Congratulations are in order for the winner of the 2018 Cabela’s School of the Year: Bethel University in McKenzie, Tenn. Hundreds of colleges around the country were vying all year for this pinnacle of collegiate bass fishing. The Bethel bass angling team began the season determined to show up at the most tournaments, prepare to perform well, and strive to win each competition. They were often in the running but this year the team really pulled it off.
Bethel University is a small Christian (Presbyterian) college about 75 miles west of Nashville. The Association of Collegiate Anglers manages the multifaceted Cabela’s School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. The program has been built to reward and recognize teams that compete on the water in numerous national level trails for the full year.
As the summer camping season gets underway, here is an important warning: Do not travel with firewood! Forestry biologists are battling the spread of myriad tree diseases and infestations, but the fight is hopeless without the public’s help. No longer merely wind borne, these pests travel the highways at the speed limit. To help the most, burn local wood, either gathered there or purchased there. If you have moved firewood, burn it all up, especially the bark.
Tennessee has its share of infestations that can be spread by moving firewood, including the pine beetle, emerald ash borer (all ash trees), wooly adelgid (hemlocks), Asian longhorn beetle, and the Sirex woodwasp. Our black walnut trees are succumbing to the “thousand cankers disease” (called TCD). TCD is a fungus spread by the walnut twig beetle.
How far is too far to move firewood? What kinds are safe to move (None)? Get more information at www.dontmovefirewood.org; also, there is the USFS website at www.na.fs.fed.us. Be proactive. Inspect your own trees for diseases. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has a website and phone number to help you, www.protecttnforests.org and 800-628-2631.
Here is a book that every deer hunter will find invaluable: “Venison: The Slay-to-Gourmet, Field-to-Kitchen Cookbook.” Author Jon Wipfli opens “Venison” with notes on ethical hunting and the importance of locally-sourced foods (like game meat). The section on butchery begins with field dressing the practical and easy way, with loads of detailed color photographs. Meat processing continues with tips on converting the meat efficiently to kitchen-ready cuts, again well photographed.
“Venison” has more than 30 recipes for venison dishes, plus accoutrements and complementary side dishes, all with mouthwatering illustrations. The recipe descriptions speak for themselves: Venison burgers on English muffins with camembert (or brie) cheese, sweet potato fries and chimichurri; tomato and brown sugar braised shoulder with white cheddar and jalapeno grits; and Schnitzel with creamy kale and grilled lemons. The recipes easily adapt to other commercial meats.
Raised in Wisconsin and residing in Minnesota, Wipfli is an outdoorsman and chef, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute of New York. His book is 176 pages, sells for $25 and is available on Amazon or through Voyageur Press here.
Falconry is regulated nationally by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and locally by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The USFWS has increased the number of Tennessee permits for the taking of peregrine falcons to be used in falconry from one to five for 2018.
Another change this year is that permits will be allowed statewide. Previously peregrine falcons were only allowed to be taken from counties located in the TWRA’s Region I (West Tennessee). This marks the eighth consecutive year that a USFWS permit will be issued for Tennessee.
The population of peregrine falcons, through state and federal conservation efforts, has recovered enough since their near extinction in the early 20th century to allow for a limited take of these birds for their use in falconry.
The 2018 application period for the trapping of peregrine falcons begins in July and will ends on Aug. 15. The TWRA will conduct a drawing to be held on Aug. 29 for the five permits. For more information, contact the TWRA’s Walter Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 615-781-6647.
The American chestnut tree is making a comeback, and there is no better tree for deer, turkey and other wildlife than the chestnut. Blight-resistant chestnut trees are now available to the public for planting from a private breeder. The Dunstan Chestnut was developed over a 30-year period by Dr. Robert Dunstan. These trees bear large, sweet nuts in just two to four years.
Dunstan Chestnuts are extremely adaptable and will thrive anywhere in the eastern United States. Presently there are chestnuts trees available at select Walmarts statewide. See the List of stores. For more information go to www.chestnuthilloutdoors.com.
Believe it or not, there is a limited hunting season for crows; it is June 1 – Feb. 28, and only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is no daily bag limit. Crows are included in the Migratory Bird Treaty because some of them in our southwestern states cross our border with Mexico; therefore, crows must be managed with some kind of regulations.
Spring squirrel season closes on June 10. After that, squirrels will breed a second time and wean their broods before the regular season opens on the fourth Saturday of August, the 25th this year.
Remington Outdoor Company has emerged from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. “It is morning in Remington country,” said Anthony Acitelli, Chief Executive Officer of Remington. “We are excited about the future – producing quality products, serving our customers, and providing good jobs for our employees.” The Chapter 11 bankruptcy was originally filed in February of this year.
