Besides spring turkey there is another hunting season that is opening right now: Tick season. Millions of the suckers are hatching now. By the end of May most will have been eaten by birds, but plenty of ticks stay around until the first frost.
Since they can’t fly or jump, ticks brush onto victims from grass, bushes or trees. For protection when outdoors use insect repellents and wear long pants and shirtsleeves. After being outdoors, inspect your whole body well, especially major crevices. It takes several hours for a tick to attach.
If bitten don’t try to smother or burn the sucker. Those techniques don’t work and they risk added injury to your skin. Firmly grasp the tick (tweezers are best) and gently pull for a long time (two or three minutes) until it has a chance to let go. Afterwards clean the bite with an antiseptic. Finally, save the corpus delicti in a plastic baggy or a piece of cellophane tape for future reference in case a serious infection ensues (The Lyme disease’s “red bulls-eye” can take more than two weeks to appear).
Here is another tick removal that I can’t wait to try. Moisten a cotton ball and rub in some hand soap until it is very soapy. Place it over the attached tick and rub it gently in a counterclockwise direction (It won’t work clockwise). In a few minutes the tick will release and back out. And for you wiseacres out there that dare to challenge the counterclockwise tenet, it’s your tick.
Babe Winkelman, the outdoors television guru, is promoting tick awareness. The number of Lyme disease cases has skyrocketed to epidemic proportions in the U.S. alone. According to the CDC, estimates vary between 300,000 to 1 million cases per year. These frightening statistics do not include the multitude of undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cases that continue to go unreported. Yet, Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, are preventable with one caveat: Awareness.
Winkelman, whose daily office is the great outdoors, knows firsthand the debilitating effects of just one, tiny tick bite. He is a three-time Lyme disease survivor himself. Winkelman is taking the education challenge head-on to raise awareness about ticks and the dangerous illnesses they can carry via his Tick-Borne Illness Information Center. Check it out at https://winkelman.com/tick-borne-illness-information-center/.
The Tennessee live elk cam is on the air. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has placed video cameras at the Hatfield Knob viewing area on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, which is frequented by elk and many other animals year round. See the streaming of live videos and get lots of background information at https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/mammals/large/elk.html.
While you are at it, keep an eye on the bald eagles at the East Tennessee State University’s live Eagle Cam in Johnson City. Presently there are three eaglets hatched and being fed frequently. See it at www.etsu.edu/cas/biology/eagle-cam/cameras.php.
Other watchable wildlife: Chicks, calves, cubs, kittens, and kits. Pups, poults, shoats, goslings, and fawns. Nature's renewal process is giving birth to all kinds of wildlife and there is something important you can do to help: Nothing.
Don't get involved. Wild babies that are found alone are rarely abandoned, but human scent on them can endanger them. A parent is usually nearby, perhaps resting or eating, and watching. Remove yourself and enjoy watching from afar.
One exception to the don't-touch rule is with baby birds that have fallen from their nests. Use a paper towel to handle them when returning them to the nests, and they might not be rejected by the parents.
Check out this upcoming event from Veteran Sportsmen: The third annual “Take A Veteran Fishing” Tournament on May 19, 2018 on J. Percy Priest Lake at Fate Sanders Marina. Trophies will be presented for first, second and third place teams with the highest total bass weight. There will also be prizes for largest bass, hybrid and crappie. Registration is free for veterans and anglers, and there will be a $50 side pot for interested anglers. Start time is 5:30 am (first light), with weigh-in promptly at noon.
The tournament partners veterans with anglers in a friendly five-fish-limit competition with socializing and camaraderie. At the start of the event “Pros” (anglers) will be paired with “Joes” (veterans), to form a team, which will compete with other teams for total bass weight, largest bass, hybrid, and crappie. The Pro is asked to bring an extra life jacket and rod for their assigned Joe; also required are current boater registration, proof of insurance and fishing license. Joes will need to have a current fishing license as well. All TWRA size regulations apply. To register or to get more information on upcoming events, go to www.veteransportsmen.com; also email Mack at email@example.com.
