The public comment period for proposed changes in hunting regulations is twice as important this year as before. That’s because hunting and fishing regulations will now be changed every two years instead of annually, as per the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission a few months ago. The following proposals for hunting changes were delivered to the TFWC by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for 2018-19 and 2019-20. The deadline for public input on these and any other suggestions is May 14.
Deer Proposals: The TWRA recommends returning the definition of a male deer to be having antlers three inches or longer; antlerless deer would be antlers under three inches. In 2016 the TFWC had changed the regulation for antlered deer to be any protrusion above the hairline. [Note: Many hunters’ comments prompted this reversal].
Elk Proposals: Since a limited elk hunt was established in 2009, one of the permits issued had been given to a non-governmental organization to be auctioned to benefit the elk restoration program. This year, rather than the auction, a raffle will be conducted where individuals may purchase as many tickets as they wish for $10 each for the opportunity to participate in the hunt.
Elk Hunting Zone 1 would be the designated area for this license, and the elk permit holder would be allowed an additional seven hunting days in any open elk zone following the regular gun hunt. Another proposed change would require applicants to choose their elk hunting zone of choice when they apply for an elk quota hunt.
Black Bear Proposals: The state’s black bear harvest last year was 548, the fourth highest on record. Some proposed adjustments this year include moving a portion of the existing weekday opportunities to weekends, which the TWRA believes would allow more young sportsmen to participate.
The managers of various regional wildlife management areas have proposed some changes to their regulations. These and other hunting proposals can be found in the news section of www.tnwildlife.org. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. The TWFC will set the regulations for the next two years at its May 17-18 meeting in Nashville.
The Tennessee Junior Duck Stamp is a collectible state waterfowl stamp that is produced annually and sold for conservation education through the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Since 1999 a collectible stamp has been chosen from the annual Tennessee Junior Duck Stamp program contest’s Best of Show.
The program is an art contest managed by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service designed to teach students the importance of conserving wetlands habitat and waterfowl. It pairs science, the arts, and other core subjects to creatively teach greater awareness of our natural resources.
The 2018 Tennessee Junior Duck Stamp is a northern pintail drawn in colored pencil by 16-year-old Alana Clark from Chattanooga. The national contest winner’s artwork is used for the Federal Junior Duck Stamp each year.
The public is invited to purchase the collectible stamp for $11 each; they are not required for hunting. Each state stamp is numbered and printed in full color, measuring 1 3/8 by 2 inches. In addition all previous stamps are available. Funds from the sale of the stamp will be used for habitat improvement. Go to the Watchable Wildlife section of the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org, or contact the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge by telephone at 731-642-2091.
Here is good news for all lovers of the great outdoors. President Trump signed the bill “Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act” last week. It reauthorizes a volunteer program that provides essential support for keeping our national wildlife refuges open and accessible to the public, and ensuring they remain vital habitat for our country’s wildlife.
Mike Leahy, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager of public lands and sportsmen policy, commented, “Throughout the country, wildlife refuges provide a serene environment to hunt, fish and enjoy the great outdoors. By lending their support and expertise, these refuge volunteers are pitching in and helping keep these refuges maintained and operational. The National Wildlife Federation thanks Congress and President Trump for coming together and showing overwhelming bipartisan support for our National Wildlife Refuge System and helping ensure that refuges across the country remain havens for wildlife and all Americans.”
Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at www.NWF.org/News. The NWF this month named the Tennessee Wildlife Federation as its “National Wildlife Federation’s Affiliate of the Year”. Learn more at https://tnwf.org.
Deer hunters and conservationists nationwide, listen up: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently revising their standards for chronic wasting disease (CWD) management on deer farms, and they need to hear from deer hunters across the country. The agency is currently seeking comments from the public on this important program.
Contact the USDA by the April 30, 2018 deadline and let them know how you feel about CWD, and its impact on our precious wild deer resource. Read the USDA proclamation at http://chronic-wasting-disease.blogspot.com/2018/03/usda-aphis-notice-aphis-revises-chronic.html and comment at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0011
Deer hunting is the single most popular form of hunting in the United States, with 9.2 million Americans participating each year, contributing more than $20 billion in economic activity, state and local taxes, and wildlife restoration trust fund excise taxes.
Deer hunters play an essential role in the "user pays, public benefits" framework of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Reductions in deer hunting and the number of deer hunters have reverberating impacts that extend far beyond deer and deer hunting directly, including state fish and wildlife agency budgets and their broader fish and wildlife management work, and rural economic health.
