The Youth Shooting Sports Alliance (YSSA) is offering youth shooting programs an opportunity to receive new and used firearms, archery equipment and accessories on a loan basis for 2019. Program leaders are encouraged to participate in the grant process, available now through January 31, 2019.
In addition to .22 rimfire rifles, shotguns, BB guns and archery equipment, the YSSA will be adding a small supply of centerfire rifles for introductory hunting programs.
Grants are approved contingent on your program length, size and product availability. Ensure that your program is registered on the “programs” section of the website www.youthshootingsa.com. This will also make you eligible for discounts from certain suppliers. A list of the products available is included in the grant application.
The Youth Shooting Sports Alliance was founded in 2007, an offshoot of the National 4-H Youth Shooting Sports program. To date, the YSSA has loaned more than $1.5 million in equipment to youth programs across the country, benefitting more than 85,000 youth. For more information about the YSSA, contact Cyndi Flannigan at email@example.com.
Tennessee’s Reelfoot Duck Zone ushers in the 2018-19 fall duck hunting on Nov. 10-11 and continues on Dec. 1 – Jan. 27. The Statewide Duck Zone will again have its familiar 60-day split season, opening on Nov. 24-25 (Thanksgiving Day weekend) and continuing Dec. 1 – Jan. 27. The Youth Waterfowl Hunts are Feb. 2 and Feb. 9 for both zones.
The daily bag limit is six ducks, consisting of no more than four mallards (maximum of two females), three wood, three scaup, two redhead, one pintail, two canvasback, and two black.
The season for Canada geese in the Northwest Canada Goose Zone continues Nov. 10-11 and Dec. 1 – Feb. 10. The Statewide Canada Goose Zone continues Nov. 24-25 and Dec. 1 – Feb. 10. The daily bag limit is three in all zones. Most of the other goose species are open Nov. 24-25 and Dec. 1 – Feb. 10. For more see the waterfowl section in the 2018-19 hunting guide, pp.22-27, or see it at www.tnwildlife.org.
Since 2011 waterfowlers have been treated to fall migrations that rank as very good to fantastic. It appears that the 2018 Fall Migration is going to be another excellent one. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its report on 2018 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June in the north central U.S. Pothole Region (USFWS) and the Canadian central provinces (Canadian Wildlife Service).
Overall duck numbers in the survey area remain high, but dropped a little from last year. Total populations were estimated at 41.2 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is down from last year’s estimate of 47.3 million (48.4 million in 2016) and is 17 percent above the 1955-2016 long-term average (LTA). The projected mallard fall flight index is 11.4 million birds, close to the 2017 figure of 12.9 million.
The main determining factor for duck breeding success is wetland and upland habitat conditions in the key breeding landscapes. Conditions observed across the U.S. and Canadian survey areas during the 2018 breeding population survey were generally similar to last year with a few exceptions. The total pond estimate for the United States and Canada combined was 5.2 million, which is 14 percent below the 2017 estimate of 6.1 million and identical to the LTA of 5.2 million.
Although mallard numbers in the survey declined by 12 percent, overall, the mainstay mallard populations remain in great shape, and the USFWS estimates the mallard fall flight will be similar to last year. However, the survey indicates a continuing concern for pintails and scaup, as both species remain below their LTA.
Ducks Unlimited’s Chief Scientist Tom Moorman had these observations: "The dip in the population for prairie-breeding puddle ducks is not unexpected and by no means unprecedented given that conditions on the prairies this spring were drier than last year. As a result, 2018 populations dropped accordingly. However, populations of all key species except northern pintails and scaup remain above long-term averages.
“This year’s breeding population decline is a reminder of the need to sustain the capacity of breeding habitats, particularly in the prairies as we go through natural variation in wetland conditions. Waterfowl populations are adapted well to short-term swings in habitat conditions, but we must continue to guard against the long-term loss of prairie breeding habitat.”
