The ETSU Eagle Cams are back for a third year, offering one of the best reality shows on the Internet. See two pairs of bald eagles on their nests, laying their eggs, nurturing, feeding, and fledging their young eaglets over the next five months. The East Tennessee State University has three cameras watching two nests, one near Johnson City and one near Bluff City. Most of the activities are in daylight, but the cameras also have infrared capabilities for night viewing. Look in often at www.etsu.edu/cas/biology/eagle-cam/.
2019 update: The Johnson City nesting pair of eagles returned to their nest last September – quite early – and began rebuilding it in preparation for egg laying in February. The Bluff City pair has returned to their first-year nest of 2018; last year it did not have a camera but a camera is installed this year. These eagles usually lay two eggs early in February. The Johnson City pair laid three in 2018; all three eaglets were healthy and fledged.
The third annual Fisherman’s Flea Market will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Loudon, Tenn. from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. It is a free swap meet for shoppers and vendors, sponsored as a community outreach of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church. Here is a great opportunity for anglers to buy, sell and trade fishing tackle and equipment. It is a lot like the big fishing shows, just smaller, friendlier and cheaper.
Admission is free and table space for sellers is free; setup time for sellers is 8-9 a.m. For table reservations contact Butch Durham at 865-856-5508 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The flea market will be in the fellowship building behind the white church located at 260 Wade Road West, in Loudon just off Hwy 72.
The month of February ushers in an important season for deer hunters. It is shed hunting season, the time when bucks drop their antlers. The racks do not lie around for long, though; rodents and small critters soon devour the bony material for the tasty minerals. Still, finding a shed – especially a matched pair – is a treasure for hunter and non-hunter alike; but it means even more for the former.
Winter sheds give some important clues to the deer hunter for next season. It means there is a buck in the area that survived the previous hunt. The location of the shed can reveal a favorite bedding area, feeding area, shelter, or the routes among these sites. Dogs can help locate sheds and some people even train their dogs to excel at it.
Use trail cameras to monitor when antler shedding has begun in your area. Concentrate your search in areas such as these: Winter food and water sources; bedding areas or winter cover; trails and bottlenecks linking feeding, watering and bedding areas. Check trails with fence or ditch crossings, dense brush and creeks.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will hold the second annual Young Sportsman Squirrel Hunt at Buffalo Ridge Refuge in Humphreys County on Saturday, Feb. 16. There is no cost to participate in the hunt for youth ages 6-16. The hunt will be limited to 30 participants. Breakfast and lunch will be furnished. The day will begin with breakfast and mandatory safety talk at 6 a.m. The hunt starts at 7 a.m. and lunch will be available at noon.
Buffalo Ridge Refuge has been the site of youth deer hunts, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops, and Wounded Soldier events. For more information or to receive an application, contact Donald Hosse, TWRA Wildlife Education Program Coordinator at 615-781-6541 or by email, email@example.com. Completed applications can be mailed to the following address: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Attn: Donald Hosse, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204, or by FAX to 615-781-6543.
As of Jan. 23 the tally is now 91 deer testing positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Fayette and Hardeman counties. Additionally, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reporting three more deer potentially testing positive. These deer, two from Hardeman and Fayette counties and one from Madison County, would expand the CWD Zone to include Madison, Chester, Shelby, and Haywood counties. The TWRA does not plan to expand the special CWD hunting season, which ends Jan. 31, into these counties.
CWD Coordinator Chuck Yoest explained, “Changing the regulations now would be premature as we are getting new information daily. Once all the results have come back from our recent CWD sampling efforts, and all positive deer have been mapped, we will then develop a long term management plan including changes to hunting regulations.
Yoest added, “I imagine some people perceive the increased total of positives and the potential of expansion of the zone as an indication the disease is rapidly growing. It is instead due to TWRA’s swift and focused sampling efforts in the affected area and being transparent and timely about the results as they are received.”
