Changing names again? Smith & Wesson handgun fans were startled a couple of years ago when the iconic brand was absorbed into American Outdoor Brands Corp. (AOBC). Of course S&W kept its identity as a leading American firearms manufacturer. Well, the AOBC deck is being shuffled again.
American Outdoor Brands Corp. (NASDAQ Global Select: AOBC) includes firearms and many products for the shooting, hunting, and outdoor enthusiast. In 2020 the company has decided to split into two independent factions. Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. will represent the firearms business (S&W and Thompson/Center Arms) and will remain in S&W’s longtime Springfield, Massachusetts headquarters.
American Outdoor Brands, Inc. will represent the outdoors accessories products, including: Caldwell, Crimson Trace, Wheeler, Tipton, Frankford Arsenal, BOG, Hooyman, Smith & Wesson Accessories, Thompson/Center Arms Accessories, Schrade, Old Timer, Uncle Henry, Imperial, and LaserLyte.
“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, a 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.
The State-Fish Art Contest is entering its 22nd year, bringing children, art and aquatic conservation together. The contest is for all grades from K-12. The young artists in four age categories will create an original illustration of any official state-fish and one page of writing (a personal one-page written essay, story or poem) detailing its behavior, habitat, and efforts to conserve it. Winners receive prizes and national recognition. Wildlife Forever created this award-winning program, and Bass Pro Shops again is this year’s sponsor.
New for the 2020 contest is the Fish Migration Award, created in partnership between Wildlife Forever and the World Fish Migration Foundation. Contestants may choose to apply in either the State-Fish Art Contest, the Fish Migration Award or both. Art for this award will be judged in two age categories, 5-11 years old and 12-18 years old.
Educators, homeschoolers and parents nationwide can utilize a lesson plan for the contest called “Fish On!”, which is available for free on CD and for download. Entries are due by March 31, 2020. Judging will be held in April and winners announced early in May. For more details and to view the 2019 winning art and writings visit www.StateFishArt.org. Tennessee has two official state fish, the largemouth bass and the channel catfish.
It is time to add trout fishing to your wintertime activities. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced its 2019-20 winter trout stocking schedule. TWRA plans to release approximately 90,000 rainbow trout into Tennessee waters from late November through March. These are streams that will not support trout in the heat of the summer, but can provide nearby trout fishing opportunities for anglers during the winter months. The fisheries include many city park ponds, state parks, dam tailwaters, and other streams. This is a great opportunity to introduce children or first-time anglers to fishing.
The trout will average about 10 inches in length. The daily creel limit is seven, but there is no size limit. The intent is to catch-and-eat, not catch-and-release. Anglers are reminded that a trout license is needed in addition to the fishing license. The complete stocking schedule and updates can be found on TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org in the Fishing section. Please note that the dates and locations are subject to change.
For delicious venison, many hunters like to hang the meat for aging and tenderizing, but that process can be risky if you don't have a temperature-controlled environment between 35 and 50 degrees. Consider getting the meat cut, packaged and into the freezer quickly. Wild game can be aged and tenderized later using this alternative process.
Remove a package of meat from the freezer and allow it to partially thaw in the refrigerator. When the package is beginning to soften and is covered with slushy ice crystals, put a tally mark on the package and refreeze. Then repeat. When a package has three tally marks, it is aged and ready for cooking.
There is good information on butchering your own deer at the website of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, including photos, charts and breakdowns of cuts. Go to www.rmef.org/hunting and click on "Carnivore's Kitchen."
Bizarre. A deer was killed by a vehicle in Powell, Tenn. after crashing through a hospital window. On Monday morning, Nov. 11, a six-point buck crashed through the window of the outpatient imaging center at Tennova North hospital. After thrashing around inside, it ran back out through a different window and left the area with injuries. Moments later it was struck and killed by a vehicle on Emory Rd.
TWRA Wildlife Officer Roy Smith investigated the incident, and, by coincidence, his brother Michael Smith was the driver that hit the deer. Michael stated that he saw the deer just before he hit it and it had injuries to its face. The deer was given to a third party.
