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.
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.]
At the October meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, updates were presented on chronic wasting disease (CWD) and an ongoing turkey research project. Crockett and Gibson counties are now being classified as CWD high-risk counties. As a result, wildlife feeding and carcass expiration restrictions now apply there. However, the counties will remain in Unit L, not Unit CWD. Additional CWD public meetings are planned for Crockett and Gibson counties on Nov. 7 and 14, respectively.
During the 2019-20 deer season thus far, 17 CWD-positive deer have been detected in West Tennessee; the combined total, including those from the 2018-19, is 203. In a related issue, privately-owned landfills operators in southwest Tennessee have decided that no deer will be accepted at these facilities. Although TWRA does not have authority or legal responsibility for waste disposal, the agency will work with other state agencies to honor this decision.
A five-year study on turkey declines in southern Middle Tennessee has reached the half-way point. The preliminary report to the TFWC indicates turkey populations in the area are declining because of poor productivity. Experimental habitat management is being implemented to address limitations in nest success and brood survival. Hunters are very concerned about the status of turkey hunting and are willing to consider regulatory changes, according to surveys. Turkeys are being exposed to a variety of diseases but there is little evidence that these diseases are limiting populations. [Coyote predation?]
The next TFWC meeting will be Dec. 12-13 in Gatlinburg.
It looks like another good season is in the offing for waterfowl and duck hunters. The 2019 Waterfowl Population Status Report, conducted jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service since 1955, puts the breeding duck population at 38.90 million, a 6 percent decrease from last year’s population of 41.19 million, but still 10 percent above the long-term average (LTA). The 2019 survey marks the first time since 2008 that the estimated breeding duck population has fallen below 40 million.
Even though breeding duck numbers are down overall, the lower numbers are a reflection of last year’s dry conditions for nesting ducks. The U.S. prairies were incredibly wet from south to north, which will lead to strong duck production. Conditions remained wet and actually improved during the breeding season, with temporary and seasonal wetlands retaining water into July and August. This should also increase the number of more easily decoyed juveniles in the fall flight, compared to the savvy, adult birds. For detailed information on the various species of ducks, see this blogs full story on 8-28-19; for more general information on the seasons go to www.deltawaterfowl.org.
For those concerned citizens who would like to beautify their communities, here is some state money to help. The TWRA 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 Dec. 1, 2019.
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, 2020.
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.
Have you been seeing or hearing more coyotes lately? This report from the biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission explains why. October and November are the months when young coyotes — those born in early spring — are leaving their parents’ territory to find a mate and establish their own territory. Young coyotes often travel with their siblings during this time and can travel long distances — upward of 300 miles before settling down into their own territories.
During these wanderings, their characteristic yipping, howling and barking often can be heard as they keep track of each other, as well as other coyotes whose territories they are passing through. Because of the hollow tone of the howl, two coyotes often sound like a huge group and may seem closer than they actually are.
Contrary to popular belief, a coyote howling does not mean it has just taken down prey, although some people do find their howls unnerving. Fortunately, hearing or seeing a coyote, even during the day, is usually no cause for alarm.
“Coyotes rarely attack humans,” said Falyn Owens, the agency’s extension biologist. “Coyotes are curious, but wary whenever they are near humans; however, they can become bold and habituated to humans if people feed them, either purposely or unintentionally.”
For this reason, Owens recommends that people follow several tips to keep coyotes, and other wildlife such as raccoons, from being attracted to their homes:
• Secure garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids; take trash out the morning of pickup.
• Keep bird seed off the ground and bird feeding areas clean.
• Remove fallen fruit from trees.
• Feed pets indoors or remove food when a pet is finished eating outside.
Because coyotes view outdoor cats and small, unleashed dogs as a potential food source, people should keep their pets inside, leashed or inside a dog-proof fence at all times.
By having no unnatural food attractants available, coyotes are more likely to stay wary of people and avoid them and their homes.
Additional tactics can help them actively avoid certain areas. “Hazing, or standing your ground and scaring the animal off can be a good way to ensure these wild animals develop or maintain a healthy fear of humans,” Owens said. “You can effectively intimidate a coyote by throwing small objects toward it, making loud noises, or spraying it with a water hose. Keep it up until the coyote leaves.”
