(Updated January 13, 2017)
2017-18 Waterfowl, Migratory Bird Hunting Proposals Presented At Commission Meeting
MEMPHIS --- The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission was presented a preview of the 2017-18 waterfowl and other migratory bird hunting seasons at its first meeting of 2017. The one-day meeting was held Friday (Jan. 13) at the Bass Pro Shops in the Pyramid.
The presentation in regard to waterfowl and other migratory birds was made at the January meeting due to recent changes in the timing of the federal regulation process. States will now set their waterfowl, dove and other migratory bird seasons early in the calendar year as compared to late summer in previous years.
Jamie Feddersen, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Migratory Game Bird Program leader, shared proposed season dates and bag limits for all migratory bird species. The TWRA is also recommending an operational statewide sandhill crane hunting season. For the past four years, an experimental sandhill crane hunting season has been held in a limited area in southeast Tennessee. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved an operational season for Tennessee.
The agency is proposing a two-week shift in the American Woodcock season. Currently this season starts the last Saturday in October and the shift would have it beginning the second Saturday of November. Other seasons will remain intact with only date changes.
The commission will set the 2017-18 regulations at its next meeting on Feb. 17 in Nashville.
Ducks Unlimited representatives made their annual visit to a commission. DU’s Dave Kostersky and Tim Willis discussed Tennessee’s efforts with Duck Unlimited and prairie Canada to create and enhance wetlands.
The commission had asked the TWRA to review it big game check-in system. The commission is requesting that the agency check the potential cost of implementing a tagging system and the cost of surveying hunters to calculate a big game harvest estimate. This technique will complement the annual reported harvest from check-in.
The TFWC passed a resolution to honor Wade Bourne, an outdoors writer and broadcaster who recently passed away. A resident of Clarksville, he contributed to many publications through the years as served as editor-at-large for Ducks Unlimited magazine and as a senior write for Bassmaster magazine.
Bourne was a host/co-host for Ducks Unlimited TV the past 10 years and seven years, hosted the weekly hunting/fishing program Advantage Outdoors TV on the Nashville Network. Among his many honors was induction into Legends of Outdoors Hall of Fame and the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Where are all the turkeys?
The Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and the Mississippi Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) staff discussed the continual statewide decline in wild turkey harvests during its open educational session in mid-December.
"Mississippi offers great turkey hunting, but if these downward trends continue, there may come a time when this will no longer be the case," said Adam Butler, MDWFP Wild Turkey Program Coordinator.
The trend to which Butler refers is the decline in spring gobbler harvest by licensed hunters in Mississippi. The agency's assessments suggest spring gobbler harvest peaked in 1987 at just under 60,000 gobblers. By comparison, the 2016 estimate was slightly over 22,000 birds.
"Our numbers saw a dramatic drop between the late 1980s and early 1990s," Butler said. "While substantial, that crash was not totally unexpected since we were coming off the restocking era when populations exploded and likely overshot what their habitats could support. However, the declines we have seen since 2005 are much more troubling because they follow a period of population stability throughout most of the '90s and early 2000s. Other states are also seeing the same thing happening, and so the time to act is now."
Fish tagged in Moon Lake recaptured in Ohio River
A paddlefish tagged and released by Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) fisheries biologists on February 24, 2014 at Moon Lake in Coahoma County was recaptured on November 14, 2016 in the Ohio River below Smithland Dam near Paducah, Kentucky.
"This fish made a remarkable journey through many miles of streams and rivers to just make it to the Mississippi River," said MDWFP Commercial fisheries biologist Darrin Hardesty. "Paddlefish swim long distances, but very little is known about their movements to and from Moon Lake." Moon Lake is connected to the Coldwater River by the Yazoo Pass. The fish, which swam about 725 miles in 993 days, was captured by a commercial fisherman. The fish was identified by a numbered metal band which was attached to the fish's jaw.
Since 2010, four paddlefish tagged at Moon Lake have been recaptured and reported to MDWFP fisheries biologists. Two fish were captured in the Missouri River, and the other fish was recaptured in the Mississippi River near Grand Tower, Illinois.
MDWFP biologists have tagged over 700 paddlefish in the last several years, but very few recaptures have been reported.
Farm Bureau donates to Hunter's Harvest Program
The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance recently donated $5,000 to the Mississippi Wildlife Federation in support of their Hunter's Harvest program. The money will be used to pay for the processing of donated venison which is then distributed to food charities throughout Mississippi.
During the 2015-2016 hunting season, deer hunters donated more than 13,000 pounds of lean, healthy venison that was then provided to soup kitchens, shelters and other food charities throughout Mississippi. Those donations resulted in over 52,000 meals for people in need.
