I think the best wma is the one you know and hunt.
Truer words never spoken.
And "best" depends greatly on how you personally might describe "best".
1) How much do you value not being overrun by other hunters while you're hunting?
2) How often can you reasonably expect to hunt a particular WMA annually?
3) How much does it matter to you whether you're afield with a rifle, or limited to a shogun or archery only?
4) To what extent do you value the overall "quality" of the deer herd?
5) How about the "aesthetics" of where you're hunting?
Compare listening to mortar fire and helicopters all day, or the continuous roar of trucks speeding down the highway, to say, nothing but natural sounds you might hear in a more remote WMA.
Some will say President's Island WMA is the "best" WMA in TN.
But hard for me to have much enthusiasm over a WMA that any particular hunter can only expect a single weekend of hunting once every 15 years, archery only.
There are several that would be near the top as my picks, but each for different reasons.
Oak Ridge WMA offers you a much better quality deer herd than most WMA's. Hunting opportunity is limited, but if you're willing to hunt shotgun/muzzleloader, good chance for a weekend hunt every other year. Limit yourself to Oak Ridge archery areas only, good chance to be drawn more often.But what if you'd like to have the opportunity to deer hunt most weekends instead of just one or two annually
? Any of those WMA's listing deer regs "same as statewide" would be excellent choices. You have the opportunity to spend much time on them, and actually learn the deer patterns, etc. That's very unlike many which only let you go in for a single scouting day, and that only if you're drawn that year for a hunt.
Then there are some which, although not same as statewide on the regs, do offer most any hunter multiple weekends of annual
hunting opportunity. Here's where the Catoosa WMA would rank high on the list, even higher if you're willing to hunt some of those days with a muzzleloader or archery.
If you can forgo your rifle in place of a shotgun or bow, Ft. Campbell is hard to beat, but the "aesthetics" can sometimes be the worst. LBL offers much archery-only opportunity, but some weekends are exempt from bowhunting, and their annual 1-buck limit can negate some of that annual "opportunity" to hunt.
For tops in the "aesthetics" and less chance of having other hunters ruin your hunt, hard to beat the Cherokee National Forest, especially if you're willing to walk over a mile in and get off those most established trails. Unfortunately, the deer population is relatively low compared to other WMA's. On the other hand, you can do much of your hunting with a rifle and with little competition from other hunters. There is also some bonus opportunity there for taking wild boar and even a bear.Just DEPENDS on what appeals most to YOU
Maybe we should add being close to your home, so that you have much more personal opportunity to hunt a particular WMA on a regular basis. At least one or more should be fairly close to most Tennesseans. I've listed the following as "good bets" because they are relatively large in size, and allow any hunter much annual hunting opportunity with the weapon of his choosing. Good bets for an overall balance of opportunity to most TN deer hunters include Cheatham, Catoosa, Cherokee, North Cumberland, Natchez Trace, Bear Hollow, Cordell Hull, and Prentice Cooper
. But better than any of these, is likely any WMA that's closer to your home (particularly if those "same as statewide" regs apply) and/or you can hunt there multiple times annually.