The youth spring turkey hunt is the weekend before the regular season, March 24-25. The rules of engagement can be hard to understand. Generally, young hunters ages 6-16 can hunt with an adult (at least 21 years old) that stays close enough to control the youth’s weapon. One adult can supervise more than one hunter.
Youths ages 6-9 do not have to have a hunter education certificate; ages 10-16 need the hunter education certificate, or they may purchase the Apprentice Hunter Education Exemption (Type 012), which can be renewed up to three times.
Hunters age 6-12 do not need a license, but a wildlife management area permit is required if hunting there. A Junior license is required for hunters ages 13-15 and age 16 needs an adult license. The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded turkey per day. Get more details on page 31 of the 2017-2018 hunting guide, or at www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/twra/documents/huntguide.pdf.
The March 19 deadline is looming for the 2018-2019 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 the 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.
Spring turkey hunting is almost here. The 2018 statewide spring turkey season is March 31 (the day before Easter) – May 13. The Young Sportsman Hunt is March 24-25 for ages 6-16. The bag limit is one bearded turkey per day, not to exceed four per spring season. Get more details on page 31 of the 2017-2018 hunting guide, or at www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/twra/documents/huntguide.pdf
The time to prepare for your turkey hunt is now. Finish your scouting about two weeks before opening day so that the birds can calm down and get some breeding done before the showdown. In fact, turkey calls that mimic the bird are prohibited on wildlife management areas from March 1 until the season opens. This is done so that the birds do not get call shy during their mating season. Locator calls, such as crow, hawk and owl calls, are permitted.
Be sure to sight in and pattern your shotgun and ammo for the best performance. Try several kinds of shotshells and different brands and sizes of shot for the tightest pattern; if necessary, spring for a new extra-full choke, but it will require shotshell patterning, too.
Preseason is prime time for poachers. Watch for piles of corn or other grain in the woods. Report suspicious activities to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Poaching Hotline; rewards are available from the TWRA and the National Wild Turkey Federation for anonymous tips. Poaching Hotlines: West Tennessee (Region 1) 800-831-1173; Middle Tennessee (Region 2) 800-255-8972; Cumberland Plateau (Region 3) 800-241-0767; East Tennessee (Region 4) 800-831-1174.
Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declared the eastern cougar extinct, and removed it from the federal list of protected species. Under guidelines established via the Endangered Species Act, FWS is authorized to remove any species if it is recovered, extinct or due to an original data error.
“Our decision to remove the eastern puma from the list due to extinction is based on information and analysis showing that the eastern puma likely has been extinct for many decades, long before its listing under the act,” FWS stated in its delisting ruling. “Eastern puma sightings have not been confirmed since the 1930s, and genetic and forensic testing has confirmed that recent validated puma sightings in the East, outside Florida, were animals released or escaped from captivity or wild pumas dispersing eastward from western North America.”
This is another government agency’s reconfirmation of the nonexistence of East Tennessee mountain lions (also TWRA). Of course West Tennessee has evidence in recent years of cougars migrating from western states. For more go to www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/mammals/cougars.html
The 2018 Tennessee Fishing Regulations brochure is ready and being delivered to 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 same 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 app is free at the Apple App Store and on Google Play, or go to www.tnwildlife.org to learn more.
Changes in the 2018-19 Tennessee sport fish regulations take effect on March 1. They are listed on page 4 of the brochure. Following are some of the more prominent changes. Region I: Herb Parsons Lake will have no creel limit and no length limit for all species of crappie.
Region IV: The Little Tennessee River and its tributaries outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from its confluence with Abrams Creek upstream to Calderwood Dam are open for fishing. On the Watauga Reservoir tributaries from Jan. 1 through April 30 there is a one hook/one point restriction for artificial lures and bait for certain parts of the Elk River in Carter County. The Holston River below John Sevier Dam is closed to snagging March 1-31 and April 16 – May 31. Tennessee and North Carolina now have a reciprocal agreement for sport fishing on all of Calderwood Reservoir and Slickrock Creek on the state line.