Hunters, watch out for the color purple in the field. Just as a flash of hunter orange means “do not shoot”, a splash of purple on a tree or fence means “no hunting or trespassing”. In 2017 Tennessee joined a growing number of states with a new law that simplifies a landowner’s task of posting his property.
Once a traditional “No Trespassing” sign has been posted in a prominent place, the law authorizes property owners to provide notice that trespassing is prohibited on their property by marking trees and posts with purple paint as an alternative to posting signs. The purple mark can be an “X” or a vertical stripe at least one inch wide and eight inches long placed in the baseball strike zone (three feet to five feet high) for easy viewing. Trespassing in Tennessee is a Class C misdemeanor which can result in a $50 fine or up to 30 days in jail.
SaveOurMonarchs Foundation has a good idea for the upcoming holidays. For a donation of $35 they will send you 100 milkweed seed packets holiday-themed for Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas. The packets make nice handouts for trick-or-treaters – but not in lieu of candy, of course – or simple gifts for holiday gatherings.
The various milkweed plants are perennial wildflowers that can grow anywhere in the U.S. and they are essential to the survival of all monarch caterpillars. Besides that, milkweed adds a lot to a wildflower garden and it requires no maintenance. Autumn is a good time to plant wildflowers, or you can wait for the spring.
Check out SaveOurMonarchs Foundation, a 501c3 charity; they offer free milkweed seeds to anyone requesting them, and larger quantities for a small donation. For seeds and more information go to www.SaveOurMonarchs.org; or contact Ward Johnson at 952-829-0600.
Here is a unique sports banquet not to be missed. The Tennessee Muzzleloading History Banquet will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Smyrna Event Center in Smyrna.
Some of the attractions: A collection of Tennessee ML rifles; a historical exhibit of ML in Tennessee from 1769; Sergeant Alvin York guns and memorabilia; Civil War reenactments with Whitworth rifles; vintage barrel-making machine demonstration by Rice Barrels; Q&A with national champion ML shooters; Stephen Tucker with his world record Tucker Buck; Knight Rifles and other ML vendors onsite.
The activities go all day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with reenactments, shoots and fun ($10 activities fee). Evening socializing, viewing the exhibits, cocktails, and then dinner will be 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. Dinner tickets are $30 each and $15 for under 18 years. Pre-register at www.nmlra.org.
Tennessee hunters: This year join the new statewide promotion, “Let’s Hunt Giveaway”. You have a chance to win some cool gear, courtesy of Bear Archery, Cabelas, Powderhook, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The top prizes are a 2019 Divergent Bear Bow, an Alaskan Guide Skinnier Knife, and a Blackout X83 Hub-Style Ground Blind.
All you have to do is take someone “new to hunting” with you. It can be a friend, a family member, your spouse, or a complete stranger. Of course you should have fun in the outdoors and practice safe sportsmanship. Enter now through Dec. 1, 2019. The winner will be drawn randomly on Dec. 16. To enter and get more information go to www.powderhook.com/contests/tennessee-take-someone-hunting
The Tennessee Fur Harvesters fall convention will be Oct. 4-6 at Fall Creek Falls State Park, Groupe Camp #2. Newcomers, veteran trappers and their families will enjoy the many seminars, contests, games and activities, live entertainment, storytellers, and supplies vendors.
Tent camping and primitive cabins are available. For more information contact John Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 423-595-0986 or see the website www.tfhaonline.net and select TFHA Annual Convention.
Once again, our late summer is very hot and very dry – bad news for deer. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is receiving reports of dead deer in scattered areas of the state. The timing and details of the reports are all indicative of hemorrhagic disease (HD). HD occurs at varying levels of severity each year in white-tailed deer herds. The catch-all term for this disease is hemorrhagic disease (HD). Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and bluetongue are closely related viruses that fall under the umbrella of HD.
In 2017 HD was moderately severe in East Tennessee and some other states in the Appalachian region. The last major outbreak of HD in Tennessee was in 2007 and involved virtually all of the state. Kentucky also had a severe outbreak in 2007.