Veteran Sportsmen is a non-profit (501)(c)(3) dedicated to thanking veterans for their service with much needed rest and relaxation from their everyday stressors. They do so by hosting numerous outdoor adventures, sporting seminars, and monthly meet-and-greets which are all free of charge to the veteran. Veteran Sportsmen was founded in 2015 by veteran Mack Hagewood, who served in Panama with the U.S. Army in the 1970s. To date Veteran Sportsmen has two Chapters, Rutherford County and the newly formed Cheatham County. They are seeking to expand to the Knoxville and Chattanooga areas later this year.
Now is the perfect time to plant something to benefit wildlife, be it year-round habitat or food plots for hunting this fall. Food plots are good for attracting game such as deer, turkey, dove, waterfowl, and upland game like grouse and quail.
For wildlife in general the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org has a large site called “Wildlife Enthusiasts” with two helpful sections, Backyard Basics and Habitat Management. Some of the topics are: Tennessee Tree Planting Guide, Landscaping for Native Plants, Wildlife Damage Control, and other related subjects.
For turkey and most of the bird species, both game and songbirds, check out the National Wild Turkey Federation. Its website www.nwtf.org has great information and an excellent selection of products for food plots. There are seeds for food crops, such as sorghum and millet, and seeds for warm season grasses and forbs for habitat and food.
For deer hunters check out the website for the Quality Deer Management Association, www.qdma.com. These guys take a scientific approach to ensuring the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat in general, and our hunting heritage.
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).
Boating weather is in the offing. 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 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 at www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/boating/boating-education.html, 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.
Have you ever been a crank about some disagreeable fishing regulations? Perhaps a creel limit or size limit? Put your kibitzing where it may do some good. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is accepting public comments on the 2019 fishing regulations until April 22. The fisheries managers will consider your ideas, which should be presented as proposals and should include the expected results if enacted. Your next comment period will be in two years.
Email your suggestions to FishingReg.Comments@tn.gov; include “Sport Fish Comments” in the subject line. Or use postal mail: TWRA Sport Fish Comments, Fisheries Management Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204. No phone calls. The TWRA will submit their proposed regulations at the August meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission; another public comment period will follow; and the TFWC will decide at its September meeting.
The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) will meet in Murfreesboro on March 28-29 for its 12th annual state championships, hosted by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Nearly 2,000 students representing more than 130 schools will gather at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum for the ninth consecutive year.
The NASP program began in Tennessee in 2004 and has seen tremendous growth since its inception. Schools will compete in the elementary, middle school and high school divisions. Awards will be presented to the top teams and individual finishers in each division.
The public is welcome to attend and there is no admission charge. Competition will start at 9:45 a.m. with the final flight scheduled for 3:30 p.m. each day. The awards ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. on the second day of the competition.
Tennessee began NASP with 12 pilot schools participating in the program. The number of schools has grown to 327 now. NASP is a two-week curriculum taught during school that teaches International Style Target Archery. At the 2017 state championships, Central Magnet High School repeated as champion of its division while Stewarts Creek Middle School and East Lincoln Elementary School claimed their first championships in their divisions.
Each student will shoot 30 arrows, 15 from 10 meters and 15 from 15 meters with a maximum score of 300. The top team and top 10 individuals in each division automatically receive a bid to compete in the 2018 National NASP Tournament to be held in May in Louisville, Ky. There will also be at-large bids for those who qualify.
If a school or teacher is interested in starting a NASP program, contact Don Crawford, TWRA Assistant Chief of Information and Education, at Don.Crawford@tn.gov or call 615-781-6542; also contact Matt Clarey, Regional Training Coordinator in TWRA Region III, at Matt.Clarey@tn.gov or call 931- 484-9571.
At its March meeting the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to establish hunting and fishing regulations biannually rather than the current annual basis. Beginning in 2018 the hunting regulations will be set in May on the even years. Fishing regulations will be set in September on odd years beginning in 2019. The commission also directed the TWRA to hold public meetings twice a year in each of the four TWRA regions. The meetings will offer a time for sportsmen to offer input and ask questions of TWRA personnel.
Brad Miller, TWRA’s Elk Program Leader, made a presentation on the TWRA’s strategic elk plan for the next 10 years. The plan has an emphasis on healthy populations, habitats, and public involvement. See the plan at www.tn.gov/twra/strategic-elk-plan.html. The new live elk cam will be online soon. It is located at the Hatfield Knob viewing area on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.
