The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission set the 2014-15 hunting seasons at its May meeting which concluded Friday at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Ray Bell Region II Building.
As introduced by the TWRA at the TFWC’s April meeting, new Bear Management Units for black bears have been formed. The Bear Management Units 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.
Bear hunters in traditional bear hunting counties will find little change to this year’s seasons. New hunts have been set in counties bordering traditional bear hunting counties and the Cumberland Plateau. A total of 15 new counties have been added.
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.
The archery whited-tailed deer season will begin on Sept. 27. The muzzleloader/archery season is Nov. 8-Nov. 21. The gun season for deer always opens the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving which this year is Nov. 22 continues until Jan. 4, 2015. The Young Sportsman Hunt for deer will again be held on two weekends. They are Oct. 25-26 and Jan. 10-11.
An extensive discussion was held over the 2014 dove season. It appears that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will allow a 90-day season. Dove season is divided into three segments. If the 90-day season is approved, the first segment will run from Sept. 1 through Sept. 28. The 2014 first segment will have two more days than the 2013 season. The second segment remains the same with only the date changes. It runs Oct. 11-Nov. 2
The most significant change is in the third segment. It has been moved forward to start on Nov. 29 and will continue until Jan. 6, 2015. The third segment was Dec. 19 to Jan. 15 this past year. The commission’s approval is dependent on what is expected to be set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s federal frameworks this summer.
In regard to turkey hunting, the 2015 spring season will continue to follow the tradition of opening on the Saturday nearest April 1. The 2015 season will start on Saturday April 4 of Easter weekend and continue for 44 consecutive days.
In regard to fall turkey hunting, the TFWC, voted in favor of the TWRA’s recommendations, to close the 2014 fall hunting seasons in Lawrence, Giles, and Wayne counties. The TWRA is currently conducting a study to determine why there has been a perceived decline in the wild turkey population in those three southern Middle Tennessee counties.
The TFWC voted to support the agency’s recommendation to add Yanahli Wildlife Management Area to the list of WMAs that prohibit the use of alcohol, except in designated camping areas. Other WMAs include Catoosa, Cheatham, Chuck Swan, Forks of the River, Laurel Hill, Pea Ridge, Percy Priest Unit1, and Prentice Cooper.
Dr. Mark Fly, from the University of Tennessee, addressed the commission on how his department at the university conducts public opinion surveys involving the agency. The university has managed various surveys for the agency through the years. He discussed the manner which scientific surveys were conducted.
An update on the recently held National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Tournament was given by Don Crawford Assistant Chief for the TWRA Information and Education Division. The program, initiated in Tennessee in 2004 as a pilot program, had its largest field ever with more than 1,500 students participating.
Almost 300 students qualified for the NASP National Tournament held earlier this month in Louisville, Ky. Isaiah Gardenhire, from White County High School, was the overall winner with a state tournament best record 294. He also shot the same score at the nationals which placed him ninth nationally among almost 1,700 other males in his division. State champion female winner Laurel Thompson, from CHET, placed 24th in her division among almost 1,500 among the females at the tournament.
I&E Division Chief Don King gave an update on the creation of the TWRA’s 65th anniversary display trailer. The trailer, which appeared at three TWRA meetings this month, features artifacts and information documenting the agency’s 65 years. An update on a new upcoming agency television program was made.The meeting will be the TFWC’s final full meeting until Aug. 28-29 in Jackson. However, the TFWC’s budget committee will meet June 27 in the Nashville office. That meeting will also be open to the public and will begin at 9 a.m.