The National Deer Alliance https://nationaldeeralliance.com/ has teamed up with some of its strongest partners, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Archery Trade Association, QDMA, National Wildlife Federation, and Wildlife Management Institute, to alert concerned citizens on this issue.
The big payoff from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Funds for 2018 is $1.1 billion, an increase of $320 million (41 percent) over 2017. Hunters and anglers contribute this money for wildlife through the 11 percent excise tax on sporting goods (Pittman-Robertson Act), plus approximately 10 percent on fishing and boating equipment (Dingell-Johnson Act). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annually distributes the revenues to all the states proportionally by their land mass and their license sales.
Tennessee’s share of the 2018 Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Funds will be $30,002,038. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is in charge of apportioning it. This year marks $20 billion total contributions to the Fund by hunters and anglers nationwide.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said, “American sportsmen and women are some of our best conservationists and they contribute billions of dollars toward wildlife conservation and sportsmen access every year through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts. For nearly eighty years, states have been able to fund important conservation initiatives thanks to the more than $20 billion that has been generated nationwide. Every time a firearm, fishing pole, hook, bullet, motor boat or boat fuel is sold, part of that cost goes to fund conservation. The best way to increase funding for conservation and sportsmen access is to increase the number of hunters and anglers in our woods and waters. The American conservation model has been replicated all over the world because it works."
How good are your trail camera photos? The Whitetails Unlimited 2018 Trail Camera Contest is a fun way to share them for notoriety and prizes. Contest rules will be published in the Summer issue of Whitetails Unlimited Magazine, which will be available on May 1. Images must be captured during the calendar year 2018, and can be submitted through December 31 via the WTU website. Moultrie cameras, the contest sponsor, will be awarded to the winners.
Whitetails Unlimited has more than 450 chapters, 107,000-plus members, chapter volunteers, and corporate sponsors. Their mission is to raise funds for educational programs, wildlife habitat acquisition and enhancement, and preservation of the shooting sports and hunting tradition for future generations. To date, WTU has expended more than $85.7 million on program services and activities since its formation in 1982. Connected to them at www.whitetailsunlimited.com and visit Moultrie at www.moultriefeeders.com.
The ninth annual Tennessee Outdoors Youth Summit (TOYS) is set for July 15-20 for students in high schools across Tennessee, conducted by the TWRA. Students will spend a week in hands-on classes that will teach outdoor skills and the importance of the natural resources and their management. Instructors will be wildlife and fisheries biologists, wildlife officers, college professors, professional shooting coaches, and other experts.
TOYS students will be introduced to many different outdoor activities including: Boating, hunting, trapping, archery, ATV safety, wilderness survival, photography, marksmanship, plant identification, forestry, camping, water quality, trap shooting, skeet shooting, wildlife identification, and several classes with wildlife and fishery biology as the topic.
Activities will take place at the Clyde York 4-H Center in Crossville and lodging will be in modern cabins onsite. The fee for the weeklong experience is $350, lodging, meals and beverages included.
TOYS enrollment deadline is May 25, but apply early; space is limited to 120 students and it fills up quickly. Scholarships are available based on financial need. Applications can be downloaded at www.twrf.net/toys/ or go to www.tnwildlife.org and select Upcoming Events. For more information contact Lacey Lane at telephone 615-831-9311 ext.114, or email LLane@twrf.net.
Taurus USA is moving to Georgia. For several decades the Brazilian firearms manufacturer has had its American headquarters in Miami, Florida. Later this year Taurus will break ground on a multi-million dollar expansion in Bainbridge, Georgia, about 50 miles north of Tallahassee, Fla.
Taurus USA also owns the gun companies Rossi and Heritage. It cited the reason for the move was a need for growth and expansion, and a desire to keep its operations in one location. For additional information, visit www.taurususa.com.
Dixie seems to have a strong attraction for gun companies. A couple of months ago Kimber announced an expansion to southern Alabama and Magpul (AR-15 accessories) moved to Texas (and Wyoming). In recent years the following firearms manufacturers have “gone South”: Remington and Sturm, Ruger expanded to North Carolina; Beretta USA moved to Tennessee; Winchester ammunition, Remington and Steyr firearms expanded to Alabama; SCCY moved to Maryville, Tenn.; and Remington opened a new ammunition plant in Arkansas. Also, Weatherby rifles has left anti-gun California for sportsmen-friendly Wyoming.
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.
