Are you having trouble scheduling a hunter education class? Any hunter born after 1968 must have a hunter education certificate. For many years there has been an online class alternative with an online written exam and a required field day for live shooting; but, now there is an exemption to the field day for those 21 years or older. The following steps are required:
Complete the online class (for age 21) at www.Hunter-Ed.com. This course costs $24.50 and it is interactive, narrated, and offers daily (including weekend) live customer service via email or telephone. Complete the form provided for the exemption and mail, fax or email it with required documentation and payment to the address listed on the form. To request a form contact the Hunter Education Coordinator at 615-781-6538. Your certificate will arrive in three to five business days after submission.
On Saturday, Aug. 5, Tennessee’s traditional hand-drawn, in-person duck blind selections will take place at the regular sites and wildlife management areas across the state. At stake are the permanent blinds at the following sites in Middle and West Tennessee: Gooch WMA Unit A, Reelfoot WMA, Kentucky Lake (Camden Units I & II, Harmon’s Creek, Big Sandy, Gin Creek), Barkley WMA, Tigrett WMA, West Sandy, Old Hickory WMA, Cheatham Lake, Haynes Bottom WMA, and AEDC/Woods Reservoir.
Registration will be held from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. and the drawing of permits follows immediately at most locations. For specific addresses of blind drawings, interactive maps, and more information, go to www.tnwildlife.org, select Hunting and Waterfowl.
Computerized drawings will be held Sept. 6-27 for duck blinds in the Chattanooga area and some other western counties. Those blind sites are: Bogota and Thorny Cypress WMAs in Dyer County, Gooch Unit E, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, White Oak (Lebanon Pond area in Hardin County), and the four units on the Chickamauga WMA (Candies Creek, Johnson Bottoms, Rogers Creek, and Yellow Creek). Get applications at the above website.
Here is a brief summary of the July meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. More details on chronic wasting disease (CWD) were discussed: There are now 25 states with cases of CWD, but Tennessee is still not one of them. Even so, the potential threat it poses to our deer and elk populations is ominous. Risk factors include: Farm-raised deer and elk being infected, hunter-killed carcasses being transported into Tennessee, and the potential of spreading CWD by deer urine-based lures that are infected (some states have banned these urine-based lures).
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is updating its state list of In Need of Management, Threatened, and Endangered Species. In Need of Management species are those animals that need research conducted to determine their rareness. Threatened species are those animals in jeopardy of becoming endangered. Endangered refers to species that may become extinct or extirpated from the state. The list includes 219 species: 96 state endangered, 39 state threatened and 84 in need of management.
Boating statistics: For the two major weekends of the boating season, Memorial Day and Independence Day (five days long), there were no boating-related fatalities, but there were five accidents reported with four injuries, and 20 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests during the period. Thus far in 2017 there have been eight boating-related fatalities; three of the fatalities were paddle craft incidents.
The next TFWC meeting will be on Aug. 29-30 at the TWRA Region II Building in Nashville. The TWRA 2018-2019 budget will be presented at that time.
The 2017-2018 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide is now published online at www.tnwildlife.org; the printed booklet will be delivered to a license agency near you any day now. The changes in regulations and seasons for this year can be found on page 6 of the Guide. Some of particular note follow.
Hunters must check in big game animals prior to gifting them or transporting them out of state. Carcass importation restrictions now apply to any cervid (deer, elk, moose, caribou) carcasses brought in to Tennessee from any state or province that has any amount of chronic wasting disease (CWD) (see page 20). There will be more elk hunting opportunities in the form of licenses (four more), more days and more open elk hunting zones.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has been authorized to create regulations on trapping devices and inspection requirements (see pages 14-15). A new statewide sandhill crane hunting season has been established; see the 2017-18 Tennessee Waterfowl Guide for more details. Several wildlife management areas, refuges and public hunting areas will have changes in regulations and hunt dates (see the section beginning on Page 40).
Landowners and farmers with grain crops, do not miss out on the extra money available just in the manner your crops are harvested. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking dove fields to lease for public hunting for the upcoming 2017 dove season.
Landowners can time their harvest, or partially harvest their grain or millet hay fields to be eligible. They should promptly contact their TWRA regional office for consideration. Rates paid to landowners will be $75 per acre for a maximum field size of 40 acres for a maximum contract of $3,600 per field; wheat crops earn an additional $15 per acre. At least three priority dates for public hunting are required.
Anyone interested in leasing a dove field to TWRA should contact their TWRA regional office by phone early in August. There are four regional offices: Region I (West Tennessee) 731-423-5725 or 800-372-3928; Region II (Middle Tennessee) 615-781-6622 or 800-624-7406; Region III (Upper Cumberland) 931-484-9571 or 800-262-6704; Region IV (East Tennessee) 423-587-7037 or 800-332-0900.
