The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency made its 2012-13 hunting seasons recommendations at the April meeting of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission with a few changes to the current regulations.
TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division Chief Daryl Ratajczak and members of his staff made presentations to TWRC members.
In regard to white-tailed deer hunting, the TWRA is proposing to increase the antlerless archery season bag limit in Unit B to four deer per season. Also, allow Unit B counties the entire 14-day muzzleloader season to harvest a bag limit of one antlerless deer. Non-quota antlerless gun hunts were added in Campbell, Jackson, Morgan, and Scott counties.
A limited season for red deer was initiated in Claiborne County last year and the TWRA is recommending the season run concurrent with the white-tailed deer season in 2012-13. The area is south of the Powell River in Claiborne County.
The state is coming off a record harvest for black bears. Surveys indicate the population is thriving, allowing the agency to increase the number of bear hunting opportunities. Bear hunting days, with dogs permitted, will increase on three separate hunts with the increase varying 10 to 12 days, depending on the particular county. Also, there will be an increase of the bear dog training season by 4 to 14 days, also depending on the county.
During fall turkey season, archers will be given an opportunity to harvest the full county bag limit in the counties that are open. The fall turkey counties will be expanded to include Cumberland, Grundy, Hamilton, Madison, Putnam, Sequatchie, and Van Buren counties as well as increase bag limits in many East Tennessee counties. Fall turkey bag limits would be reduced in three southern Middle Tennessee counties which are Giles, Lawrence and Wayne.
The TWRA is proposing season date adjustments on numerous Wild Management Areas (WMAs). The complete list of changes is available on the TWRA website (www.tnwildlife.org).
A wild hog control season (with dogs) would be added on Catoosa and Skinner Mountain. Upon request by the United States Forest Service (USFS), Tellico and Ocoee bear reserves would be closed to raccoon hunting season.
The agency is clarifying regulations regarding weapon restrictions specifically as it pertains to small game and coyote hunting (Complete details will be available on the TWRA website).
For falconry, an additional month would be allowed for falconers to acquire birds.
In addition, the TWRC requested that the agency consider extending the end of deer gun season to the first full weekend of January. Commission members also requested the agency consider extending the quail season until the last day of February.
In other business at the meeting, the Boating Officer, and the Part-time Boating Officer of the Year awards were presented. Pam McDonald of TWRA District 22 in southern Middle Tennessee is the Boating Officer of the Year and Allen Herald of District 21 wins the Part-Time Officer of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Don Crawford, Information and Education Division assistant chief, gave a presentation on the recently-held National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Tournament. The event drew a record number of participants and eight teams and more than 50 individuals earned the right to advance to next month’s national tournament in Louisville, Ky.
The TWRC will hold its next meeting May 17-18 in Nashville at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building in Nashville.