Dr. David Buehler from the University of Tennessee gave a first-year update on a turkey research project in southern Middle Tennessee counties, where the turkey population is a concern. The TWRA, UT, and National Wild Turkey Federation are currently partnering in a six-year project that began in late 2016 to look at turkey survival, reproduction and other factors having an impact on population trends in the area.
Roaring River Dam in Jackson County was removed last year. The low head dam built in 1976 was 220 feet across and 15 feet tall. TWRA Region III fisheries biologist, Mark Thurman, gave a report on the eroding dam’s removal. He said the dam’s removal helps make the river safer for recreation and opens the river to benefit several species of fish including white bass, sauger, smallmouth bass, redhorse suckers, and other species.
The Boating and Law Enforcement Division introduced its boating officers of the year. Sumner County officer Nathan Karch is the full-time officer of the year while Melvin McLerran is the part-time officer of the year. McLerran also received the award in 2015. Both officers serve in TWRA Region II’s District 21, primarily on Middle Tennessee reservoirs.
Now is the time to prepare to plant wildflowers and milkweed to help monarch butterflies (and other pollinating insects), and at the same time good habitat for wildlife in general. The various milkweed plants are perennials which can grow all over the U.S. and they are essential to the survival of all monarch caterpillars. Besides that, milkweed adds a lot to a wildflower garden and it requires no maintenance.
Check out SaveOurMonarchs Foundation, a 501c3 charity; they offer free milkweed seeds to anyone requesting them, and larger quantities for a small donation. For seeds and more information go to www.SaveOurMonarchs.org; or contact Ward Johnson at 952-829-0600.
For an excellent source of high quality wildflower seeds, contact Roundstone Native Seed Co. at www.roundstoneseed.com or call 270-531-3034; also, see the Native American Seed Co. at www.seedsource.com or call 800-728-4043.
The 2018 statewide spring turkey season is March 31 – May 13. The youth hunt is March 24-25. The season bag limit is four bearded turkeys, with only one allowed per day. Birds taken on quota hunts and designated wildlife management areas are bonus birds. Legal hunting times are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. All of the turkey hunting regulations are on page 31 in the 2017-2018 Hunting Guide, and online at www.tn.gov/assets/entities/twra/attachments/huntguide.pdf.
The wild turkey population in Tennessee has stabilized at a little more than 315,000 birds statewide, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; and the spring harvests have been over 30,000 for the past 15 years. Last year the harvest was 33,119. Hottest places to hunt? Last year the top five counties were, in order: Dickson, Maury, Greene, Montgomery, and Sumner.
All harvested turkeys must be checked in by the end of the calendar day. There are several ways to do that. The old way is to find and drive to a TWRA checking station, but there are 20 percent fewer stations than there used to be. Better yet, simply go online to the TWRA website www.tn.gov/twra/article/twra-big-game-check-in. Better still, use the smart phone app “TWRA On the Go” from anywhere, even afield at your turkey blind.
Upon check-in the hunter will receive a confirmation number, which should be saved as a PDF, a screen shot or simply by writing it down. The confirmation number must be available for TWRA inspection until the bird has been processed. But remember, the bag limit on turkey is one per day and four per season.
The public is always welcome to attend the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s monthly meetings, and the next one has several interesting topics. It will be on March 20-21 in Nashville at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Ray Bell Building. Committee meetings will begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The formal meeting starts at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
Brad Miller, TWRA’s Elk Program Leader, will make a presentation on the TWRA Strategic Elk Plan for 2018-2028. The plan has been available for public viewing on the Agency’s website for the past few months.
Dr. David Buehler from the University of Tennessee will give an update on a turkey research project. The TWRA and UT are partnering to conduct a 6-year project that began in late 2016 to look at turkey survival, reproduction and other factors having an impact on population trends in Middle Tennessee.
Mark Thurman, from TWRA Region III Fisheries, will give a report on the removal last year of the Roaring River Dam in Jackson County. The structure was the largest dam to be removed in Tennessee for river and stream restoration.
Assistant Director Bobby Wilson will give an update on the two-year season setting process. TWRA recommends that, starting next year, the process would happen every two years by proclamation, beginning with wildlife and then setting fisheries the next season.