With assistance from hunters, the TWRA has collected more than 2,000 samples in the CWD Management Zone and surrounding counties since CWD was first detected on Dec. 14 in Fayette and Hardeman counties. The Agency is still awaiting results on approximately 800 samples, and anticipates collecting a couple hundred more samples during the last week of the extended hunting season in the CWD Management Zone.
B.A.S.S. has chosen Knoxville, Tenn. as the host city for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, set for March 15-17, 2019. This is the first time in the 49-year history of the prestigious championship bass tournament that East Tennessee has been tapped.
Tournament waters include Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes, twin reservoirs connected by a canal and comprising about 30,000 acres. Competitors can fish either lake and anywhere along the Tennessee River upstream from Fort Loudoun Dam to the Interstate 40 bridge on the Holston River and the Highway 168 Bridge on the French Broad River.
The Bassmaster Classic pits 50 of the world’s best bass anglers against one another for shares of the $1 million purse, including $300,000 for the winner. Jordan Lee of Grant, Ala., a 26-year-old former college fishing champion, is the current defending Classic Champion after becoming the youngest ever — and one of only three in history — to win back-to-back titles. Lee is guaranteed the right to defend his title. Other anglers will spend the rest of this season trying to qualify from several B.A.S.S. circuits, including the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Previously B.A.S.S. Nation Championship tournaments for top-ranked amateur club fishermen were held on the Tennessee River at Knoxville in 1998 and 2000, but B.A.S.S. has never held a professional bass tournament on that section of the Tennessee River. All activities and venues of the Classic are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.Bassmaster.com.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission had its January 2019 meeting last week. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reported on chronic wasting disease testing. More than 4,800 deer have been sampled this season in Tennessee; and 62 samples from Hardeman and Fayette counties have been confirmed CWD positive. The agency anticipates more positive CWD results from these areas since it is placing a heavy emphasis on sampling there according to its response plan. The public meeting on CWD held in Bolivar earlier in January had an attendance of about 400.
The TWRA gave a preview on the 2019-20 migratory gamebird season. Changes in the federal framework require the TWRA to update its proclamation each year. The changes presented at the meeting were based mainly on hunter input.
Anticipated federal rules will now allow states to have Jan. 31 as the last day of duck season. Previously federal rules dictated duck season to end no later than the last Sunday in January. Hunter input indicates the desire to end the duck season Jan. 31. The agency recommends the Reelfoot Foot Zone phase 1 season be Nov. 16-19 and the statewide phase 1 season Nov. 29 – Dec. 2. The Reelfoot and statewide zone phase 2 season would be Dec. 7 – Jan. 31.
For woodcock season there was hunter support to provide more hunting days in January so the agency is proposing a split season. For crow there was support for more hunting days in cooler weather, and the agency is also proposing a split season for crow.
The TWRA presented an overview of the fish dealer license to address TFWC questions about license requirements. A fish dealer license is required for bait dealers, fish farmers and operators of pay lakes. In Tennessee anglers who fish at a licensed pay lake are not required to have a fishing license. This exemption is common among most surrounding states.
The TFWC will consider four rulemaking changes. The TWRA is establishing rules regarding public record requests and will consider changes to the fees associated with motorized boat registrations. The commission’s established a permanent Tennessee’s Native Son license. When initially created, the Native Son license had an expiration date of Feb. 28, 2019. The change allows the TWRA to continue selling the Native Son license into the future. The commission passed an amended rule in regard to permit and access fees for non-motorized vessels. The rule creates a permit for outfitters that establishes minimum operating standards and associated fees.
The total is now 62 deer to test positive for chronic wasting disease in Fayette and Hardeman counties. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency expects that number to continue to increase in this area.
Results for all samples can be found online at www.CWDinTennessee.com (link at the top of the page). The TWRA will continue to update the map as results come in. All hunters who have harvested positive animals are being called. Hunters who harvested deer where CWD was not detected are being notified by mail or email.