The National Wild Turkey Federation is bringing conservation education to students across the country with the release of its redesigned Education Boxes. For years, teachers have used the education boxes for lessons in conservation for children in kindergarten through high school. Today those boxes have been redesigned with new visual guides and new lessons from Project Learning Tree to leave a lasting impact on young minds.
Teachers will find updated resources on an included flash drive to help convey the story of the greatest comeback of any wild species – the wild turkey. It also teaches children what active conservation looks like and what it can achieve. By collaborating with teachers all over the country, the NWTF is committed to educating the next generation of hunters and conservationists.
The Education Box also includes a collapsible, scaled model of a wild turkey transport box, a colorful bulletin board display, wild turkey anatomy and habitat posters, along with a set of pencils, feather bookmarks and rulers. The new Education Box can be purchased at www.nwtf.org/resource-library/detail/education-resources-form.
When the NWTF was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number has hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. For more visit www.nwtf.org.
Whirling disease was reported in North Carolina’s section of the Watauga River in 2015. Now it has spread into Tennessee for the first time. It was recently discovered by biologists during their annual trout population monitoring in the South Holston and Watauga tailwaters.
Whirling disease, a condition caused by a non-native microscopic parasite, affects fish in the trout and salmon family, including rainbow, brook, and brown trout. This parasite can cause damage to the fish’s cartilage and skeletal tissue, resulting in deformities in the head and spine. Fish may also develop a black tail, or display “whirling” or erratic tail-chasing behavior.
Although a diseased trout may not die directly from the parasite, it can affect the ability for them to swim, eat and escape predators. Brook trout and rainbows are especially susceptible to the parasite, but browns rarely display systems until the area is heavily infested. Humans, mammals and other fishes like bass, catfish and perch cannot become infected.
TWRA biologists are concerned that whirling disease might spread to areas that may be more vulnerable such as wild trout streams. They will begin collecting trout in tailwaters across the state and within the South Holston and Watauga watersheds to determine the current prevalence of whirling disease. All of the TWRA fish hatcheries are annually tested and are disease free. For more information go to www.tnwildlife.org/fishing.
Boat registration in Tennessee has become easier than ever. Until recently, the purchase of a new boat required the owner to take the bill of sale to the local courthouse to account for taxes. Following that, another trip was required to complete the registration process required for new boats.
Now, once taxes have been paid, boat owners can register their new boats online. Simply go to www.tnwildlife.org, click on “Boat Registration” and follow the menu. A registration card and decal will be mailed in two business days. Registration – and renewals – can be done for up to three years, and can be set up to automatically renew. Of course mail-in renewals can still be done.
New Year’s Day for the Chinese Year of the Brown Earth Dog is on Feb. 16, 2018. Likewise, New Year’s Day for the Tennessee Sportsman is March 1, 2018. All annual hunting and fishing licenses are expired on that date. The 2018-2019 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 and $3 for those self-printed.
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.
Beginning this license year, Tennessee sportsmen have the option to purchase a hard-copy collector’s card for any annual license. The size and feel of a credit card, the license features prints of original paintings by famed Tennessee artist, Ralph McDonald. All of your license information will be printed on the back of the card.
Mr. McDonald has created two beautiful paintings, first a trophy large-mouth bass and now a breathtaking 12-point buck. Either or both of the collector hard cards may be purchased for just $5 each at www.tn.gov/twra/license-sales.
The state of Mississippi has recorded its first case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in its deer herd. On Jan. 25, 2018 a 4.5-year-old white-tailed buck in Issaquena County tested positive after dying of natural causes. Tennessee will add Mississippi to its list for restricted importation of deer carcasses. Tennessee has not had any cases of CWD to date.
CWD now has been confirmed in 24 states, including free-ranging herds in 22 states and captive herds of deer and elk in 16 states. Also it has been found in three Canadian provinces and two foreign countries. CWD was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks will immediately implement its CWD Response Plan. Among other actions, MDWFP is banning supplemental feeding of deer in the following counties: Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren, and Yazoo. This area is on the western border of the state and near the borders of Arkansas and Louisiana.
