Tennessee’s grouse season opens Oct. 8 – Feb. 28 for areas east of I-65. The bag limit is three per day. Grouse numbers have been growing in recent years in Tennessee due to habitat improvements like more native grasses and more second-growth forests. The second dove segment reopens on Oct. 8-30 with a daily limit of 15.
Here is a special opportunity for young hunters who have never taken a deer. A free hunt on private property in deer-rich Humphreys County (Unit L) has been arranged by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for Oct. 29, the opening day for the statewide youth deer hunt. Hunters age 10-16 with a hunter education certificate and accompanied by a non-hunting adult are eligible. A total of 30 licenses will be issued.
There will be a free Friday night cookout and campout (participants must have their own camping gear). Breakfast and lunch will also be served on Saturday. Treestands will be provided including three that are handicap accessible. The Unit L bag limit is two bucks and three does.
Registration deadline for the drawing is Oct. 15. Applications and more information are available on the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org, by phoning Don Hosse at 615-781-6541, or by email to Don.Hosse@tn.gov. Applications can be mailed to TWRA, Youth Deer Hunt Giveaway, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204; or faxed to 615-781-6543. Selected hunters will be notified by Oct. 20.
The East Tennessee Kayak Anglers promote the sport of kayak fishing. This past spring and summer the ETKA held monthly tournaments and a weekly tournament trail. The last trail tournament will be Friday, Sept. 30 at 6:00 p.m. at Shady Grove (Lakeland) boat ramp on Ft. Loudoun Lake. This event will be filmed for an episode of Tennessee Uncharted.
The last 2016 monthly tournament for ETKA will be on Oct. 22 at Ft. Loudon/Tellico Canal, the Fishing for Soldiers benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project. This is a big regional event for boats and kayaks. Anglers and/or kayakers interested in ETKA can get more information on Facebook under East Tennessee Kayak Anglers; or contact Lee Potter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Permits to hunt deer on the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) Wildlife Management Area will be sold on a first-come basis online at the TWRA website or in person at any license agency. AEDC, located near Tullahoma, will have three November hunts with a quota of 100 hunters each. Sales will begin at 9:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 5. No phone sales. The three hunts are set for Unit 1 (TNARNG maneuver area) on Nov. 25-27, Unit 2 (Camp Forrest area) on Nov. 11-13 and Unit 2 on Nov. 25-27.
Purchasers need to keep their receipts, which serve as their permits. For online sales go to www.tnwildlife.org and select License Sales and Buy Your License. The permit fee for regular license holders is $12 plus an agent fee. No permit fee is charged for Annual Sportsman (Type 004) or Lifetime Sportsman (Types 402 thru 405) license holders or senior citizens with an Annual Senior Citizen Permit.
The Tennessee Fur Harvesters fall convention will be Oct. 13-16 at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Newcomers, veteran trappers and their families will enjoy the many seminars, contests, games and activities, live entertainment, storytellers, and supplies vendors. Tent and RV camping and primitive cabins are available. For more information see their website www.tfhaonline.net and select TFHA Annual Convention, or contact John Daniel at email@example.com or call 423-595-0986.
A reminder to all Remington rifle owners: The federal class-action lawsuit concerning Remington’s rifle triggers has been settled, and the settlement involves two classes. You may be eligible to have your firearm retrofitted or receive other benefits. But a significant deadline is approaching on Nov. 18, 2016.
The first class includes owners of firearms that utilize a trigger connector. The second class includes owners of firearms that utilize the X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism that is the subject of Remington’s voluntary safety recall. The settlement allows owners of Remington models 700, Seven, and related models to have their trigger replaced free of charge, among other benefits.
The allegations are that Remington firearms can fire without a trigger pull. Remington denies those allegations with respect to the trigger connector but is offering trigger replacements for its valued customers. With respect to X-Mark Pro trigger mechanisms, Remington has implemented a voluntary safety recall.
Even if you do nothing you will be bound by the Court's decisions. If you want to keep your right to sue the Defendants yourself, you must exclude yourself from the Settlement Class by November 18, 2016. If you stay in the Settlement Class, you may object to the Settlement by November 18, 2016. To learn more or to make a claim call 800-876-5940, or go to www.remingtonfirearmsclassactionsettlement.com.
Affected rifle models with trigger connectors: Model 700, Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722, and 725. Affected rifle models with X-Mark Pro triggers are the 700 and Model Seven manufactured from 2006 to 2014. Stop using these firearms until fixed.
