The March 17 deadline is looming for the 2017-2018 photo contest for the Tennessee Wildlife magazine. Enter your best photographs of wildlife native to Tennessee, or fishing and hunting activities in Tennessee. The best photos will appear in next year’s calendar edition of the magazine in August; and the photographers will earn $60.
The format for entries is horizontal digital images on disc (no prints) in JPEG; high resolution (300 dpi) sized as an 8-1/2x11 is required. Each disc submitted must have the name of the photographer, address and telephone number; discs cannot be returned.
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 www.tn.gov/twra/news/47730. Tennessee Wildlife is the official magazine for the TWRA. Subscription rates for Tennessee Wildlife begin at $10 per year.
Beginning this new license year (March 1), anyone working as a hunting and fishing guide in Tennessee will have to file an application for their annual guide licenses. The application is only available online at http://tn.gov/twra/news/48637. The filing can be done by fax, mail or can be taken to a TWRA regional office. The license cost is $150 for residents and $650 for non-residents.
The 2017 Tennessee Fishing Regulations brochure should be ready by the last week of February, and available at all license agencies and TWRA offices; also, the complete guide can be viewed and downloaded online at www.tnwildlife.org. The new regulations go into effect on March 1.
Remember that your smart phone can access the above information with the “TWRA On The Go” app, plus lots more, like: Buy your fishing license, get official fishing reports, renew boat registration, get stocking schedules, find boat ramps, and identify wildlife. The TWRA On The Go app is free and available at the Apple App Store and on Google Play, or go to www.tnwildlife.org to learn more.
Changes in the 2017-18 Tennessee sport fish regulations take effect on March 1. Following are some of the more prominent ones: For bass on Douglas Lake, there will be a 15-fish creel limit for a combination of striped bass, hybrid striped bass and white bass. On Kentucky Lake the crappie creel limit will decrease from 30 to 20 per day.
Boat and bank anglers on Dale Hollow Lake are limited to four fishing rods at one time; previously boat anglers could use three and shore anglers could use six. Changes to the live bait proclamation kept existing creel limits for Class A and Class B baitfish, and established a possession limit of twice the daily creel limit for these classes. The change established a 50 fish-per-day limit for Class C bait fish, all species combined, with a possession limit of 100 fish. These limits apply to fish alive and dead.
The boundary for wild trout on Laurel Creek in Carter County will be from the cable crossing located one-half mile upstream of the USFS Dennis Cove Recreation Area extending upstream to the USFS boundary. On Calderwood Reservoir boat and bank anglers from North Carolina will have the same regulations as Tennesseans; North Carolina is expected to reciprocate soon. For all of the details go to the news section of www.tnwildlife.org.
Mark well this date: Monday, August 21, 2017. A total solar eclipse. The first such eclipse in the continental United States in nearly 40 years. And best of all, right in our own back yard. The path of this eclipse will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, the first transcontinental eclipse in 99 years.
For Tennessee the central path of totality will occur at approximately 1:30 p.m. CDT in Clarksville (just north of Nashville), and 2:35 p.m. EDT in Athens (just north of Cleveland). Note that the elapsed travel time is only five minutes. Total occultation of the sun will last almost three minutes along this line. Total occultation will be experienced for about 35 miles north and south of that line, but a shorter blackout period.
Plan to personally experience the 2017 eclipse. During totality it can get as dark as night; stars will pop into view; the temperature of the air can drop more than 10 degrees; dew may form on the grass; birds will stop flying and roost. Of course, you cannot look at any part of the sun without powerful eye protection. For a detailed map of the path of the eclipse, go to www.eclipse2017.org/2017/maps/ky-tn-nc.gif.
If you are thinking of getting a hotel room or campground in the totality path, good luck. International and interstate scientists and observers have already captured most of those. Even NASA has 11 scientific studies planned nationally on the ground and above. For an exceptionally picturesque setting, try Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
For more information, including a live view of the eclipse, should weather make it necessary, go to www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/eclipse-2017-nasa-supports-a-unique-opportunity-for-science-in-the-shadow.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission met in Nashville on Feb.16-17. The 2017-2018 seasons for waterfowl and other migratory birds were set. Most seasons were unchanged except for calendar date shifts; but there will be a new season and other changes worth noting here.
