The youth-only waterfowl hunts at Bogota and Thorny Cypress WMAs (in Dyer County) are set for two Saturdays, Feb. 4 and Feb. 11. Hunters ages 6-15 accompanied by an adult are eligible. The drawings for the duck blind sites will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Jan. 23 onsite and in person at the Dyersburg work base, address below.
BUT, young hunters statewide do not have to be present; they can mail in their information before the drawing takes place. Postal cards with personal information and blind choices can be sent to: TWRA, 355 Menzies Road, Dyersburg, TN 38924. For more information go to www.tnwildlife.org and see Bogota WMA on page 10 of the waterfowl hunting guide.
The rifle deer season ends on Jan. 8 in all big game units. In Unit L doe hunting on private lands is extended from Monday, Jan. 9 through Friday, Jan. 13; the doe limit in Unit L continues to be three per day.
The second Young Sportsman Deer Hunt is Jan. 14-15. Hunters ages 6-12 are eligible and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult (21 years or older). One adult may supervise more than one hunter. The bag limit for bucks is two for all units (one buck per day), but not to exceed the state maximum of two bucks per year. The bag limits for does vary: Units A, B, C, and D are two; and Unit L is three per day.
Your best photographs of wildlife native to Tennessee, or fishing, boating and hunting activities in Tennessee could be good enough for publication in Tennessee Wildlife magazine. The winners of the 2017-2018 photo contest will appear in next year’s calendar edition of the magazine in August; and the photographers will earn $60.
The deadline for submissions is March 17, 2017. The format is horizontal digital images on disc (no prints) in JPEG; high resolution (300 dpi) sized as an 8-1/2x11 is required. Each disc submitted must have the name of the photographer, address and telephone number; discs cannot be returned.
Entries can be mailed to: Tennessee Wildlife Magazine, Calendar Issue, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204. To see some previously winning photographs or for more information go to the older news section of www.tnwildlife.org. Tennessee Wildlife is the official magazine of the TWRA. Subscription rates for Tennessee Wildlife begin at $10 per year.
Jan. 13 is last call for high school sophomores and juniors who want an opportunity for leadership training, a share of $15,000 in college scholarships and a great trip to Washington, D.C. The National Rifle Association is now accepting applications for the 2017 National Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) set for July 24-30 in our Nation’s Capital.
The Y.E.S. encourages young adults to become active and knowledgeable U.S. citizens by learning about American government, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the importance of being active in civic affairs. Up to 50 outstanding students will be chosen to attend nationwide.
Applicants must include a high school transcript, an essay on the Second Amendment, one-page personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. The filing deadline (postmarked) is Jan. 13, 2017. To apply or for additional information on the 2017 Y.E.S. go to www.friendsofnra.org/yes, email email@example.com or call 703-267-1351.
Recognized for her contributions to restore and manage bobwhite quail habitat in Tennessee, Brittney Viers of Quail Forever was recently presented the National Fire Bird Conservation Award at a recent gathering of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on behalf of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI).
The National Fire Bird Conservation Award recognizes individuals for their contributions to statewide habitat-based restoration efforts of wild bobwhite populations. The overarching theme of the award, however, symbolizes the historic reliance of bobwhites on fire in much of its range to maintain the landscape in an "early successional" stage - native grasses, wildflowers and "weeds" that provide bobwhites and other wildlife species with suitable habitat.
"I'm drawn to managing for northern bobwhite because they are in such decline and so many other species also benefit when restoring habitat for quail," said Viers. "It's very fulfilling to know that landowners are seeing a quail response after our restoration efforts. I'm also grateful to be recognized by my peers in receiving such a prestigious award from NBCI."
Hired as a Farm Bill wildlife biologist for Quail Forever in 2013, Viers has led an impressive career in the state of Tennessee working in a shared position with Quail Forever, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Viers provides technical assistance to landowners interested in voluntary conservation programs; she has worked with 990 landowners to impact nearly 20,000 acres for bobwhite quail and other wildlife on private lands, including the use of prescribed fire to rejuvenate quality early-successional habitat for wildlife in Tennessee.
The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the unified strategic effort of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies and various conservation organizations — all under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee — to restore wild populations of bobwhite quail in this country to levels comparable to 1980. www.bringbackbobwhites.org.
About Quail Forever
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 145,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $634 million on 502,000 habitat projects benefiting 14.1 million acres nationwide. www.quailforever.org.
Many bald eagles winter in Tennessee. The nationwide 2017 Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey is Jan. 1-15; the important focus dates are Friday and Saturday, Jan. 6-7. The purpose of the count is to monitor the status of bald eagle wintering populations in the contiguous United States (lower 48).