CWD is an always-fatal neurological disease that affects only cervids (hoofed animals such as deer, elk and moose). Once in the host’s body prions transform normal cellular protein into an abnormal shape that accumulates until the cell ceases to function. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite, and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate, and grind their teeth.
[See Remington story on 2-12-18] Remington has revealed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan. It will not only grant the company bankruptcy protections, but will include a deal with their creditors that grants ownership of the company. Under the terms of the agreement, holders of the $550 million term loan get 82.5 percent ownership and third lienholders will get the remaining 17.5 percent. The creditors will also supply a $100 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan to finance operations through bankruptcy. Time will tell.
Remington Executive Chairman Jim Geisler had this comment, “Difficult industry conditions make today’s agreement prudent. I am confident this regrouping ensures that Remington will continue both as a strong company and an indelible part of our national heritage.”
Anglers, do not miss the Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic, which runs Feb. 16 – March 4. 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/classic.
Among many events and activities, there is the Next Generation Weekend, which offers free programs focused on teaching kids the basics of fishing. Activities are planned from noon to 5 p.m. on March 3 and 4.Free activities include casting challenges, a fishing workshop, fun crafts, and a photo download.
The maker of Remington firearms, Remington Outdoor Co., is poised to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company is saddled with $950 million in debt, mostly thanks to leveraging of its assets by its owner, Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus bought Remington in 2007 and soon purchased more gun manufacturers including Bushmaster, Marlin, Para Ordnance, and others, holding them all in a separate investment known as Freedom Group.
Then in 2012, four days after the Sandy Hook school murders, Cerberus decided to abandon Remington (owner of Bushmaster, one of the guns used in the massacre), putting it up for sale at the worst possible time. No takers. Since then the Remington management has been struggling – in vain – to keep the company operational.
At this time Remington is looking for financing to allow it to remain in business and work its way out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy (debtor-in-possession financing or DIP). It will not be easy: Remington already has a $550 million loan that matures in 2019 and $250 million worth of bonds that come due in 2020. Still, the 200-year-old gunmaker, the oldest in America, has a new manufacturing plant in Birmingham, Ala. that is doing well and in time the company’s game plan may win the day.
Reminder: The comment period for changes in the 2018-2019 hunting regulations ends on Thursday, Feb. 15. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to hear your ideas and suggestions on improving hunting in the state.
Your suggestions can be contributed via e-mail as well as surface mail, but no phone calls. All proposed changes need to have justifications with them. The TWRA’s final recommendations will be previewed by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its April meeting and voted on at its May meeting.
Email your suggestions to email@example.com and include “2018-19 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.
The ETSU Eagle Cams are back for another 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 four 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/.
2018 update: The Johnson City nesting pair of eagles has returned to their nest and is adding to it in preparation for egg laying in a few weeks. But the Bluff City pair has abandoned last year’s nest and is building another nest about 1.5 miles away. It will not have cameras on it this year but there are pictures of the nest building on Facebook. The old nest, with cameras still at the ready, may attract a nesting pair of great horned owls or red-tailed hawks in the coming weeks, so check in later for that. Or the original owners might return; after all, eggs laying will begin any day now.
[from chattanoogan.com] James Carter Jr. of Putnam County pled guilty to five counts of importation of animal parts from a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) positive state.
Putnam County Wildlife officers Jamie Greenwood and Mike Beaty discovered illegal deer parts during a routine survey of a taxidermist on Jan. 4. Out of state importation of any cervid (member of the deer family) is allowed if animals are processed and cleaned correctly. However, cervids not processed or cleaned correctly are illegal to possess according to Tennessee Rule and Regulation 1660-01.15.02.
The TWRA said Carter was in possession of seven illegal parts. One case was dropped because the state from where the deer was received was not CWD positive when Carter accepted the deer. The remaining six deer received included one skull and five skull plates. All antlers were removed from the skull plates and returned to their owners and hunters were not charged.