The National Wild Turkey Federation is bringing “Turkey Town” to Nashville. The 43rd annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show will be Feb. 13-17 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. It is four days of fun for the entire family, and not to be missed by turkey and deer hunters. Celebrate more than 40 years of conservation successes by NWTF volunteers and partners.
Meet some of your favorite outdoor television celebrities and enjoy special performances from country music artists. There are hands-on activities for kids of all ages at the Family Adventure Village. Experience and shop more than 600 booths of the latest outdoors equipment from dealers and manufacturers.
Many seminars are scheduled with top outdoors and hunting experts, and the prestigious Grand National Calling Championship is not to be missed. Live and silent auctions feature outdoor equipment, once-in-a-lifetime hunts, limited edition guns, original artwork, jewelry, furniture, and other one-of-a kind items. See the competitions in taxidermy and custom call making.
General admission to the convention is free to NWTF members, and free to active and retired members of the military. But register early; some events have limited tickets. Go to www.nwtf.org/convention for other specials and more information.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will hold a public meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12 at Pickwick Landing State Park to discuss fisheries management on Pickwick Lake and its tailwaters.
The meeting is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the conference center of the state park inn located near Pickwick Dam in Hardin County, 12 miles south of Savannah. A short presentation will be given by TWRA fisheries staff on current management of sport fishing in this area. A question and answer period will be held after the presentation.
Whether you hunt deer in Alabama or not, this is of interest to Tennessee hunters. This is how our hunting experience is changing in the post-CWD era.
The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) recently increased chronic wasting disease sampling surveillance in north Alabama after deer in nearby Mississippi and Tennessee tested CWD-positive. To date, no deer in Alabama has tested positive for CWD.
The WFF has deployed six self-service CWD sampling stations in north Alabama as part of its increased CWD sampling surveillance efforts in the state. The sample station freezers are in Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Franklin, Lauderdale, and Colbert counties, and are available to receive deer head samples 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Test results will be emailed to the hunter within three to four weeks. To learn more about Alabama’s CWD watch, visit www.outdooralabama.com/cwd.
Your best photographs of wildlife native to Tennessee, or fishing, boating and hunting activities in Tennessee could be good enough for publication in Tennessee Wildlife magazine. The winners of the 2019-2020 photo contest will appear in next year’s calendar edition of the magazine in August; and the photographers will earn $60 per photograph.
The deadline for submissions is March 20, 2019. The format is horizontal digital images on disc (no prints) in JPEG; high resolution (300 dpi) sized no smaller than 8-1/2x11 is required. Each disc submitted must have the name of the photographer, address and telephone number; discs cannot be returned. Photographers may submit up to 10 entries each year.
Entries can be mailed to: Tennessee Wildlife Magazine, Calendar Issue, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204. To see some previously winning photographs or for more information go to the older news section of www.tnwildlife.org. Tennessee Wildlife is the official magazine for the TWRA. Subscription rates for Tennessee Wildlife begin at $10 per year.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold its first 2019 meeting on Jan. 17-18 at the Duck Unlimited National Headquarters in Memphis. Committee meetings will start at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The regular commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. on Friday.
Among the items on this month’s agenda is an update on chronic wasting disease, testing results to date, and the recent public meeting held in Bolivar. Other topics to be discussed will be the CWD response plan and the special new regulations enacted by TFWC that includes a new hunting season in the CWD management zone.
A preview of waterfowl and migratory game bird hunting will be presented by Jamie Feddersen, migratory gamebird program leader. Season date changes will be discussed. Changes in the federal framework require the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to update its proclamation each year.
There will be a presentation from Ducks Unlimited representative Dave Kostersky. He annually makes a visit to provide an update on the partnership and conditions in Canada. In addition Dale Hall, who has served Ducks Unlimited as its chief executive officers since 2010 will be recognized. He is currently in the final year of leading a campaign of $2 million for North America wetlands conservation and served the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 31 years, the last four as its director.