The best way for Tennesseans to help is to find and report eagle nests. The Tennessee state ornithologist, and coordinator for the entire survey, is David Hanna. He keeps a data base of nests in Tennessee and tracks the population of breeding birds in the state. Bald eagle nests have increased from a single occupied nest in 1983 to about 190 nests in 2014.
Public input is quite helpful in keeping an accurate inventory of identified nests. Sighting information can be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 615-781-6653. The information requested includes: Name and address or telephone number of observer, date, time and place of observation, and species observed if any.
In 2007 the bald eagle was removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of threatened and endangered species. Since 1980 more than 350 young bald eagles have been released in Tennessee.
Good ole small game season continues through Feb. 28; that’s rabbit, quail, grouse, Wilson snipe, crow, and squirrel. Varmint hunting is great this time of year, especially for furbearers like coyotes, which have become a major concern for Tennessee deer hunters and stockmen large and small.
The wily coyote is a real challenge to hunt. Mainly a dusk and dawn endeavor, many hunters will use a long-range varmint rifle for shots of 200 yards or better. On the other extreme, some will use shotguns with buckshot at close range and running shots. As a bonus coyote pelts bring good money at fur auctions. In this area the pelts are prime from late November until mid-February.
For some good information on varmint hunting, check out www.thepredatorpage.com, a site dedicated to coyote and hog hunting. It is part of www.TheHuntingPage.com , which has many good outdoor writers and an open platform allowing for guest bloggers and industry contributors.
A good choice for a good varmint gun is the modern sporting rifle, called MSR and often called an AR-15, AR, M-4, or military rifle (and incorrectly called an assault rifle, which is fully automatic). It is usually chambered for the 5.56x45mm (U.S. military ammo) and also shoots the .223 Remington (civilian version). Both cartridges are accurate beyond 300 yards, if the shooter measures up.
Both styles of coyote hunting are aided by game calling, often imitating a wounded rabbit squeal. Electronic calls are legal in Tennessee for coyotes (but not for fox, turkey and waterfowl); mouth calls work well, are more versatile, and are not hard to master.
Say it ain’t so. Smith & Wesson is changing its name? Not to worry. S&W is not changing its 164-year-old trademark. The firearms industry is obviously not immune to the current trend of fake news, gross exaggerations and sensational FaceBook and YouTube postings.
What is changing (next year) is the name of the financial holding group that owns S&W and several other companies: Smith & Wesson Holding Company (SWHC). The new name will be American Outdoor Brands Corporation. The other members of SWHC are Thompson/Center Arms, Crimson Trace Company (laser sights), and Battenfeld Technologies (an extensive mix of accessories brands).
One big reason for the name change is that the American Outdoor Brands Corp. name will more accurately reflect the umbrella group that owns brands with their own identities, companies poised for a burgeoning growth of new products in 2017. Another reason is that the name S&W will solely refer to the firearms manufacturer and not a holding company.
The third and final deer hunt on the Oak Ridge Reservation was held Dec. 10-11. A total of 81 deer was harvested, 39 bucks and 42 does. The largest buck field dressed at 158 pounds; the largest rack was 10 points; the largest doe weighed 112 pounds. Two of the 81 deer were retained due to internal radiological contamination. No turkey was harvested.
Superlatives for the three hunts: Grand harvest was 361 deer, 209 bucks and 152 does; the largest buck weighed 179 pounds (second hunt); the largest rack was 15 points (second hunt); the largest doe was 115 pounds (second hunt). Two deer were retained (third hunt) and two turkeys (first hunt) were taken, one male and one female.
Are Oak Ridge deer radioactive? What is this stuff about “internal radiological contamination” of some deer on the Oak Ridge Reservation? How bad is it?
It is well known that after WWII some radioactive materials were improperly dumped or disposed of on the property of the three atomic plants of the ORR. Those sites have been isolated and cleanup operations have been underway for a few decades and will continue for years to come.
But in some cases wildlife are exposed to the vegetation and groundwater at these sites. Certain radioactive elements, two in particular, can accumulate in the body tissues of these animals to unhealthy levels: Strontium-90 concentrating in the bones and cesium-137 concentrating in the muscle tissue. Oak Ridge National Lab radiochemists and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency biologists test every deer taken for both of these radionuclides.
Since the deer hunts began in 1985 and including data from 2014, more than 12,200 deer have been harvested, and 205 animals have been retained due to internal contamination, a 1.68 percentage historically; in the last decade the rate is well below one percent [For 2016 the figure is .554 percent]. The critical threshold is 1.5 times the background radiation level. All but two of the deer retained were due to high levels of strontium-90.
While most deer retained were only slightly above the cutoff, 30 to 40 counts per two minutes, the highest reading so far was an 86-pound doe, five-and-a-half years old, taken in 1999 near the old Tower Shielding reactor site. Her bone chip measured for strontium-90 at 853 cpm.
