(Updated March 9, 2015)
New Largemouth Bass Record Confirmed by TWRA
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has confirmed that a new state record for a largemouth bass has been established, breaking the previous mark which was set more than 60 years ago.
The new state record fish weighs in at 15 pounds, 3 ounces. Friday, Feb. 13 proved to be a very lucky and history-making day for angler and new record holder Gabe Keen who made the catch on Chickamauga Reservoir.
The new mark surpasses the record which had stood since Oct. 17, 1954. James "Logue" Barnett had the previous long-standing mark of 14 pounds, 8 ounces with his fish caught on Sugar Creek in Lawrence County.
2014-15 Deer Harvest Approaches 165,000
2014-15 Deer Harvest Approaches 165,000
Close to 165,000 deer were harvested in Tennessee during the recently completed 2014-15 seasons according to data gathered by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The statewide gun season concluded Jan. 4 and the youth hunt followed on Jan. 10-11. The harvest numbers range from the start of archery season on Sept. 27, 2014 through the final youth hunt.
This year's statewide total of 164,869 again reflects the stability of the state's deer population. Last year's total was just slightly above 168,000.
Giles County again leads the way with the top county with 5,241 harvested. Fayette County was second for the second straight year with a harvest of 4,760. Rounding out the top counties, which all had harvest of at least 3,000, were Henry 4,473, Lincoln 4,318, Hardeman 4,212, Maury 3,968, Montgomery 3,534, Franklin 3,327, Carroll 3,262, Weakley 3,188, Hardin 3,151, Madison 3,126, Hickman 3,067, and Wayne 3,014.
Funding from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Keeps WMAs Open
Mississippi's system of wildlife management areas (WMAs) includes mitigation lands owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and managed by MDWFP. This unique partnership between state and federal agencies allows USACE to continue their flood protection and navigation activities in the state. This arrangement also provides habitat for a variety of species, including waterfowl, deer, and small game, and offers important public recreational opportunities, and supplies economic benefits to local communities.
However, during the past three years, Lake George, Sky Lake, and Muscadine Farms WMAs, have experienced drastic reductions in federal funding that endangered continued operations. These WMAs, totaling 15,000 acres and located in Yazoo, Humphreys, and Washington counties, were scheduled to close June 30, 2015.
Over the past year, members of the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committees, the Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus (Caucus), and numerous conservation partners joined collectively in the effort to prevent a closure. Rep. C. Scott Bounds, Chairman for the House Committee on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, and co-chair of the Caucus, said, "I greatly appreciate the cooperation of all our stakeholders in averting the closures of these public lands to the Mississippi's sportsmen and women. Senator Thad Cochran and our entire Congressional delegation, worked hand in hand with MDWFP, Delta Council, Delta Wildlife, Wildlife Mississippi, and Mississippi Wildlife Federation, to ensure that we have no net loss of public land opportunities, and they are to be applauded for their influence in assisting us in these efforts." This one-time funding will pay for basic maintenance activities on these WMAs for the rest of the year, but continued operations after this point will require additional funding. Sen. Phillip Moran, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks said, "We will continue to work with MDWFP and our partners and stakeholders to seek secure funding for these WMAs beyond 2015."
Prescribed Burns to Take Place on Northeast WMAs
Smoke will soon be rising from Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in northeast Mississippi. Beginning in early February, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks WMA managers will conduct prescribed burns on Canal Section, Charles Ray Nix, Divide Section, and Hell Creek WMAs. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service will likely conduct prescribed burns on Chickasaw and Upper Sardis WMAs. The seasonal, controlled use of fire is essential to the enhancement and maintenance of habitat for game and non-game wildlife species. Prescribed burning during late winter and early spring maintains natural vegetation in an early stage of plant succession that provides food and cover for wildlife.
AGFC Reports Record Elk Harvest in 2014
The 2014 Arkansas elk season was a record-setter. During today's monthly meeting, Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, were briefed on the elk season by AGFC elk program coordinator Wes Wright.
Wright told the commission that hunters harvested a record 52 elk in 2014 compared to the previous record of 44 elk harvested in 2012. "Our elk appear to be doing very well," Wright said. "It was a 30 percent increase in the overall harvest numbers from the 2013 hunting season," he added.
During the 2014 elk hunting season, 18 bulls and 34 antlerless elk were harvested. Hunters took 22 elk on public lands and 30 elk on private lands.
Kentucky Deer Hunters Record Second Highest Harvest Totals Ever in 2014-15
The 2014-15 season closed on Jan. 19 with 138,892 deer checked; the second highest total on record and third consecutive season with a harvest exceeding 130,000 deer.
"I'm happy," said Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "There are a lot of deer on the landscape, and we're seeing an uptick in license sales. We're providing hunting opportunity and our hunters are able to be successful. As an agency, that's what we want to do."
A record 144,409 deer were taken during the 2013-14 season when a spotty acorn crop put deer on the move.
Acorns were plentiful across much of the state this time around. Recognizing this, many hunters likely shifted their focus from field edges to the timber and travel corridors instead.
A strong opening month and an unprecedented start to the modern gun deer season emerged as key drivers.
"The three seasons where we have had our three greatest harvests have featured big Novembers," said David Yancy, deer biologist with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "And there's no question September has become more important or more interesting to hunters. I think hunters have gotten to where they like it and can't wait to get out there."
The majority of deer taken were male. Female deer accounted for 45.7 percent of the overall harvest.
Conservation Department Partners in Comprehensive Turkey Research
This year the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) and the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences will begin the most comprehensive long-term study of Eastern wild turkey in the state's history. The research project will take place in three locations across the state over the next five years and is designed to determine the reproduction, survival and harvest rates as well as movement patterns of wild turkey in Alabama.
For the project, both male and female turkeys will be fitted with transmitters and/or leg bands in and around the J.D. Martin Skyline, Oakmulgee, and Scotch Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). Each year of the study, up to 150 turkeys in each research area will be fitted with the transmitters and/or leg bands. Gobble counts and routine camera surveys will also be conducted in order to estimate the productivity, structure, and size of the turkey population in each research area.
In the event of harvesting a wild turkey fitted with one of the devices, hunters should return the transmitters to the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. A return address is printed on the devices.
"It is very important for us to retrieve each of the transmitters," said Ray Metzler, WFF Wildlife Section Acting Chief. "The data collected will help shape turkey management decisions for future generations of turkey hunters."
Additional support and funding for the research project has been provided by Auburn University, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Cape Girardeau Hosts Deer Damage Workshop
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will host a Deer Damage Workshop Tuesday, March 17, from 6:30 -8:30 p.m. at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center.
"Deer are of great economic importance to Missouri and are a treasured wildlife species," said Brad Pobst, an MDC Private Land Conservationist. "But they also have the potential to get into trouble with landowners."
A healthy deer population means conflicts can sometimes develop between people and deer. In addition to munching on crop fields, deer can damage tree and landscape plantings and vegetable gardens, Pobst said. That's why Pobst and other biologists are working together to equip landowners with the knowledge of how to reduce deer damage on their property.
Registration is required for this program by March 13. Registrations, or inquiries for more information, can be made by calling the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center at (573) 290-5218.