An Elk Program Workshop will be held on Tuesday, March 5 in LaFollette, hosted by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The meeting will be from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the Ball Farm Event Center, 2107 General Carl W. Stiner Hwy. Prior to the workshop, public comments and questions can be sent to: Ask.TWRA@tn.gov, with "Elk Program Comments” in the subject line.
March 20 is the deadline is for the 2019-2020 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 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.
Rules of engagement for the youth spring turkey hunt: 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.
Preseason for spring turkey hunting is now. The 2019 statewide spring turkey season is March 30 – May 12. The Young Sportsman Hunt is March 23-24 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 39 of the 2018-2019 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.
At the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s February meeting, 2019-2020 migratory bird seasons were set, with changes for ducks, woodcock and crow. The duck season for the Reelfoot Zone will be Nov. 9-10 and reopen Dec. 5 – Jan. 31, 2020. The statewide season will be Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 and Dec. 7 – Jan. 31, 2020. The only change to bag limits was a reduction for pintail from two birds per day to one per day.
Changes to the woodcock season were driven by hunter input to provide opportunities to hunters in East Tennessee who see a large number of woodcock migrating through the area in January. The new dates will be Nov. 9 – Dec. 1, reopening Jan. 10-31.
The changes to crow hunting will now include a split season. The first phase allows hunting on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from June 1 – Aug. 18. The second phase will be Oct. 5 – Jan. 1, with hunting allowed all seven days through the week. One of the primary reasons for the change was to give hunters more of an opportunity during cooler weather.
An update on chronic wasting disease (CWD) was given by Chuck Yoest, the project coordinator for the TWRA. A total of 2,999 deer has been sampled in the CWD Management Zone with 185 positives, with just a few more results pending.
Trout fishing in North Carolina? Be advised that approximately 1,000 miles of hatchery supported trout waters will be closed to fishing from March 1 to April 6, 2019. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will be stocking about 930,000 trout to prepare for opening day on April 6.
About 96 percent of the stocked trout will average 10 inches long and the rest will exceed 14 inches. Daily creel limit is seven trout with no minimum size or bait restriction. For more information click here or call the N.C. Inland Fisheries Division, 919-707-0220.
A Landowner Wildlife Management Workshop will be held on April 12 at the University of Tennessee’s Lone Oaks Farms in Middleton. The workshop is sponsored by West Tennessee’s Chickasaw Chapter of Quail Forever, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Quality Deer Management Association.
This clinic is a great opportunity for landowners to learn about technical and financial assistance for wildlife projects in Hardeman, Fayette, Shelby, Haywood, Madison, Chester, Tipton, and McNairy counties. Topics will include the new Federal Farm Bill’s support for wildlife, cost share opportunities with government agencies, and habitat objectives for quail, deer, turkey, and pollinators.
Seating is limited to 100 guests, so reservations are required. Contact Chris Hunter at phone 731-225-4108 or firstname.lastname@example.org, also Gordon Counts at 731-487-0239 or email@example.com.
The spring boating season will be here soon. U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the operator had never received boating education instruction (based on accidents where the level of operator education was known).
Be sure that all of your boat operators have a boating safety certificate ahead of time. The certificate is required for any operator born after 1988 and is at least 12 years old. This includes personal watercraft. The certificate is issued by the TWRA and here is the procedure to follow.
First, go online to www.tnwildlife.org or go to a license agency and buy a Type 600 permit for $10; this is your ticket to the exam. Be sure it is purchased in the student’s name.
Second, take a study course (usually no charge) from the TWRA Boat Tennessee Home Study Course, the U.S. Power Squadron, or the U.S. Coast Guard. Many classes are held locally that combine a study course with testing. Boating regulations for Tennessee can be found at www.tn.gov/twra/topic/boating-safety.
Third, take the TWRA’s monitored exam at the appointed time. The statewide list of scheduled classes can be found here, or by calling 800-837-6012. Registration is often required. The exam can be challenged without taking the study course but it is not easy. Do not forget to bring your $10 Type 600 exam permit.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet on Feb. 21-22 in Nashville at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building. Committee meetings begin at 1 p.m., Thursday, while the regular meeting starts at 9 a.m., Friday. The public is invited to attend.
Some of the topics on the agenda include: Setting the season dates and bag limits for waterfowl and migratory game birds, namely ducks, geese, crows, dove, snipe, woodcock, rails, and sandhill cranes; a chronic wasting disease update; changes in the Strategic Deer Management Plan as a result of public input received and the confirmation of CWD in Tennessee.