All sportsmen should be engaged in this national election. Be informed. Go to www.GunVote.org and see why more than 500 companies in the shooting sports industry are supporting the website. The site has bios on nearly every candidate running, national and local. There are links for voter registration, lists of polling locations, and informative videos. The site is updated often.
Gun owners have a lot at stake in this election. 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.
Again this year the TWRA has free wildflower seed packets available to benefit monarch butterflies. The seed mix includes milkweed, coreopsis, coneflower, and some other host and nectar plants. The packet is good for about 15 sq. ft. of open space or garden. Do not delay: Planting time is now and supplies are limited.
For your free seeds email TWRA.Monarchs@tn.gov and leave your physical mailing address. For more seeds and more information on the plight of monarchs, go to www.SaveOurMonarchs.org or contact Ward Johnson at 952-829-0600.
Treestands are by far the most dangerous part of deer hunting, of all kinds of hunting. Sadly, 80 percent of the people who had a treestand accident in 2014 were not wearing a harness or any form of fall restraint. That is an appalling statistic, given that every manufactured treestand since 2004 has been sold with a full body harness; and there are more than a million sold every year.
Before you hunt check your stand’s belts, chains, bolts, and attachment cords for damage and wear. Set up the stand once at home before opening day. Hunt with someone nearby and have a cell phone and/or radio for communication. Select a proper tree for your stand. Use a full-body safety harness properly at all times, especially when climbing up or down (most falls occur during these times). Never carry anything as you climb – use a haul line to raise and lower equipment.
Here is a good treestand safety course online: www.huntercourse.com/treestandsafety/. Also, check out these excellent YouTube videos on how to correctly use treestand equipment, created by Hunter Safety Systems: "How to safely use a lifeline," "How to use the climbing belt," and "How to adjust your HSS harness". See them at www.youtube.com/HunterSafetySystemTV.
Public shooting ranges are provided at many wildlife management areas, supported by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Some of the ranges are nice facilities with range officers in attendance. “Tier 1” ranges are the most basic, rudimentary firing ranges without staff most of the time.
The TWRA is now waiving the usual $5.50 user fee for Tier 1. All shooters at the WMA ranges must have a current Tennessee hunting license and visits are usually limited to two hours. Operating hours vary. See the complete list of TWRA ranges on page 34 of the 2016-17 Hunting Guide, or find it online at www.tnwildlife.org.
The Tier 1 ranges are in the following WMAs: Cheatham, Yanahli (limited to big game hunting rifles), Catoosa (two) at the Genesis checking station and at the Peavine campground, Prentice Cooper, Chuck Swan, and North Cumberland at Royal Blue.
Proposed changes in the Tennessee sport fishing regulations were presented to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission last week by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The only statewide change in the TWRA package concerns the daily limit and possession limit of all bait fish; some regional changes are proposed and are mentioned here. Complete details can be found at www.tnwildlife.org.
Douglas Lake’s harvest regulations for striped bass and hybrid striped bass would change to match those currently in place for white bass (15 per day, no length limit). The TWRA is not managing for striped bass or hybrid striped bass in this reservoir. The proposal will help maintain one of the most robust white bass populations in East Tennessee by reducing the potential for hybridization. Dale Hollow Reservoir would have a change in the fishing rod limit to four rods for each angler. Kentucky Lake’s creel limit on crappie would drop from 30 to 20 fish per day.
The public comment period has begun and your suggestions should be received by Oct. 19. The TFWC meets again on Oct. 27-28 in Knoxville. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “2016 Fish Comments” in the subject line; postal mail can be sent to TWRA, Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204.
Autumn is the best time to view Tennessee elk. The rut is underway, which means mating activity, lots of animal movement and the haunting bugle of the bull elk day and night. The free-range Tennessee elk are on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area about 40 miles north of Knoxville. There are two good viewing places in the Royal Blue and the Sundquist units of North Cumberland.
Perhaps the best place to go is the elk-viewing pavilion at Hatfield Knob on Peabody Mountain in Campbell County. More than a dozen elk are frequenting the area mostly in the mornings and evenings. Directions: I-75 north to Caryville, then take U.S. 25W to LaFollette and about 6.5 miles past. Immediately after topping the mountain turn left at the sign onto a gravel road and go about 4.5 miles to the parking area. The pavilion is about a one-third mile walk.
The original elk release site is at Montgomery Junction on Massengill Mountain, near the community of Norma in Scott County. To get there take I-75 north to exit 141 (Oneida/Huntsville); go west on Hwy 63 for 11.5 miles and then left on Norma Road, going about five miles to a left turn onto Montgomery Creek Road. About a mile further is the release site, a good place to begin slowly driving and listening and glassing [Note: A few elk hunters will be hunting here on Oct. 3-7 (archery) and on Oct. 17-21 (rifle) and one youth hunter the following weekend].