A presentation on a new live elk cam that soon will be available to the public on the TWRA website will be given by the Communication Division’s Doug Markham and Jason Harmon. The cam is located at the Hatfield Knob viewing area on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area in Campbell County.
The March meeting will be the first with new chairman Jeff Cook, MD of Franklin presiding. Other officers include Kurt Holbert (Decaturville) who moves from secretary to vice chairman and Brian McLerran (Moss) who was elected secretary. Past chair Jamie Woodson (Lebanon) will continue to serve on the commission.
The Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission has increased restrictions of importation of deer, elk, moose, and caribou carcasses to try and further protect Tennessee from chronic wasting disease. An importation restriction that once applied only to outside states where CWD had already been identified now applies to every U.S. state and province of Canada.
Tennessee hunters who travel out-of-state to hunt deer, elk, moose, or caribou can only bring their harvested animals back home if they have been butchered or prepared based upon strict criteria. The following items are allowed to be imported:
Meat that has bones removed.
Antlers, antlers attached to clean skull plate, or cleaned skulls (where no meat or tissues or attached to the skull).
Cleaned teeth (with all tissue removed).
Finished taxidermy and antler products.
Hides and tanned products.
In summary, meat which has bones removed along with cleaned antlers, cleaned skull plates, cleaned teeth, and finished taxidermy products are allowed.
CWD is a deadly and contagious neurological disorder that can impact populations of deer, elk, and other animals classified as members of the deer family known as cervids. CWD has never been transferred to humans and it has yet to be identified in Tennessee's deer population. While many say it will eventually find its way here, biologists want to slow or prevent its spread to Tennessee. It has been discovered in 25 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. Mississippi became the latest state to confirm CWD a few weeks ago. For more on CWD go to https://tnwf.org/keep-tennessee-cwd-free.
TWRA however, is formulating a plan on how to address CWD-infected deer when they do make their way to the state. Last month a Putnam County taxidermist was charged under the existing importation restriction . There have been a total of 32 deer that law enforcement officers confiscated in 2017 that had to be dealt with. The animals have to be held in frozen storage as evidence until the cases are heard in court.
Spring is almost here. The vernal equinox for the northern hemisphere occurs on Tuesday, March 20, 12:15 p.m. EDT to be exact (16:15 UTC). That is the moment when the Sun, moving south to north, crosses the celestial equator, which is the projection of Earth’s equator on the sky.
The four seasons are not determined by surface temperatures, but by the changing angle of sunlight. The Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees to its orbit around the Sun. In winter the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun and in summer it is tilted towards the Sun. Only at the equinoxes, vernal and autumnal, is the equator’s angle perpendicular to the Sun, giving us equal lengths of daylight and dark.
Gander Mountain stores are making a return phoenixlike from the ashes of bankruptcy. Camping World bought the Gander assets in May of 2017 and nearly all of the sporting goods stores closed. Now Mark Lemonis, owner of Camping World, is announcing that 69 stores will reopen by May of 2018 under the banner “Gander Outdoors”; and more stores will open in the future.
Tennessee has one store on the list, located in Jackson. Gander Outdoors stores will feature a blend of products from the former Gander Mountain, Camping World and Overton’s (water sports). Get more information at www.ganderoutdoors.com.
To many people our non-migrating Canada geese are far from cute, rather a terrible nuisance. We are talking about aggression toward pets and passers-by, and massive defecation on lawns, playgrounds, golf courses, boat docks, and picnic areas.
March is mating time, and April through May is the nesting time for Canada geese. After hatching, goslings cannot fly for about 70 days, so the young birds and their parents will graze near the hatching area for that time. Damage to landscaping can be significant, and large amounts of excrement can render areas unfit for human use.
Those with a Canada goose problem have a window of opportunity right now to control these nuisance birds. Perhaps you have tried –and failed – to keep them off your property with harassment techniques such as chemical repellents, mylar balloons, wire/string barriers, and noise makers.
Canadas are a protected species under state and federal law, but a permit is available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows the destruction of nests, as well as egg addling and egg oiling, which prevents hatching. Permits are available online at epermits.fws.gov/ercgr/gesi.aspx.