Also, TWRA Fisheries Chief Frank Fiss will provide an overview of the rules and regulations for fish farming, catch-out operations and bait dealers. The TFWC is considering new rules related to operations of non-motorized vessel outfitters. The proposed rule would create a permit for outfitters that would establish minimum operating standards and associated fees.
The commission’s final rule to consider pertains to Tennessee’s Native Son license. When initially created, the Native Son license had an expiration date of Feb. 28, 2019. The proposed rule change will allow the TWRA to continue selling the Native Son license into the future.
Tennessee’s 2018-2019 duck hunting season ends on Sunday, Jan. 27. The Youth Waterfowl hunting season will follow on two Saturdays, Feb. 2 and Feb. 9, for the Statewide and the Reelfoot Duck Zones. Hunters ages 6-12 are eligible and must be accompanied by an adult (21 years or older), who cannot hunt ducks but can participate on other waterfowl seasons. One adult may supervise more than one hunter.
The daily bag limit is six ducks, consisting of no more than four mallards (maximum of two females), three wood, three scaup, two redhead, one pintail, two canvasback, and two black.
Canada goose season ends on Jan. 27 in the Statewide Zone and Feb. 10 in the Northwest Zone. For most other goose species the Standard Season ends on Feb. 10. The daily bag limit is 20.
For blue, snow and Ross geese there is an extra Conservation Season that runs Feb. 11 – March 18. But, there is now a free Light Goose Conservation Season Permit required to hunt during the Conservation Season, available in late January on the TWRA website. No Federal or state waterfowl stamps are required but a license is required, and it can be from any state. In this season there is no daily bag limit; also, unplugged shotguns and electronic calls are allowed. For more see the waterfowl section of www.tnwildlife.org. You can track the migration of waterfowl with real time hunting reports from Ducks Unlimited at www.ducks.org.
What a menagerie all in one place: Tundra swans, golden eagles, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, white pelicans, and many species of ducks. Right now there are tens of thousands of migratory birds wintering at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. One of the best ways to see them is at the 29th annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival on Jan. 19-20 in the community of Birchwood in Meigs County. This is an impressive spectacle of many species of wildlife, both birds and some land-based mammals. Events and programs will run from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on both days.
The Festival is a two-fold celebration: First, visitors can experience many thousands of sandhill cranes that migrate through or spend the winter in and around the Hiwassee Refuge; secondly, it is an opportunity to focus attention on the rich Native American history of the area, especially the Cherokee Removal Memorial.
A full schedule of educational programs, music and family entertainment will be held at the Birchwood Elementary School, including children’s activities, vendors, festival sponsor exhibits, food, and storytelling. Don’t miss the live raptor show on Saturday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). The school library will offer continuous films and presentations about Tennessee wildlife. For more information go to https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/birds/sandhill-crane-festival.html.
TWRA press release, Jan. 7, 2019: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has received results that 11 additional deer have tested positive with chronic wasting disease (CWD). The TWRA received the results from 140 deer that were harvested Dec. 5-16 in West Tennessee.
The 11 deer testing preliminarily positive were from Fayette and Hardeman counties. There were six males and five females, ranging in age from 1 ½ to 3 ½-years-old. All were from within a few miles of the original 13 positive deer. If confirmed, the total would be 24 CWD positive deer from Fayette and Hardeman counties
“The instance of more positives was fully expected and this doesn’t change our plan of response or recent regulation changes made by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission,” said Chuck Yoest, CWD Coordinator. “We do expect to find even more positives in the CWD Management Zone since we have increased sampling and the disease occurs there. Increase sampling is to determine disease prevalence and spatial distribution.”
CWD was originally confirmed in 13 deer in Fayette and Hardeman counties in December. On Dec. 20 in a special called meeting, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to establish a CWD management zone, which also includes McNairy County as a CWD positive deer was confirmed within 10 miles of that county’s border.