Elk can be seen anytime but viewing is best in the mornings and evenings. Recommended equipment includes binoculars, cameras and insect repellant. For those going off-road, watch for poisonous snakes since they are quite active right now.
The main elk herd in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in the Cataloochee area on the North Carolina side. For the best viewing opportunities in the Park go to www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/elk.
National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) is Sept. 24, a day set-aside for sportsmen to celebrate their conservation efforts. Early U.S. conservationists, including President Theodore Roosevelt, urged sustainable use of fish and game, created hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment to provide funds for state conservation agencies. These actions were the foundation of the North American wildlife conservation model, a science-based, user-pay system that would foster the most dramatic conservation successes in the world.
On NHF Day there are special events nationwide to encourage hunting and fishing and conservation. The 2016 Honorary Chair is Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris. To find the Tennessee events near you go to www.nhfday.org.
Fall is fast approaching. The 2016 autumnal equinox occurs on Sept. 22 at 10:21 a.m. EDT, when the sun is positioned directly over the Earth’s equator and moving south. At this time for us the sunrise is due east and sunset is due west.
Daylight is waning rapidly every day. In late September the sun rises nearly one minute later every day, and the sun sets about one-and-a-half minutes earlier every day. For East Tennessee sunrise will be at 7:24 a.m. and sunset will be at 7:32 p.m. The actual “equinox” or equal periods of day and night does not occur in this area until Sept. 26.
Deer season is almost here. For archery deer the first segment is Sept. 24 – Oct. 28; then, after a respite weekend for the first youth deer hunt, the second archery segment is Oct. 31 – Nov. 4. All the big game units, A, B, C, D, and L have the same dates; all of the units – except L – have the same bag limits: Two antlered and four antlerless. Unit L bag limits are two antlered and three antlerless per day. Those two bucks are the season maximum for all of the weapons, gun and muzzleloader included.
Coincidently bear hunting begins on Sept. 24. The archery season 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, 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, www.tnwildlife.org.
For any Tennessean that hunts big game out of state, there are new restrictions on the importation of deer, elk and moose carcasses into Tennessee. The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, in its August meeting, voted unanimously to approve a more cautious approach to the prevention of chronic wasting disease (CWD) coming into the state. The new regulations will go into effect immediately.
Tennessee currently restricts the importation of deer, elk and moose carcasses from restricted CWD-positive areas of North America unless it is deboned meat, antlers, a clean skull (no meat or tissue), antlers attached to a clean skull, cleaned teeth, finished taxidermy products, or hides and tanned products.
Previously, of the 24 CWD-affected states, 13 had statewide restrictions and 11 had restrictions only on the counties with CWD cases. The Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were also restricted in their entirety.
The new rules extend the importation restrictions immediately to the entirety of all states that have had a positive case of CWD. The only exception, a temporary one that expires on May 1, 2017, is for contiguous states to Tennessee that have their affected counties more than 150 miles from the Tennessee border; those states will remain county-restricted. Only Virginia qualifies for the county-only restriction, and again, that exemption expires in about eight months.
Chronic wasting disease is a contagious, incurable, and always fatal neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and eventually death. The malformed proteins, or prions, that are responsible for the disease accumulate in brain tissue, eyes, tonsil, spleen, lymph nodes, intestinal tracts, and spinal cord of infected animals. Live deer can also shed the prion through saliva, urine, and feces. Once introduced into the environment, the infectious prions can persist for up to 18 years; so prevention truly is the only alternative.
To date, 80 free-ranging elk and 9,394 free-ranging deer have been tested for the disease in the state with all the results coming back negative. For the official language of the rules and a description of which states will be impacted go to http://tn.gov/twra/article/cwd-carcass-importation-ban.
Four separate duck calling contests will be held on Sept. 17 at Final Flight Outfitters in Union City, Tennessee: The U.S. Open Regional, the Grand American Regional, the Bayou de Chein Regional, and the Tennessee State Duck Calling contests. Winners will qualify for the annual World Duck Calling Contest held in Stuttgart, Arkansas on Thanksgiving weekend. The Tennessee Regional is open to Tennessee residents only. Also, there will be a Junior Duck Calling Contest that same day.
Registration fee for each event is $50; the junior’s fee is $25. Contestants can compete in more than one event. For starting times and more information go to Final Flight Outfitters website at www.finalflight.net, or telephone at 731-885-5056. The contest director is Katelyn Massie, email email@example.com.
