The combined early wood duck and teal seasons open Sept. 10-14; after that teal-only continues on Sept. 15-18. The daily combined bag limit is six (no more than two wood ducks allowed).
This is the third and final year for the expanded season for teal. Previously it was only the five-day wood duck/teal hunt with a daily bag limit of four ducks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended the experimental season in 2014 because the blue-wing teal population was at record numbers.
Given that, smart money would be on a repeat of the extended season next year. The 2016 numbers for blue-winged and green-winged teal are even better than in 2014: 34 percent above the long term average and more than twice the LTA, respectively.
The early black bear seasons are approaching. Archery bear is Sept. 24 – Oct. 21, without dogs, for all of the Bear Hunting Zones: BHZ1 – BHZ4 and Transitional. The annual bag limit is one bear either-sex, including sows without cubs.
Next, bear hunting with dogs and all weapons opens in three zones: Sept. 26 – Oct. 2 in BHZ2, which includes Blount, Cocke (south of I-40), Jefferson (east of Hwy 411), and Sevier counties; Oct. 1-9 in BHZ3, which is McMinn (east of Hwy 411), Monroe and northeastern Polk counties; Oct. 3-7 in BHZ1, which is Carter, Cocke (north of I-40), Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties.
On Oct. 31 – Nov. 4 the above three zones, BHZ1, BHZ2 and BHZ3, are open again for dogs and all weapons. The same three zones host the Young Sportsman bear hunt on Oct. 29-30 for all weapons and no dogs. The late season bear hunts will be listed here later, but you can see them all on page 28 of the 2016 hunting guide, or online at www.tn.gov/assets/entities/twra/attachments/hunting_guide1617.pdf
Are you considering taking your dog on your boat this Labor Day weekend? On this last big holiday weekend for summer boating, Boat Owners Association of the U.S. (BoatUS) has some tips that are gleaned from its members’ reported “Pet Blunders”:
Make sure your dog knows how to swim before hitting the deep water. Consider the benefits of a doggie life jacket: The dog can swim longer in the deep and can be retrieved into the boat easier by the jacket’s handle. Keep a boat hook handy for reaching.
Dogs can get seasick, so keep them in the open where they can see the horizon. Exhaust fumes can make dogs sick, too; keep them in well-ventilated areas. And, of course, consume alcohol in moderation. There are more humorous stories (including some cats) at www.boatus.com.
The 2016 National Championships for the Scholastic Clay Target Program was held in July in Marengo, Ohio, and Tennessee was a prominent contender. The Volunteer State brought home 23 national championships and 100 individual and team awards. About 3,000 school-aged shotgunners from all over the United States competed in trap, skeet and sporting clays in six skill levels.
The Tennessee shooters numbered about 600 and accounted for the largest state representation in the national contest; but then Tennessee has more than 2,000 shooters to draw from, the largest state program by far in the SCTP system. The SCTP trains shooters in grades 5-12 and college in sportsmanship, scholarship, personal development, and gun safety. Several have gone on to compete in the Olympics.
The SCTP is governed by the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (www.sssfonline.org). The Tennessee SCTP is sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (www.tnwf.org). For more on the 2016 National Championships, both websites will have more specific details on individual and team winners.
Sept. 1 is the traditional opening day for mourning dove, a Thursday this year. The shooting begins at noon on the opener but a half-hour before sunrise after that; the first segment ends on Sept. 28. The daily bag limit is 15. In addition the exotic collared dove (pictured at left) is eligible and it has no limit. Dove season continues Oct. 8-30 and Dec 8 – Jan. 15.
A list of leased public hunting areas and available wildlife management areas is ready at www.tnwildlife.org; select “hunting”, “migratory birds” and then “dove hunting”. Remember that in addition to the basic Hunting and Fishing Combination license, the Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit (two dollars) is also required. And remember to install your shotgun’s magazine plug.
The resident Canada goose season opens Sept. 1 – 15 with a daily bag limit of five. Even though these big birds have forgotten how to migrate, the Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit is required here, too (as well as for woodcock and Wilson snipe).
“Shooting guns is an Olympic sport? Who knew?!” If you suspected the Olympics coverage by NBC Sports absolutely ignored the USA Shooting Team, you were right; but there is more. Not to be outdone by NBC, the Chicago Tribune newspaper – the pride of Chicago, the anti-gun and murder capital of the United States – posted a news Tweet of a U.S. female athlete holding an Olympic metal. The entire message stated,
“Wife of Bears’ lineman wins a bronze metal today in Rio Olympics.”
Period. There is no mention of her name – Corey Cogdell-Unrein – or her Olympic sport – Trap Shooting. Let us not even mention the sexist nature of that news item. For all of the scores and drama of the shooting competition, plus the back stories and bios of the USA Shooters, go to www.usashooting.org/news/fanhub.
Actually, there was one USA Shooter that got early publicity (but no coverage). The first gold medal for the 2016 USA Olympians was earned by rookie teenager Ginny Thrasher in the 10 Meter Women’s Air Rifle event. The USA Shooters contributed three medals to the U.S. total. Corey Cogdell-Unrein’s bronze in Women’s Trap was a repeat from the 2012 Olympiad. Then, the incomparable Kim Rhode won bronze in Women’s Skeet to make Olympics history by medalling in six consecutive Games (three of them gold). Great stories on most of the USA Shooters. Those three USA Shooters reinforce the expression, “Shoots Like a Girl”.