The technical details: After successfully implementing the recovery plan previously confirmed by Delaware bankruptcy court, Remington says the plan converts over $775 million of previous debt into equity, provides a new Asset Based Loan of $193 million, the proceeds of which will refinance its prior ABL in full, a new $55 million First-In, Last Out Term Loan and a new $100 million Term Loan. Additionally, an integral part of the plan, all “trade and business claims” are unimpaired and will be addressed in the company’s “normal course of business.”
Remington, headquartered in Madison, N.C., is one of the largest manufacturers in the world of firearms and ammunition. It is the patriarch of a large firearms family of famous brands: Bushmaster, DPMS/Panther Arms, Marlin, H&R, Dakota Arms, Parker, AAC, Barnes Bullets, Storm Lake, and Tapco. For more information go to www.remingtonoutdoorcompany.com.
Attention, primary and secondary school teachers (and students): Here is an excellent lesson plan on conservation and the environment for grades K-12. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is releasing the fourth edition of the Project WILD K-12 Curriculum and Activity Guide, an expanded and updated curriculum on environmental topics.
The guide contains six new activities with a focus on the ecology and conservation of bees, bats, reptiles, and monarch butterflies, as well as stewardship activities relating to changing plant and animal life cycle events, and the reduction of light pollution, and includes information on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The guide also includes a greater diversity of topics, species, field investigations, and educator resources. Every activity includes an outdoor component.
For more information about Project WILD curriculum resources or to learn about attending Project WILD professional development training, visit www.projectwild.org or www.fishwildlife.org.
There were lots of changes in hunting and trapping regulations declared by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its May meeting last week. This marks the first time that the regulations will be effective for two years rather than one year, namely 2018-19 and 2019-20. The TFWC serves as the governing body of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The commission’s actions, which include season dates, bag limits, and rules and regulations, will go into effect July 1. Here are the highlights:
There will be a new, three-day archery-only antlered deer hunt on Aug. 24-26 in 2018. This gives hunters the opportunity to harvest deer while they still have velvet covered antlers. Also, the definition of an antlered deer will return to the previous three-inch minimum antler (male or female).
The TFWC voted to eliminate the special private-lands-only raccoon/opossum hunting season in selected East Tennessee counties as requested by public input. The statewide season opens in mid-September. With concerns for a recent dip in the wild turkey harvest, the TFWC also voted to limit the fall turkey hunting seasons to bearded birds only, dropping the harvest of hens during the fall. The spring turkey season will remain the same as it has been in recent years, allowing a four bearded-bird bag limit.
While it will not become law until July 1, 2019, the TFWC, noting concerns over the potential of chronic wasting disease finding its way into Tennessee, voted to ban the use of cervid lures with urine. There is concern nationwide that the disease could be passed through tainted urine. Synthetic deer and elk lures, readily available on the market, would still be legal.
The TWFC voted to make the use of aerial drones illegal for the purpose of hunting and trapping. It also legalized the use of pneumatic devices (air guns and the new “Airbow”) for licensed disabled hunters during the state's archery-only seasons. The same devices will be legal for everyone during the modern gun hunt, but not during the state's muzzleloader season.
The Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide will be published in August as usual, in print and on the website www.tnwildlife.org. It will also list the various changes in regulations for certain wildlife management areas. Deer seasons were restructured on Cheatham WMA, and deer hunting opportunities were expanded on Wolf River WMA.
The mating season has ended for wild turkeys and hens are preparing their nests by mid-May. In most areas nests are located in a shallow dirt depression surrounded by moderately woody vegetation for concealment. Hens look for locations close to food and water and with ample cover to safely conceal themselves and their poults once hatched. Hens have to avoid many predators such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons, snakes, opossums, and skunks; but they must leave the nest unattended for brief periods to feed and drink.
Hens will lay a clutch of a dozen eggs or more during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day. She will incubate her eggs for up to 28 days, occasionally turning and rearranging them, until they are ready to hatch.
A newly-hatched youngster must be ready to leave the nest to feed within 12 to 24 hours. For the first two weeks the poults are unable to fly. They will eat insects, berries and seeds; the adults will eat the same plus acorns and small reptiles. Turkeys usually feed in early morning and in the afternoon. The mother turkey will roost on the ground with her brood until they can fly, and they flock together all year, even through the winter.
