Hunting and Fishing Academy

Family Experiences

Hunting and Fishing Academy provides new hunters and anglers—9 years or older and their family or guardians—hands-on instruction in the art of being an outdoorsman.

For hunters, this includes practical sessions about reading the land and understanding the species to pick the best location, how to create a blind, what to consider to ensure ethical harvesting, safely field dressing the harvest, and more.

For anglers, participants will learn how to identify different species, scout the best locations, how to use different equipment, proper casting and reeling technique, wildlife conservation principles, and more.


What can we expect from attending a Hunting and Fishing Academy Family Experience?

Family Experiences encourage interest and engagement for hunting and fishing while being educational. You will learn along with your child how to hunt or fish for the target species in order for you to feel comfortable hunting or fishing together in the future.

Hunting and Fishing Academy is not a guide service. While our staff and volunteers do everything we can to achieve a successful harvest, the purpose of these experiences is to prepare you for your next outing.

How much does it cost to attend a Hunting and Fishing Academy Family Experience?

The cost for Family Experiences varies depending on the type and length of the experience. Typically, for both a youth and their parent/guardian, a three-day deer experience is about $300, while a two-day turkey experience may be $200. Small game experiences are usually $50 for one youth and their parent/guardian.

Tennessee Wildlife Federation understands that this cost to attend may deter some who want to learn how to hunt and fish, and we never want this to be a barrier for someone attending one of our events. For those interested, there is a scholarship form that can be filled out to request a scholarship. We do not ask for any household financial information. All that we ask is that you ask local businesses about sponsoring your experience. In many cases, some participants have had their entire experience covered.

Who can attend a Hunting and Fishing Academy Family Experience?

Family Experiences are designed for youth, age nine or older, and a parent/guardian. These experiences are geared towards beginners, so no previous experience is required.

An adult must accompany the youth for the entire experience. If a parent or legal guardian is not available to attend the experience, another adult may accompany the youth such as an aunt/uncle or grandparent.

Can the entire family attend the experience?

If a parent/guardian has multiple youth aged nine or older that would like to attend the experience, we can include the whole family! In these cases, the parent/guardian will need to pay for the additional youth to attend. In cases where multiple youth attend with one parent/guardian, the youth will hunt together with a volunteer and their parent/guardian. During the hunt, only one youth will be allowed to shoot at a time. For deer and turkey hunts, we limit two youth per parent/guardian. If more than two youth from the same family want to attend, additional parents/guardians will also need to attend.

If an additional parent wants to attend, they will be allowed to attend after paying for the additional parent/guardian. However, space in the hunter locations is often limited, so it may only be possible for one parent/guardian at a time to attend the actual hunting experience with the youth.

What are the legal requirements to attend a Family Experience? What licenses do I need to purchase?

Since we will be hunting and fishing at these experiences, there are certain legal requirements that need to be met. These requirements come in the form of hunting and fishing licenses. The target species, location of the experience, and your youth’s age will determine what license(s) your youth will need. Federation staff will be sure to help you through the process of purchasing the appropriate licenses.

In order to purchase the licenses, you will need to create an account for your youth at If you as the parent/guardian have never made an account, we require you to create an account as well even though you are not required to have a license at the event. You will also need to download the TWRA On the Go app on your phone. This app can be used to download your license, purchase new licenses, and check in game that is harvested.

How do I sign my child and myself up?

Complete parts one and two of this Interest Form. Part one lets us know about you as the parent/guardian and your hunting and fishing knowledge and experience. Part two asks the same questions about the youth applying for the experiences. In part two, you will be able to select which experiences you are interested in. If you have multiple youth, you will need to fill out the forms for each youth.

How are youth selected for a Family Experience?

Hunting and Fishing Academy is designed to teach youth and adults how to hunt and fish. With Family Experiences having limited spots available at each event, individuals who have little to no experience hunting or fishing are selected first. If all of the available spots are not filled after this initial selection, the remaining spots are filled from a random selection of the youth that applied for that particular hunt.

If you want to increase the chance of your youth being selected, apply for as many experiences as you can. Hunting and Fishing Academy often has multiple experiences of the same type being held on the same days. If you were not selected for one, you could very well be selected for another.

When will I be contacted if my youth is selected for an experience?

For most experiences, we contact the selected youths’ parents/guardians three to seven weeks prior to the event by phone. However, some participants cancel prior to the event. In this case, we may contact youths’ parents/guardians one to two weeks before the event to fill the newly vacant spots.

If my child is not selected for a hunt, will you notify me?

We will contact you to let you know we are beginning the selection process for the experience you applied for. If you are not contacted via a phone call or email, it means that you were not selected at first. This does not mean that you will not be able to attend the experience. Many people who are selected at first are unable to attend due to other commitments. In these cases, we move down the list until all spots are filled.

Once all the spots are filled, we will contact everyone who was not selected that there are no remaining spots left for that particular event. If a participant cancels before the hunt, we may still call you to see if you would like to fill that spot.

Is Hunter Education required to attend a Family Experience?

YES! In an effort to be as safe as possible, we require all youth to complete Hunter Education before attending a hunting experience and highly recommend completing the class before attending a fishing experience. This allows our staff and volunteers to know that your youth has a basic understanding of how to hunt and fish safely.

