Hunting and Target Sports
The Chattanooga region holds large areas of public land, available for hunters that are licensed through the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to hunt game. Small game, waterfowl, turkey, deer, wild hog and bear seasons offer a variety of times and methods to hunt wild game. A limited number of permits are offered to hunt Elk in the late fall, at North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (WMA), near LaFollette, TN. Sandhill Cranes may also be hunted in the region north of Chattanooga with a special permit. For more information on hunter safety classes and ways to obtain a license, visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Chattanooga is also home to shooting ranges and skeet and sporting clay fields. The sport consists of a series of natural and built shooting fields that challenge the shooter to hit clay targets or “pigeons,” thrown at various speeds and trajectories. Scoring is easy – each target equals one point, the shooter with the most points wins.
Benton Sporting ClaysLocated about an hour northeast of Chattanooga, near the Appalachian Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest is Benton Sporting Clays. The club features 15 shooting stations, a tournament grade clays tower, and a fully covered five-stand shooting station.No appointments or memberships are required, though membership options are available.
Fees apply to all activities.
Cherokee National ForestThe Ocoee/Tellico district of the Cherokee National Forest is located in Polk and Monroe Counties, east and northeast of Chattanooga in the Appalachian Mountains. Hiking, biking, paddling, running, camping, horseback riding, and hunting are all popular activities in the area.
The Tanasi trail system provides the intermediate to expert level mountain biker over 35 miles of single-track trail to explore on two wheels near the Ocoee Whitewater Center. There's an additional 20 miles of trail at the Chilhowee Recreation area for both hikers and bikers to explore. Note, there is a $3 day-use parking fee at both areas.
Overnight accommodations are provided at more than 30 developed campgrounds in the Cherokee National Forest. Visitors can stay at developed campgrounds with large, level campsites, tables, fire rings, electricity, and bathhouses or primitive campgrounds with minimal site amenities. Most campgrounds are on a first-come, first-served basis. However, reservation services are now available for several popular campgrounds in the Cherokee National Forest including Parksville Lake Campground, Indian Boundary, and Chilhowee Recreation Area, along with others. Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.
Over 600 miles of non-motorized trails traverse Cherokee National Forest including nearly 150 miles the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) Take a day hike or hike several days on the national forest trails system.
The Little Citco Horse Trail system offers more than 15 miles of backcountry trails in the Citico Creek Wilderness section of the Cherokee National Forest. The Trailhead is located at the Young Branch Campground, near Vonore, Tennessee, about 2 hours northeast of Chattanooga. The campground accommodates up to 25 horses and 35 people in 7 campsites. Sites can be reserved.
Covering a combined 298,456 acres, the South Cherokee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Region III is open for hunting small and large game, including wild hog, black bear, whitetail deer, turkey, and grouse. All hunting areas are managed in cooperation with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and all hunters are subject to TWRA rules and regulations.
Cherokee National Forest is home to both the Hiwassee and Ocoee rivers. Each has diverse paddling options like whitewater rafting, kayaking, and playboating on moderate to difficult rapids as well as flatwater sections and lakes suitable for calm kayaking, canoeing, tubing, and paddleboarding.
Hours and Cost
Cost: Free, unless posted otherwise. Some areas require a $3 day-use fee, which can be purchased on-site with cash or in advance online. Camping fees vary based on location and length of stay.
Yes, on a leash
Crockford-Pigeon MountainLocated in Walker County, near Rock Springs, Georgia, Crockford-Pigeon Mountain is a 20,657-acre state-owned Wildlife Management Area that contains approximately 100 miles of trails and forest service roads. This area features abundant wildlife, unique natural features, and gorgeous views. It's a favorite hunting destination for deer, turkey, squirrel, quail, and rabbit. Many protected species call this area home. Locations popular to visit include Rocktown, Lost Wall, Pocket, Pettyjohn’s Cave, Sawmill Lake, Bluehole Springs, Civil War Wayside. This WMA boasts 5 designated camping areas, numerous trails and trailheads, and historic Mountain Cove.Hunting
Crockford-Pigeon Mountain is open to large and small game hunting, including deer, wild (feral) hog, bear, and turkey. For more information, visit Georgia Department of Wildlife Resources interactive hunter’s guide.
Most hiking and riding trails are situated on the tabletop of the mountain, which is a finger jutting northeast from the Lookout Mountain escarpment. In particular, riders can access the trails and roads at Rape Gap, Pocket Loop, and Chamberlain trailheads.