The 15-year run of spring turkey harvests of 30,000+ birds has ended. The 2018 final spring turkey harvest was dismal, thanks to the opening fortnight (14 days) of cool weather, not to mention the opening weekend was Easter and the closing weekend was Mother’s Day. The total (including the youth hunt) is 28,286, comprised of 28,050 males (3,027 were jakes) and 236 female.
As usual, Middle Tennessee was the most productive region for turkey (and deer for that matter). The county with the highest harvest this year was Maury (936), followed by Greene (814), Dickson (675), Montgomery (568), and Rutherford (562). For the full list of counties click here.
This year’s turkey kill was 6,252 fewer than 2017’s total of 34,538, which was the third highest on record for Tennessee. Superlative harvests rank thus: 37,110 in 2010; 35,885 in 2006; 34,538 in 2017; 34,027 in 2011; and 33,700 in 2012.
For the next few weeks there are special fishing events being held across the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is among several organizations planning special fishing events, primarily for youngsters. The TWRA annually stocks several thousand pounds of fish for various events. For a list of events, visit the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org and the For Anglers section, or clink on http://www.tn.gov/twra/article/kids-fishing-events. Anglers should check the events list often since special events are frequently added.
Tennessee’s Free Fishing Day is June 9, and Free Fishing Week is June 9-15, all sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. All residents and nonresidents of all ages can fish without a license that Saturday on any public waters; and youths through age 15 can fish for free the following week. There are many special events planned statewide for that Saturday, the following Saturday and on into the summer. A frequently updated list can be found at http://www.tn.gov/twra/article/kids-fishing-events. Check it for specific times, details and directions.
Memorial Day weekend is May 26-28. 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.
There is something new this year for the Tennessee elk hunt. Instead of an online eBay auction for one elk permit, an old-fashioned raffle will be held for that ticket. And you can buy as many chances as you want for $10 per. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF) is the non-governmental organization that will run the raffle, and all proceeds go to the Tennessee elk program.
As a bonus, the raffle winner will also get a new Tikka T3X Lite Stainless bolt-action rifle in 7mm Remington Mag, topped with an Oculus Pro Team HD 3x9x40 mm rifle scope, a $1,000 package value. This is a donation from Bass Pro Shops.
The raffle drawing will be held on Aug. 15 and the winner announced at the Aug. 24 meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission in Nashville. The raffle winner will join the computer drawing winners in the 2018 hunt in mid-October at one of the elk hunting zones on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.
Tennessee state law requires that applicants must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen eligible to legally own a firearm according to federal law. The winner is responsible for all taxes and fees associated with the prize, and will need to purchase the required elk license. To purchase tickets for the raffle, visit the TWRF website at http://www.twrf.net/store/2018-elk-tag-raffle.
TWRF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting habitat conservation, responsible land stewardship, and Tennessee's hunting and fishing heritage for the benefit of TWRA and Tennessee's outdoor enthusiasts. Check them out at www.twrf.net.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet May 17-18 in Nashville to finalize recommendations made to it by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for the 2018-20 hunting seasons. Among the many recommendations the 13-member commission will consider, is whether to legalize Airbows for hunting big game during designated seasons. A pneumatic hunting device, the Airbow functions much like a crossbow, but is powered by compressed air.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has proposed making Airbows legal during for the archery-only big game seasons for hunters that possess disability licenses issued by TWRA. Qualified hunters could use it in pursuit of deer, bear, and elk. The agency is also proposing that the Airbow be legalized for anyone participating in modern gun season hunts for deer, elk, bear, and turkey. The agency’s proposal does not include the muzzleloader season.
The commission did express concern at its last meeting that the Airbow is not among equipment manufactured by the hunting industry that pays federal taxes shared among U.S. states to help manage wildlife through the Pittman-Robertson Act. The Pittman-Robertson Act has distributed many millions of dollars to Tennessee since its creation in 1937.
The commission will meet beginning at 1 p.m. May 17 in the agency’s Region II building. The meeting will be available for viewing both days shortly after the conclusion of each day’s discussions on the agency’s website www.tn.gov/twra/tennessee-fish-wildlife-commission.html. The agency’s discussion about the Airbow during the commission’s April meeting can be watched here: www.tn.gov/twra/tennessee-fish-wildlife-commission/pneumatic-hunting-device.html.
Now hear this: Those “Jumping” Asian carp are a menace to our water sports, anglers and boaters. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will hold a public meeting on Thursday, May 24 in Paris, Tenn. to discuss concerns about Asian carp that have become unwelcome inhabitants in the Tennessee River and Cumberland River systems.
“We will present an update on Asian carp and the agency’s involvement in control strategies, but we will also be talking about local sport fisheries in general,” said Frank Fiss, the Chief of TWRA’s Fisheries Division. “There are four species of non-native Asian carp that have populated Tennessee’s waterways. We will present updates of our current research efforts and control measures.”
