Wildlife watching. July and August are the months for wild turkey brood sightings. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency uses this count of hens with their poults as 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 April and 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 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 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp for the 2019-2020 hunting seasons will go on sale June 28. More than a million waterfowlers and conservationists traditionally purchase one or more of the colorful stamps for $25 to invest in waterfowl conservation and wetlands that support many other species of wildlife. One third of America’s threatened species make their homes in wetlands. Every year the program raises more than $25 million used to purchase wetlands in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Since its inception in 1934, the Duck Stamp, officially the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, has raised more than one billion dollars to help acquire and protect more than six million acres of habitat in the NWR. The artwork for the stamp is chosen by annual competition. This year’s stamp, a swimming wood duck and wood duck decoy, was painted by Minnesotan Scot Storm, his second honor.
More than 3,000 junior duck stamps are sold annually for five dollars each to help promote conservation education through art. The 2019-20 Junior Stamp features a harlequin duck painted by Niocole Jeon, a 16-year-old from New York.
Hunters age 16 and older of ducks, geese and cranes are required to purchase the federal stamp in addition to their hunting licenses. Still, 10 percent of stamp sales come from stamp collectors and non-hunting conservationists. It can be purchased at many license agencies, most U.S. Post Offices, by phone at 800-STAMP-24, and online. Find many buying options and more information here.
Falconry is regulated nationally by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and locally by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. For the second consecutive year the USFWS has granted Tennessee five permits for the taking of peregrine falcons to be used in falconry.
Again this year Tennessee’s permits will be allowed statewide. Previously one peregrine falcon was allowed to be taken from counties located in the TWRA’s Region I (West Tennessee). This marks the ninth consecutive year that a USFWS permit has been 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 2019 application period for the trapping of peregrine falcons is July 1 – Aug. 15. Resident and non-resident master and general falconers are eligible to apply. Find the application and instructions in the Law Enforcement section at www.tnwildlife.org. The TWRA will conduct a drawing on Aug. 28 for the five permits. For more information, contact the TWRA’s Walter Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 615-781-6647.
At the June 20-21 meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, the TWRA presented changes to the August handheld duck blind drawings. The TFWC wanted to make the drawings more consistent and wanted to reduce the likelihood of buying/selling of blind sites. So, at the Aug. 3 blind drawings, a two-stage process will be used. Parties will be formed after the first drawing. The second drawing will be for blind locations for those selected in the first drawing.
The TWRA’s recent and ongoing research projects include monitoring the movement and abundance of Asian carp, an evaluation of Florida largemouth bass in Chickamauga Lake, and assessing the contribution of stocked rainbow trout fingerlings in the Clinch River. Dr. Mark Rogers, leader of the Tennessee Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit, provided an overview of the cooperative agreement between the TWRA, U.S. Geological Service (USGS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and Tennessee Tech. The cooperative leverages USGS and TTU resources to address TWRA’s research needs.
An overview of the TWRA quota hunts program was given. TWRA currently holds nine drawings a year. The TWRA Licensing Division and Brandt, the agency’s license vendor, have worked to provide customers and agency personnel with a more user friendly application process for quota hunts.
The commission approved a rule amendment in regard to the governing of shooting-operations of private wildlife preserves. This amendment allows big game wildlife preserves to acquire in-state CWD susceptible species once the animals are enrolled in a CWD monitoring program with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA). This removes the current mandatory enrollment, minimum of five years, and prior to a preserve taking possession of the animals. Also, the amendment requires the TDA to be responsible for all mandatory CWD testing on preserves and any escapes of non-indigenous mammals.
Forewarned is forearmed. Be advised that on the weekend of June 28-30 the TWRA 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.
Remember these two new laws concerning recreational boating that took effect last year.
The first one is similar to the “Move Over” law on our highways. As written, the law requires boaters to slow to no wake speed within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel that is displaying flashing blue lights. Second, there is no longer an exemption from boater education for renters of watercraft.
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. Out of state residents 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. Non-resident certification may be from their home state or any state-issued course.
Tennessee residents 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. For study materials, telephone (615) 781-6682. The statewide list of scheduled classes can be found here, or by calling 800-837-6012. Registration is usually required.