Here is a special day for youngsters with special needs. TVA and the Cast for Kids Foundation are hosting a day of boating and fishing for children with disabilities on Saturday, April 21 at Fort Loudoun Lake. Participation is free and pre-registration is required. Participants must be ages 5-17 years old and accompanied by an adult.
The event will be at Safe Harbor Marina at Concord Park in Farragut from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Participants will receive a free rod and reel combo, tackle box, t-shirt, and commemorative plaque with photo. Free lunch and t-shirts are provided for families and volunteers too. The deadline to register (required) is April 18. To register as a participant, a volunteer or boat captain, register online at www.castforkids.org/event/ftloudoun or call Jeff Barnes at 256-310-4323.
The 2018-19 state waterfowl hunting regulations have been set by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. Seasons and bag limits for most migratory gamebirds will be similar to 2017-18 with a few slight changes. There will be an increase of the daily bag limit for pintails from one bird a day to two birds a day.
The age limits for the youth waterfowl hunts, which occur on consecutive Saturdays in February, have increased to one year older. The Commission approved the TWRA’s recommendation for youth from ages 6 to 16 to fall in line with other TWRA youth hunts such as deer and turkey. Federal regulations were also recently changed to include 16-year old hunters.
Next year’s waterfowl regulations will include an expansion for most goose seasons to include more days. The bag limit of white-fronted geese will increase from two birds a day to three a day. The statewide sandhill crane hunting season will remain the same with only a change in calendar dates.
The attack on the legitimate use of firearms continues. Previously it was retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field and Stream and Walmart that stopped selling rifles, shotguns and high-capacity magazines to eligible citizens under age 21; then certain state legislatures introduced bills to do the same thing. Now financial giant Bank of America is declaring it will stop lending to makers of modern sporting rifles (AR-15s).
“It’s our intention not to finance these military-style firearms for civilian use,” Anne Finucane, a vice chairman at Bank of America, said Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television interview. The firm has had “intense conversations over the last few months” with those kinds of gun manufacturers to tell them it won’t finance their operations in the future, she said.
Finucane said Bank of America also won’t underwrite securities issued by manufacturers of military-style guns used by civilians. Bank of America issues the Bass Pro Shops credit card and has helped finance Vista Outdoors (Savage Arms) and Remington. Being less than 24 hours, no official response has been heard from any firearms company, the National Shooting Sports Foundation or the NRA.
“Help Us Pick Up the Plastic for Earth Day.” With the approach of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, Tennessee Valley Authority reminds naturalists of the many shoreline cleanup projects scheduled for the state. See the list in detail in the April issue of TVA River Neighbors at
Here is a quick summary of dates and locations: April 14 at Douglas Lake; April 16-21 at Chatuge Reservoir; April 19 at Kentucky Lake; April 21 at Cherokee Lake; Lady’s Bluff Cleanup in Perry, Tenn.; Joe Wheeler State Park in Lauderdale County, Ala.; April 22 at Monte Sano State Park in Madison, Ala.; April 28 in Nottely Reservoir, Ga.; and Boone Lake.
For those wishing to hunt elk close to home, consider this: Tennessee has about 300-plus animals; but Kentucky has the largest elk herd in the eastern United States, estimated at 11,000 head. A chance in their hunt lottery costs only $10, same as ours. Why not increase your elk hunting odds by also applying for Kentucky’s elk hunt.
Tennessee had a mere six rifle and five archery elk licenses issued last year [The Tennessee elk drawing will occur in July; more on that later]. Kentucky will issue 700 to 900 elk licenses this year, and the hunter success rate is above 55 percent. The whole Kentucky process is done online at fw.ky.gov/Hunt/Pages/Elk-Info.aspx, or call the Kentucky Elk Information Center at 800-858-1549 for assistance. The deadline to apply is April 30.
Hunters may apply for all of the four permit types: Bull firearms, bull archery or crossbow, cow firearms, and cow archery or crossbow. If successful in the lottery a non-resident may buy a cow license for $400 or a bull for $550. The various archery seasons begin on Sept.15 and end on Dec. 31; the various rifle seasons begin on Sept. 29 and end on Dec. 15.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has many chapters in Tennessee. Their major fundraisers are the annual big game banquets, providing an evening of camaraderie, fun and good food. The gathering usually begins with a social hour or two including games, raffles, silent auction and the live auction display of a big variety of outdoors equipment, guns and art. The exciting live auctions take place after the dinner.
