The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking public input on a pair of hunting issues. The first issue involves the opening day of the 2013-14 waterfowl hunting seasons. The second may create a brand new hunting opportunity.
Duck seasons are set taking into consideration guidelines from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Department. This year due to the federal government regulations, combined with Tennessee’s 60-day waterfowl season, the season would open up on Thanksgiving Day.
The TWRA has come up with the following options. The agency may split the season and have an opening weekend on Saturday, Nov. 23, which puts hunters at a quandary, as this is also the opening of gun season for deer.
The second option is to open duck season on Saturday, Nov. 16, which many believe is early resulting is a shortage of duck numbers.
“Considering the potential conflicts that all those options present, we would like to hear what our waterfowl hunters would prefer,” said Daryl Ratajczak, Chief of TWRA’s Wildlife and Forestry Division.
The second opinion solicitation concerns the creating of a new hunting season for Sandhill Cranes. Sandhill Cranes are long-legged, long-necked, gray, heron-like birds with a patch of bald, red skin on top of their head. They feature long pointed beaks and a wingspan that can be more than 6-feet wide.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended a potential 60-day Sandhill Crane season, with 775 permits available. Each permit holder could harvest three birds. The Sandhill Crane zone would be restricted to the southeastern portion of the state. Boundaries would be south of Interstate 40 and east of Hwy 56. For all practical purposes, the nearest major waters include a portion of Center Hill Lake, Nickajack Lake and Chickamauga.
To provide comments on the Sandhill Crane season, send emails to <TWRA.Comment@tn.gov> with the subject line “Sandhill Crane.” Both the waterfowl opening day survey and the TWRA Sandhill Crane comment period will be open until Aug. 10.
For those individuals without internet services, comments on both issues can be mailed to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Attention: Waterfowl Regulations, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN, 37204.
Sportsmen casting a vote on the opening day of waterfowl seasons must supply a valid TWRA ID number. The survey is available on the agency website at <www.state.tn.us/twra>.
—By TOM WAYNICK, For The Moore County News