Warning to boaters: E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuel has been approved for sale nationwide this summer. This fuel is big trouble for marine engines, older automobiles and many other small engines. What’s more, the E15 warning label is easy to overlook at the gas pumps.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently waived Clean Air Act provisions and eliminated the summer blackout period on the sale of E15 fuel, permitting the fuel to be sold year round. Objections to the move came from a wide coalition of American citizens and environmental, conservation, food producer, fuel retailer, taxpayer advocate, and outdoor recreation industry groups.
The fuel had been banned at the pumps from June 1 to September 15 over concerns that it contributed to smog on hot days. As a result of EPA’s action, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising boaters that they will need to be very cautious at the gas station to ensure they are not filling their boats with fuel that’s bad – and illegal – for boat engines. Go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/rfs.asp for more information.
Can today's boaters learn anything from the RMS Titanic tragedy? On April 15, 1912, less than one year after commissioning, the “unsinkable” ocean liner hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank. Let’s look at several timeless lessons for anyone that takes to the water.
Speed: Excessive speed at night in dangerous, iceberg infested waters was a major factor in the Titanic’s demise. You should proceed cautiously when boating in the fog, at night or in unfamiliar waters. You need time to react to surprises.
Communication: The radio on the Titanic had a limited range of only 200 miles, not acceptable for an oceangoing vessel. Today cell phones are commonplace, but many remote areas do not have cellular service. Take along a marine radio just in case and get the phone numbers of some nearby marinas.
Safety: The Titanic did not have enough life jackets or lifeboats for its passengers, and the ship’s crew was not trained in emergency procedures. You should have suitable life vests for all on board and several people should know the location and proper use of your boat’s safety equipment, such as fire extinguisher, distress flares, radio, and inflatable life jackets.
The summer or June solstice, the first day of summer, will arrive on June 21 at 11:54 a.m. EDT (15:54 GMT or UTC). The sun will “stand still” (solstice) in its apparent progress north in the sky and then begin moving southward.
This day has the longest period of daylight of the year in the northern hemisphere and the shortest period of daylight in the southern hemisphere. For this latitude and longitude (Maryville, Tenn.) the sun will rise at 6:19 a.m. and it will be on the northeastern horizon; it will set at 8:56 p.m. on the northwestern horizon.
Even though the solstice is the longest period of daylight of the year, it is not the latest sunset, nor is it the earliest sunrise. Those exact dates vary with latitude, but the sequence is always the same: Earliest sunrise before the summer solstice; longest day on the summer solstice; latest sunset after the summer solstice.
It is time to file for your quota hunts. With the reorganization of the big game units, there are no longer non-quota antlerless deer hunts by county; but there are still big game quota hunts. See the layout of the new units L, A, B, C, and D (and Unit CWD) in the Hunting section at the TWRA 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 2019 season are available beginning June 19 at license agencies and online. The filing period runs through July 24. 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.
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.
Tennessee boaters have until July 1 to renew their boat registration before the first fee increase in 12 years goes into effect, pending approval by the Government Operations Committee of the Tennessee General Assembly. Any boating vessel operated by a gas engine, electric motor or sail is required to be registered. The increase is in line with the rise of the consumer price index since the last fee increase was made.
The current fee for a boat up to 16 feet is $13 for one year, $24 for two and $35 for three; the new fees will be $15, $28 and $41 respectively. Vessels up to 26 feet will increase from $25 to $29 for a year. Those up to 40 feet increase from $38 to $44 and vessels more than 40 feet move from $51 to $59 for a year.
Boat owners have the option to have their vessels registered for one, two, or three years. The registration term may not exceed three years and 30 days. Boat owners will not see the increase until their current registration expires. Vessels that are powered only by paddle such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and rafts are not required to be registered. Tennessee has about 264,000 vessels registered.
Boat registration can be done online at any time at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com, by mail or at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regional offices in Jackson, Nashville, Crossville, and Morristown.
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.
A sport hunting crises is unfolding. Hundreds of thousands of North American waterfowl hunters have disappeared since 1970. This poses a threat for the future of hunting and conservation. We need more waterfowlers, and so do the ducks. Duck hunters buy federal duck stamps, an important funding source for waterfowl conservation.
