The 2017 Tennessee elk hunts have concluded with a total of eight elk harvested during the three segments. Participants could hunt on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area and surrounding private lands, although none of this year’s hunters chose to hunt on private lands.
The archery elk segment was Sept. 30 – Oct. 6 with three of the seven participants recording harvests. Larry Rosenbaum (Dickson) was the first successful archer on the first afternoon with a 5x4 bull weighing 378 pounds dressed, taken in Elk Hut Zone 2. Rosenbaum’s bull is the first ever Tennessee elk taken with a bow since the hunts began in 2009.
Later on the first day Johnny Delaney (Chattanooga) checked a 5x5 elk that weighed 486 pounds, taken from Massengale Mountain in Elk Hunt Zone 4. On the second day Matthew Meyer (Knoxville) harvested the third and final archery bull from EHZ-1, a 5x5 pointer and weighing 397 pounds.
Next came the rifle elk seasons. The Young Sportsman Elk Hunt was a full week this year, Oct. 7-13. Reed Johnson (Manchester) only needed that first day to harvest his 4x4 elk that weighed 316 pounds. The regular rifle season was Oct. 14-20 and was open for seven participants. One of the hunters did not participate due to a conflict.
Alabama resident Tim Fisk hunted EHZ-4 and took a 6x7 elk on Oct. 14 weighing 702 pounds dressed. On the 16th Gary Ownby (Clinton) hunted EHZ-7 and killed a 5x6 bull (no weight recorded); this was the first elk taken from the Tackett Creek area. Also on the 16th Floyd Roach (Knoxville) hunted EHZ-1 and took a 5x5 elk that weighed 510 pounds partially field dressed. On the last morning Kimberly Mayfield (Etowah) recorded her harvest, a 6x6 elk with a field dressed weight of 625 pounds. Since the first managed hunt in 2009, 41 elk have now been legally harvested.
Farmers, ranchers and outdoorsmen know firsthand the damage done by the feral hog population. Across the United States, the feral hog has caused plenty of damage to crops, farmland and untold damage to wild areas. Now, however, a report from Louisiana State University says they may actually be damaging water quality.
The proliferation of feral hogs in Louisiana has been well documented as having many of the negative impacts on wildlife. But a research project by the LSU Agricultural Center's School of Renewable Natural Resources in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries shows that feral hogs, recorded in all 64 parishes, are having a similarly detrimental effect on water quality on some water bodies in central Louisiana.
The research, conducted in 2015 revealed that pathogens were extensive in sampled water bodies on private lands adjacent to Kisatchie National Forest and were regularly associated with feral hogs. The water at all 40 sites in the study contained one or more pathogens that were potentially unsafe for human or wildlife contact.
Of particular concern, of the 40 sites sampled, DNA fingerprinting positively matched 22 sites with high levels of E. coli in the water with fecal samples obtained from feral hogs both within and outside the areas sampled.
Additionally, salmonella was found at 38 of 40 sites. Both pathogens are considered harmful to both humans and wildlife. Associations were also noted between feral hog presence, heterotrophic bacteria counts (a measure of overall bacteria amount in the water) and microbes that could cause leptospirosis, yersinosis and Klebsiella pneumonia.
For wildlife, the diseases could have devastating effects. Leptospira spp. can cause kidney damage and loss of renal function in squirrels, raccoons and white-tailed deer. Leptospira has caused abortions in white-tailed deer and many other mammals.
Salmonella spp. can infect wild turkeys and other wild birds resulting in liver damage, severe diarrhea and death. Klebsiella spp. can cause sinusitis and pneumonia in wild birds and turkeys. Yersinia spp. can cause gastroenteritis in white-tailed deer and raccoons, and severe overwinter mortality has been observed in wild migratory birds.
Water quality in this region has suffered greatly on both privately and publicly owned land as the feral hog population has continued to expand, according to the report. Feral hogs are known carriers of more than 30 bacterial and viral diseases, including many pathogens than can be spread through contact with water.
"We learned through this study that there are some alarming pathogens in the water and feral hogs are implicated in the spread of these pathogens,'' said Scott Durham, LDWF Director of Species Management.
The impact to humans and wildlife in the region is particular cause for concern. Many recreational activities in these areas, including swimming, kayaking and hunting, could put humans in direct contact with these pathogens. Humans can become gravely ill from some of these diseases if misdiagnosed or untreated.
DNA fingerprinting indicated that feral hog family groups were moving or being moved great distances in the region, up to about 30 miles at a time. Collaborative feral hog management between local landowners and public land managers is recommended in the study.
