The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission set the state’s 2012-13 hunting seasons during its May meeting which concluded Friday at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Ray Bell Region II Building.
Among the changes, Tennessee sportsmen will see an increase in deer and bear harvest opportunities.
In regard to white-tailed deer hunting, the TWRC approved the TWRA’s proposal to increase the antlerless archery season bag limit in Unit B to four deer per season. Also, now those counties that are included in Unit B will be allowed 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.
The TWRC voted to allow the gun season for white-tailed deer to extend through the first full weekend in January, which next year will conclude Jan. 6. The second young sportsman hunt will be held the weekend of Jan. 12-13 in 2013.
A limited season for red deer was initiated in Claiborne County last year and the TWRC approved the recommendation to have the season run concurrent with the 2012-13 white-tailed deer season. The area is south of the Powell River in Claiborne County.
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. The state is coming off a record bear harvest from last winter and surveys indicate the population is thriving, allowing the agency to increase the number of bear hunting opportunities.
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 will be reduced in three southern Middle Tennessee counties which are Giles, Lawrence and Wayne.
The statewide quail season will be extended through the end of February. On certain Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), the dates could vary.
A raccoon hunting season from Jan. 1-31 was approved for the Tellico and Ocoee bear reserves. There will be a limit of two dogs per vehicle. For falconry, an additional month was added for falconers to acquire birds
In other agenda items at the May meeting, landowners with larger acreages (properties in excess of 1,000 acres), who receive a wild hog exemption can now provide additional signees to help with their wild hog control efforts. Up to one additional person will be allowed for every 100 acres over 1,000.
A wild hog control season (with dogs) was added on Catoosa and Skinner Mountain WMAs.
A rule amendment changes the resident commercial fishing helper license to a commercial fishing helper license, which would include both residents and non-residents. The non-resident commercial fishing helper license, as a result, is now deleted in its entirety.
The commission passed a rule which will give the agency leeway to work with those persons who have permanent duck blinds in the West Sandy waterfowl area. Located on Kentucky Reservoir in Henry County, the area will be affected by unavoidable TVA maintenance on the dewatering pumps.
The agency recognized Ducks Unlimited with a proclamation on the occasion of the organization’s 75th anniversary. DU’s state chairman, Larry Richardson, accepted on behalf of the organization. A long-time partner of the TWRA, Ducks Unlimited is now the world’s largest private waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization.
The TWRC will next convene for its June 14-15 meeting which will also be held at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building in Nashville.