And a final note about Olympic shooting. It's never going to be reflected in the coverage of NBC Sports, but shooting sports have the fourth largest number of participants (97) of all summer sports this year and 14 countries medalling. The top three are: Athletics (201), Swimming (173) and Judo (136).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued its 2016 report on the waterfowl breeding population and it is projected to be another stellar migration and hunting season. As reported here earlier in a preview of the USFWS report, Delta Waterfowl described the 2016 fall duck migration as almost as big as last year’s all-time record of 49.52 million ducks; this was 43 percent above the long-term average (LTA). This was due to less-than-ideal breeding conditions in the vital Prairie Pothole Region of northcentral United States and central Canada.
This year the USFWS has estimated the fall flight to be 48.36 million ducks, about one million below the 2015 figure but still 38 percent above the LTA. Mallards led the way with another increase in numbers over last year, showing why they are the most abundant and most adaptable ducks in the world. Following are the projected numbers for the various species, including the increase/decrease over last year and how it relates to the long-term average.
Mallards increased one percent to 11.79 million, 51 percent above the LTA. Green-winged teal grew by five percent to 4.28 million, which is more than twice the LTA. Wigeon continued a strong trend, increasing 12 percent to 3.41 million, 31 percent above the LTA. Shovelers declined by 10 percent, but still check in at 3.97 million, 56 percent above the LTA.
The news was not as good for pintails, which dropped for a fifth-straight year. Pintail numbers declined by 14 percent to 2.62 million, 34 percent below the LTA. Blue-winged teal numbers fell 22 percent to 6.69 million, but remain 34 percent above the LTA. Gadwalls missed the early May breeding count (conditions too dry) but bred well later when wetter conditions arrived; gadwalls should be similar to last year, 3.80 million and third highest in history.
Among diving ducks, scaup increased 14 percent to 4.99 million, which is right at the LTA. Canvasbacks declined by three percent to 736,000, but remain 26 percent above the LTA. Redheads, which have remained near record breeding numbers for the past five years, jumped eight percent to 1.29 million.
What do the 2016 waterfowlers have to look forward to? The near-record populations of ducks for the past five years had good but reduced breeding conditions this year; so, the fall flight will have fewer young, easy-to-decoy ducks – read gullible – and a higher proportion of savvy, mature ducks. Better practice your calling, your long shots and perfect your camouflage.
The September parade of hunting seasons is lined up and just a block away. It begins on Thursday, Sept. 1. Don’t miss a single float: Dove’s first segment is Sept. 1-28; resident Canada goose is Sept. 1-15; wood duck and teal is Sept. 10-14; teal only is Sept. 15-18; statewide raccoon/opossum begins at sunset on Sept. 16; and, last but not least, archery deer begins on Sept. 24, as does archery bear. More details as each season arrives.
The winners of the 2016 Tennessee elk hunt lottery have been announced. The computer drawing by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency chose five new archery hunters, four regular gun/archery hunters and one youth hunter.
The archery-only hunters are: Dennis C. Edwards (Brentwood), Travis L. Brown (Telford), William Scott Taylor (Murfreesboro), Donald Alvin Jackson (Cleveland), and James A. Millwood (Chattanooga).
The regular gun/archery hunters are: Kevin Hart (Yuma), Austin L. Burks (Waynesboro), Timothy C. Copeland (Crossville), and Bryan C. White (Harrison). The youth permit goes to Jordan Redmond (Oakdale).
The fifth regular elk license was auctioned on eBay on Aug. 7. The winning bid this year was $9,000 by Wade Roberts of Leoma, Tenn. [Last year’s winning bid was $11,101]. The entire $9,000 is a contribution to the Tennessee elk restoration program.
The fourth Saturday of August is the traditional opening of hunting season, with squirrel beginning on Aug. 27 and ending next year on Feb. 28 – the longest season on the calendar. There are three hunted species of squirrels: Gray (most plentiful), fox (largest) and red (smallest, called “boomers”). The daily bag limit for all species combined is 10.
Aug. 27 is also Free Hunting Day in Tennessee. All hunters who are Tennessee residents are exempt from hunting licenses and wildlife management area permits that day. This is an excellent opportunity to initiate a new hunter, treat an ex-hunter to an outing, or treat yourselves to a relaxing day afield. More details are at www.tnwildlife.org. Hunter education requirements still apply.
There is something new for Tennessee’s hunter education program. Unchanged is the requirement for anyone born after 1968 to have a hunter education certificate. Most people sign up for a complete hunter education class with a live-fire exercise and written final exam on the last day. The other possibility is to take an online class with a separate field day for the live-fire exercise. All class registrations are done online at www.tnwildlife.org under Hunting and then Hunter Education. The minimum age to earn a certificate is age nine and the class is free.
Now there is an exemption for the hunter education online field day available for anyone at least 21 years old. 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 weekends) 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. [Note: Payment for the certificate cannot be done on TWRA’s mobile app at this time.]