Following are the USFWS 2018 statistics for all species:
Mallards: 9.3 million, 12 percent lower than 2017 and 17 percent above LTA
Gadwall: 2.9 million, 31 percent lower than 2017 and 43 percent above LTA
American wigeon: 2.8 million, 2 percent above 2017 and 8 percent above LTA
Green-winged teal: 3 million, 16 percent lower than 2017 and 42 percent above LTA
Blue-winged teal: 6.5 million, 18 percent lower than 2017 and 27 percent above LTA
Northern shovelers: 4.2 million, 3 percent lower than 2017 and 62 percent above LTA
Northern pintails: 2.4 million, 18 percent lower than 2017 and 40 percent below LTA
Redheads: 1 million, 10 percent lower than 2017 and 38 percent above LTA
Canvasbacks: 0.7 million, 6 percent lower than 2017 and 16 percent above LTA
Scaup: 4 million, 9 percent below 2017 and 20 percent above LTA
View all the data from this report at the Ducks Unlimited website www.ducks.org/ducknumbers.
The muzzleloading deer season runs Nov. 3-16 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.
The late entry small game seasons are about to commence. Rabbit and quail seasons open Nov. 3 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. 4, 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. 10 – Dec. 24 with a daily bag limit of three. Remember that the Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit ($2) is required for dove, snipe and woodcock. To follow the Timberdoodle migration in real time, see the Ruffed Grouse Society website www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/Migration-Map-History.
The 2018 Tennessee elk hunt is in the books. There were 15 bull permits issued this year. Twelve hunters took animals for an extraordinary success rate of 80 percent, the best since the program began in 2009. In the archery hunt 0n Sept. 29 – Oct. 5, all seven bowhunters filled their tags. The sole young sportsman tagged out and four of seven scored in the Oct. 13-19 rifle season (gun, muzzleloader or archery). Participants could hunt on North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area and surrounding private lands.
Three bowhunters took 6x6 bulls on opening day: Darrell Clark (Corryton) in Elk Zone 2; Adam A. Miller (Jamestown) in Zone 5; and Marcus B. Tilson (Oakdale) in Zone 7S. On Oct. 1 Charlie A. Hall (Chattanooga) took a 7x6 bull in Zone 1, and Hunter Munck (Cleveland) harvested a 9x7 from Zone 1. On Oct. 4 Mason King (Harriman) killed a 4x7 in Zone 3; and on Oct. 5 Luke Dunham (Cookeville) took a 6x5 bull in Zone 4.
In the Young Sportsman Elk Hunt on Oct. 6-12, Porter Neubauer (Belvidere) won the permit this year and he killed a 6x6 on Oct. 11 in Zone 4.
In the rifle elk season on Oct. 13-19, Scott Thomas (Cleveland) took an 8x6 bull on the first day in Zone 1. Thomas was the lucky winner of the 2018 Tennessee Elk Raffle, which sold 22,484 tickets at $10 per. Also filling tags on the first day were Henry Cothron (Bethpage) with a 3x4 in Zone 4, and Denise Porter (Maryville) with a 4x4 in Zone 7N. Finally, David Pruitt (Jackson) took a 6x4 bull in Zone 7S. Since the first hunt in 2009, there have been 53 elk harvested.
Here is some state money to help concerned citizens beautify their communities.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has grant dollars available to assist community organizations, civic groups, watershed organizations, and conservation groups with riparian tree planting projects. The best tree planting season in Tennessee is December through March. The TWRA will accept proposals through Nov. 30, 2018.
Five grants of $500 each, are available for each of TWRA’s four regional Aquatic Habitat Protection projects, a total of $2,500 per region. The grants require the group to have a nonprofit tax number. The projects are to be completed, the money spent, and a report submitted by June 30, 2019.
Applicants should have complete contact information in their request, including the leader’s tax number. The proposal should also include the name of the stream, county or counties involved, and the project area and description. For more information contact Della Sawyers at 615-781-6577 or by e-mail at Della.Sawyers@tn.gov.
If you are an “Outer” – a man or woman who enjoys the great outdoors – this free app can really make a difference in our environment: Wild Spotter™. Everyone venturing into our national forests is encouraged to keep a keen eye out for harmful non-native plants and animals, and report them on the Wild Spotter app.
Launched in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, University of Georgia and Wildlife Forever, Wild Spotter helps to identify, map and report invasive species to better assist the U.S. Forest Service with managing public lands.
In just over six months Wild Spotter already has been downloaded and used by hundreds of people hunting, fishing, hiking or simply exploring national forests. Field reports by citizens of invasive species are helping to locate problem areas. Endorsed by dozens of conservation groups from around the country, the program leverages countless tools such as a free mobile app, Facebook, a website, and training materials for anyone to become an official “Wild Spotter”.
