July and August are important months for wild turkey brood sightings. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency count hens with their poults for a good indication of how many young ones survived their treacherous first month; also this is an early indication of the population size for next year’s spring hunt.
Wild turkey hens begin to build ground nests in May, laying one egg per day for a clutch of 12 eggs usually. Incubation takes 28 days. If the eggs are lost to predators or the nest disturbed, the hen often will re-nest once or twice if necessary.
The young leave the nest shortly after hatching and follow the mother. They begin learning to fly at six to 10 days old. Male young remain with the mother until the fall; female young remain with the mother until the spring.
By August several hens may join their broods together and it is not uncommon to see poults ranging from quail-size to half-grown in one brood. Hens that have lost their young will join a brood flock and act as a foster mother. Solitary hens without young are also included in the brood count. An average of seven or eight poults per hen is considered favorable.
The times they are a’changing. In the retail sales world, brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to thrive or survive against Internet sales in the form of Amazon, eBay and myriad specialty sites. Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (South Dakota vs Wayfair) that large online retailers will have to collect state sales from all of their customers – a competitive boon for traditional stores. But the writing is on the wall.
Firearm sales seemed to be an exception to the online markets, with the government requirements for in-person delivery and background checks. Now that is changing, too. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are now selling guns on their websites, including free delivery to the nearest store where the customer can complete the background check. Plus, giant online firearm suppliers Brownells and MidwayUSA have begun selling guns online and shipping them to a large network of local dealers. Now customers can balance the convenience of the Internet with the personal service and expertise of local stores.
A crappie breaking the state record is news. But setting a new world record – that’s something else. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has verified through genetic testing that the crappie caught from a Loudon County pond last month is indeed a black crappie and the new state record.
Lionel “Jam” Ferguson from the East Tennessee community of Philadelphia landed the 5 pounds, 7.68 ounces trophy fish on May 15. After a fisheries biologist visually identified the species and weight was verified with certified scales, a small fin clip was sent for genetic testing to confirm that the fish was not a hybrid. The previous state record for a black crappie was 4 pounds, 4 ounces caught in Brown’s Creek Lake by Clyde Freeman 33 years ago.
Ferguson’s catch also would qualify as the new International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record for black crappie, besting the current record by 7.68 ounces. The current record was caught from a private lake in Missouri by John Horstman in 2006. Ferguson has indicated that he plans to apply with the IGFA for the new world record.
Two new laws concerning recreational boating will become effective on Sunday, July 1. The first one is similar to the “Move Over” law on our highways. As written, the new law will require boaters to slow to no wake speed within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel that is displaying flashing blue lights.
Second, there will no longer be an exemption from boater education for renters of watercraft. Persons who have already made reservations or entered into contracts with marinas are encouraged to continue with their plans, but are asked to complete an approved boater education course before renting again.
Tennessee residents born after Jan. 1, 1989 are required to pass a boater education exam supervised by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in order to operate any motorized vessel over 8.5 horsepower. Nonresidents born after Jan. 1, 1989 must show proof of successful completion of a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating safety course. Nonresident certification may be from their home state or any state issued course.
Tennessee residents born after Jan.1, 1989 can purchase a Type 600 Exam Permit online or from any hunting and fishing license agency for $10 and go to a testing location to take the exam or take a class. 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. For study materials telephone 615-781-6682.
Going armed in the great outdoors. Why? According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, violent crime across the nation is down 40 percent since 1994 [By the way, that corresponds directly with the dramatic increase in concealed carry laws nationwide]. But those statistics are an overview of populated areas; the wild lands of our country run counter to that trend.
Many types of crime in the wilds have increased, including robbery and lethal violence. At the same time federal funding for law enforcement on federal lands has decreased and that has made the problem worse. According to PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) there were 34 incidents involving attacks on U.S. park rangers in 1995, but by 2005 there were 477 – a 13-fold increase. This is partially due to the number of forest service law enforcement officers decreasing by one-third since 1993 as a result of a steady decline in funding.
National forests and public lands rely heavily on local police departments for law enforcement. For the entire U.S. there are only 660 Forest Service law enforcement officers to police the USDA Forest Service's 193 million acres – one officer for every 291,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land, and one for every 733,000 visitors each year. Other federal agencies have similar problems. According to PEER, in 2012 reported incidents rose more than 40 percent in wildlife refuges and in areas patrolled by the U.S. Park Police, and by more than 12 percent in national parks.