To find a participating Hunter's Harvest deer processor in your area or to learn more about the program, contact the Mississippi Wildlife Federation at (601) 605-1790 or visit their website at www.mswildlife.org
MDWFP completes new boat ramp in Tallahatchie County
The MDWFP, working in cooperation with the Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors, completed a new public boat launching ramp on the Tallahatchie River in Tallahatchie County. The new single lane concrete boat ramp and gravel parking lot is located on Paducah-Wells Road off Mississippi Highway 35 approximately 3 miles north of Charleston. The facility will be maintained by the Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors.
Spring turkey quota hunts application
The application period for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency 2017 Spring Turkey Quota Hunts runs from Dec. 14 through Jan. 18. Applications are available and will be accepted at any TWRA license agent, TWRA regional office, or online at the TWRA website. Applications can be accepted until 11:59 p.m. (CST) on Jan. 18. Mailed applications will not be accepted. The areas available for the hunts are listed on the instruction sheets. Hunters have up to 14 choices, but will be drawn for only one. Hunters with Internet access may apply for a spring turkey quota hunt online by visiting https://quotahunt.gooutdoorstennessee.com/Hunts/CustomerLookup.aspx.
The 2017 statewide turkey season is April 1-May 14. The statewide Young Sportsman Hunt is March 25-26.
Winter trout stocking underway
The TWRA has announced its 2016-17 winter trout stocking schedule. TWRA plans to release approximately 90,000 rainbow trout into Tennessee waters from December through March. The program provides numerous close to home trout fishing opportunities for anglers during the winter months. These fisheries also provide 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. Anglers are reminded that a trout license is needed in addition to the fishing license. Please note that the dates and locations are subject to change. Updates can be found on TWRA's website at www.tnwildlife.org.
Commission greets a special visitor
Stephen Tucker, 26, of Gallatin met with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency staff and commission at the commission's December meeting at the TWRA Region 2I Ray Bell Building in Nashville. Stephen recently bagged a non-typical buck in Sumner County with antlers that are record book quality,
Without a doubt, the "Tennessee Tucker Buck" as it is being touted, will be a state record in deer in what is referred to as the free-roaming non-typical classification by the Boone and Crockett Club.
Commissioners had the opportunity to meet Tucker, view the deer's antlers and have photos taken during a break in the meeting. The commission heard a description from TWRA Capt. Dale Grandstaff about how the non-typical rack on Tucker's buck seems to be inherent to other bucks in the area where Tucker had his harvest.
CWD not detected in Yell County deer
Two white-tailed deer previously identified as CWD positive during the Arkansas modern gun deer season opener have tested negative for chronic wasting disease. One of Marion County's two CWD-positive samples and the lone positive sample in Yell County from those taken during opening weekend of the 2016-17 deer season have been reversed, due to results from immunohistochemistry (IHC) tests sent to verify the initial findings.
In two of the resubmitted samples, the IHC test came back clean. During the AGFC's first detection of the disease in February, additional samples also were sent for confirmation testing to ensure accurate results before the AGFC's first announcement to the public.
The AGFC has collected samples from 1,592 road-killed deer, 298 deer reported as sick by the public and 1,136 samples from hunter-harvested animals. To date, 150 white-tailed deer and six elk have been confirmed with CWD in Arkansas.
'I love winter fishing'
For those who enjoy solitude and having lakes completely to themselves, winter is the best time to get outside and fish. Contrary to the stubborn belief of many anglers, fish bite all winter long.
"There are plenty of fish in the winter, especially crappie," said Mike Hardin, assistant director of fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "It took longer this year to run off the boat traffic, but we've got it to ourselves now. I love winter fishing."
If you want to try winter crappie fishing in Kentucky, these three lakes give anglers a great chance at a productive day:
Taylorsville Lake: The populations of both black and white crappie in Taylorsville Lake are on a major upswing over the past few years. Flooded timber is key for winter crappie on Taylorsville.
Cave Run Lake: The placement of habitat over the last several years by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife injected some fantastic places to catch crappie in the lake. The timing of the placement coincided with an increase in the crappie population.
Ohio River: Anglers may be surprised to hear the Ohio River is a good place for winter crappie. Jay Herrala, stream fisheries biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, recommends the embayments in the Markland Pool and the Cannelton Pool as the best on the river for crappie. The Markland Pool is upstream of Markland Lock and Dam near Warsaw in Gallatin County and the Cannelton Pool is upstream from Cannelton Lock and Dam near Warsaw in Hancock County.