Pat Conzemius, Executive Vice President of Wildlife Forever, stated, “Our public lands under attack. Invasive species are contributing to habitat loss around the country. Sportsmen and women have long been on the front lines of conservation so Wild Spotter is a perfect stewardship program to use to engage and protect our favorite places.”
Wild Spotter demand is growing. Piloted on twelve national forests from coast to coast, the app appeals to citizen scientists, recreationists, volunteer groups, and youth clubs venturing outdoors and looking to help protect their favorite wild places from aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. To participate visit the website at www.WildSpotter.org and follow along on Facebook. Download the free Wild Spotter app for Apple and Android devices.
Wildlife Forever’s mission is to conserve America's wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat, and management of fish and wildlife. As a non-profit, 501c3 charity for over 30 years, WF supporters have donated millions of dollars in all 50 states plus Canada, to conduct fish, game and habitat conservation projects. Recent audits reveal 94 percent of every dollar supports their conservation mission. To become involved visit www.WildlifeForever.org.
The October meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has been changed to a one-day meeting, beginning at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25. The location is in Nashville at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building in the Ellington Agricultural Center.
This month’s agenda will include a presentation on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area by its manger, Joe Elkins. North Cumberland is comprised of 146,000 acres and covers portions of Anderson, Campbell, Morgan, and Scott counties. Also, Dr. Linda Muller, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will provide the findings of an elk study research that has been conducted.
In addition, the TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division Biologist and Technician of the Year award winners will be presented at the meeting; and Kyle Walling, who was earlier announced as the TWRA Wildlife Officer of the Year, will be introduced to the commission.
The later bear seasons continue in BHZ-1, BHZ-2 and BHZ-3 on Oct. 29 – Nov. 2 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. 26 with dogs but the closing dates vary: BHZ-1 closes Dec. 15, BHZ-2 closes Dec. 20, and BHZ-3 closes Dec. 9. The final bear hunt is in BHZ-3, with dogs, on Dec. 27-30.
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 36-37 of the 2018-19 hunting guide, also online at www.tnwildlife.org.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking comments for its 2019-20 waterfowl and other migratory bird hunting regulations, including sandhill cranes. This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff. The comment period is open Oct. 15 – Nov. 30.
Due to changes in the timing of the federal regulation process, waterfowl and other migratory game bird hunting seasons are now proposed to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its January meeting and voted upon at its February meeting.
Public comments will be considered as proposals for regulation changes. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include “Waterfowl Season Comments” on the subject line. For comments by postal mail, send to: 2019-20 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife and Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204.
The early Young Sportsman hunts for deer and bear are Oct. 27-28. 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 2018-19 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. 19). Dogs are not allowed but all weapons are (gun, muzzleloader and archery). The season limit is one bear (without cubs) per person.
Attention: There is an important change in procedure for the sandhill crane and duck blind computerized drawings for wildlife management areas. The 2018 results are ready and successful applicants can view them at www.gooutdoorstennessee.com. Now for the change.
In past years, successful waterfowl applicants have always received a “Notice of Intent” with which they declare their intention to hunt their assigned blind pool. For the first time, this year TWRA is implementing an electronic method to reply by email.
Applicants must first submit an electronic Notice of Intent (NOI) by the designated deadline to the specific area. Applicants will have to navigate to QuotaHunt.GoOutdoorsTennessee.com and log into their customer profile. They will see a "Complete Form" button next to the Waterfowl Blind Reservation Quota Hunt Award. If participants do not confirm their hunt by the deadline date, their reservation will be cancelled.
Then, print your awarded Quota Hunt Permit documents. This is your permit needed to hunt. For information on obtaining NOI deadlines, detailed maps, GPS coordinates, and rules and regulations for the hunt, visit http://tn.gov/twra/article/waterfowl-hunting.
Squirrel hunters, recycle those squirrel tails. Sheldon’s Inc. will buy them for their very popular Mepp’s Spinner fishing lures. Sheldon’s feels they are too valuable not to be recycled. The company is quick to specify that it wants only tails that have been harvested by sport hunters that will eat the meat. And yes, Tennessee does allow the sale of squirrel tails.