Dove hunters can find the fields leased by TWRA, which cost nothing to use, at www.tn.gov/twra/article/dove one or two weeks before the season opens. The first of three phases of dove season begins at noon on Friday, Sept. 1 and goes through Sept. 28.
For those needing a hunter education certificate – that’s anyone born after 1968 – you must go online to sign up for a hunter education class. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency lists the upcoming classes on its website, which you can see by going to www.tnwildlife.org and selecting Hunting, then Hunter Education, then Find a Class.
Registration must be completed prior to the starting date of a class. Students must be at least nine years old to earn a certificate; they should bring a pencil and their Social Security number (mandatory). Do not bring a gun. Classes may be added at any time, so check often.
The 2017-2018 hunting seasons calendar is ready, even though this year’s TWRA Hunting and Trapping Guide has not yet been published. On this website, simply click on Hunting Seasons Info to find the opening and closing dates, and the bag limits for all game, big and small (waterfowl will be listed soon). The quick link is http://www.tnoutdoorsnews.com/hunting-season-info.html.
Tennessee has been awarded nearly $600,000 in competitive federal grants that were recently announced by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. The Volunteer State will receive $200,000 (the maximum award) in grant funding through the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program and $392,539 from the Clean Vessel Act (CVA) program.
BIG is a program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that provides funding to support dedicated boat tie-up facilities and associated amenities and helps Americans enjoy the nation's waters, our wildlife, and natural resources. Funding for BIG comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers fund through excise taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and marine fuel.
The CVA grants are a USFWS program to provide pump-out systems on the waterways to ensure recreational boaters have a safe, convenient and effective method to dispose of on-board sewage. The funds also support associated boater education programs. Tennessee plans to build 10 new such facilities and to renovate three others. For more information about this Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program visit http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/.
Do not forget: July 26 is the deadline for quota hunt applications for wildlife management areas and for the elk license drawing. The applications are available at license agencies and online at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website, www.tnwildlife.org.
There are two ways to file your quota application. Do it online at https://quotahunt.gooutdoorstennessee.com/Hunts/CustomerLookup.aspx, or fill out the paper form and take it to a license agency, but do not mail it in.
On July 25-28 Knoxville, Tennessee will become the nation's "Quail Capital". The country's top bobwhite quail experts will convene in two powerful, back-to-back meetings: The annual meeting of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) followed by the Eighth National Quail Symposium, aka "Quail 8".
Members of the NBTC represent 25 state wildlife agencies, several quail research institutions and private conservation groups. The NBTC focuses its efforts on the coordinated restoration of populations of the iconic wild bobwhite, which have declined by 80 percent over the past 60 years. The decline is primarily due to disappearing habitat brought about by changes in agricultural, forestry and grazing practices over the decades. Many other species that share the same habitat, including numerous grassland songbirds and pollinators, have shown similar declines.
Quail 8 is a national quail symposium conducted every five years and encompasses research reports from around the country on various aspects of multiple species of quail. This gathering will feature nearly 100 reports, presentations and displays featuring various aspects of quail management and research.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the University of Tennessee are hosting the events at the Holiday Inn Knoxville Downtown. The NBTC meets on July 25-26 and the Quail 8 will be on July 27-28. For more information about NBCI, go to www.bringbackbobwhites.org. For more information regarding Quail 8 go to https://www.quailcount.org/quail8/home.html.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold its monthly meeting on July 20-21 at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Ray Bell Region II Building in Nashville. TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter and his staff will present a preliminary look at the annual agency budget for fiscal year 2018-2019. The Thursday start is at 1:30 p.m. and the formal meeting on Friday begins at 9:00 a.m. The public is welcome.
Items on the agenda: New information on chronic wasting disease (CWD) and what is planned to prevent its spread to our state; a report on TWRA’s boating safety and enforcement efforts for 2017, including boating statistics from Memorial Day, Operation Dry Water, and Independence Day; a presentation and review of the Tennessee in Need of Management List and Threatened and Endangered Species List.
Cabela's shareholders voted on Tuesday, July 11 and approved its proposed $4 billion merger with Bass Pro Shops. The two companies received a go-ahead from the Federal Trade Commission last week, so the only remaining regulatory hurdle is approval of the sale of its banking and credit card assets in the World's Foremost Bank. Both companies are expecting the deal to be consummated in August or September.