HD is caused by a virus that is transmitted to deer from biting midges (gnats) or “no-see-ums.” It is not transmitted from deer to deer by contact. The virus causes fever, respiratory distress, and swelling of the neck or tongue. Not all deer exposed to the virus will die, but those that do usually do so within five to ten days of exposure, often seeking water as they try to drink and cool their bodies from the fever; they may appear lethargic and fearless of people. Incidences of HD usually peaks around mid-September and are usually done by mid-October with the onset of cold weather.
Often when HD becomes epidemic – the word is epizootic in animals – it is called EHD. It has been in the United States for more than 60 years; it does not affect people or pets. It should be noted that HD and EHD have nothing to do with chronic wasting disease (CWD), which is caused by a neurological prion and is incurable.
Consider joining the Anglers for the Bahamas campaign as it races toward $4 million in support of the island nation devastated by Hurricane Dorian; plus, there is an additional $1 million personal donation and challenge from Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris.
In its first four days alone, 81,000 anglers have donated through Anglers for the Bahamas to help the people of the Bahamas by uniting with worldwide relief leader, Convoy of Hope, a highly regarded 501(C)(3 not-for-profit charity with emergency responders currently on the front lines throughout the Bahamas.
At all Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores, customers can round up their purchases or make an additional donation at registers. To encourage even broader support, customers who donate at least $5 or more in Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores will receive a limited-edition Anglers for the Bahamas bumper sticker. Johnny Morris will be adding to these contributions at 25 percent. To donate directly to relief efforts, please visit www.AnglersForTheBahamas.org.
The generous community-support program Hunters For The Hungry (HFTH) is positioned for another stellar year. The 2019 season starts with more than 80 processors in 66 counties throughout Tennessee, and every processor has funds to accept donated deer at no cost to the hunter.
One donated deer provides as many as 168 protein meals for Tennesseans in need and is distributed to food banks and soup kitchens across the state. More than 600,000 meals were supplied by the program last year. The Tennessee Wildlife Federation sponsors the HFTH.
There are two ways to help HFTH help the needy in your county or neighborhood. One is to give venison or other wild meat to the program – a few pounds or often an entire deer. The other way is to give cash to help defray the cost of processing the meat. To donate money or learn more about other TWF programs, go to www.tnwf.org or call Matt Simcox at 615-353-1133.
Hunters can drop off a whole deer donation at no personal cost. Each year HFTH covers tens of thousands of dollars in processing fees for donations. If deer donations surpass available funding for this season, hunters can pay a reduced, $50 processing fee. A complete list of participating processors is available on the above TWF website.
Hunters for the Hungry will test – through the TWRA – every deer donated within Unit CWD for chronic wasting disease, as well as many of the donations made in Region 1. Only whole deer donations will be accepted in Unit CWD and the counties that border it. Pound or Pack donations, which allow hunters to give a portion of their harvest, will continue to be accepted in the rest of the state.
In an abundance of caution, HFTH will discard all donations that test positive for CWD. There is no evidence CWD is transmitted to humans but the CDC still recommends against eating CWD-positive meat. For more information about HFTH, visit www.tnwf.org/HuntersForTheHungry.
The 2019 autumnal (September) equinox occurs on Monday, Sept. 23 at 3:50 a.m. EDT, when the Sun is positioned directly over the Earth’s equator and moving south. In other words, the Earth’s rotational axis is perpendicular to the Sun.
Daylight is waning rapidly every day. In late September the Sun rises (due east) nearly one minute later every day, and the Sun sets (due west) about one-and-a-half minutes earlier every day. For East Tennessee sunrise will be at 7:24 a.m. and sunset will be at 7:31 p.m. The actual “equinox” or equal periods of day and night does not occur in this area until Sept. 26.
The animals sense autumn instinctively. It triggers mating in deer, migration in waterfowl and other birds, and hibernation activities in bears and groundhogs.
