is on par with previous seasons.

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“For 20 years, all the harvest numbers were going up and up and up, and the hunters loved it because there were more and more deer,” Daryl Ratajczak, TWRA’s chief of wildlife, said. “The thing is, it’s got to level off. You cannot keep increasing it. And for the past few years, we’ve been seeing that leveling off.”

As of Thursday, the Hamilton County deer harvest has been 1,054. As of this date in 2013, 942 deer had been taken in Hamilton County.

The season is open until Jan. 4.

For antlerless deer hunting in units A and B during this season, refer to this list. For instance, in Hamilton County, hunters will be allowed to take one antlerless deer Nov. 24-30. Each county listed has its own bag limit. A hunter may harvest the bag limit of antlerless deer in any open Unit A or Unit B county and then go to any other counties listed and take the antlerless bag limit there also. The bag limit for antlerless deer in all Unit L counties is three per day.

A Type 94 permit is required to harvest antlerless deer during this season on all nonquota hunts in units A, B and L, except for holders of an annual sportsman, lifetime sportsman or senior citizen license Type 167 permit.

Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969, is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the apprentice hunting license (along with other required licenses).

Click here for more deer hunting information.

Richard Simmsis a contributing writer, focusing on outdoor sports.

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