The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency presented its 2014-15 hunting seasons recommendations at the April meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.
TWRA Wildlife and Forestry Division Chief Daryl Ratajczak and members of the division’s staff made presentations to TFWC members. The meeting was held Thursday and Friday, at TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building.
For 2014-15 bear hunting seasons, the agency introduced the concept of Bear Management Units which are subdivided into five Bear Hunt Zones. The Unit and Zone terminology relates to the Bear Management Plan being written and changes how the agency will regulate bear harvest.
There are only minimal date shifts recommended for the traditional bear hunts under the new format. However, new hunts opportunities are proposed for the northern Cumberland Plateau and 10 counties bordering the traditional bear counties. The proposal excludes bear hunting on Big South Fork Wildlife Management Area.
In regard to white-tailed deer hunting, there are recommended adjustments to increase antlerless opportunities in Blount, Marion, Putnam, Tipton and Washington counties in units A and B.
There were no recommended changes to the Tennessee elk hunting season. Sportsmen are reminded that the application period for the 2014 elk hunt will coincide with the normal quota hunt application period this year.
During fall turkey season, Giles, Wayne, and Lawrence counties are proposed to be closed. No changes are proposed for the spring season which is scheduled to begin April 4, 2015. The Young Sportsman Hunt is March 28-29.
The statewide changes to Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) include a prohibition on releasing pen-reared upland game birds except on two field trial areas. Quota hunts are suggested for several West Tennessee WMAs that flood prone to help reduce the pressure on turkey populations. Quail seasons would be closed on WMAs with extremely low quail populations.
Gooch, Meeman-Shelby, and White Oak would be added to the computer waterfowl blind drawing process. A requirement would be added for small game hunters to wear blaze orange on several East Tennessee WMAs (Foothills, Henderson Island, Kyker Bottoms, Kyles Ford, and Lick Creek Bottoms).
In regard to manner and means, the boating and law enforcement division proposed clarifying language on hunting from a stationary vehicle.
The TFWC will set the 2014-15 hunting seasons at its next meeting. The meeting will be held May 22-23, also at the TWRA Region II Ray Bell Building.