EDITORIAL: Walmart Never Was a Gun Store
By RICHARD MANN, in The Hunting Wire email@example.com
A lot of folks are outraged at Walmart discontinuing the sale of ARs and now certain kinds of ammunition. I guess they feel like this monster corporation has betrayed them, and that we should boycott or punish them for not supporting the Second Amendment. Well, um, we should have never started buying our gun stuff there in the first place. We abandoned real gun stores for convenience, and to save a couple dollars. Gun stores went out of business, and here we are.
I could not care less. In fact, it would not bother me if Walmart stopped selling guns, and gun and hunting related accessories all together.
They’ve never been a real gun/hunting store anyway. Though I’m sure there are exceptions, those behind the counter are, in most cases, not qualified to sell or even handle a gun, and I doubt any of them know the difference between a caliber and a cartridge. And based on my experience; their enthusiasm for customer care almost equals my interest in cat videos.
We’ve seen the death of the local gun shop. With that, we’ve lost places where real and practical knowledge could be dispensed. Walmart has contributed to this near extinction; they retail firearms so cheaply the local guy cannot compete. (Few realize how small profit margins are on guns.) What they fail to deliver is service—service before, during, and most importantly, after the sale. And those conducting the sale do not have the experience to get that feeling when someone is trying to buy a gun with possible bad intentions in mind. (You do realize an FFL dealer can deny a sale to anyone they think might be a danger, don’t you? Local gun shop owners take this seriously.)
And then there’s the knowledge they do not possess to share. Local gun shops are operated by folks who are experienced with, and passionate about, what they do and the things they sell. That passion carries over to the customer. The absence of that passion is like a cancer to the gun and hunting industry. It’s why Walmart could care less about your firearms or hunting interests—they have none of their own. It’s also the reason some gun manufactures are struggling; they hired management types from other industries who lack our passion.
Be mad at Walmart if you like, I could not care less what they sell. When I buy gun stuff I’m going to buy it from a guy who smells like Hoppe’s #9; a guy who was installing a trigger on a rifle that morning; a guy who closed his shop early yesterday to go to the range; a guy who frequently has a shop full of like-minded folks bitching about anti-gunners; a guy who knows what a pre-64 model 70 is; knows who Jeff Cooper was; and who actually gives a damn if I hit what I shoot at, or ever come back in his shop again.
With this help from Walmart the local gun shop can once again be real. With all the new gun owners in our ranks, they’ve never been needed more than right now! You think Walmart is a gun store? Well, bless your heart. You’ve never been in a real gun store, have you?
A deer collected in Tipton County has tested suspect positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). If confirmed, this would change Tipton County from being a high-risk CWD county to a CWD positive county.
Tipton County is already a part of Unit CWD, therefore deer carcass exportation and wildlife feeding restrictions already apply there, as well as the Unit CWD hunting regulations. If confirmed CWD-positive, the only change will be the reclassification to CWD positive and, as a result, an automatic slight modification to the carcass exportation restrictions there.
“We are sampling for CWD heavily in and around Unit CWD and, as a result, expect to find many more positive deer this season, as compared to the 186 found at the end of last deer season,” said Chuck Yoest CWD coordinator for the TWRA. “TWRA also expects more of the four remaining high-risk counties to be reclassified to positive once the agency has a more complete understanding of CWD. This is not due to matters quickly getting worse. It is due to the greater focus and increased sampling. We encourage people to visit CWDinTennessee.com to know the latest, as new information will available as deer season continues.”
The sample came from a 3.5-year-old doe that appeared sick. The sampling location was approximately eight miles from the Arkansas border. Tipton County was the last of eight southwestern Tennessee counties added to the newly-created Unit CWD. The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established Unit CWD and instituted deer carcass exportation and wildlife feeding restrictions there to help prevent the spread of the disease. The Commission also modified hunting regulations in the counties to best manage CWD in Tennessee.
Supplemental feeding of wildlife is banned in Unit CWD. The placement of grains, salt products, and other consumable natural and manufactured products for wildlife is prohibited. The ban does not apply to feed placed within 100 feet of a residence, feed placed in a manner not accessible to deer, or feed and minerals as the result of normal agricultural practices. Food plots are still legal in Unit CWD.