After four experimental hunting seasons, an operational sandhill crane season has been set for the whole state. There will be two zones, the eastern and the statewide. The eastern zone will have 1,200 tags issued to 400 hunters in an in-person drawing held in early August; the statewide zone will have 1,119 tags available, one tag per hunter, drawn by computer at a later date.
The American woodcock season will shift two weeks later to better match the birds’ migration through the state. Starting date will be the second Saturday in November. The daily bag limit for ducks will have two changes: Northern pintails will reduce from two to one; and black ducks will increase from one to two, the first increase for blacks in more than 30 years. For a complete account of the TFWC agenda, go to the news section at www.tnwildlife.org.
Good news. The Little Pigeon River is officially no longer grossly polluted. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has lifted a water contact advisory for the river imposed more than 20 years ago. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will start stocking trout in the river immediately.
That advisory was originally put in place due to elevated fecal coliform bacteria levels. The advisory affected the lower Middle Prong, West Prong and multiple tributaries of the Little Pigeon River in Sevier County.
The recovery is thanks to a cooperative environmental effort amongst TDEC, the National Park Service, and the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, whose local waters are once again safe for fishing.
“Bacteria concentrations have improved to the point that the public advisory is no longer considered necessary,” TDEC Division of Water Resources Director Tisha Calabrese-Benton said. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge spent millions of dollars improving sewage treatment; and Sevier County spent more than $800,000 on a sand filtration system on one tributary of the river.
While the ban was in place, TWRA discontinued stocking the waterways with trout to discourage anglers from coming in contact with contaminated water. Now, stocking will resume beginning the week of Feb. 26 with seven more stockings before June. The target areas are a six-mile stretch of the West Prong Branch from Patriot Park to the Apple Barn Restaurant, the Middle Prong from Pittman Center, and part of the Little River toward Townsend. After a short summer break, the agency will resume stocking in October.
Join the 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count occurring on Feb. 17-20. The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. Worldwide over 160,000 people join the four-day count each February to generate a real-time snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.
Be a part of the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds. For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, estimate the number of individuals of each species you saw during your count period. If you're new to the count, create a free online account to enter your checklists. You can enter your results on the GBBC website by clicking "Submit Observations" on the home page. Or you can download the free eBird Mobile app to enter data on a mobile device. For more information, check out http://gbbc.birdcount.org or contact Cypress Creek NWR at phone 618-634-2231.
Trout fishing returns to the South Holston River below the South Holston Dam. In 2000 two sections of the tailwaters were closed by the TWRA to protect the river's self-sustaining brown trout during spawning. This management program established the South Holston tailwater trout fishery as a "quality zone" with two special spawning refuges closed to fishing during November through January. The initial management plan focused on improving the abundance of large trout by developing a wild brown trout fishery and optimizing rainbow trout stocking rates.
On Feb. 1, 2017 the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency declared success and reopened the river. Officials have noted the overwhelming support – 80 percent – of anglers on the South Holston tailwaters for the former special regulations there, namely the spawning refuges and the 16-22 inch PLR (protected length range, called a slot limit).
A reminder from the federal judge overseeing the Remington class action lawsuit: The federal class-action lawsuit concerning Remington’s rifle triggers has been settled, and the settlement involves two classes. You may be eligible to have your firearm retrofitted or receive other benefits. Unless you excluded yourself before the court’s deadline on Nov. 18, 2016, you are bound by the court’s decision.
The first class includes owners of firearms that utilize a trigger connector. The second class includes owners of firearms that utilize the X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism that is the subject of Remington’s voluntary safety recall. The settlement allows owners of Remington models 700, Seven, and related models to have their trigger replaced free of charge, among other benefits.
The allegations are that Remington firearms can fire without a trigger pull. Remington denies those allegations with respect to the trigger connector but is offering trigger replacements for its valued customers. With respect to X-Mark Pro trigger mechanisms, Remington has implemented a voluntary safety recall.
Affected rifle models with trigger connectors: Model 700, Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722, and 725. Affected rifle models with X-Mark Pro triggers are the 700 and Model Seven manufactured from 2006 to 2014. Stop using these firearms until fixed. To learn more or to make a claim call 800-876-5940, or go to www.remingtonfirearmsclassactionsettlement.com.