A new archery/muzzleloader/gun deer season has been added to Fayette, Hardeman, and McNairy counties running from Jan. 7-31, 2019. Deer season will be open for all hunters of any age during the originally scheduled statewide Young Sportsman Hunt on Jan. 12-13 in these three counties.
All hunters harvesting deer there and in McNairy County on weekends through the end of the month are required to check the deer at a physical check station. Hunters harvesting a deer on weekdays are encouraged to use the CWD drop-off locations in the CWD management zone and surrounding counties. For a location and more information go to www.CWDinTennessee.com.
Jan. 25, 2019 is last call for high school sophomores and juniors who want an opportunity for leadership training, a share of $55,000 in college scholarships and a great trip to Washington, D.C. The National Rifle Association is now accepting applications for the two 2019 National Youth Education Summits (Y.E.S.) set for July 8-14 and July 22-28 in our Nation’s Capital.
The Y.E.S. encourages young adults to become active and knowledgeable U.S. citizens by learning about American government, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the importance of being active in civic affairs. Up to 50 outstanding students will be chosen to attend each session.
Applicants must include a high school transcript, an essay on the Second Amendment, one-page personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. To apply or for additional information on the 2019 Y.E.S. go to www.friendsofnra.org/yes, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-673-3888, ext. 1351.
TWRA press release, Jan. 6, 2019: Due to high waters in the Mississippi River Floodwaters Zone, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced the closure of all big game hunting in the zone, effective Sunday, Jan 6, 2019.
The Mississippi River stage has reached 34 feet at the Caruthersville, Mo. gauge. In accordance with Proclamation 16-45, all big game hunting is closed immediately in the Mississippi River Floodwaters Zone. The zone will remain closed until the Mississippi River falls to 32 feet at the Memphis gauge.
The last day of the Unit L deer firearms season, (Jan. 6) is now closed in the zone. In addition, the Unit L private-lands-only antlerless deer hunt (Jan. 7-11) and the Young Sportsman Hunt (Jan. 12-13) is closed within the zone. The two-foot buffer will ensure that big game will no longer be isolated on islands, levees, etc., when hunting season resumes.
The Mississippi River Floodwaters Zone includes all lands, public and private, from the northern border with Kentucky (Mississippi River Mile 715) to the southern border with Mississippi (Mississippi River Mile 905) and from the western border of Tennessee, east to the base of the Mississippi River Bluff, a geological land formation with a notable rise in elevation.
The State-Fish Art Contest is entering its 21st year, bringing children, art and aquatic conservation together. The contest is for all grades from K-12. The young artists in four age categories will create an original illustration of any official state-fish and one page of writing (a personal one-page written essay, story or poem) detailing its behavior, habitat, and efforts to conserve it. Winners receive prizes and national recognition. Wildlife Forever created this award-winning program, and Bass Pro Shops again is this year’s sponsor.
Educators, homeschoolers and parents nationwide can utilize a lesson plan for the contest called “Fish On!”, which is available for free on CD and for download. Entries are due by April 1, 2019. Judging will be held in April and winners announced early in May. For more details and to view the 2018 winning art and writings visit www.StateFishArt.org. Tennessee has two official state fish, the largemouth bass and the channel catfish.
Reminder: The deadline for applications for the 2019 spring turkey quota hunts is Jan. 16. Sign-ups must be done online or at any license agency; they cannot be mailed. The turkey quota hunt instruction sheet is also available at license agencies or online at the new TWRA license website https://gooutdoorstennessee.com.
The 2019 regular spring turkey season will run March 30 – May 12. The Statewide Youth-only Hunt (ages 6-16) will be March 23-24. The new bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded bird PER DAY. The bag limit for the regular season is one bearded bird per day, not to exceed four per season. Turkeys taken on wildlife management area hunts are bonus birds.