September and October are the best months to see Tennessee elk. The rut is underway, which means lots of animal movement, mating activity and the haunting bugle of the bull elk day and night.
The free-range Tennessee elk are on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area about 40 miles north of Knoxville. There are two good wild viewing places, in the Royal Blue and the Sundquist units of North Cumberland.
Perhaps the easiest place to go is the elk-viewing pavilion at Hatfield Knob on Peabody Mountain in Campbell County. Elk are frequenting the area mostly in the mornings and evenings. Directions: I-75 north to Caryville, then take U.S. 25W to LaFollette and about 6.5 miles past. Immediately after topping the mountain turn left at the sign onto a gravel road and go about 4.5 miles to the parking area. The pavilion is about a one-third mile walk.
The original elk release site is in Scott County at Montgomery Junction on Massengill Mountain, near the community of Norma. To get there take I-75 north to exit 141 (Oneida/Huntsville); go west on Hwy 63 for 11.5 miles and then left on Norma Road, going about five miles to a left turn onto Montgomery Creek Road. About a mile further is the original release site, a good place to begin slowly driving and listening and glassing [Note: A few elk hunters will be hunting here from Sept. 28 – Oct. 18].
There is another site in West Tennessee at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The Elk & Bison Prairie is open seven days a week, from dawn to dusk, and features a 3.5-mile paved loop with interpretive stops along the drive. Passes cost five dollars per vehicle and can be purchased at the Elk & Bison Prairie entrance gate or at any Land Between the Lakes day-use facility.
Elk can be seen anytime but viewing is best in the mornings and evenings. Recommended equipment includes binoculars, cameras and insect repellant. For those going off-road, watch for poisonous snakes since they are quite active right now. Also, check out the live Tennessee elk cam at Hatfield Knob here.
The main elk herd in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in the Cataloochee area on the North Carolina side. Contact the Park headquarters for the best viewing opportunities; go to www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/elk.
It looks like another good season is in the offing for waterfowl and duck hunters. The annual government survey is published and Delta Waterfowl has this analysis. The 2019 Waterfowl Population Status Report, conducted jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service since 1955, puts the breeding duck population at 38.90 million, a 6 percent decrease from last year’s population of 41.19 million, but still 10 percent above the long-term average. The 2019 survey marks the first time since 2008 that the estimated breeding duck population has fallen below 40 million.
“The fact that the numbers are down is a reflection of last year’s dry conditions for nesting ducks,” said Dr. Frank Rohwer, president of Delta Waterfowl. “We know that production drives duck populations, so it’s no surprise that after a year of poor production, the USFWS counted fewer ducks.”
There is good news to be found in the survey. Mallards increased 2 percent to 9.42 million, 19 percent above the long-term average. (Unfortunately for Atlantic Flyway hunters, mallards decreased by 2 percent in the Eastern Survey Area to 1.05 million.) Green-winged teal rose 4 percent to 3.18 million, 47 percent above the long-term average. American wigeon climbed slightly to 2.83 million, 8 percent above the long-term average.
Notably, gadwalls climbed 13 percent to 3.26 million, putting them 61 percent above the long-term average. “The real surprise to me is that gadwalls seem to be almost drought-proof,” Rohwer said. “They’re pretty amazing ducks.”
Other dabbling ducks decreased, but remain above long-term averages. Shovelers declined 13 percent to 3.65 million, 39 percent above the long-term average. The largest decrease was observed among blue-winged teal, down 16 percent to 5.43 million, but still 6 percent above the long-term average. “The bluewing estimate makes sense,” Rohwer said. “Bluewings didn’t fare well last spring given the dry prairie, and didn’t produce many ducks.”
The only below-average population estimate among puddle ducks is for pintails, which dropped 4 percent to 2.27 million, 42 percent below the long-term average. “Many pintails settled in the Dakotas seeking better water conditions, as did all ducks,” Rohwer said. “But the core of the pintail’s traditional breeding range is in southern Alberta, where they’re down 79 percent, and southern Saskatchewan, where they’re down 85 percent. More than a million pintails — almost half the breeding population — settled in the U.S. prairie this year.”