"This study provides incredibly significant findings, illuminating the real threat to wildlife populations and human health from this feral animal's increasing presence across the state,'' Durham said." One way to help is to never transport feral hogs. In fact, it's illegal to transport and release them. We need to develop ways to remove whole sounders (herds) of feral hogs, not just nickel and dime a few pigs at a time. You have to get rid of the whole sounder.''
To see the complete report visit: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/document/40395-feral-hog-water-quality-report/detection_of_feral_hog_impacts_to_water_quality_wildlife.pdf. For more information, go to www.wlf.la.gov. [credit to The Outdoor Wire]
Bad news? There is a full moon on the opening day of muzzleload deer this season, Nov. 4. Everybody knows that the deer will feed all night and hole up all day, frustrating hunters. Everybody knows this. Except that it is not true.
A recent study by Penn State University monitored movement of female adult whitetails fitted with GPS tracking collars during the month of October for several years. These were wild, free-range deer on public forests. During full moon nights they moved less than on nights when the moon was dark (a new moon). Under the full moon deer moved less, not more. But the difference in movement amounted to an average of just six meters per hour.
More significant was when deer moved. They averaged about 60 meters of movement per hour until about 6 a.m., when movement spiked quickly to peak at about 125 meters per hour at roughly 7 a.m. It then declined to 45 meters per hour at 10 a.m. Evening activity showed a similar spike starting at about 3 p.m., peaking at about 6:30 p.m. and dropping sharply toward minimal movement at about 8 p.m. New moon, partial moon, full moon. It didn’t matter.
This makes perfect sense when you think about whitetail physiology. Deer are ruminants; they have more than one stomach. It takes them from one to four hours to fill up the first stomach, depending on forage abundance. Their maximum movement will be while transitioning from bedding cover to feeding grounds and back again.
After filling their rumens (first stomach) they bed and ruminate, i.e. regurgitate and re-chew what they took in. This process takes about four to six hours with, perhaps, some stretching and nibbling every few hours. Soon after, feeling hungry again, the deer travel back to a major feeding site. Like clockwork this cycle moves through the days, months, and years. Deer movement is largely determined by their digestive systems coupled with their preferred initial foraging times, dusk and dawn. Moonlight or no moonlight, deer movement is slave to deer digestion; there is no way they can “feed all night”. Continue to expect dusk and dawn deer activity. [Thanks to Ron Spomer, www.ronspomeroutdoors.com, of Sporting Classics for this article.]
The late entry small game seasons are about to commence. Rabbit and quail seasons open Nov. 4 and Wilson snipe opens Nov. 14. All three of these seasons close on Feb. 28. The daily bag limits are five for rabbit, six for quail and eight for snipe. Dove’s second segment closes on Nov. 5, but will reopen Dec. 8 – Jan. 15, limit of 15 per day.
The woodcock season has been shifted two weeks later on the calendar to better match the bird’s southerly migration through Tennessee. It now runs Nov. 11 – Dec. 25 with a daily bag limit of three. Remember that the Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit ($2) is required for dove, snipe and woodcock.
The muzzleloading deer season runs Nov. 4-17 for all the big game units. The limit on bucks is the same for all units, two, which happens to be the annual maximum for the state. The antlerless limit depends on the unit: Units A and B are two each; units C and D are one each; Unit L is three per day. Note that the antlerless bag limits are per unit; a limit may be taken in each unit.
Whitetails Unlimited's Grassroots Program has been incredibly successful, providing grants to support local projects that strengthen the WTU mission. During the last fiscal year, Whitetails Unlimited awarded 1,831 grants to mission-related projects totaling $2,180,917. Our dedicated volunteers and entire membership base enjoy managing the Nation's most sought after big-game animal. Besides Grassroots WTU has several other successful programs and initiatives, including Staying on Target, HOPE for Wildlife, Preserving the Hunting Tradition, and the DEER Program.
Since its beginning in 1982, Whitetails Unlimited has stayed focused on its mission and has made great strides in the field of conservation. Thanks to more than 450 chapters, 105,000-plus members, chapter volunteers, and corporate sponsors, WTU is one of the nation's premier organization dedicated to the betterment of the white-tailed deer and its environment.
To date, Whitetails Unlimited has expended more than $78 million on program services. Its mission is to raise funds in support of educational programs, wildlife habitat enhancement and acquisition, and preservation of the shooting sports and hunting tradition for future generations. Learn more at www.whitetailsunlimited.com.
Here is another reason to support Ducks Unlimited with a membership. DU has launched its inaugural National Scholarship Program offering graduating high school seniors who are DU members the opportunity to advance their education.