Legally youth hunters are allowed to hunt by purchasing an Apprentice License, but this is NOT a substitution for having completed Hunter Education. If a youth shows up to a Family Experience without having completed Hunter Education, they will NOT be allowed to actively hunt but will be allowed to participate in the education components of the event.

Where can I find a Hunter Education Class?

Hunting and Fishing Academy recommends two types of Hunter Education classes—traditional classes and an online version.

Traditional classes meet in person where an instructor covers the material, administers a test, and then demonstrates safe firearm handling through a live fire activity. Traditional classes can be found by going to the events tab at Traditional classes are free.

Online classes are entirely virtual. This allows students to take the course at their own pace. These classes can be found by going to the NRA Hunter Education website and selecting the Tennessee Course. This version of Hunter Education is also free.

What do we need to bring to the experience?

Once you have paid your registration fee, you will receive a confirmation email that includes a Critical Information Packet. This packet includes everything that you will need to bring with you to the event. For larger pieces of equipment like camping gear, firearms, binoculars, etc., you do not need to purchase these before attending the experience. We have these larger items for you to use during the event.

You will need to bring with you appropriate clothing for the experience. Information on the appropriate clothing will be provided in the Critical Information Packet.

Do we need to bring our own firearm?

You are not required to have your own firearm before attending an experience. The Federation has firearms we can loan you for the event. We highly recommend that your youth practice shooting the firearm they are bringing to the event before the event. If you do not have a firearm, let a Federation staff member know. We can arrange for you to shoot the firearm that you will be borrowing prior to the event, so your youth can become familiar with it.

Do we need to bring our own food/drinks?

Tennessee Wildlife Federation provides meals, snacks, and water for the entire duration of the event. If you want specific snacks or drinks, we encourage you to bring those with you.

What are the sleeping accommodations at Family Experiences?

Sleeping accommodations vary depending on where the experience is taking place. Some locations have lodges, while others require camping on-site. When you are contacted about being selected, a Federation staff member will let you know what type of event it is so you can prepare accordingly.

Do we have to stay for the entire experience?

Yes! No matter the experience’s length, these experiences are specially designed to give you a complete understanding of how to hunt or fish the target species. Leaving early would mean that you miss part of these learning opportunities.

What happens if my child harvests a game animal?

In the event of harvest, you and your child will learn how to field dress it in order to preserve the meat. Volunteers will instruct you on how to properly care for the meat from the moment of harvest to the time it is placed on your dinner plate. We highly recommended that you bring a cooler with you so you can transport your harvest home.

In the case of harvesting a deer, volunteers and staff will also instruct you on how to drop your deer off and how to order your cuts of meat at a deer processor. If you wish to process the dear yourself, we can instruct you on how to quarter and debone the deer.

Will I get a refund if I cancel?

If a cancellation is made seven days prior to the event, refunds are given. Within a week of the event, we reserve the right to not issue refunds. Within a week of the event, equipment, and supplies have already been purchased on the basis of having a full event. If you find out that you will not be able to attend the experience within a week, our staff will see if it is possible for you to attend a similar event at a later date.

How do volunteers help at these experiences, and how can I become one?

Volunteers are the most important part of Family Experiences. We have a variety of volunteer opportunities available.

Our trained volunteers called Hunt Masters have been instructed on how to run experiences in a safe and educational environment. Other volunteer roles include cooking, guiding, and leading educational components. If you have a passion for sharing your knowledge of the outdoors with others, there is a way for you to get involved.

The first step is to fill out our Volunteer Application. This allows us to get to know you better. After filling it out, a Federation Staff member will get in touch with you and discuss how you can get involved. If you have any questions about being a volunteer with Hunting and Fishing Academy, send us an email at or call us at (615) 353-1133.

Kids fishing together

Get Into the Outdoors with Confidence

In addition to learning hunting and fishing fundamentals, participants will learn core outdoor recreation skills such as campsite selection and setup, orienteering with a compass, and the principles of Leave No Trace.

You will leave the experience with all of the basic skills and knowledge needed to go again on your own!

Forge a Bond

Family members and loved ones learn and participate right alongside one another. They grow together and leave prepared for outdoor adventures that further strengthen bonds not just with each other, but also with nature.

Youth learning to call turkeys

Begin Your Outdoor Journey

Discover Tennessee’s wilderness by being in it. Live, eat, and wake up underneath the big Tennessee sky while you get to know wildlife from outdoorsmen and women with a lifetime of experience.

No previous experience necessary. We will provide all the equipment and training you’ll need for a great experience.

Hunting and Fishing Academy

Classes and events

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Family Experiences

Explore one and multiple day hunting and fishing experiences with hands-on instruction for families (youth nine years or older).

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Adult Workshops

Our adult workshops work with the busiest schedules and are great for those who want to become self-reliant in the outdoors and source their own local food.

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Virtual Classes

Join our free virtual classes to learn new skills and dust off old ones to make your next hunting and fishing adventures even more successful.

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Become a Volunteer

Our comprehensive training course will prepare you to help with a hunting or fishing experience or host one from start to finish to pass on your experience.

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