The application period for the TWRA’s computerized drawings for duck pools and blind sites is Sept. 9-30. The blinds are located in Bogota and Thorny Cypress Wildlife Management Areas (Dyer County near the Mississippi River) and in four Chickamauga WMA units near Chattanooga, specifically Candies Creek, Johnson Bottoms, Rogers Creek, and Yellow Creek.
Paper applications are available online or at license agencies and TWRA regional offices, but they must be delivered to a license agency and cannot be mailed in. The form resembles those for WMA quota deer hunts, except for group filings; however, each successful hunter may bring up to four guests to the duck blind each day. For those unsuccessful the Priority Drawing System is available for better luck next time.
For more information go to www.tnwildlife.org and select “For Hunters” and “Waterfowl Hunting”; or telephone TWRA’s Region III office at 800-262-6704. Five hunters are allowed per pool/blind. Also, parties of up to five are allowed to apply together, instead of only individually. This means that five hunters, who apply as a party, will have five chances of being drawn.
The youth-only waterfowl hunts in Bogota and Thorny Cypress WMAs, Feb. 4 and Feb. 11 this season, are no longer included in this pool/blind drawing. Hunters ages 6-15 can apply for these blinds by mailing a U.S. postal card (or an index card) with their vital information and preferences for the live drawing on Jan. 18. See the waterfowl hunting section for more details.
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.
You can sign up for the popular classroom course with live firing and final exam, or a field day class for an online course, or a bowhunting course. There will be directions to search for the classes nearest to your area. Registration must be completed prior to the starting date of a class. Students should be at least nine years old and should bring a pencil and their Social Security number (mandatory). Do not bring a gun; they are provided.
There is some good-and-bad news in the battle against chronic wasting disease. CWD is a neurological affliction for deer, elk and moose (cervids) that is always fatal. It is established in the wild populations of 13 states, two Canadian provinces, small regions of 11 states, and private deer farms in several other states. Tennessee is CWD-free and has quarantine laws in place to keep it that way.
Previously the test for CWD was always post mortem. Now there is a non-fatal test that can successfully detect the disease. The live testing procedure is performed by removing samples from the animal's lymph glands in its throat. This method appears to be as accurate as the standard method of testing tissue taken from the head of a deceased animal.
The bad news is that Michigan recently became the latest state to detect CWD in its wild deer. A good source of information on CWD is the Quality Deer Management Association website www.qdma.com, to wit:
Is the venison from a CWD area safe to eat? There is currently no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans. However, public health officials recommend that human exposure to the CWD agent be avoided as research continues. The agent that causes CWD is suspected to be an abnormally shaped protein called a prion, which is most often found in the brain and spinal cord, but also in the eyes, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen – and possibly in the urine.
Prions are not destroyed by cooking. Have your venison from CWD areas tested and do not eat venison that tests positive. Completely bone out your harvested cervids in the field and take the normal, simple precautions when field dressing the carcass. Contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for recommended testing facilities.
Should food plots be discouraged, since they concentrate deer into one area? QDMA says No. Scientific studies do not indicate that is necessary, but close congregation of deer around bait and supplemental feed and minerals might be a problem.
What else can hunters do? Report any sickly deer, elk or moose to a wildlife agent. Refrain from using urine-based deer lures since they might contain prions. Stay informed: Go to www.cwd-info.org often for the latest CWD news and information. See that website for a current list of affected states and regions.
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.
“Woodsman, spare that ‘snag.’” A standing dead tree is called a snag. Many landowners make plans to drop a snag promptly post mortem. Wildlife biologist Joel D. Glover suggests, “Have you ever considered the benefits of a dead tree?”
Dropping a dead tree is logical if it is positioned to threaten people or property. However, that snag is a natural and necessary part of the woods. In forested habitats cavity-nesting birds may account for 30-45 percent of the total bird population. Snags are essential for nesting, roosting, and foraging; snags are a rich source of food.
Woodpeckers are the primary excavators of the snag real estate, and the cavities they create can have a long life span with a variety of tenants. Bird species include: Chickadees, bluebirds, wood ducks, titmice, great crested flycatchers, nuthatches, barred owls, screech owls, and kestrels. Other critters include: Bats, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, flying squirrels, raccoons, frogs, snakes, honeybees, wasps and spiders.
Manage your woodlot for a variety of habitats. An absence of suitable snags can be a limiting factor on the balance of nature. If you decide to make your own, snags should be large and well distributed using both hard and soft woods.