State wildlife officers double as excellent crime fighters but they could use some help. Presently there are fewer than 8,000 state wildlife officers for the entire country; for perspective that number is one-quarter of the New York City police force.
Why does the great outdoors have such a monumental crime wave? One reason is the giant marijuana farms placed there by the drug cartels. More than 20 states and 67 national forests have reported them so far. Another reason: Meth production often moves to the woods for seclusion. And Tennessee has the third highest number of meth lab busts in the nation. These drug gangsters are known to be extremely violent when disturbed by anyone.
Visit the U.S. Forest Service website, http://fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go/crime-prevention, before you go into the backcountry. The USFS also has a downloadable publication, "Preventing Crime in Our National Forests and Grasslands" that is useful. Note: It does not say this in the Forest Service pamphlet, but you could also carry a firearm.
It has always been legal to carry firearms in national forests. In national parks, as of Feb. 22, 2010, federal law also allows people who can legally possess firearms in their home state to possess firearms. To quote the directive: "Persons may lawfully carry any firearm openly that they are otherwise lawfully entitled to possess, and may also carry a concealed handgun if they possess a current and valid concealed handgun permit issued to them."
Of course discharging firearms in the national parks is not permitted, but self-defense seems to be a logical exception (defense). Interestingly, in the first five years since the law has been in place, crime has declined in national parks by about 12 percent. The bottom line: Be prepared, be vigilant.
For the fourth consecutive year the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reports that there were no boating-related fatalities over the 2018 Memorial Day holiday weekend. However, there have been five boating-related fatalities so far in 2018, three of which have involved paddlecrafts.
Forewarned is forearmed. Be advised that on the weekend of June 29 – July 1 the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be participating in Operation Dry Water. Nationally, the weekend before the Fourth of July is used by law enforcement agencies to focus boaters’ attention on Boating Under the Influence (BUI) education and enforcement. The intention is to reduce alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities on the water.
TWRA boating officers will saturate high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state. Along with promoting life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the enhanced effects of alcohol use on the water. Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.
Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 15 percent of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Keep your pilot dry. For more information, visit www.operationdrywater.org.
Tennessee’s boaters appear to be getting the message. During this past Memorial Day weekend, May 25-28, TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement officers made 10 BUI arrests. This was a decrease from 17 arrests made in 2017, and 21 arrests made in 2016.
It is time to file for your quota hunts. There are no longer non-quota antlerless deer hunts by county; but there are still big game quota hunts. The non-quota antlerless deer hunts arranged by counties were eliminated by the reorganization and addition of two new big game units. See the layout of units L, A, B, C, and D in the Hunting section at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website, www.tnwildlife.org.
The big game quota hunts on the wildlife management areas for deer – antlered and antlerless – and elk are still offered. Applications for the 2018 season are available beginning June 20 at license agencies and online. The filing period runs through July 25. The quota deer hunts and the 15 elk hunts for firearms, archery and one youth are all chosen in this computer drawing.
There are two ways to file your quota application. Fill out the form but do not mail it in. Take it to a license agency and they will collect the $12 permit fee for each application, plus a $1 agent’s fee; or, file online and pay a $12 permit fee plus a $2 Internet agent’s fee. Go to www.gooutdoorstennessee.com for online applications.
There are no permit fees charged – by either online or agent – to Sportsman or Lifetime licenses, or seniors with license Type 167. The TWRA does not get the agents’ fees, just the permit fees.
The priority system is in effect for previously unsuccessful applicants for deer and elk. Make sure that all instructions are followed carefully. The earlier you file, the more likely a filing mistake can be detected and corrected; so, don’t put it off.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is declaring war on those jumping silver carp. In an effort to combat this invasive Asian carp species, a commercial harvest incentive program will be developed in the fall of 2018. The TWRA’s request of a $500,000 budget expansion from the Marine Fuel Tax Fund was approved at the May meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. This will provide two years of funding for the program.
