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Regional Roundup

(Updated September 12, 2016)



PRESS RELEASE: Friday, Sept. 9, 2016

Larry Rea named managing editor for Mid-South Hunting & Fishing News

Larry Rea, veteran outdoors reporter, radio show host and former outdoors editor for The Commercial Appeal, has been named managing editor of the Mid-South Hunting & Fishing News.
The MSHFN, a regional monthly magazine which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2017, is owned by Wireless Group Inc., based in Brownsville, Tenn.
MSHFN publisher Carlton Veirs said, ""When we began our search for the next editor of The News, Larry was, immediately, our first choice. There's not a journalist anywhere in the southeast that knows more about our region than Larry. We are very excited."
Rea worked almost 34 years at The Commercial Appeal before taking early retirement in January 2001 to start Outdoors with Larry Rea on ESPN 790-AM, a 90-minute show broadcast on Saturday mornings from 6-7:30. The show has won numerous state, regional and national awards.
During his tenure at The Commercial Appeal, Rea was the prep editor for 21 years during which he was co-founder of The Best of the Preps awards program. He was the outdoors editor from 1988-2001. For the past three years he was written a weekly Sunday outdoors article for The Commercial Appeal.
"I am excited to become part of the MSHFN team," said Rea, who lives in Germantown. "It is truly a unique part of the Mid-South, a publication that I have read for years. I was only the fourth outdoor editor in 100 years at The Commercial Appeal, and there have been only a handful of managing editors at the Mid-South Hunting & Fishing News."
Rea is a former president, current board member and honored lifetime member of the Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association and is a former board member of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association.



Fortner Named Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Tennessee Wildlife Officer of the Year

Joe Fortner has been honored as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA). The recipient of the award was announced by Darren Rider, TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Division colonel.

Fortner serves as a wildlife officer in TWRA Region III District 31's DeKalb County. He was selected among other TWRA law enforcement officers to become the state recipient. He will be recognized during the annual SEAFWA meeting in October to be held this year in Baton Rouge, La. While assigned DeKalb County, Fortner works throughout the district's 12 counties.

Also honored as their respective TWRA region and district selections were Ricky Lyle, Region I and Chase Taylor, District 11; Daniel Plunkett, Region II and Mark Vance, District 21; Marty Griffith, District 32: David Carpenter, Region IV and Jeff Roberson, District 41. The officers were selected for their efforts in teamwork, public outreach, innovation, attitude, leadership, achievements and accomplishments.

Among Fortner's activities this past year, he conducted educational and outreach events that included a kids fishing rodeo, displaying the "Wildlife on Wheels" educational trailer, "Gigging for Grads," and the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). He also assisted with several county fair exhibits providing information. He taught several hunter education, boater education and trapper education programs.

"Joe's efforts in excellence and innovation were also great," said Rider. He covers one of the premier trout fisheries in the state, the Caney Fork River, and has utilized the use of a kayak to reach these large crowds of anglers and paddlers.

"His determined law enforcement efforts resulted in 4,392 hunters, fishermen and boaters being inspected for compliance. These efforts produced a total of 147 court citations and warnings."

He also assisted other officers with another 110 citations and warnings. Through his efforts on a simple tagging violation he ending up prosecuting a poaching ring that concluded with nine individuals being charged and found guilty of the illegal killing of 11 deer.

Fortner is a firearms instructor for the agency, assisting with range preparations and semi-annual qualification of all commissioned personnel in Region III.
"Joe is certainly not only a great asset for the Agency but also for the hunters, anglers and boaters that recreate in the state of Tennessee," Rider said.


Survey to Shed Light on Hunter Satisfaction

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is conducting a survey of licensed hunters to learn more about their hunting experiences in Arkansas.

According to Mark Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, the survey should only take a few minutes and all answers will be kept completely confidential and will not be associated with the respondent's name in any way. All licensed hunters who are of at least 16 years of age and have hunted in the past 5 years are eligible.

The online component of the survey will be sent via email from the address "AR Game and Fish Commission" through the web survey site, Surveygizmo. If you receive an email, please consider participating in the study to assist the AGFC in better understanding attitudes toward hunting and wildlife management in the state. This study is also a follow-up to a study previously conducted by the Commission in 2014.