There are two climbing areas on Crockford-Pigeon Mountain. Rocktown is a world class bouldering area known for its bullet hard sandstone, tough iron bands, and slopey top outs. The Lost Wall is primarily a small trad crag. The parking area is halfway up the mountain on the way to Rocktown.
There are several caves within Crockford-Pigeon Mountain, the largest of which is Petty Johns Cave. These caves feature long rappels and dangerous scrambling. Only experienced cavers should enter into the deep without a guide.
All horse, bike, caving, hiking, rock climbing, parasailing and hang-gliding trails are closed during firearm deer seasons. Additionally, all horse and bike trails and areas are closed before 10:00 a.m. during archery deer and turkey season. No ATVs on the property.
Hours and Cost
Open Daily: Sunrise to Sunset
Cost: Hunting License or GORP Pass Required
Yes, on a leash
2592 Floyd Springs Rd.
Armuchee, GA 30105
Dead Zero Shooting ParkCentrally located off Hwy 111 in Sparta, TN, an hour north of Chattanooga, between Fall Creek Falls State Park and the Savage Gulf State Natural Area is Dead Zero Shooting Park. The park offers the largest variety of shooting ranges in Tennessee.The park features world-class Sporting Clay Courses, a covered Five Stand, a multi-level Wobble Trap field, two combination Skeet/Trap Fields, eight Shooting Bays ranging from 15-50 yards deep, 3D Archery, a 1,000 Yard Electronic Target Rifle Range, a 4,000 sq. ft. Clubhouse with a 1,600 sq. ft. Pro Shop, Classroom, and Lounge as well as a fully equipped Outdoor Pavillion that seats 100 people and is located next to a fully stocked pond.
Hiwassee Wildlife RefugeThe Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge is located on 6,000 acres of land encircling the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers about one hour north of Chattanooga near the town of Birchwood.
In the summer months, the public can access all lands and waters within the refuge to observe resident and migrating birds and seasonal wildflower blooms, including great swaths of water hyacinths in Hiwassee Island’s inlets. During the winter, migrating waterfowl, including 50,000 Sandhill Cranes and some endangered Whooping Cranes, stop over at the refuge on their way south.The Hiwassee Refuge is also steeped in Native American history, lying near the center of Cherokee Nation’s ancestral lands, which once stretched into Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Blythe Ferry, one of the debarkation points for the Cherokee Forced Removal (Trail of Tears), is now home to the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park.
The Tennessee and Hiwassee River watersheds provide hunting opportunities for a variety of big and small game, including waterfowl and Sandhill Cranes. Drawings are held each October for seasonal blind/spots, located to the north and east of Chattanooga. Waterfowl hunting is permitted Thursday – Sunday, and the first and last day of duck season.
Waterfowl hunting permits and WMA seasons are managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Prentice CooperOnly 15 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area overlooks the Tennessee River Gorge on a rugged outcrop of the Cumberland Plateau.
The section of Prentice Cooper west of Suck Creek holds approximately 100 miles of forest service roads and trails, open to equestrians, OHV’s, hikers, runners and mountain bikers.The terrain varies, from rolling hills on top of the plateau to steep grades along the side of the ridge. Trail and road surfaces are a mix of dirt, gravel, or rocks and depending on the time of year, can include multiple stream crossings.
Camping is permitted at two designated campsites: Davis Pond and Hunter's Check Station. Campsites are primitive with pit toilets and campfire rings only. Camping is first come, first serve.
Prentice Cooper is closed to all visitors except hunters on select dates in April for managed turkey hunts. Hunting licenses are available through Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Starr MountainStarr Mountain is a popular area of the Cherokee National Forest for horse riding and camping with nearly 20 miles of trails and a number of service roads available for riding. Trail options can take riders over the ridge of Starr Mountain and through the bottomlands along Bullet Creek.
The Lost Corral Horse Camp and Trailhead provides the easiest access to the area and is located across Spring Creek Rd. from Gee Creek Campground within Hiwassee-Ocoee Scenic Rivers State Park.Starr Mountain is also a favorite spot for hunting deer, bear, boar, and turkey. The extensive system of Forest Service roads provides excellent access. Spring Creek Shooting Range is located on Forest Road 27, about six miles east of US 411.
Horses are not allowed in the Gee Creek Wilderness area, but there is a 2.6 miles roundtrip moderately strenuous hike to Gee Creek Falls.