TWRA officials said, "CWD is a fatal neurological disease spread through direct contact of cervids. Tennessee is home to both whitetail deer and elk. CWD isn’t a virus or bacteria, but a misshaped protein that can remain in soil indefinitely."
Officer Greenwood said, “As wildlife officers, we know the overwhelming effect this disease can have on our deer herds. Once this disease is in our state, it is here to stay. Our duty as officers is to uphold the TWRA mission and ensure wildlife populations are here for future generations to enjoy.”
Tennessee Law On Importation Of Wildlife Carcasses, Parts, And Products states (1) No person may import, transport, or possess in Tennessee a cervid carcass or carcass part from any area that has a known case of chronic wasting disease except as provided herein:
(a) Meat that has bones removed.
(b) Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls (where no meat or tissues are attached to the skull.)
(c) Cleaned teeth.
(d) Finished taxidermy and antler products.
(e) Hides and tanned products.
There are 24 states and two Canada provinces that are currently CWD positive. CWD is not known to affect humans. TWRA biologists test throughout the state each year. To date, 80 free ranging elk and 9,394 whitetail deer have been tested with all results being negative for CWD. TWRA encourages residents to understand this disease and be part of the solution to keep Tennessee CWD free. Find out more about this disease and see TWRA’s response plan at www.tnwildlife.org.
Reminder: The new and free Light Goose Conservation Season Permit is required for the extra Conservation Season that runs Feb. 11 – March 9 for blue, snow and Ross geese. The applications now 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 Outdoor Writers Association of America is once again hosting the Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards contests. The 2018 contests allow promising young writers to showcase their skills in prose or poetry and win cash prizes totaling $1,400.
All entries must have an outdoor theme and must have been written during the 2017 calendar year. The deadline for entries is March 16, 2018. The contests feature categories in poetry or prose and awards prizes in two divisions. At the time the article was written the author must have been a student in grades 6-8 to enter the junior division; or grades 9-12 to enter the senior division.
In addition to cash prizes, the winning entries from this year’s contest will be printed in a future issue of Outdoors Unlimited, OWAA’s magazine. For complete contest rules and entry instructions, visit www.owaa.org/programs/contests/norm-strung-youth-writing-awards. Preferred entry submission is via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries can also be mailed to OWAA Headquarters, 615 Oak St., Ste. 201, Missoula, MT 59801.
To request more information, call the OWAA office at 406-728-7434 or email email@example.com. The Outdoor Writers Association of America is the oldest and largest association of professional outdoor communicators in the United States. It was organized in 1927 by members of the Izaak Walton League of America and includes professional communicators dedicated to sharing the outdoor experience. OWAA’s professionals include writers, photographers, outdoors radio- and television-show hosts, book authors, videographers, lecturers, and artists.
February is time to watch out for skunks. Mid-winter is mating season, and that concerns you whether you like it or not. More skunks are hit by motor vehicles at this time than any other.
The males are extra mobile as they seek to establish new territory, and this increases their encounters with humans. They will try to move in under porches, or will den in a pile of lumber or clutter; you may smell them when they are there.
Precautions: Skunks are nocturnal. Be careful letting your dog out at night. Don’t leave tempting pet food on your porch. Eliminate enticing access to porches and other structures. Be alert driving. If a skunk has moved in near your house, don’t try to lock it out until nighttime when it is likely to be gone. To be sure sprinkle flour or sand at the entrance during the day and watch for tracks exiting.
If you or something you love gets sprayed, don’t bother with that worthless, messy tomato juice cure. Here is the sure-fire, scientific solution (It really works, even on dogs):
Combine one quart of hydrogen peroxide (3%), a quarter-cup baking soda, and one teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap. Wash the malodorous items well, repeat if necessary, and rinse with plain water. That’s it.
This mixture is topically harmless but it can irritate the eyes, nose and mouth. It is chemically unstable and cannot be stored, so use it up. By the way, it also works on dogs that have rolled in a smelly, decaying carcass, as they love to do.