The tails can have varying qualities. They are at their best beginning in October. The minimum rate per tail is 20 cents for those graded premium and 16 cents for those graded good; double that fee if you take payment in fishing lures. Your shipping costs are refunded on shipments of 50 or more, and the money increases on larger shipments.
You may not get rich, but Hey! It’s recycling … and some bargain fishing tackle. Check out their website at www.mepps.com/squirrels for tips on storage and shipping (like bone-in tails, salting the butts and freezing or drying tails straight). For more information their telephone is 800-637-7700; e-mail email@example.com; or write to them at Sheldon’s, Inc., 626 Center Street, Antigo, WI 54409-2496.
The FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) last week, showing a 3.3 percent decrease in the national crime rate for 2017. This is the 15th consecutive year of dropping crime rates. Homicides overall declined in 2017, with firearm-related homicides dropping slightly more than total homicides.
Looking at the data in the UCR, it is clear why banning certain firearms based on cosmetic features will not prevent crime. In fact, assaults with knives, hands and feet, and hammers were several times more numerous than firearms of any kind.
There is more. While the data for the UCR is from 2017, another report out last week previews a similar picture for 2018. The preliminary data from the report “Crime and Murder in 2018: A Preliminary Analysis,” show that crime in 2018 appears to be dropping back to the historical downward trend. The Brennan Center, a left-leaning think tank at the New York University School of Law published the report. Despite the lack of any new gun control laws in most states, it was found that in 19 major cities, crime rates and homicide rates are dropping. The data suggests that in 2018 the murder rate in these cities will be 7.6 percent lower than in 2017.
In a related story, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) has just issued its 2018 annual report on the number of concealed handgun permits in the US. In 2018, the number soared to over 17.25 million – a 273percent increase since 2007. Permits are held by 7.14 percent of American adults.
Unlike surveys that may be affected by people’s unwillingness to answer some personal questions, concealed handgun permit data is the only really “hard data” that we have on gun ownership across the United States. Still, an even larger number of people carry because in 14 states people don’t need a permit to carry in all or virtually all those states.
The CPRC report also noted that concealed handgun permit holders nationwide are extremely law-abiding, much more so than police officers. In Florida and Texas, for example, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at one-sixth the rate at which police officers are convicted. The full report can be downloaded here.
This Beyond BOW takes women muzzleload hunting. The 2018 Beyond Becoming an Outdoors Woman Muzzleloader Workshop will be held on Nov. 9-11 on private property in Humphreys County. Women age 18 and older are eligible and the sponsor is the TWRA.
The private farm for the event has more than 2,000 acres of prime deer habitat with a variety of wildlife management projects. Besides actual hunting time, a variety of clinics are scheduled including, deer biology, deer management and hunting ethics.
Registration for the workshop is on a first-come basis; however, two weeks priority will be given to first-time participants. The workshop fee is $225, which includes meals and campsites, if participants wish to camp. Participants must have the appropriate licenses and hunter education cards (or the apprentice license). Some treestands will be available.
For more information and a registration application, contact Donald Hosse at Don.Hosse@tn.gov or phone 615-781-6541. Applications are also available on the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org under Outreach.
The early Canada goose season is the first phase of Tennessee’s migratory waterfowl hunting. The Statewide Zone is Oct. 13-23, then Nov. 24-25 and Dec. 1 – Feb. 10. The Northwest Zone is Oct. 13-23, then Nov. 10-11 and Dec. 1 – Feb. 10. The daily bag limit is three.
For more information on the Canada goose seasons, see the Waterfowl Section of the 2018-19 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide on pages 22-23 (waterfowl and hunting brochures are combined this year). The earliest opportunity for duck hunting in Tennessee is Nov. 10-11 in the Reelfoot Duck Zone.
Tennessee’s grouse season opens Oct. 13 – Feb. 28 for areas east of I-65. The bag limit is three per day. Grouse numbers are continuing to improve in recent years due to habitat improvements like more native grasses, prescribed burns and more second-growth forests. The second dove segment reopens on Oct. 13 – Nov. 4 with a daily limit of 15.
Tennessee’s fall turkey season is Oct. 13-26. That’s for shotgun; bowhunters can hunt turkeys every day of the archery deer season. New this year: Only bearded birds can be taken, and the seasonal bag limit is one per county. Fall turkey hunting 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 39 of the 2018 Hunting Guide, also at www.tnwildlife.org.