One proactive plan is to plant native wildflowers and prairie grasses around your body of water, but any nearby groomed lawn could still be targeted. More information on how to reduce Canada geese conflicts is at wildlife.IN.gov/2996.htm. And do not forget, Tennessee has a resident Canada goose hunting season in September.
Gun dealers in Tennessee, beware. If you go along with the recent emotional trend to “do something – anything – about gun violence”, you may be breaking the law. In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school massacre, a few national firearms retailers – Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field and Stream, Walmart, and others – have decided to stop selling long guns to those customers under age 21. The policy includes rifles, shotguns, modern sporting rifles, MSR magazines, and ammunition.
Tennessee is one of many states that have a law (Tenn. Code § 4-21-501) that includes a private right of action. This means that a business that refuses to sell a product to an adult customer who is otherwise legally permitted under current law to purchase that product, simply because of their age, may be sued by that adult customer for age discrimination. Awards include damages and attorney’s fees.
As one Tennessee gun dealer aptly stated in their recent advertisement, “We sell rifles and shotguns to any eligible, law-abiding adult age 18 and older. We are not Dick’s.”
Now is the time to plan that big cleanup project for your favorite shorelines of our area’s streams, rivers and lakes; and there is financial help available for those that plan ahead. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced the availability of grant dollars to assist conservation groups, community organizations, civic groups, cities, schools, clubs, etc. with stream cleanup projects and planting projects during the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Five grants of $1,000 each are available for each of TWRA’s four regional Aquatic Habitat Protection projects. The deadline for project proposals is June 30, 2018. The grant money can be used to buy supplies such as rakes, work gloves, and garbage bags; also, waste disposal fees, tire removal, and promotional items such as t-shirts and refreshments for volunteer support.
Because it is a grant the project leader must have a tax number; the project must be completed by June 30, 2019. Get more information in the news section of the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org; or telephone Della Sawyers at 615-781-6577 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ducks Unlimited is launching the fourth season of its acclaimed online film series, “DU Films,” in March. Watch a preview of this year’s six productions, as well as films from previous seasons, at www.ducks.org/dufilms.
DU Films brings viewers breathtaking waterfowl footage and intimate storytelling from hunters across the country who are passionate about their sport and passionate about giving back to the sport. DU will release one film per month, beginning in March. Because all the films are online, viewers can watch them anywhere, any time.
This year’s films include:
A visit to Ne Pee Nauk, the oldest continually active duck club in Wisconsin, founded in 1882.
DU biologists discuss the science behind DU’s mission while hunting the Mississippi Delta.
A prairie pothole adventure with the Hautman brothers, perennial winners of the federal duck stamp contest.
Multiple generations of a duck hunting family reunite at Lake Mattamuskeet, North Carolina.
Hunting ducks in Nebraska with true American heroes.
A once-in-a-lifetime waterfowling journey to Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Here is the latest from the ETSU Eagle Cams: An unprecedented three eggs are gracing the Johnson City eagles nest, sponsored by East Tennessee State University. Two eggs are the norm. See the live video streaming 24/7 at www.etsu.edu/cas/biology/eagle-cam/cameras.php. The first egg was laid Feb. 1 and incubation takes 35 - 38 days; so the hatchings are expected in the second week of March.
[News and editorial comment] Psychologists often use a five-step process to describe the cycle of responses to tragedy: Tragedy, introspection, action, divergence, and, finally, a return to the status quo. In the aftermath of the Parkland school massacre on Feb. 14, more than a dozen companies have taken some action, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field and Stream stores, and United and Delta airlines. Of course hundreds of other businesses are waiting for the status quo to return.
The actions taken are not directed at the failure of the local police and the FBI and the “gun free zone” myth to protect us. Instead the action is aimed at the National Rifle Association. NRA benefit programs and company endorsements are being withdrawn. Dick’s and its subsidiary Field and Stream have stopped selling “assault style rifles” (meaning modern sporting rifles) and high capacity magazines, and have restricted ALL firearms sales to ages 21 and older. But Dick’s is also pulling all NRA-branded merchandise.
It seems that these reactionary companies blame the NRA and do not want to do business with them – and their more than five million law-abiding members. So be it. Let them have their wish. Do not patronize them. After all, this is still a free country, thanks to the Bill of Rights, which includes the Second Amendment.