Also speaking will be Tim Broadbent, a long-time TWRA biologist and manager who has spent much of his career surveying fish populations in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The meeting is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Enoch Building located within the Henry County Fairgrounds at 517 Royal Oaks Drive in Paris.
Reminder: The 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 all kinds of outdoor skills and the importance of the natural resources and their management.
The deadline to apply is May 25. 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. 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.
If there is such a thing as the “Gun Lobby”, it is the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries. On May 4 the NSSF Board of Governors unanimously voted to expel Dick’s Sporting Goods from membership for conduct detrimental to the best interests of the Foundation.
Dick’s Sporting Goods recently hired a Washington D.C.-based government affairs firm, for “lobbying related to gun control.” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward W. Stack announced earlier this year the retail chain would end sales of modern sporting rifles, voluntarily raising the age to 21 to purchase firearms in their stores and called for more restrictive legislation. Dick’s later announced they would destroy the remaining modern sporting rifle inventory.
This is the second time in five years that Dick’s has histrionically announced its curtailment of AR-15 rifle sales. NSSF responded that business decisions should be individually made, but was nonetheless disappointed and Dick’s decision does not reflect the reality of the vast majority of law-abiding gun owners.
The mission of the National Shooting Sports Foundation is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.
Spring squirrel season is almost here. But take care! It happens again this year: Turkey hunters and squirrel hunters will be in the woods at the same time. Spring turkey season goes through Sunday, May 13 and spring squirrel begins Saturday, May 12; squirrel continues through June 10. Neither discipline requires blaze orange so all those active in the woods for those two days need to be careful (An orange hat or vest for squirrel hunters would be wise).
Squirrels are plentiful again this year. These three species are legal: Gray, red and fox squirrel. The daily bag limit is 10 combined. Squirrels breed early in the spring and their first brood is now weaned and on their own; their second brood will be weaned before the regular squirrel season begins on the fourth Saturday of August, the 25th this year.
Actually there are five species of tree squirrels found in Tennessee. Two species, the southern flying squirrel and the northern flying squirrel, are not hunted. They are small, nocturnal and rarely seen.
Dedicated bird watchers worldwide have May 5 circled on their calendars, ready to do their part for Global Big Day in parks, forests, backyards, desert scrub, and every habitat imaginable. On that day, participants report their observations to the eBird website https://ebird.org, which is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A "Big Day" is an attempt to see or hear as many bird species as possible in 24 hours.
"You don't need to do a full day of birding – 10 minutes, an hour, whatever time you can devote to bird watching on May 5 is great," says Chris Wood at the Cornell Lab. "Every bird counts!"
Last year, participants from more than 100 countries tallied 6,613 of the world's approximately 10,000 known bird species from midnight to midnight. That's roughly two-thirds of all species, seen in a single day. All observations go into eBird--a massive database used by scientists, educators, and conservationists to advance bird conservation.
People already using the eBird online checklist program are ready to go. Anyone participating for the first time can set up a free account at https://eBird.org. Here are some other ways to use eBird to get the most out of Global Big Day as well as everyday bird watching:
Find birding "hotspots" in a specific area
Use the free eBird Mobile app to record sightings in the field
Upload and share bird photos and sound recordings in eBird checklists
Get the free Merlin Bird ID app to help identify birds seen
The winning entries for the 2018-19 Tennessee Wildlife magazine photo contest have been selected by staff members of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The selections will appear in the annual calendar issue of the magazine, which will be available in early July.
Hundreds of submissions had to be narrowed to 13 photos that will appear in the calendar issue. The 2018-19 calendar will begin with the month of August and continues through the following July. Other entries will be kept on file and could have the opportunity to appear in future agency publications and on the agency’s website, www.tnwildlife.org.
The photographers with the selected entries are Danielle Knowles (Smithville), John Bell (Martin), Brian Shults (Greenback), Galya Loewen (Nashville), Becky McRae (Bartlett), Christopher Nelson (Cookeville), Holly Nelson (Rockwood), Samuel Hobbs (Goodspring), Cecil “Cal” Calloway (Murfreesboro), Mary Glynn Williamson (Nashville), and Ronnie George (Spring Hill).
Rules and deadlines for the 2019-20 Tennessee Wildlife photo contest will appear in future issues of the magazine and also in the fall on the TWRA website. Photographers are invited to submit their best photos on fishing and wildlife species native to the Volunteer State, and fishing and hunting scenes in Tennessee.