The quota deer hunts on the ORR are some of the most popular in the state, and the deer are typical specimens of the Tennessee herd. The largest one weighed 218 pounds and the largest non-typical rack was 28 points. In 2009 a pair of bucks was taken with fatally locked antlers, unusual but not unheard of in nature.
Spring turkey hunting will begin April 1. The application period for the turkey quota hunts began Dec. 14 and the filing deadline is Jan. 18. There are 14 adult hunts and three youth hunts available. Sign-ups must be done online or at any license agency; they cannot be mailed. The turkey quota hunt instruction sheet is also available at license agencies or online at www.tnwildlife.org, then choose “Buy a License Online”. Or go to https://quotahunt.gooutdoorstennessee.com/Hunts/CustomerLookup.aspx.
Follow the application directions carefully. All applicants (except Sportsman License holders and seniors with Type 167 and 167 permits) pay a non-refunded $12 permit fee, 50-cent drawing fee, and a $2 access fee if applying online. Parties of up to five people may be formed. The results of the drawings will be available online a few days after Jan. 18.
The 2017 spring turkey season will run April 1 – May 14. The Statewide Youth-only Hunt (ages 6-16) will be March 25-26. The bag limit for the regular hunts is one bearded bird per day, not to exceed four per season. Turkeys taken on wildlife management area hunts are bonus birds. Most WMAs are open for turkey hunting, but some have special restrictions; see page 32 of the 2016-2017 hunting guide and the various WMA listings.
Concerning the Bass Pro Shops purchase of Cabela’s, industry watcher Jim Shepherd of The Outdoor Wire has these observations:
The Associated Press is reporting that federal regulators are putting the brakes on the pace of Bass Pro Shops’ acquisition of Cabela's (NYSE: CAB). It seems the regulators want more time to closely examine the $5.5 billion deal. Since it is well over the $78 million dollar benchmark the Federal Trade Commission uses for scrutiny, it will likely include a store-by-store, city-by-city look at markets where BPS/Cabela's both operate.
In some cities, there are stores in very close proximity of each other. In both Bristol, Virginia and Chattanooga, Tennessee, for example, new or nearly-new stores of both brands are located in sight of each other. Even if the deal closes, it's not likely both stores would remain open any longer than absolutely necessary.
And it is a big deal. When combined (if combined as-is), the result would be a 182-store chain with 40,000 employees. Great if you're looking for economies of scale and pricing leverage over vendors, but BPS is paying a premium figure for Cabela's stock, which hasn’t been at that value in the past 30 months.
But the FTC is concerned about such a deal unfairly impacting other retailers. In May of this year, the FTC took a "closer look" at the Family Dollar/Dollar Tree deal. As a result, 330 stores had to be sold before the FTC approved.
I (Jim Sheperd) am hearing that should the deal be delayed because of overlap concerns, there's a closure strategy ready, but no one's talking in either Sidney, Nebraska or Springfield, Missouri – at least not for attribution.
Trout are coming to a stream near you. With the onset of colder weather the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has begun its winter trout stocking program. Approximately 90,000 rainbow trout will be released into Tennessee waters that do not normally support trout year round. The program provides numerous close-to-home trout fishing opportunities for anglers during the winter months in dozens of small city parks and ponds, creeks, rivers, tailwaters, and small lakes.
These fisheries also provide a great opportunity to introduce first-time anglers to fishing; and everyone is encouraged to keep his catch. The trout will average about 10 inches in length. The daily creel limit is seven, but there is no size limit. Anglers are reminded that a trout license is needed in addition to the fishing license.
The 2016-17 winter trout stocking schedule runs Dec. 1 through March 17 from Memphis to as far east as Oneida and Kingston. The exact release schedule is posted on the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org in the news section or the fishing section; dates and locations are subject to change.
The winter solstice occurs on Dec. 21 at 5:44 a.m. EST (10:44 UT) and winter begins. It is the shortest day – or more correctly, shortest daylight – of the year. At our latitude the Sun rises (7:43 a.m.) in the southeast and sets (5:26 p.m.) in the southwest (Knoxville times).
The Sun “stands still” (solstice) in its apparent movement south, reversing direction. Historically this date was called midwinter; and our beginning of summer, around June 21, was called midsummer (as in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer’s Night Dream”).
Interestingly, the first day of winter is not the date of earliest sunset or latest sunrise. Those dates are approximately Dec. 6 (5:21 p.m.) and Jan. 7 (7:47 a.m.) respectively. That phenomenon is caused by progression, according to astronomers.