Starting in 2018, DU will annually award 61, one-time scholarships, funded on an annual basis through the Youth & Education Endowment, to eligible applicants at the following levels: 50 Varsity Scholarships at $500 each, 10 Conservation Scholarships at $1,000 each, and one National Scholarship of $10,000.
"We are very proud to be able to give back to our high school members who support DU in a variety of ways," said Doug Schoenrock, DU senior vice president and chairman of the National Youth and Education Committee. "These young men and women have made a huge impact for our organization, and it is time for us to do the same for them."
The online application is now open and will close on Jan. 15. Applicants will need to provide their high school transcript, DU member/volunteer history and a list of any service or academic awards received. In addition, applicants will write a 300-word essay describing their most memorable outdoor experience and how it has impacted their view on conservation. All applications will be reviewed by DU's National Scholarship Selection Committee and recipients will be chosen based on the merits of those submissions.
The list of scholarship recipients will be sent to all applicants by April 15 with awarded checks released to the student's college or university prior to registration. Recipients will be recognized in Ducks Unlimited magazine, and the national scholarship winner will be announced at the DU National Convention. For more information visit www.ducks.org/scholarship.
There will be some changes in the 2017-2018 trapping season for Tennessee. The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has received the authority to regulate trapping, namely the type, placement and inspection period of traps. For more than 30 years, trapping laws have been under the jurisdiction of TN Code Annotated 70-4-120. Recently these laws were reassigned to the TFWC’s Proclamation 17-04 Manner & Means of Hunting, Taking, and Trapping, thanks to the efforts of the Tennessee Fur Harvesters Association and other state trappers.
Extensive field testing by wildlife biologists and trappers aided by research were used to establish the Best Management Practices (BMP) for increasing trapping efficiency and to address animal welfare concerns. Recently the Commission made a few changes to the rules on trapping based on trapping’s BMP.
In the past there was only one legal land set that could be used in the open on dry ground, the soft jaw trap and/or padded leg hold trap. The Commission has broadened trap types to include different legal trap styles for land sets for the upcoming trapping season; these include the offset, the laminated, the offset laminated traps, and the wide jaw trap. Specifications for the wide jaw trap state that the surface area of the trap jaw that makes contact with the animal must be ¼ inch thick.
All land traps overall jaw width is still nine inches or less at the widest point. Lethal sets such as instant kill traps and water sets have been amended from checking every 36 hours to 72 hours. All other traps must be inspected every 36 hours. All other trapping rules remain the same: Traps must have the trappers name or TWRA ID # on the trap; trappers are liable for any damage done to any domestic animals caught in traps; and written permission is required to trap on private property. More information on trapping can be found on pages 14-16 of the 2017-18 hunting guide, or at www.tnwildlife.org. The season runs Nov. 19 – Feb. 28.
The Mobile app for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has been upgraded to make it even more appealing. The “On The Go 2.0” smartphone app is where to go for quick access to all things TWRA: Current fish and wildlife news, where to hunt-fish-boat-view wildlife, check in big game, current regulations, bird and wildlife identification, and more.
On The Go 2.0 app users can purchase licenses, re-register boats, apply for quota hunts. Nearly a quarter million users have tried the TWRA’s app. It is easy to download for any smartphone or computer. Go to http://tn.gov/twra/article/mobile-web-information and see the videos that explain it all.
Perhaps you have seen one of the new hard-card hunting and fishing licenses. It is an optional, beautiful and collectible, wildlife scene that lists all of your current licenses; it costs an extra five dollars. The hard-cards began with a woodland white-tailed buck. Now there is a second artwork to choose, an airborne largemouth bass.
The hard-cards can be purchased online in the license section of www.tnwildlife.org or at any license agency. Both of these portraits are painted by the famous Tennessee artist Ralph McDonald. There is a video produced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency that showcases McDonald and the two artworks. Go to www.facebook.com/TennesseeWildlifeResourcesAgency/videos/vb.1425361010824822/1601005879927000/?type=2&theater.
The early Young Sportsman hunts for deer and bear are Oct. 28-29. Hunters ages six through 16 are eligible, and they must have a non-hunting adult at least 21 years old with them close enough to control the hunting weapon. Both need to wear the required fluorescent orange, but the adult does not have to have a license. Any legal weapon may be used: Gun, muzzleloader, bow, and crossbow.
Hunters ages six through 12 do not need a hunting license; hunters ages 13 through 15 must have the junior license; those age 16 (when the license is purchased) must have an adult license. Young hunters age 10 to 16 must have their hunter education certificate or the Apprentice License.
For deer: The early season bag limit for bucks allows one antlered deer per day up to the state maximum of two bucks per year. The antlerless bag limit for this youth hunt is two for the big game units A, B, C, and D; Unit L allows three does per day. Some of the TWRA wildlife management areas will also be open for this hunt. See the WMA list online or in the 2017 Hunting and Trapping Guide (a WMA permit may be required).