Artificial Fish Attractors placed in Norfork Lake

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists are faking out the fish and anglers with a new habitat project on Norfork Lake by adding artificial cover to the lake in addition to standard fish attractors created from trees and brush.

During the last three years, the AGFC has been able to purchase close to $40,000 worth of commercially developed cover and place it evenly throughout the lake, thanks to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Sport Fish Restoration fund. So far, 126 artificial habitats have been placed at 14 sites, and more than 20 other habitats are left to sink. This is in addition to the 169 sites made of natural materials already maintained by fisheries biologists on Norfork Lake.

Each structure has multiple "trunks" and "limbs" that stretch 8 feet wide, creating a maze of excellent cover for baitfish.

All habitats that are part of this project are being placed between 20 and 35 feet of water. As a stipulation to the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, all artificial structures in Norfork needed to be at least 20 feet deep. This actually is ideal for fish habitat in Norfork, as this also is the range where summer anglers will find the thermocline, an area where oxygen-rich warm water and cooler water underneath meet to form a high-productivity zone.

Although he knows of no scientific studies to prove whether natural or artificial cover is more effective at concentrating fish, Wyatt does point out that the artificial cover lasts much longer.

"We may get two to five years out of natural brush cover before we need to replace it or add to it with
fresh brush," Wyatt said. "This new style of cover may last decades before breaking apart. And we
have seen a lot of fish around the attractors we've already placed when we do our scuba diving surveys.
We saw channel catfish, flathead catfish and a bunch of bass, walleye and panfish holding to the new

Once the project is complete, anglers will be able to get the GPS coordinates for all structures on the AGFC's interactive map at http://gis.agfc.com/. In the meantime, anglers interested in getting the
locations of each structure may contact Wyatt at the AGFC Mountain Home Office, 877-425-7577.


Mississippi Hunters Eye High Duck Numbers

The overall North American total pond estimate, a measure of wetland habitat quantity, decreased by 21 percent from the estimate in 2015. However, wetland habitat availability was similar to the long term average, and the total breeding duck population estimate decreased by only two percent from 2015 estimates and remained well above the long term average.

Population estimates for five of the ten surveyed duck species increased this year. Mallard numbers increased by one percent from last year to a total of 11.7 million birds, which is the highest estimate on record. Scaup and American wigeon populations showed the greatest increases (14% and 12%, respectively). Redheads and American green-winged teal populations also experienced increases. Blue-winged teal, northern shoveler, northern pintail, gadwall, and canvasback population estimates revealed decreases in their overall numbers.

"The waterfowl breeding grounds are still experiencing a decline in grassland nesting habitat in portions of the United States and Canada, which is extremely important for nesting waterfowl. Significant acreage has been lost from these vital grasslands from declines in Conservation Reserve Program enrollment and loss of native prairie habitat," said Houston Havens, Waterfowl Program Coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. Havens commented, "Even with breeding duck populations again near record numbers, Mississippi hunters are reminded that many factors will determine whether or not large numbers of these birds show up in Mississippi wetlands." Fall and winter weather, as well as wetland habitat conditions here on the wintering grounds play major roles in duck migrations, which will ultimately define the hunting season for Mississippi's duck hunters.


Deer Season 2016-17 Looks Promising

Many archery hunters in Kentucky will spend the last long weekend of summer getting an early jump on fall.
Instead of kicking back at a backyard barbecue, they will be climbing into a tree stand. Instead of swimsuits and sunscreen, they will be wearing camouflage and insect repellent. Instead of grilled hot dogs and cold beverages, they will reach for their bows and hope an opportunity presents itself to draw on the first deer of the season.
Kentucky's 2016-17 deer season kicks off the first Saturday in September with the start of the 136-day archery season. Anticipation has been building for months.

"Everything right now points toward another good season," said Gabe Jenkins, deer program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
That is welcome news following a string of record harvests.

Hunters established a new benchmark last season by taking more than 155,000 deer. It was the third record harvest in the past four seasons and included 55 bucks from 40 counties documented by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife that met the Boone and Crockett Club's minimum entry score for its awards book.

"Our deer hunting in Kentucky is better than it's ever been," said Steve Beam, wildlife division director for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "We're harvesting record numbers of deer and our production of large-antlered bucks is completely incredible."



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