Also, the TWRA will report on their preparations for the Bassmaster Classic and Outdoors Expo in Knoxville on March 15-17. Tennessee had a record black bear harvest in 2018. Dan Gibbs, the Black Bear Program leader, will provide an overview of the season, research, and ongoing issues. Other updates will include marketing and R3 (recruitment, retention, and reactivation) efforts from 2018 and a look at new tactics for this year.
New Year’s Day for the Tennessee sportsman is March 1, 2019. All annual hunting and fishing licenses are expired on that date. The 2019-2020 licenses can be purchased beginning 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.
Tennessee sportsmen have the option to purchase a hard-copy collector’s card for any annual license. The card costs $5 extra. The size and feel of a credit card, the hard card features one of three prints of original paintings: A trophy large-mouth bass, a breathtaking 12-point buck, and a scene with flooded woods, ducks and Labrador retriever. All of your license information will be printed on the back of the card. See more at www.tn.gov/twra/license-sales.
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 promptly. 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.
Young hunters should not miss this opportunity to hunt live quail with a good retriever. The Smoky Mountain Quail Forever Chapter is holding another special youth quail hunt on Saturday, March 2. The event will be held at the McGhee Carson Wildlife Management Area south of Vonore, Tenn. (off Hwy 360). Lunch will be provided. Hunting will begin at 8:00 a.m. and continue into the afternoon. Other activities will include skeet and .22 rifle shooting sponsored by the TWRA.
Participation is for ages 10 to 16 and all must have proof of a hunter education certificate, and must have a non-hunting adult with them. Participants should not bring shotguns or shotshells; the TWRA will furnish all guns and ammunition. Space is limited to 50 shooters so pre-registration is required. To register call Brandon Wear at 423-884-6767 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or email Brandon.Wear@tn.gov. Leave name and contact information.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is striving to make it easier for “outers” to enjoy the great outdoors. “TWRA on the Go,” is a new smartphone app, with enhanced features to make it easier to hunt, fish, boat, and enjoy wildlife. Find it at Google Play and the Apple Store, or go to www.gotwra.org.
Users will have the ability to access a copy of their current license, store multiple licenses on one phone, buy licenses, check in deer or turkey with or without cell phone service, see harvest data, access Tennessee rules and regulations, use geo-locating tools to enhance the recreational experience, and determine sunrise/sunset times based on GPS location.
There is also an interactive map to find TWRA wildlife management areas, physical check station locations, and duck blind locations. The “Hunter’s Backpack” is where hunter education courses, a summary of hunting seasons, and full versions of the agency hunting guides are available.
For anglers, “Fisherman’s Tacklebox” includes, fish identification, interactive maps to find boat ramp and fish access information, fish attractor locations, trout stocking locations, and trout stocking schedules.
On the app’s boating page, the “Boating Locker” includes boat regulations, safety checklists, boating education information, navigational aids, and recommended boating equipment. For wildlife watchers, there is information about where to view wildlife across the state. The “Stay Connected Page” links TWRA users through the social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, & YouTube.
Kayak anglers, look at this. Cookeville, Tenn. has been chosen to host the inaugural Pan-American Kayak Bass Championship, sponsored by USA Bass and the Pan-American Sportfishing Federation. The dates will be May 28-31, 2019 and it is the first of its kind in the world. The four-day event will welcome more than 100 of the most elite kayak bass anglers from around the world to Center Hill Lake and surrounding waters. The exclusive competition is invitation only and is expected to include participants from Mexico, Panama, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Canada, and more. More than forty Pan-American countries will be invited.
“Cookeville and Center Hill Lake quickly became the clear choice to host this historic event,” said Tony Forte, U.S. Angling founder and USA Bass president. “Kayak fishing is exploding worldwide and the Pan-American Sportfishing Federation felt it was time to make it an official sport. This event is not just a launching point for Pan-American countries, but also in line to become a world championship sport and push toward Olympic recognition.”
In addition to being an inaugural Pan-American championship, officials with the Confederation Internationale de Peche Sportive (CIPS) will be in attendance to evaluate the potential for officially making kayak bass fishing a world championship level sport.
Another important host of the event is the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau. For more information go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reporting that the recent chronic wasting disease testing efforts were successful, thanks to broad cooperation from hunters and special efforts of TWRA staff. Statewide TWRA was able to obtain samples from almost 5,400 deer during the 2018-19 deer hunting seasons.