The 2016 drawings for the big game quota hunts on wildlife management areas have been completed. The results can be found at www.tnwildlife.org under the For Hunters and Big Game Hunters sections. By Aug. 23 the winners and losers will be notified by mail; the winners get their permits and the losers get a priority point for next year.
Beginning at 9:00 a.m. EDT on Aug. 24 the leftover quota hunts are up for grabs, first-come basis, available at all license agencies and online at the TWRA website. The fee for regular license holders is $12 (privilege code is 338). Hunters who have the Lifetime Sportsman (types 401 thru 406), Annual Sportsman (004) or the Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman License (type 167) are exempt from the fee (privilege code is 331).
This year there are five wildlife management areas with leftover hunts: Cheatham (turkey), Cheatham Lake (turkey), Laurel Hill (gun deer) in November and December, and Prentice Cooper (archery deer). Get more details on the hunts in the News section at www.tnwildlife.org.
Make it a $9,000 contribution to the Tennessee elk program. That was the winning bid on Aug. 7 at the eBay auction for one Tennessee elk permit. The winner was Wade Roberts of Leoma, Tenn. In 2015 the winning bid was $11,101.
Roberts is an avid sportsman and has hunted elk successfully in Idaho. His Tennessee elk hunt will be Oct. 17-21 with four other gun hunters soon to be drawn. One youth hunter will be drawn for the following weekend, Oct. 22-23; and, new this year, there are five archery tags to be drawn for Oct. 3-7. The elk hunting zones are in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area and some private land in five adjacent counties.
What better time for a night fishing trip than this? The Perseid meteor shower. The Perseid is perhaps the best natural fireworks show in the northern hemisphere. It peaks each year around Aug. 11-12, building steadily the preceding week and dropping off rapidly after Aug. 13. The peak time for 2016 is predicted to be the morning of Friday, Aug. 12. Expect to see 60 to 100 shooting stars per hour over the entire sky, and more large “fireballs” than any other meteor shower.
Viewing the Perseid should be pretty good this year, especially after midnight; the bright moon will be a week away from full (called waxing gibbous) and will be setting soon after midnight. The nights before and after the peak night will be pretty good viewing, too.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through the dust from the orbital path of the comet Swift-Tuttle. Their flight paths will appear to travel from the constellation Perseus in the northeast, but they will occur all over the sky. Binoculars are not necessary. Find a dark sky and clear horizon far from city lights and get comfortable (lounge chair, snacks, insect repellent, etc.).
Thermacell®, the area insect repellent so popular with hunters, anglers and lovers of the outdoors, has received an acknowledgement from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has recognized Thermacell products as effective repellents for the Aedes mosquitoes, the vector for the Zika virus, West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and several other diseases.
Thermacell repellents create a zone of protection about 15 feet square from mosquitoes and other flying insects. The no-spray technology creates the zone by heating and dispersing a repellent into the air called allethrin, which is a copy of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum flowers. Thermacells are silent and odorless can be used safely around children and pets. For more information go to www.thermacell.com.
The Zika virus is, unfortunately, stealing headlines from the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Since Zika was discovered in 1947 the rare outbreaks were always small and mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia. Now it is epidemic in Brazil and much of South America; and it is spreading to other continents. Miami, Florida has the first outbreak for the U.S. mainland. When the Olympics have concluded the virus could quickly spread around the world.
For full disclosure, the best insect repellents for application to the skin contain DEET, and they are quite effective. Then there is a fabric spray repellent (not meant for the skin) called permethrin that works well on its own. When DEET and permethrin-treated clothing are used together, nearly perfect protection against mosquito bites can be achieved.
The fourth Tennessee sandhill crane hunt will have its hand-held permit drawing on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Birchwood Community Center (formerly the Birchwood School) near the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in north Hamilton County. Previously this drawing was held in October. The 2016-17 season dates have been changed as well: Dec. 3 – Jan. 12 and Jan. 16-29.
Registration for the permit drawing begins at 8:00 a.m. Applicants must have a current Tennessee hunting/fishing license (Type 001) and a waterfowl license (Type 005) or equivalent. There will be 400 permits issued. Any leftover permits will be announced on the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org on Aug.15 and they can be purchased on a first-come basis on Aug. 17 at any of the four region headquarters.
#GUNVOTE. Gun owners have a lot at stake in the election this year. The next U.S. president, aside from setting public policy and enforcing the nation’s laws, will likely appoint four Supreme Court justices. This could drastically affect the interpretation of the Second Amendment. All sportsmen should be engaged.
A good website to visit and share is gunvote.org, sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Presently there is an informative video on the AR-15 rifle; also, there are links for voter registration, the candidates both national and local, and polling locations. The site is updated often.
If one of your favorite Olympic sports is Shooting, then check out this site: www.usashooting.org. The “FanHub” has the schedule of shooting events, bios on all of the USA shooters, scores posted promptly, background videos on the events, and other news. You will want to follow the USA Shooting Team, led by five-time medalist Kim Rhode and gold medalists Vincent Hancock and Matt Emmons. The shooting events commence Aug. 6.