The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission has finalized changes to this year’s upcoming hunting seasons. Changes directly effecting our area concern bag limit reductions for turkey in a few Middle Tennessee counties. The bag limits in Giles, Wayne and Lawrence counties will be one, while Lincoln County will be three.
Tennessee deer hunters will again see increased opportunities for harvest in the coming year. These changes are for some counties that were in Unit A or B. We are in Unit L, which has the most liberal bag limits already in place.
To avoid a conflict with the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday, the main bear gun season opens Friday, Nov. 29.
Statewide, there are changes to Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s), including cave closures in all areas unless authorized by the TWRA. Limiting cave access is an effort to help control white-nose syndrome, caused by a mysterious fungus. Biologists estimate that more than one million bats have died from white-nose syndrome in the past four years.
Quail hunters should note that on WMA’s open to statewide seasons, quail hunting ends Jan. 15.
Each child born on or after 1969 in Tennessee must pass a state accredited hunter education safety class before they can hunt in the state. The idea behind the classes is to create firearm-respecting, safe hunters. An underlying effect is that the required classes will help create a population of life-long hunters. According to a recent survey, this may not be the case.
Twelve state wildlife agencies supplied data for the survey, which profiled the subsequent hunting license buying habits of hunter education graduates from 2006-2011. Here are the results.
Just 67.7 percent of graduates over the six-year period purchased at least one license.
While some graduates took hunter education with no intention of hunting, others needed assistance to make the leap to become an avid hunter.
After six years, only 44 percent of graduates still bought licenses.
Graduates from highly urbanized areas showed the greatest dropout rates indicating a greater need for intervention efforts. People graduating in warmer months represented the greatest percentage of graduates who never purchased a license.
In most states, graduates between the ages of 16 to 24 were less likely to buy a license six years after graduating, which showed the transient nature of young people.
“This shows us that simply encouraging people to obtain their hunter safety certificate is not enough,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts surveys such as this. “The hunting community needs ways to encourage new graduates to buy a license and go hunting.
“Whether that means more programs for state agencies to get people out hunting, private industry intervention, or simply more hunters taking their neighbor’s kid into the woods, remains to be seen.”
—By TOM WAYNICK (Send your outdoors information and fishing reports to Tom at email@example.com )