Nature has its own Christmas light display scheduled. The Geminid meteor shower will peak on the night of Dec. 13-14, with a good showing the following night. The Geminid is considered to be the best show of the year, even better than August’s Perseid shower. Expect 60 to 100 shooting stars per hour at the peak, more bright ones, and longer prime viewing times. These meteors are often as good in the evening as in the hours between midnight and dawn.
No special equipment is needed to watch a meteor shower, just an unobstructed view of the sky dome far away from light pollution on the ground. Of course warm clothes, a lounge chair and a flask of hot beverage will add to the experience. Unfortunately the moon is full on Dec. 13 also, and its brightness will wash out many of the smaller meteors all night long.
Geminid meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini. The actual source of the space dust is not a comet, but the debris from the asteroid named 3200 Phaethon, which crosses Earth’s orbit as it flips around the sun every 1.43 years.
Caution: Gift-giving to hunters and anglers is not easy. They tend to have specific preferences for equipment, and they tend to already have all of their basic equipment. As an outdoors writer and a sportsman, my advice is to forgo the surprise gift and get a detailed shopping list from either the recipient or a close fishing/hunting buddy.
To wit, a recent survey of shooting sportsmen by Southwick Associates asked the question, "What hunting or target shooting gear are you most hoping to receive this holiday season?" The answer ranking third was “No hunting/shooting gifts”.
The top choice by far in the survey was hunting apparel with 22.3 percent of respondents choosing it, followed by: Handguns (14.5), no hunting/shooting gifts (14.4), game/trail cameras (14.3), ammunition (12.4), and rangefinders (11.3).
Practical gifts for hunters and anglers are available from the TWRA. Starting small, there’s a subscription to the TWRA magazine “Tennessee Wildlife” for just $10 per year ($17/two years and $25/three years). Next, there’s a specialty license plate for $35 above the price of state registration; choose from the bluebird, black bear, wild turkey, and smallmouth bass.
Finally, a gift to be cherished for a lifetime: a Resident Lifetime Hunting/Fishing License. These are real bargains. The prices per age group: Under age 3 is $200; ages 3-6 is $659; ages 7-12 is $988; ages 13-50 is $1,976; ages 51-64 is $1,153; ages 65 – over is $329.
All of these items can be purchased at www.tnwildlife.org or at the mobile app gotwra.org. By phone the contact number is 888-814-8972. A card to acknowledge the gift is available.
Duck hunting began on Thanksgiving weekend and continues uninterrupted Dec. 3 through Jan. 29. Waterfowl season depends so much on the weather that hunters are always wondering where the ducks will be – especially this year with its unusually hot and dry autumn.
Stop wondering and check out the Duck Unlimited website www.ducks.org and the DU Mobile App. There you can track the fall migration as it is happening, see current hunting reports and check the weather up north that will be kicking the birds on their way. The app is free and so are the many other features on the website.
For those who love watching nature, especially birds, consider joining one of the local Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), sponsored annually by the Audubon Society. This national event has been collecting citizen science data on songbirds for 116 years. To learn more go to www.audubon.org.
For East Tennessee the Great Smoky Mountains CBC will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17. In the aftermath of the many devastating wildfires in the Southern Appalachians, this count could be quite important. Other area CBC include: Norris on Dec. 17; Knoxville on Dec. 31; and Cades Cove on Jan. 1. To volunteer or get more information contact Warren Bielenberg at email@example.com or by phone at 865-681-7884.
In the wake of devastating wildfires in East Tennessee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett is urging people to use caution when trying to help fire victims.
"Tennesseans are among the most generous people in our country and I know that we will support our fellow Tennesseans in their hour of need. Please be diligent in giving to only reputable organizations so that we can best assist the people of Gatlinburg and Sevier County," said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. "Do not be pressured into giving cash donations to people that you don't know. Unfortunately, during disasters there are scam artists who prey on our generosity. However, I still encourage Tennesseans to be generous but smart about contributions so that we maximize recovery efforts."
If a nonprofit asks you for a contribution, check to see if it's registered with the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming.
Take your time. Resist pressure to give on the spot.
Ask Questions. If an organization has a specific mission, ask how and who will benefit from your donation.
If you are asked for a donation via text or email, verify it is directly from the charity or nonprofit.
Do your own research and don't assume a social media or blog recommendation has been approved by the nonprofit.
If you give through an app or website, ask if it is going directly to the organization.
Avoid giving cash. Always ask for a receipt and if your contribution is tax deductible.
Pay close attention to the name of the nonprofit organization, as there are many with similar names.
"We will continue to pray for those who have lost so much during these devastating fires and for the people who are dedicated to providing tireless assistance and support during this recovery effort," Secretary Hargett said. To find information about charities or solicitors, visit sos.tn.gov/Charitable or call the division at 615-741-2555 or toll free at 800-861-7393.