This is breeding season for white-tailed deer, called the rut. During this time, both male and female deer become very active causing them to cross into urban areas and sometimes ending up in unusual places. When rutting bucks see their reflection in glass or mirrors, they will often ram what they perceive as a potential competitor.
Traditionally the weekend before Thanksgiving is the Tennessee opener for the gun deer season statewide. The dates this year are Nov. 23 – Jan. 5 in all of the big game units. Private lands in Unit L also have an antlerless season Jan. 6-10.
The antlered deer bag limit for all seasons (archery, muzzleloader and gun) is two (maximum one per day). The antlerless bag limits differ for each big game unit: Unit L is three per day; Unit A is two; Unit B is one; Unit C is one through Dec. 8 only; Unit D is one through Nov. 29 only. Hunters may take an antlerless bag limit in each big game unit. Some hunters need a Type 094 permit to hunt does, but not Sportsman and Lifetime licenses or landowners on their own land.
In Unit CWD the gun season began early, Nov. 9 – Jan. 5. See page 35 of the 2019-20 hunting guide www.tnwildlife.org for special harvest programs in this unit, such as Earn-A-Buck and Replacement Buck.
Nature prepares furbearing animals for winter with thick, prime pelts. For Tennessee pelts are prime from mid-November through February. Tennessee’s trapping season corresponds to that time and is Nov. 22 – Feb. 29.
Eligible furbearers are: Bobcat, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, river otter, raccoon, skunks (striped and spotted), and weasel. There are no daily or annual limits. Beaver, coyote and groundhog can be trapped year round since they are such costly pests to farmers, stockmen and landowners.
Modern trapping is highly regulated by state wildlife agencies and it is similar to hunting as an effective tool for controlling populations of target species. Such regulations include the style and size of traps, identification tags on all traps, and frequent inspection of trap sites. See pages 15-16 (Manner and Means section) and page 19 (Trapping Seasons) of the 2019-20 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide for more details; also at www.tnwildlife.org.
For those hunters that like to follow the big game harvest numbers for Tennessee, there is a setback in available data coming from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Previously one could go to the Hunting section on the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org and select “Hunters Toolbox, Reports and Statistics”. Here there were lots of details on any period of the season, including say, for deer: Antlered, antlerless males and females, fawns, as well as a breakdown for each county’s harvest.
This reporter contacted a TWRA representative who explained that the previous reporting system was susceptible to many mistakes and was inaccurate; therefore, the Hunters Toolbox is being redesigned. Presently the Hunters Toolbox will only report gross totals for deer, bear, turkey, and sandhill crane. A map of counties is included and selecting a county will give you its total harvest number.
For the Youth Hunt on Oct. 26-27, the statewide harvest of deer was 3,470; two bear were taken in Sevier County total. For year-to-date the statewide deer harvest is 33,399; the bear harvest is at 301. The top five counties so far for bear are: Carter- 40, Polk- 37, Monroe- 35, Cocke- 34, and Sevier- 30.
When will the 2019 fall duck migration begin? The Ducks Unlimited Mobile App can tell you when and where. The app is a big help for hunters and it is free for your smart phone. You can track the fall migration of waterfowl so you know ahead of time where to go and when to go. There is a useful waterfowl identification gallery, plus breaking news, hunting reports, season and bag limit details, special DU events, videos, and hunting tips. Of course the website www.ducks.org has all that and more. Consider joining this fine waterfowl conservation organization.
After field dressing and butchering a deer from a possible CWD area, it is a good idea to thoroughly clean your knives and utensils. A major concern with chronic wasting disease is that standard sanitizing methods fail to kill the prions that cause the illness. Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have discovered that the CWD prions on stainless steel can be neutralized by a five-minute soak in household bleach. However, bleach only works as a surface decontaminant; it does not penetrate infected tissue.
Bad news? There is a full moon on Nov. 12; this will flood with moonlight the opening week nights of muzzleload deer season (opening Nov. 9). 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). Again, 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”. So, continue to expect dusk and dawn deer activity. [Thanks to Ron Spomer, www.ronspomeroutdoors.com, of Sporting Classics for this revelation.]