In the CWD Management Zone more than 2,700 deer were tested for the disease. All of the CWD positive deer were harvested in Fayette, Hardeman, and Madison counties, 168 deer to date. The information gathered from these efforts is critical to developing a successful long-term CWD management plan.
The CWD Management Zone, established in December, has grown to include eight southwest Tennessee counties: Chester, Fayette, Hardeman, Haywood, Madison, McNairy, Shelby, and Tipton. Tipton County was just added most recently upon confirmation of a CWD positive deer harvested near its border in the adjacent Fayette County. All testing results should be received later in February. For more information go to www.CWDinTennesee.com.
Anglers, here is your chance to trade in that old rod and/or reel for a new one. The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s 2019 Spring Fishing Classic runs Feb. 15 – March 3. There will be all kinds of special prices on fishing gear and boats, as well as fishing seminars and workshops with visiting pro anglers, and fun and games for the whole family. For the schedule on trade-in programs, event times and special offers visit www.basspro.com/classic or www.cabelas.com/classic.
By the way, those traded rods and reels are refurbished and donated to non-profit youth organizations – to the tune of more than 335,000 items to date.
Spring turkey season is just around the corner, March 30 – May 12; the youth turkey hunt is March 23-24. There is still time for a new hunter to get a hunter education certificate – that’s anyone born after 1968. You must go online to sign up for a hunter education class.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency lists the upcoming classes on its website, which you can see by going to www.tnwildlife.org and selecting Hunter Education. Students must be at least nine years old to earn a certificate; they should bring a pencil and their Social Security number (mandatory). Do not bring a gun.
TWRA also offers an online hunter education class for those with busy schedules. Most of the classroom work can be done at home, with a required live field day (about four hours) for testing and a shooting session to complete certification. Those field days are also listed on the website.
The 31st annual dinner and benefit auction for the East Tennessee Chapter of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will be Saturday, Feb. 23 at The Venue in Lenoir City. 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 contact Becky Ashe at phone 865-947-3361, or go to www.rmef.org/Tennessee.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is soliciting bids to sharecrop approximately 600 acres of farmland located on Yuchi Wildlife Refuge (Rhea County) and surrounding wildlife management areas. This will be a service lease with a percentage of the crop left as payment in kind. The term of the lease will be five years. The bid closing date is Feb. 28, 2019. Contact Greg Atchley for a bid packet at 423-693-6604 or by email at Greg.Atchley@tn.gov.
The Tennessee Fur Harvesters are hosting a pair of free trapper training camps this winter, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Each will have instructions for: Live traplines, fur handling, set making, snaring, and trap modification. The three-day event is for all ages.
The first camp is on Feb. 22-24 at TWRA’s Buffalo Ridge Refuge in Humphreys County. The second camp is on March 15-17 at TWRA’s Hiwassee Refuge in Meigs County near the Hamilton County community of Birchwood.
Check-in for each event will begin with registration on Friday from 5:00-6:45 p.m. Saturday will start with breakfast at 7 a.m. with instruction throughout the day. Three meals will be provided on Saturday and breakfast will be provided Sunday. On-site primitive camping is available and participants must provide their own camping gear, have appropriate clothing, and be prepared to take notes. Hotels are located near each of the refuges.
For more information and reservations, contact John Daniel with the Tennessee Fur Harvesters Association at 423-595-0986 or by email at email@example.com. The TFHA website is www.tfhaonline.net.
Trapping is not easy. It takes a lot of knowledge of the animal and nature. Whether you hunt coyotes or trap them, you are helping our populations of deer, turkeys, quail, and grouse. Stockmen and farmers appreciate you, too.
Join the 22nd annual Great Backyard Bird Count occurring on Feb. 15-18. The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. Worldwide thousands of volunteers join the four-day count each February to generate a real-time snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.
During the 2018 count, bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 180,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6,456 species – more than half the known bird species in the world.
In the United States and Canada, 2019 bird lists are more likely to include sightings of winter finches and grosbeaks that are moving farther south than usual in what's called an "irruption." This type of movement is often sparked by poor cone, seed, and berry crops in parts of Canada.
"This year is a very exciting one for backyard birders in the East, headlined by the largest Evening Grosbeak movement in at least two decades," says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program. "From Atlantic Canada to North Carolina, these colorful feeder visitors have been making a splash." This also an above-average year for Red Crossbills, Common Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, Common and Hoary Redpolls, and Red-breasted Nuthatches.
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 see 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 www.birdcount.org.
Reminder: The new and free Light Goose Conservation Season Permit is required for the extra Conservation Season that runs Feb. 11 – March 18 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.