NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established the state’s 2018-19 and 2019-20 hunting and trapping seasons at its May meeting which concluded Friday afternoon
The TFWC serves as the governing body of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The commission’s actions, which include season dates, bag limits, and rules and regulations, go into effect July 1. It marks the first time that the regulations will be effective for two years rather than one year.
Among changes made was the addition of a three-day, archery-only antlered deer hunt Aug. 24-26 in 2018. The commission had been requested to consider the season so that hunters can have an opportunity to harvest deer while they still have velvet covered antlers.
In addition, the 13-member body approved an agency recommendation to return to a previous definition of what constitutes an antlered deer. For the last two deer seasons, any deer with antlers above its hairline was considered an antlered deer. Now, antlered deer are defined as “male of female deer with antlers that are minimum of three inches in length.” Hunters had indicated to TWRA that they preferred the 3-inch rule and that was one of the several reasons why the agency proposed returning to the traditional definition.
The agency will publish its Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guides prior to the beginning of seasons, which will include the changes made in hunting or trapping seasons, but also all season dates and bag limits. The guide will be available in hard copy, but also on the agency’s website. It will also list the various changes and regulations that will apply to a specific wildlife management area (WMA). Among the various changes on WMAs, deer seasons were restructured on Cheatham WMA. On Wolf River WMA, deer hunting opportunities were expanded.
The TFWC voted to eliminate the special private lands only raccoon/opossum hunting season in selected East Tennessee counties as requested by public input. The statewide season opens in mid-September.
With concerns for a recent dip in the wild turkey harvest, the TFWC also voted to limit the fall turkey hunting seasons to bearded birds only, dropping the harvest of hens during the fall. The spring turkey season will remain the same as it has been in recent years, allowing a four bearded bird bag limit.
While it will not become law until July 1, 2019, the commission, noting concerns over the potential of Chronic Wasting Disease finding its way into Tennessee, voted to ban the use of cervid lures with urine. There is concern nationwide that the disease could be passed through tainted urine. Synthetic deer and elk lures, readily available on the market, would still be legal.
The TWFC also voted to make the use of aerial drones illegal for the purpose of hunting during its discussion on “manner and means,” which includes equipment legal to use while hunting or trapping.
It also legalized the use of pneumatic devices (air guns) only for licensed disabled hunters during the state’s archery-only seasons. The device will also be legal for everyone during the modern gun hunt, but not during the state’s muzzleloader season.
John Mayer, Region III manager, will be retiring at the end of June after 34 years of service to the agency. He was recognized prior to the start of Thursday’s committee meeting. He began his TWRA career as a fisheries technician.
The entire two-day meeting can be viewed on the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org. In addition, specific segments from the meeting will be highlighted next week on the website’s home page.