Cabela's plans to first sell the banking assets to Synovus Financial, which plans to keep the deposits and sell the credit card assets to Capital One. Synovus was brought in as a partner in the deal in April after it became clear that Capital One would have difficulty getting regulatory approval to buy World's Foremost Bank.
Capital One plans to continue the credit card operation in Lincoln, Neb. and does not expect any significant layoffs. However, according to Bass Pro, Cabela’s corporate headquarters in Sidney, Neb. may see a reduction in its staff of 1,000.
Tennessee deer hunters and waterfowlers that hunt in North Carolina will have more opportunities beginning this season. The North Carolina House and Senate has passed a bill to expand Sunday hunting to include migratory birds and allow hunting on public lands and waters. The bill now heads to Gov. Roy Cooper, who is expected to sign it into law.
When the North Carolina Sunday Hunting Law passed in 2015, it did not include public lands and it excluded migratory birds. Delta Waterfowl was a strong supporter of this earlier legislation and the current success. DW thanks its coalition partners, including the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.
Remarkably, blue law hunting restrictions still persist in ten states. Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania prohibit Sunday hunting entirely, while Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia allow hunting, but with added restrictions.
Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s update: Federal regulators are apparently satisfied with the proposed purchase/merger of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's (NYSE: CAB). Cabela's shareholders are now scheduled to vote on Tuesday, July 11 to move forward with the transitions.
Bass Pro’s original offering was $5.5 billion for Cabela’s, based on $65.50 per share of its stock; but, after the federal delays, the amended offering has dropped $4 per share to $61.50. Still, that price is considered a premium to the current market price.
It is payday for the nation’s wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the 2017 distribution of funds from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. This is the federal excise tax that outdoorsmen pay on guns, ammunition, firearm accessories, camping equipment, knives, and much more. This year a total of $780,031,696 will be awarded to the state wildlife agencies.
Tennessee’s share of that is $22,484,134. Anglers make a similar contribution to wildlife through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Act. Tennessee’s portion will be $7,521,206. For more details, including the complete list of state payouts, go to https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/WR/WRFinalApportionment2017.pdf
Notice for Tennessee waterfowlers that hunt in Arkansas.
Be advised that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has approved changes to Arkansas's Nonresident Waterfowl Wildlife Management Area permits. Beginning in 2017 the annual Nonresident Waterfowl WMA Permit has been eliminated, leaving only the five-day permit for nonresidents who wish to hunt on a WMA for waterfowl.
The price of the five-day WMA permit is increasing from $25 to $30.50, and purchaser must specify the specific WMA; nonresidents will be allowed to purchase six such permits per waterfowl season. The changes are an attempt to provide additional hunting opportunities to residents during waterfowl season on AGFC-controlled public lands.
Because of the volatile nature of managing Arkansas’ flooded hardwoods, the AGFC is calling these new regulations “adaptive”, meaning they will be reviewed each year and possibly changed. For more on Arkansas hunting and fishing go to www.agfc.com.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Fisheries Division is reassessing its long term plan on managing trout statewide. It has completed its latest draft of the 2017-2027 Statewide Trout Management Plan. An important part of this procedure is public comment; that period is now through August 4.
The plan is ready for review on the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org in the “For Anglers” section. The scope of the Statewide Trout Management Plan is to provide guidance for the conservation and management of Tennessee’s cold water resources on a statewide level and not to address the needs of any specific body of water.
Take a look at the plan; it is detailed and extensive, but not specific to any one stream – that’s for later. Send your comments via email to TWRA.TroutComments@tn.gov; or mail comments to TWRA Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204. This reassessment is done about every ten years.
The Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) has grown into an immense, national sporting event for high school and middle school students. This year the SCTP and Scholastic Action Shooting Program (pistol shooting) (SASP) are having their 2017 National Championships on July 8-15 in Marengo, Ohio, and record attendance is just one marvel of popularity. About 3,000 competitors are slated to participate in nearly 6,500 shotgunning events.
Teams from at least 24 states will compete for national titles in skeet, sporting clays, singles trap, handicap trap, double trap, skeet doubles, and bunker trap. More than 1.5 million clay targets will be thrown in this eight-day event – slightly more than eight semi-trailer loads.
For more tournament information and a schedule of events, go to https://sssfonline.org/news/. For more information about SSSF, visit www.sssfonline.org.
The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) is 501(c)(3) public charity responsible for all aspects of the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) across the United States. SCTP and SASP are youth development programs in which adult coaches and other volunteers use shooting sports to teach and to demonstrate sportsmanship, responsibility, honesty, ethics, integrity, teamwork, and other positive life skills. SCTP was developed as a program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) until the SSSF was created in 2007 to operate the SCTP. In 2012, SSSF created the SASP and became the managing foundation of both programs.