Delta Waterfowl published a special report in their magazine in the spring of 2017 that analyzed this problem. Among the report’s findings: There were 2.03 million active U.S. waterfowlers in 1970, and only 998,600 in 2015. The steepest declines have occurred since 1997, despite high duck populations, longer hunting seasons and liberal bag limits. Canada’s waterfowler numbers have fallen even more drastically, peaking in 1978 at 505,681 and declining to fewer than 170,000 today.
This trend should alarm anyone who cares about waterfowl hunting and wetland conservation. “We tell folks to support conservation – to replace the ducks they shoot every year,” said John Devney, vice president of U.S. Policy for Delta Waterfowl. “We should also be telling them that you must replace yourself as a duck hunter. It’s as important as buying a federal duck stamp.”
The entire Special Report is posted at www.deltawaterfowl.org/looming-crisis. Delta Waterfowl Foundation is “The Duck Hunters Organization”, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America. Visit deltawaterfowl.org.
For the fifth consecutive year there were no boating-related fatalities over the Memorial Day weekend in Tennessee. During the period from May 24-27, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reports that there were five injury incidents and six property damage incidents. TWRA Region IV in East Tennessee had two of the injury and five property damage incidents.
TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement officers made 21 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests, the most since the same number was reported in 2016 over the holiday weekend. The number is an increase from 10 in 2018, a holiday weekend which rain over much of the state slowed activity on the water. TWRA Region II, which encompasses several lakes in Middle Tennessee, reported the most BUI arrests with eight.
June 6, 1944 – D-Day. The Allied invasion of Europe, codenamed “Operation Overlord”, began 75 years ago at Normandy Beach, France. The assault beach codenames were Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The troops of the United States, Great Britain and Canada participated. Allied casualties numbered 209,000, including the deaths of nearly 37,000 ground troops and 16,700 air forces. It turned the tide of World War II.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has established the new CWD Unit in West Tennessee to keep chronic wasting disease from spreading. Special regulations in the CWD Unit are intended to increase the deer harvest by empowering hunters to harvest more while targeting high-risk deer and allowing the agency to sample more deer to better understand the disease.
Data collected so far indicates that bucks are twice as likely as does to have CWD. Older bucks are three times more likely to have CWD than younger bucks. Other research indicates that bucks have a much larger home range so the likelihood of bucks transporting CWD to new areas is higher. For all these reasons, the harvest of bucks will help the most with accomplishing these goals; however the harvest of does is also very important since they can spread the disease as well.
For these reasons the following hunting regulation changes were made to Unit CWD counties:
• Tennessee’s antlered deer bag limit of two did not change; therefore it still applies to hunters hunting Unit CWD as well as the rest of the state.
• Only hunters hunting in Unit CWD counties may earn additional bucks.
• Unit CWD hunters may earn up to two bucks for harvest, in addition to the statewide antler deer bag limit of two.
• Earned bucks are received by harvesting two Unit CWD antlerless deer, checking them in, submitting them for CWD testing, and being notified by TWRA.
• Earn-A-Buck will increase the number of deer (does and bucks) harvested and the numbers of deer tested for CWD.
• Unit CWD hunters will receive a replacement buck if they harvest a CWD-positive buck and the lab result is confirmed by TWRA.
• There is no limit on the number of replacement bucks.
• Replacement bucks will encourage hunters to continue hunting and harvesting and be an added incentive for hunters to have their deer tested for CWD.
In Unit CWD: The August three-day hunt now allows the use of muzzleloaders in addition to archery, and applies to most public lands (Presidents Island in Shelby County is excluded); muzzleloader season will begin on Oct. 28 and gun season will begin on Nov 9; during the January five-day private lands hunt (traditionally antlerless only) antlered harvest will be included; mandatory physical check weekends will be on Nov. 2-3 and Nov. 9-10, except for Hardeman and Fayette counties.
The CWD hunting regulations only apply to CWD positive counties of Fayette, Hardeman, and Madison and CWD high-risk counties of Chester, Haywood, McNairy, Shelby, and Tipton. Carcass export and wildlife feeding restrictions remain in place for Unit CWD.
For more information on CWD visit CWDinTennessee.com and for specific questions go to Ask.TWRA@tn.gov.