The TWRA, and other state and federal fish and wildlife organizations, have deemed the species as a threat to waterways. In high abundance, these fish can out-compete native fish for essential resources. Asian carp were brought to the United States for use in the aquaculture industry, and these fish then escaped into the Mississippi River. Using navigation locks to traverse dams, the fish are steadily moving about the Mississippi Basin, including the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers in Tennessee.
Along with competing with other fish species for food, it has been well-documented that Asian carp can be a safety threat to humans. They jump out of the water and have struck boaters or those on other recreational crafts or skiers.
Harvest of carp by commercial fishing is the most practical means to reduce carp abundance, and to control their movement upstream as a population, according to officials. TWRA is hoping this new commercial harvest incentive program will encourage more carp to be harvested for a variety of expanding markets.
Great Idea! What more fitting location is there to welcome new citizens to the United States than one of our national parks? U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently presented 75 citizenship candidates to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee during a special naturalization ceremony at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.
USCIS held the ceremony at BSFNRRA as part of an ongoing partnership with the National Park Service to showcase the nation’s prominent landmarks, parks and historic sites. The 75 citizenship candidates originated from the following 33 countries: Brazil, Burundi, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Sudan, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Venezuela.
During fiscal year 2017, just over 715,000 people were naturalized at ceremonies nationwide. For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit https://uscis.gov; or phone Sharon Scheidhauer, USCIS Public Affairs Officer, at 202-215-1227.
All over the northern hemisphere, summer begins on June 21 at precisely 10:07 UTC (Universal Time Coordinated), which is 6:07 a.m. EDT. Called the summer solstice, it is more appropriately called the June solstice since the southern hemisphere experiences its winter solstice at this time. It is the longest and shortest periods of daylight of the year, depending on your hemisphere. So why is that and why are there seasons?
A brief explanation. The Earth spins on its axis at a slight angle to its orbital path around the Sun, 23.4 degrees tilted from perpendicular, and that tilt never changes all year. In June the northern hemisphere faces the Sun more directly and six months later it is tilted away from the Sun’s rays, thus receiving much less energy. The southern hemisphere is opposite to this.
The Earth’s orbit of the Sun is elliptical and off-center, putting it significantly closer to the Sun at one point in the orbit and farther away six months later; but, this has almost no effect on the seasons on Earth. In fact the Earth is farthest from the Sun in early July and closest in early January.
The North Pole and the Arctic Circle receive 24-hour-a-day sunlight at this time of year. The June solstice is the only day of the year when all locations inside the Arctic Circle experience a continuous period of daylight for 24 hours.
The Brownells YouTube Channel is back on the air. At 2:00 a.m. on Saturday the Brownells Channel was suddenly shut down and this official statement appeared: “This site has been terminated for violating community guidelines.” On the following Monday Brownells was able to convince YouTube officials to reinstate its programming – with no apology and no explanation forthcoming.
Brownells is not the only firearms-related website to be attacked recently on YouTube (and Facebook), but it is the biggest company to date. Apparently there are design flaws in YouTube’s algorithm (and Facebook’s) that can be fooled by “micro advocates”- people who have recognized a weakness (the “strike” system) and are able to “game the algorithm” to unjustly build “strikes” against anything they oppose. Create enough strikes - legitimate or not- and the binary system arbitrarily shuts down the “offender”. So far YouTube denies any design flaws or management bias to gun companies. The beat goes on.
For now www.youtube.com/user/brownellsinc is operating and showing its nearly 1,800 videos on products and procedures of interest to shooters.
YouTube has jerked yet another firearms company from its pansy garden. Over the weekend Brownells, one of the finest firearms merchandise companies in the country, discovered that YouTube had terminated the Brownells Channel, with no comment to viewers – or Brownells officials, who were as shocked as the channels 67,000-plus followers.
Since getting involved in video, Brownells has invested significant money to become a go-to resource for many gun owners in search of everything from the latest new products to the most specialized parts and tools for almost any gun project. With this single action, YouTube has essentially served notice on every other gun-related group using their service. The gun industry – in all its forms – is no longer welcome.
To comment on these continued attacks on our First and Second Amendment rights, contact GOOGLE at www.google.com or phone 650-253-0000, option 5 for YouTube.
