The rifle deer season ends on Jan. 7 in all big game units. In Unit L doe hunting on private lands is extended from Monday, Jan. 8 through Friday, Jan. 12; the doe limit in Unit L continues to be three per day.
The second Young Sportsman Deer Hunt is Jan. 13-14. 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.
Happy New Year 2018! Although the year 2017 is expiring, your 2017-2018 hunting and fishing licenses do not expire until March 1, 2018. For waterfowlers the 2017 Federal Duck Stamps are still valid; they run from July 1 through the following June 30. So get out there a few more times and get your money’s worth.
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 per photograph.
The deadline for submissions is March 19, 2018. 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. Photographers may submit up to 10 entries each year.
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 for the TWRA. Subscription rates for Tennessee Wildlife begin at $10 per year.
Many bald eagles spend the winter in Tennessee. The nationwide 2018 Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey is Jan. 1-15; the important focus dates are Friday and Saturday, Jan. 5-6. 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 pairs. Bald eagle nests have increased from a single occupied nest in 1983 to more than 200 nests in 2016.
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 (with coordinates), 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.
Henry Repeating Arms, one of the leading firearms manufacturers in the United States, produced its first rifle in 2007, a .22LR lever action called the model H001. Now, in December 2017 the company is announcing that it has manufactured the one-millionth model H001. As with all Henry firearms and any product that bears the Henry name, it is “Made In America Or Not Made At All”.
Over the years, several variations of the H001 were added including a youth model, a carbine with a large loop lever, octagon barreled editions, and additional calibers in .22 Magnum and .17 HMR. More than two million H001 series rifles have sold counting these variations, including blued and brass receivers. Larger versions are offered in many centerfire calibers, from .30-30 to .45-70.
The original factory for Henry Repeating Arms was in Brooklyn, New York. In 2008 the entire operation moved to Bayonne, New Jersey. A few years ago another plant was opened in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Henry rifles are sold worldwide in more than 30 countries. For more information about the company and its products visit www.henryusa.com or telephone 866-200-2354.
Waterfowlers, know before you go. Which areas in Tennessee have the most ducks – right now? The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is physically counting the ducks bi-weekly on the state’s wildlife management areas. You can see the latest counts in the waterfowl section at www.tnwildlife.org along with other good information. The direct link to the data is
The 2017 Fall Migration is shaping up to be another excellent one. In the spring count total populations were estimated at 47.3 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is similar to last year’s estimate of 48.4 million and is 34 percent above the 1955-2016 long-term average. For the mainstay mallards, the projected fall flight index is 12.9 million birds, similar to the 2016 estimate of 13.5 million.
For a broader view or a look to the future, the Ducks Unlimited Mobile App is a big help. You can track the fall migration of waterfowl from DU’s northern observers so you know ahead of time where to go and when to go. The app has 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.
Reminder: During all statewide deer hunts and the entire small game season, wild hogs can be hunted in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and at the Obed Wild and Scenic River. All weapons legal for deer are allowed and there is no bag limit for hogs. A $5 permit is required and it is available online at www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/hoghunting or at the visitors centers at Bandy Creek and Obed River. Small game hunting, and thus hog hunting on the BSFNRRA, ends on Feb. 28.
Wintertime affords a variety of hunting styles besides pursuing deer. Good ole small game season continues through Feb. 28; that’s rabbit, quail, grouse, crow, and squirrel. Most waterfowl runs into January. Varmint hunting is great this time of year, especially furbearers like coyotes, which have become a major concern for Tennessee’s hunters of deer, turkey, upland game, as well as stockmen.
The wily coyote is a real challenge to hunt. Mostly 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 prime coyote pelts bring good money at fur auctions. In Tennessee pelts are prime from late November until mid-February.
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), makes an excellent varmint gun. It is usually chambered for the 5.56x45mm (U.S. military ammo) and also shoots the .223 Remington (civilian version). Both cartridges are effective to 300 yards and beyond.
Both styles of coyote hunting are aided by game calling, often imitating a wounded rabbit’s 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.
Coyotes are opportunistic eaters and true omnivores. Their main diet is rodents and rabbits, but they regularly consume soft mast in season (grasses, berries, persimmons, and fruits), deer, small mammals, carrion, insects, reptiles, and livestock.
The third and final deer hunt on the Oak Ridge Reservation was held Dec. 9-10. A total of 43 deer was harvested, 17 bucks and 26 does. The largest buck field dressed at 144 pounds; the largest rack was 12 points; the largest doe weighed 117 pounds. No deer was retained due to internal radiological contamination. No turkey was harvested.
