(Updated October 7, 2014)
Deer Hunting Season Schedules
Whitetail hunting has already begun around the Mid-South, and we thought these links might come in handy for those of you hankering to get out in the woods.
Plea Agreement Reached in Dale Hollow Boating Death
An Ohio man has reached a plea agreement for a June 2013 boating accident on Dale Hollow Lake that resulted in the death of a passenger on his boat.
Justin Zimmer pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in Pickett County Criminal Court for the incident which claimed the life of Nicholas Trombley, also an Ohio resident. The two men were on vacation with their families.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) conducted an investigation that showed the boat, owned and operated by Zimmer, was driven into the woods where it collided with several trees. Three of nine people on board were injured and Trombley died from the injuries sustained during the crash. Tests showed Zimmer's blood alcohol content was 0.10% several hours after the incident occurred, indicating intoxication at the time of the accident.
As a result of his plea, Zimmer was sentenced to six years of supervised probation. In addition to probation, Zimmer will lose his boat operating operation privileges for a period of five years, have an ignition interlock device installed on his personal vehicle for a period of three years, and perform 100 hours of community service. Zimmer will also be required to participate in an annual public presentation with representatives from the TWRA regarding the dangers of boating while intoxicated.
Early Drawdown of Pickwick Lake for Seismic Study at Dam
The Tennessee Valley Authority is accelerating the annual drawdown of the Pickwick Landing Reservoir located in West Tennessee, Northeast Mississippi and Northwest Alabama as a result of a recent "health check" inspection of Pickwick Landing Dam.
Initial results from testing and core drilling suggest a remote chance that the earthen embankment south of the concrete portion of the dam could be damaged by a large earthquake. Lower lake levels will allow TVA to conduct more detailed analysis and testing to determine what will be necessary to strengthen the south embankment against large seismic events. The Pickwick Landing area is only a few hundred miles from the New Madrid Seismic Zone along the Mississippi River.
"Public safety is our top priority," said John McCormick, TVA vice president of River Operations. "Because large earthquakes can't be predicted, we're taking immediate action to enhance the continued safety of the public and our employees."
Archery Deer Season Opens October 1 in Hill and Delta Zone
Many Mississippians are looking forward to the opening of deer archery season on October 1 for the Hill and Delta Zones. Longbows, recurves, compound bows, and crossbows are all considered legal archery equipment and can be used during all seasons for deer. There is no minimum or maximum draw weight, no minimum arrow length, and fixed or mechanical broadheads may be used.
"Deer numbers are high statewide, and abundant rainfall has had a positive impact on antler development. Also, the white oak acorn crop is looking good, which is a recipe for abundant bowhunting opportunities and better than expected antler quality. We are excited about the potential overall deer harvest and buck quality this season may bring," says Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) Deer Program Leader Lann M. Wilf. "We are coming off of a couple of years of reduced harvest, which was partially related to weather. Hopefully, weather will be favorable for improving deer visibility and harvest this year."
MDWFP reminds all Wildlife Management Area (WMA) hunters that they are required to wear a full-body harness (fall-arrest system) while climbing a tree, installing a tree stand that uses climbing aids, or while hunting from a tree stand on a WMA. While required on WMAs, the MDWFP urges all hunters to wear and know how to properly use a full-body harness while hunting from an elevated position. Take time before your hunt to be sure you have all the proper safety equipment and remember that the most important part of the hunt is making it home.
MDWFP Reminds Hunters of Bag Limit Changes for Deer Season
Mississippi's 2014 - 2015 deer hunting season will provide more liberal antlerless opportunity on private lands and will better manage antlerless opportunity on U.S. Forest Service National Forests (USFS). This regulation change is intended to aid in the proper management of Mississippi's deer herd while providing maximum opportunity to hunters without negative impacts to the resource.
On private lands only, the antlerless deer bag limit has changed to five antlerless deer per year with no daily limit. However, the antlerless deer bag limit on USFS has been reduced to three antlerless deer per year with a daily limit of one. These bag limit changes are intended to offer more flexibility to hunters managing abundant deer herds on private lands and reduce antlerless deer harvest on USFS where lower deer densities may occur. If hunting on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) or National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs), hunters need to read WMA and NWR-specific regulations as bag limits may differ among these public areas.
AGFC Approves Grant of Fine Money to Counties
When the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission collects fines from game law convictions, the money goes back to the county where it was collected. During today's monthly Commission meeting, the agency approved a grant of more than $679,100 to the Arkansas Department of Education as a result of fines collected during the 2014 fiscal year.
The money is used to fund educational programs focused on fish, wildlife and conservation in the counties where the offenses occurred. The highest amount of fine money went to Drew County with just over $28,000. The next highest amount went to Arkansas County with more than $25,900 in fines.
Each county's quorum court allocates all fine money to their school districts. The AGFC and the Arkansas Department of Education do not have a role in determining which programs are funded. School district officials must contact their local quorum court with requests for fine revenue and suggestions concerning the best method of distributing funding.
Fine money may be used only for AGFC programs. The Arkansas Department of Education and the AGFC have established school programs for fish and wildlife conservation and for other purposes consistent with the AGFC's mission.
Missouri Agents Help Rescue Motorists Trapped in Flash Flood
Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) agents early Wednesday helped rescue eight motorists stranded on or near Interstate 29 by a flash flood following torrential rain in Holt County. The rescues occurred from about midnight to 2:30 a.m. There were no injuries. The rescues were by boat, motorized front loader and one from the front of a road grader.
Swift water, varied water depths, rain and darkness made the rescues tricky, said Conservation Agent Jade Wright. The National Weather Service reported 5.25 inches of rain fell at Mound City and areas to the north received six inches. Squaw Creek was flooding over the area's roads.
Wright, along with MDC Conservation Agent Anthony Maupin, and Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Quilty, used an MDC boat to reach a school bus driver stranded on Route N north of Mound City. The boat and trailer had to be hooked to a Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) front loader to reach a launching point. Swift current had turned the bus around, killed the engine, and pushed it off the road up against a fence, Wright said. Rescuers were able to get the woman off the bus, into the boat, and back to shore, but not without some tricky maneuvering.
"It took a couple of attempts to get up to her," Wright said. "The water was very fast. We were very lucky."
Afterward, Wright and Maupin helped rescue six people in three vehicles stalled on a flooded I-29. They rode in the bucket of a MoDOT front loader to reach those stranded and then haul them to safety.
Conservation Agent Eric Abbott and a MoDOT road grader operator rescued a man clinging to a luggage rack on top a Jeep Cherokee on the north side of the flash flood. The current had swept the Cherokee into median where the water was deeper and at roof level. A boat appropriate for the swift water was not available so they improvised a rescue, said, Abbott, who is trained for swift-water rescues.
"We were afraid if the water came up six more inches he would be swept away," he said.
The road grader was driven near the vehicle. Abbott moved out to the front of the road grader. He tossed the man a tow rope and instructed him on how to secure it.
"On the count of three, we made a big leap of faith," Abbott said. "He jumped into the water toward the road grader and I pulled with all my might, and we got him pulled out. He was cold and a little bit hypothermic. It was a bad situation."
Also on the scene for all rescues were law enforcement, fire and ambulance personnel.
"It was a team effort," said MDC Northwest Region Protection Supervisor Roger Wolken. "Everybody responded quickly and it put them in a very dangerous situation to rescue citizens, which they did. It's something we train for and hope we don't have to use. But we want to be prepared for it, and we were."