Drones are the latest rage in recreation, but for non-participants drones can be dangerous, an irritation or a threat. Therefore, unmanned aircraft are being regulated. The Federal Aviation Administration requires the registration of all but the smallest drones. Tennessee and several other states have laws specifically banning the use of drones to harass hunters. In many city and state parks flying drones are forbidden; the same goes for the entire National Park Service.
How big is this problem? In the first 30 days of online registration in 2015, the FAA registered nearly 300,000 unmanned aircraft. A summary of FAA rules for small unmanned aircraft less than 55 pounds can be seen here.
What about wildlife? Are animals bothered by drones flying nearby? Studies show that they are, and in some cases extremely agitated. Birds will quickly leave their resting and feeding areas and will stop mating rituals when so threatened. Startled nesting birds are likely to break their eggs. Wading birds large and small will scatter. In Minnesota a recent study of black bears showed that unmanned aircraft caused the bears’ heart rates to increase by 400 percent; and one bear was roused from hibernation prematurely by a drone.
For those who love nature, here is a way to become a citizen scientist. Download the app iNaturalist onto your smart phone and join TVA in its mission of stewardship, connecting with nature, and helping to catalog the Tennessee Valley’s amazing biodiversity. From wildflowers and trees to birds and bees and everything in between, there is much flora and fauna to observe in Tennessee, and TVA public lands are great places to go and do it.
TVA hosts “BioBlitz” events in which the public is invited to participate along with scientists and specialists in daylong biological inventories at locations along its water resources. The next one will be on July 14 near Melton Hill Lake.
During the BioBlitzes, participants collect and document as many different plant and animal species as possible using rudimentary collection equipment (such as simple nets) and one high-tech device: a smart phone equipped with the iNaturalist app, which allows you to snap a picture of any organism and upload it for identification.
What’s more, the iNaturalist app can be used at any time you are in nature. Take a picture of whatever you want and upload it, and in a short time someone in the very active iNaturalist community will review your picture and identify it.
Register for the BioBlitz events at https://dlia.org/events/. The Melton Hill Lake event will be from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on July 14 at the Worthington Cemetery Ecological Study Area. For more on the iNaturalist app go to www.inaturalist.org.
Here is a brief timeline for the whitetail fawn. Tennessee’s deer are usually born in April and, within a few hours the youngsters will stand and try walking. Within ten hours the mother will lead her fawns – often two – to a good hiding place and leave them alone for their protection, returning often to nurse them about six times a day.
After a few days the fawns will begin to follow the mother around a little and will choose their own beds. For the next seven days they will stay bedded for practically every minute. Predators like coyotes are their biggest threat, but they are born odorless and their light brown hair is camouflaged with more than 300 white spots.
At this age fawns are likely to be seen by humans. Of course, do not bother them; they have enough stress in their lives. But if they are in danger from farm machinery or human activity, go ahead and move them to safety; the mother will not reject them because of human scent.
When they are a few weeks old fawns will begin to eat vegetation, and will continue to nurse. As they grow stronger the youngsters will learn to socialize with the herd, frequently romping and playing with their mother and other fawns. But the young whitetails have to grow up quickly; at six months old they have to be strong enough to survive the winter.
What’s happening in nature in June: Chipmunks and raccoons are being born; young opossums are leaving their mothers’ pouches and are clinging to their backs; largemouth bass are ending their eight weeks of spawning; catfish will begin to spawn as water temperatures reach 75 degrees; shad minnows are beginning to school, which causes those roiling fish jumps of summer.
Deer have finished fawning; wild turkey hens are teaching their poults to fly; wood ducks are hatching; box turtle eggs are hatching; bullfrog breeding peaks; Canada geese will soon begin to molt; willow flies begin their respective hatches. As the onslaught of ticks diminishes somewhat, chiggers are out in force.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reporting that there were no boating-related fatalities over the 2018 Memorial Day holiday weekend. It marks the fourth consecutive year without a boating fatality over the holiday weekend. There have been six boating-related fatalities so far in 2018, three of which have involved paddlecrafts.
During the period from May 25-28, there were three injury incidents and a pair of property damage incidents. TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement officers made 10 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests. The number of BUI arrests was a decrease from 17 arrests made in 2017 and 21 arrests made in 2016. Several areas of the state reported rain which slowed activity on the water for much of the weekend.