For bear: Young hunters will have exclusive use of these Bear Hunt Zones: BHZ-1, BHZ-2 and BHZ-3 (The adult archery bear season ends on Oct. 20). Dogs are not allowed but all weapons are (gun, muzzleloader and archery). The season limit is one bear (without cubs) per person.
There is more bear hunting coming. The late bear seasons continue in BHZ-1, BHZ-2 and BHZ-3 on Oct. 30 – Nov. 3 with dogs and all weapons (guns, muzzleloaders and archery); this area reopens on Nov. 18-21 for no dogs. The next season for BHZ 1-2-3 opens on Nov. 27 with dogs but the closing dates vary: BHZ-1 closes Dec. 16, BHZ-2 closes Dec. 21, and BHZ-3 closes Dec. 10. The final bear hunt is in BHZ-3, with dogs, on Dec. 28-31.
The counties in BHZ-1 include Carter, Cocke (north of I-40), Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington. BHZ-2 counties include Blount, Cocke (south of I-40), Jefferson (east of Hwy 411), and Sevier. BHZ-3 counties are McMinn (east of Hwy 411), Monroe and northeastern Polk. For more information go to page 28 of the 2017-18 hunting guide, also online at www.tnwildlife.org.
The early Canada goose season is the first phase of Tennessee’s migratory waterfowl hunting. The Statewide Zone is Oct. 14-31, then Nov. 25-26 and Dec. 2 – Jan. 28. The Northwest Zone is Oct. 14-18, then Nov. 11-12 and Dec. 2 – Feb. 10. The daily bag limit is three.
The Northwest Canada Zone includes Lake, Obion, and Weakley counties, and portions of Dyer County and Gibson County. For more information on the Canada goose seasons, see the 2017-18 Tennessee Waterfowl Hunting Guide on page 11. The earliest opportunity for duck hunting in Tennessee is Nov. 11-12 in the Reelfoot Duck Zone.
The TWRA is investing in ducks for Tennessee. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency recently committed to increasing their contributions supporting wetlands restoration on the Canadian breeding grounds that are important to Tennessee's waterfowl.
Last October nine commissioners, TWRA Director Ed Carter, and two TWRA staff members paid their own ways to Saskatchewan to tour conservation projects implemented by Ducks Unlimited Canada. The commissioners were so impressed with the habitat work that they voted in January to increase the Agency’s annual contribution to fully fund the goal established for Tennessee, $166,000. State contributions are funded primarily by hunting license sales.
TWRA's contribution will be matched by Ducks Unlimited and leveraged through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, resulting in at least $664,000 a year for conservation projects, all originating from the state's $166,000 annual commitment. Director Carter said, "Following the science that tells us our waterfowl are predominantly hatched in eastern Canada, we wanted to make our investment in habitat conservation there."
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's threatened waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU has conserved more than 14 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. For more information visit www.ducks.org.
Nothing in sport hunting is more rewarding than working with a good retriever, be it hunting ducks, quail, grouse, or pheasant. So, it is logical that Americans would invent an extreme competition for the best retrievers. DockDogs is it. For many years the events have been seen on television, but it is even more fun live. Now is your chance to see it live.
DockDogs Worldwide has chosen Knoxville, Tennessee as the site for its 12th annual World Championships. It will be on Oct. 28-29 downtown at the Knoxville Convention Center. See the best canine athletes racing down the docks and jumping for distance, for height, or water retrieving for speed. This is a great spectator sport.
Visit the website www.dockdogs.com for more on this exciting sport, including local clubs, regional contests and tickets for the world championship finals. Tickets are limited and cost $8 for adults and $5 for kids ages 3 to 16. The finals will be 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Saturday and 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Sunday.
Tennessee’s grouse season opens Oct. 14 – Feb. 28 for areas east of I-65. The bag limit is three per day. Grouse numbers have been growing in recent years due to habitat improvements like more native grasses and more second-growth forests. The second dove segment reopens on Oct. 14 – Nov. 5 with a daily limit of 15.
Tennessee’s fall turkey season is Oct. 14-27. That’s for shotgun; bowhunters can hunt turkeys every day of the archery deer season. In the fall either sex can be taken, and this year the seasonal bag limit is one per county. Fall turkey is closed in the following counties: Bledsoe, Bradley, Crockett, Dyer, Giles, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Loudon, McMinn, Monroe, Polk, Shelby, Tipton, Unicoi, and Wayne. For more information see page 31 of the 2017 Hunting Guide, also at www.tnwildlife.org.