All three diving duck species surveyed showed declines in 2019. Redheads fell 27 percent to 730,000, putting them right at the long-term average. Canvasbacks dropped 5 percent to 650,000, but remain 10 percent above the long-term average. And scaup (greater and lesser combined) declined 10 percent to 3.59 million, 28 percent below the long-term average.
“I’m concerned that bluebills may return to restrictive harvest regulations, if their recent population trend isn’t reversed,” Rohwer said. “And we’ve been living off high redhead numbers for a long time, but we just had two average-to-dry years.”
Across the U.S. and Canada, the May pond count registered 4.99 million — 5 percent lower than last year and 5 percent below the long-term average. Pond counts in prairie and parkland Canada, which covers Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, decreased 22 percent to 2.86 million, which is the lowest estimate since 2004 and 19 percent below the long-term average. Pond counts in the north-central United States, which covers Montana and the Dakotas, increased 36 percent to 2.14 million, 26 percent above the long-term average.
“This year’s pond count and nesting conditions are truly a tale of two countries,” Rohwer said. “Canada is in bad shape — it started dry and got even drier. I haven’t seen portions of Canada this dry since the mid-1980s. However, the prairies in the Dakotas started wet and stayed ridiculously wet. The problem is that while many of the duck estimates in the U.S. are up, it wasn’t enough to compensate for dry conditions in a region as massive and important to ducks as prairie Canada.”
However, Rohwer said production in the highly wet eastern Dakotas region — where mallards are up 54 percent, pintails rose 64 percent, bluewings jumped 19 percent and total ducks are up 29 percent — has been exceptional. That’s good news for hunters, who shoot the fall flight, not the breeding population.
“The numbers aren’t as bad as they appear,” Rohwer said. “For example, even though bluewings are down, a higher portion of their breeding population than average settled in the wet Dakotas, where they should produce ducklings like crazy.”
Even though breeding duck numbers are down overall, the U.S. prairies were incredibly wet from south to north, which will lead to strong duck production. Conditions remained wet and actually improved during the breeding season, with temporary and seasonal wetlands retaining water into July and August.
“So when the prairies were dry last year, it hurt duck production, and in turn, duck hunters,” he said. “We saw it in Louisiana and elsewhere. But this year, ducks nested and renested in the U.S. prairies with a vengeance and should have high brood survival in those landscapes.” Strong production in the U.S. prairies should also increase the number of more easily decoyed juveniles in the fall flight, compared to the savvy, adult birds many hunters encountered last season.
“There will be plenty of ducks in the fall flight, and I expect duck hunters, especially in the southern U.S., to have a better season this year,” Rohwer said. To view the complete 2019 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, visit here. For more information on Delta Waterfowl, “The Duck Hunters Organization”, go to www.deltawaterfowl.org.
If you enjoy social media, then you should check out the new Tagboards from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Here you can share your outdoor experiences by using #tnwildlife, #tntrophyroom or #tnboating on your favorite social media site. Whether you prefer Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Vine, or Flickr, by using one of these hashtags, you can share memories with the TWRA, your friends and family. Make sure your posts are public; private posts will not make it to the board. Click here and visit one or all three tagboards.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will have its monthly meeting on Aug. 15-16 in Greeneville at the General Morgan Inn. Committee meetings begin at 2 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, and the regular meeting starts at 9 a.m. Friday. The public is invited to attend.
On Friday morning the 2019 winners of the 14 drawn permits to hunt Tennessee elk will be announced. This will include seven quota permits for the archery only hunt Sept. 28-Oct. 5, one permit for the youth hunt Oct. 5-11 and six permits for the Oct. 12-18 general hunt with gun, muzzleloader and bow. The winners of Tennessee elk raffle, sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, will also be announced.
A summary of the August handheld duck blind drawings will be presented. The format for this year’s drawing changed Also, a recap of recently-held public listening sessions will be given. A preview of proposed changes to the sport fishing and bait proclamations will be made, including the changes requested by the Commercial Fisheries Advisory Committee.
The TWRA’s Biodiversity Division will give an update. To remain in compliance with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cooperative Agreement and to avoid state audit findings, the Biodiversity Division must review the State Threatened and Endangered Species list every two years. The list is scheduled to be reviewed in November 2019.
