With fishing season open and hunting seasons approaching in the fall, it’s time to start planning that weekend fishing trip with the guys, the kids’ first hunting trip, a relaxing birdwatching tour for an anniversary, or a quiet cabin escape with a special someone who also loves outdoor sports. Enjoy waking up early from cozy beds, fill your Yeti cups with hot, freshly brewed coffee, and enjoy the stress-free drive into some of the most fertile fishing, hunting, and birdwatching grounds in the Smokies!
Below we have provided some highlights of different outdoorsman sports, top-rated outfitting companies in the area, great spots for birdwatching, and awesome guided hunting, fishing, and birding tours to take in the Pigeon Forge area!
But, first things first: Get your proper license.
Avoid the fines and get your license before you leave your cabin, online or in-person at a number of outfitters! When you apply online, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency can email you an electronic license that is legal and accepted without a hard copy. When it’s this easy to acquire your non-residential or residential license, the fines will be that much more infuriating when you get caught hunting or fishing without one.
While you cannot hunt inside the park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is bordered by the Cherokee National Forests, 650,000 acres of public land that is home to numerous wildlife reserves. Don’t be fooled by the common misconception that you cannot hunt in bear reserves; you simply just can’t hunt bears, so the other big game, deer, wild boar, turkeys, are fair game. You can always use the TWRA Hunting and Trapping Guide to pinpoint your hunting grounds, but your best bet is to go with locals who know the area, the game, and the sport really well. Rocky Top Outfitters have been guiding visiting hunters since 1994! They offer a range of services from ½ day hunts of all four of the South Appalachian big game!
Stocked streams, stunning views, and thousands of miles of rivers and creeks within driving distance of your Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Cabin make the Smoky Mountains a fisherman’s paradise! Book a cabin right on the river and cast your line from the convenience of your cabin’s yard. Need some supplies or interested in a guided fishing tour with an experienced local guide? Head to The Smoky Mountain Angler where you can pick up everything you need, get advice from the friendly staff, obtain your license, or plan a guided tour. While you are out on the river, use this handy Angler’s Guide To Tennessee Fish to identify your catches or read-up on your desired fish’s natural habits and habitats.
Another sport that is really catching some traction is birdwatching! Snapping pictures of some of the more elusive species is prized and incredibly rewarding. Best part about this sport, it’s easy to get into and you only need minimal supplies to get started. Bring a pair of binoculars, your camera (phones work, too, if you’re close enough!), and the Birds of the Great Smoky Mountains Checklist. You can birdwatch from the luxury of your cabin’s back deck when you book a cabin with wooded views, or head to a big birdwatching hotspot, Cades Cove, inside the park where you can also enjoy stunning valley and mountain views. Rocky Top Outfitters also offers affordable birdwatching guided tours with a Smoky Mountain native of over 40 years, Keith Watson, who can take you to a number of different birdwatching goldmines depending on the season and difficulty.
There are a number of locations to buy and rent your gear, but there a couple that stand out! Pick up a new bow, ammunition, binoculars, a surprise birthday gift, outerwear, and so much more at these fantastic sporting goods stores:
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Buds Gun Shop and Tennessee Range
2270 Two Rivers Blvd
Sevierville, TN 37876
Smoky Mountain Guns & Ammo
2320 Winfield Dunn Pkwy
Sevierville, TN 37876
Fishing, Birding, and Hiking in the Park
Here is a fantastic fact about The Great Smoky Mountains National Park that outdoorsmen (and everyone else, too) will love: no entrance or parking fees! When the states and local communities who built Newfound Gap Road (US HWY 441) transferred the upkeep and ownership of the road to the federal government, they were sure to include this important clause: “no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed.” Way to go, Smoky Mountain communities! With Newfound Gap Road as one of the main interstate routes in the Southern Appalachian Mountains in 1930, it was important that the citizens of North Carolina and Tennessee were always able to travel freely. Now, millions of visitors can enjoy The Great Smoky Mountains without expensive entrance fees (Most other parks charge $30 per vehicle for 7 days while Yellowstone charges $20 per person); roam freely, friends.
Head over to our blog to see our Outdoorsman’s Guide to Pigeon Forge & The Smoky Mountains and tons of other blogs on attractions, local events, cabin activities, and more! We want you to get the most out of your Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Cabin vacation and create memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. Start planning your next hunting trip, relaxing weekend of fishing, or Smoky Mountain birdwatching tour today!