The RMEF website is www.rmef.org. Upcoming banquets for Tennessee include: May 5 for Johnson City; May 19 for LaFollette; June 2 for Knoxville and Chattanooga; July 21 for Shelbyville; and August 18 for Cookeville. Get contact information for all of these banquets at www.rmef.org/Events/StateChapterEvents.aspx.
Bad weather is notorious for squelching the opening weekend harvest for spring turkey. But, be it freezing temperatures, snow or heavy rain, there is something else that will drastically depress hunting: Easter Sunday. The harvest for this year’s opener was 2,500 fewer than 2017.
Opening day 2018 had gorgeous weather and Easter Sunday was nice but a little rainy statewide. The two-day statewide harvest was only 4,808, comprised of 4,773 males (including 445 juveniles) and 35 hens. Greene County was the top area in the state with 162 birds, followed by Maury with 142, Dickson with 126, Giles with 115, and Sumner with 107.
The spring turkey youth hunt held on the previous weekend was plagued with a cold, heavy rain on Saturday. The young sportsmen took 888 birds, comprised of 883 males (including 243 jakes) and five females. This compares to last year’s kill of 1,376 birds, a more normal harvest.
For the turkey hunter that is looking for an edge, check out the “Gobble Map” app from the National Wild Turkey Federation. It is available free for all smart phones. Hunters will find many features to improve their chances in the field, including reports of turkey activity in their area, public land maps, harvest reports, scoring details, and more.
Tens of thousands of hunters throughout the country already are contributing to the Gobble Map’s interactive heat map of activity, which can reveal local harvest trends in time to change your day’s luck. Find it at www.nwtf.org. It may be time to get some camouflage for your smart phone.
Kids and OHVs: When are they ready to ride? There are five different categories of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and each vehicle has a warning label that states requirements regarding the minimum age of the rider, according to the ATV Safety Institute. These safety labels clearly highlight the seriousness that everyone should employ when riding an ATV: “Operation of this ATV by children under the age of “X” increases the risk of severe injury or death. Adult supervision required for children under the age of 16.”
Exploring the countryside from an off-highway vehicle (OHV) provides a great way to view beautiful scenery and spend quality time with family and friends. While children may be eager to climb aboard – or parents ready to share their love of the hobby with kids – OHVs are not toys and there are many questions to answer before allowing youngsters to take the handlebars or steering wheel.
The ATV Safety Institute also provides a readiness checklist to help individuals determine if their child is ready to ride an ATV. The checklist covers information like physical development, visual perception/motor development, social/emotional development, and reasoning and decision-making ability. However, it also clarifies that “the decision is yours” and “there are no suggestions as to how many of the following abilities are necessary, nor the degree of ability that your child should have.” See the Readiness Checklist at https://atvsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ATV-Safety-Readiness.pdf .
When it comes to other types of OHVs, another organization wants it to be clear that ATVs and recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) are not one and the same even though they are used for similar types of recreation. According to the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, ROVs are “driven” — they have a steering wheel and foot pedals for acceleration and braking. By comparison, ATVs are “ridden,” have a handlebar for steering, a throttle controlled by a thumb lever, hand levers for brakes and a foot pedal for the rear brake.
Another major difference: ROVs are designed to be operated by individuals age 16 or older. The different size models of ATVs allow children as young as 6 to ride the vehicle, with adult supervision, of course. In addition to following the requirements set by manufacturers, education is the key to safely introducing people of any age to OHVs. Finally, do not forget the personal protective gear. For more information see https://atvsafety.org/.
A “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” (BOW) event is set for June 1-3 in Crossville at the Clyde M. York 4-H Center. These weekend workshops are an ideal way for women age 18 and older to learn or improve their outdoor recreation skills.
This year the following workshops will be offered: Firearms and firearms safety, basic fishing skills, advanced fishing techniques, all-terrain vehicle operation, basic archery, boating safety education, outdoor cooking, wild edible foray, beginning fly fishing, nature photography basics, basic canoeing, paddle boarding, basic shotgun, backyard habitat, map/compass, introduction to muzzleloading, introductions to turkey hunting, deer hunting, waterfowl hunting, reading the woods, discover scuba, and stream ecology.
The fee of $225 includes two nights lodging, meals, event t-shirt, and a 2018-19 Tennessee hunting and fishing license. Social gatherings are planned for Friday and Saturday evenings. BOW weekends are popular so apply early.
Applications may be obtained from the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org, or any TWRA regional office. For more information contact Donald Hosse, Wildlife Education Program Coordinator, at email@example.com or telephone 615-781-6541.