The fifth Calendar Photo Contest (for the 2020 calendar) for the Tennessee Wildlife Federation has an entry deadline of Aug. 31, 2019. The TWF wants photos that represent the beautiful landscapes, natural resources and wildlife of Tennessee. Tip: It is good to focus on the Tennessee state parks, wildlife management areas and national forests; and, again this year, winter scenes and aquatic species are in short supply. So, if not this year, plan now for next year.
Winning photographers will receive a display copy of their photo, a $20 gift card and TWF apparel; the two top winners will receive gift cards of $200 and $100. Go to https://tnwf.org/photocontest for more details, helpful tips and to enter the contest.
Tennessee Wildlife Federation is one of the largest and oldest organizations in Tennessee dedicated to the conservation of the state’s wildlife and natural resources through stewardship, youth engagement, and conservation policy. TWF sponsors Hunters For the Hungry, Scholastic Clay Target Program, TWF Youth Hunting and Fishing, and other conservation programs. Learn more at https://tnwf.org.
Are you having trouble scheduling the time for a hunter education class? For many years there has been an online alternative with an online written exam and a required field day for live shooting; but, now there is an exemption to the field day for those 21 years or older. The following steps are required:
Complete the online class at www.huntercourse.com/usa/tennessee or at www.Hunter-Ed.com. These courses costs $29 and they are interactive, narrated, and offer daily (including weekend) live customer service via email or telephone. For those age 21 or older, complete the form provided for the field day exemption and mail, fax or email it with required documentation and payment to the address listed on the form. To request a form contact the Hunter Education Coordinator at 615-781-6538. Your certificate will arrive in three to five business days after submission.
The Perseid meteor shower is one of the best natural fireworks shows in the northern hemisphere, but this year its peak nights will be competing with a waxing full moon, washing out many of the smaller shooting stars. So, this year begin your viewing the weeks before the peak.
The Perseid climaxes each year on the nights of Aug. 11-12 and 12-13, building steadily the preceding three weeks and dropping off rapidly after Aug. 13. On a dark night expect to see 60 to 100 shooting stars per hour over the entire sky, and more large “fireballs” than any other meteor shower.
The best viewing times are after midnight, but any time after dark will do. Binoculars are not necessary. Find a dark sky and clear horizon far from city lights and get comfortable (lounge chair, snacks, insect repellant, etc.). It is a great time to go night fishing, too.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through the debris from the orbital path of the comet Swift-Tuttle, last seen in 1992 and anticipated again in 2126 ( 133-year cycle). The flight paths of the shooting stars will appear to originate in the constellation Perseus in the northeast, but they will occur all over the sky.
Last call. The deadline for the Tennessee elk raffle is Tuesday, Aug. 2. The 2019 Tennessee Conservation Elk Tag will be issued to the winner of the Grand Prize; the next four lucky ticket holders will receive many other prizes. And you can buy as many chances as you want for $20 each, three for $50, or 10 for $100. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF) is the non-governmental organization that will run the raffle, and all proceeds go to the Tennessee elk program. In 2018 the raffle netted the program $224,000.
The Conservation Elk Tag is designated specifically for the rifle season, Oct. 12-18, in the Elk Hunting Zone 1 in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. The first place winner will also get a new Best of the West Mountain Scout Rifle in 6.5 PRC topped with a Huskemaw scope, and your Tennessee elk hunt will be filmed for an episode of The Best of the West outdoor television series.
The raffle drawing will be held on Aug. 5 and the winner announced at the Aug. 16 meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. Tennessee state law requires that applicants must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen eligible to legally own a firearm according to federal law. The winner is responsible for all taxes and fees associated with the prize, and will need to purchase the required elk license ($27 resident, $300 non-resident). To purchase tickets for the raffle, visit the TWRF website here.
TWRF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting habitat conservation, responsible land stewardship, and Tennessee's hunting and fishing heritage for the benefit of Tennessee's outdoor enthusiasts and the TWRA. Check them out at www.twrf.net.