A white-tailed deer. (Photo: Ryan Hagerty/USFWS)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced that airbows with bolts and air guns with pellets will be legal in 2018 for specific hunts.

For the first time, Tennessee sportsmen who possess a permanent disability license from TWRA can utilize a pneumatic device known most commonly by its trademark name, Airbow.

Similar to a crossbow in that this device shoots a bolt (small arrow), the Tennessee Fish And Wildlife Commission, the governing body of TWRA, approved the use of the airbow during its recent May meeting in Nashville.


“Commissioners were voting to give qualified permanent disabled hunters another means of enjoying the outdoors,” noted Lt. Col. Cape Taylor of the TWRA Law Enforcement Division. “They are the only ones who can use this device during archery-only big game hunts.”

The Airbow, however, can be used by any hunter during modern gun seasons in Tennessee, explained Taylor. “This does not include the muzzleloader season for deer,” specified the lieutenant colonel. “There were no changes made to this upcoming fall muzzleloader season.”

Hunters who believe they qualify for a permanent disability license can find a Miscellaneous License application at the agency’s website here.

There was also another pneumatic hunting device, previously allowed only for small game hunting, that the 13-member TFWC approved for use during modern gun hunts. Rather than shooting bolts, however, this airgun shoots large pellets but is powered by high-pressured air.

“The stipulation here is that the pellet must be at least .35 caliber in order to hunt big game or furbearers,” noted Taylor. “And once again, it can only be used during modern gun hunts.”

Air guns with pellets .35 caliber and larger will be legal for deer, elk, bear, or furbearers such as bobcats, foxes or coyotes when they are in season.

In order to hunt furbearers, sportsmen using pellets that are .35 caliber or larger during deer, elk, or bear seasons must be a legal big game hunter in possession of a big game license.

More information about Airbows and air guns can be found later this summer when TWRA prints its 2018-19 Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide. An electronic version of that guide will also be placed on the agency website at www.tnwildlife.org.

A special August hunt for bucks in velvet

TWRA has also announced that for the first time in Tennessee, at least since the modern era of wildlife management began, hunters will be allowed to participate in a three-day buck-only archery hunt on private lands in late August.

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission voted at its recent meeting in Nashville to establish this short season to give hunters an opportunity to bag a buck with velvet-covered antlers. The hunt is set for Aug. 24-26. It will not be open on any of TWRA’s wildlife management areas.

The TWFC is the governing body of the TWRA and recently established hunting seasons for 2018-19 and 2019-20.

More information about this coming year’s hunting seasons will be available to sportsmen later this summer in the 2018-19 Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide. It is available from businesses that sell hunting and fishing licenses and also in electronic form later this summer on the agency’s website at www.tnwildlife.org