New Year’s Day for the Chinese Year of the Rooster was on Jan. 28, 2017. Likewise, New Year’s Day for the Tennessee Sportsman is March 1, 2017. All annual hunting and fishing licenses expire on that date. The 2017-2018 licenses can be purchased early beginning on Feb. 18.
There are three ways to buy licenses: On the Internet at www.tnwildlife.org; with the Mobile app www.gotwra.org; and in person at all license agencies, which include sporting goods stores, county court clerks and regional TWRA offices. Licenses purchased online with a credit card are charged a processing and handling fee of $4.25 for those licenses mailed or $3 for those self-printed.
Something new: In case of a lost license, a valid duplicate can be printed at no cost online at www.tnwildlife.org, selecting the “reprint my licenses” button on the customer information screen. Also, duplicate licenses can be obtained from any TWRA license agent for an $8 fee.
The Tennessee Fur Harvesters Association and the TWRA are hosting a free trapper training camp on Feb. 24-26 at the TWRA’s Buffalo Ridge Refuge in Humphreys County. The three-day event is for all ages. Classes and instruction will include live trap line, fur handling, trap modification, set making, and snaring.
Check-in will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday with the first classroom session set for 7 p.m. On both Saturday and Sunday classes will begin at 8 a.m. Three meals will be provided on Saturday and breakfast will be provided on Sunday. Tent camping is available and hotels are located near the refuge. For more information and reservations, contact John Daniel with the TFHA at 423-595-0986 or email email@example.com. The website is www.tfhaonline.net.
Did you forget? Feb. 15 is the deadline to speak your mind to the TWRA on changes to the 2017-2018 hunting season regulations. Are you happy with the new definition for antlered deer? With your comments, include justifications to your proposals. The TWRA’s recommendations will be previewed by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its April meeting and voted on at its May meeting.
You can contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency via email and surface mail, but not by telephone. Email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Hunting Season Comments” on the subject line. Submissions by mail: Hunting Season Comments, TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204.
Anglers and boaters, do not miss the Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic, which runs Feb. 17 – March 5 at all five stores in Tennessee. There will be all kinds of special prices on fishing gear and boats, rod and reel trade-ins, fishing seminars and workshops, visiting pro anglers, and fun and games for the whole family. Get the schedule of events and more information at www.basspro.com.
The National Wild Turkey Federation is bringing “Turkey Town” to Nashville. The 41st annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show will be Feb. 15-19 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. See what the ambitious $1.2 billion campaign “Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt” is all about.
Meet some of your favorite outdoor television celebrities and enjoy special performances from country music artists. There are 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 Championships is not to be missed. Live and silent auctions feature once-in-a-lifetime hunts, limited edition guns, original artwork, jewelry, furniture, outdoor equipment 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 for other specials and more information.
It is now ready. The new, free, Light Goose Conservation Season Permit is required for the extra Conservation Season that runs Feb. 12 – March 10 for blue, snow and Ross geese. The applications are available on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website, www.tnwildlife.org, under the waterfowl icon in the migratory birds section of “For Hunters”.
No Federal or state waterfowl stamps are required for the Conservation Season, but a license is required, and it can be from any state. In this season there is no daily bag limit (except for the first two days); also, unplugged shotguns and electronic calls are allowed.
The 29th annual dinner and benefit auction for the East Tennessee Chapter of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will be Saturday, Feb. 25. This year’s fundraiser will be in Knoxville’s “Old City” at The Jackson Terminal. The doors open at 5 p.m. for a social hour including games, silent auction and the display of a big variety of outdoors equipment, guns and art for the live auction. Raffle tickets are half-price when purchased in advance with your banquet tickets. The banquet costs $45 for each dinner and $35 for an annual membership. For tickets and more details go to https://events.rmef.org/!N11 or phone Dwight Flynn at 865-250-9853.
Next, for the first time ever, Nashville will host the 32nd National Convention of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The dates are March 2-4 at the Omni Nashville Hotel. In addition to world class entertainment, events include Friends of the Foundation Breakfast, Friday Afternoon Auction & Evening Banquet, Taste of Nashville Events, and Volunteer Fun Nights. For more information go to www.rmef.org.