Superlatives for the three hunts: Grand harvest was 137 deer, 59 bucks and 78 does; the largest buck weighed 167 pounds (first hunt); the largest rack was 12 points (third hunt); the largest doe was 117 pounds (third hunt). No deer was retained and two tom turkeys (second hunt) were taken, none retained.
The 2017 deer harvest for the Oak Ridge Reservation was way below average. A typical three-hunt harvest for recent times is in the 300s. Last year there were 361 deer. In 2015 the take was 244 and in 2014 it was 416.
The Boat Owners of the United States (BoatUS) has this report on ethanol blended fuels. Last summer the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the public how much ethanol it wanted to be added to the nation's gasoline supply, and recreational boaters as well as many other owners of gasoline engines and vehicles spoke up against increasing ethanol volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Earlier this month the EPA set the 2018 RFS at 19.29 billion gallons, a 0.05 percent increase over the 2017 standard. Signed into law in 2005, the RFS requires an increasing amount of biofuels, such as corn ethanol, to be blended into the gasoline supply.
"In August, EPA originally proposed a slight lowering of the overall ethanol mandate. However, bowing to pressure from the ethanol backers, the agency actually notched the mandate higher," said BoatUS Government Affairs Manager David Kennedy. "We think the EPA's decision unfairly supports the ethanol industry over protecting consumers, recreational boaters, and the environment. If ethanol is as good for America's fuel supply as Big Ethanol would like you to believe, then why do we have a law that forces more ethanol each year into the market? The RFS no longer works for Americans."
When it was written, RFS assumed that America's use of gasoline would continue to grow. Since 2005, however, gasoline usage has not increased as forecasted, which today forces more ethanol into each gallon of gas. To keep up with the RFS mandate, in 2010 EPA granted a waiver to allow E15 (15 percent ethanol) into the marketplace. However, only fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) are permitted for use in recreational boats. As higher blends enter the gas supply, the chance of misfueling increases.
"Ethanol has been demonstrated to cause harm to many gasoline engines at the present 10 percent ethanol level, especially legacy outboard motors, decreases fuel efficiency, increases fuel costs for consumers, and has questionable environmental benefits," added Kennedy. "BoatUS will continue to fight on behalf of America's recreational boaters to fix the RFS." Go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/rfs for more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard. BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition.
The 2017 winter solstice – also called the December solstice – occurs on Dec. 21 at 11:28 a.m. EST (16:28 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, June 21 or so, was called midsummer (as in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer’s Night Dream”).
Interestingly, the first day of winter is not the date of earliest sunset nor the 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.
Be advised: Spring turkey hunting will begin on March 31, the day before Easter. The application period for the turkey quota hunts begins on Dec. 13 and the filing deadline is Jan. 17. 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”. The direct link is https://quotahunt.gooutdoorstennessee.com/Hunts/CustomerLookup.aspx.
Follow the application directions carefully. All applicants (except Sportsman License holders and seniors with Type 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. 17.
The 2018 spring turkey season will run March 31 – May 13. The Statewide Youth-only Hunt (ages 6-16) will be March 24-25. 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 31 of the 2017-2018 hunting guide and the various WMA listings.
This should be a great year to watch nature’s own holiday light display. 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 50 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 usually prime 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. Give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the dark. Of course warm clothes, a lounge chair and a flask of hot beverage will add to the experience. A moonless sky is a blessing, and this year the slender waning crescent moon will not appear until a few hours before dawn.
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.
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 117 years. To learn more go to www.audubon.org.
The Great Smoky Mountains CBC will be held on Sunday, Dec. 17. On the first anniversary of the many devastating wildfires in the Southern Appalachians, this count could be quite important. Other area CBC include: Norris on Dec. 16; Cades Cove on Dec. 23 (contact email@example.com); and Knoxville on Dec. 30 (contact firstname.lastname@example.org). To volunteer or get more information contact Warren Bielenberg at email@example.com or by phone at 865-681-7884.
The 2017 CBC pre-count message from Warren Bielenberg:
“The Great Smoky Mountain Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sunday December 17, 2017 and I hope you will able to participate this year. If you can and have done a section of the count in previous years, I would love to have you cover that area again. If you would like to explore a new section let me know so we can get maximum coverage of the circle. If you know of others who might participate, please invite them to join you or contact me so we can get them involved.
“Last year many of the trails were closed due to the fire. It will interesting to see how the fire affected wintering birds, hopefully there will be more than last year along US 441. Last year we had 63 species including two new for the count, Merlin and Sandhill crane both observed in Pigeon Forge. I've heard some early reports that this might be a good year for wintering finches since last year we only had one Purple finch and no Pine siskins. I look forward to hearing from you.”