Ready for deer, turkey and shot woodcock
Not many hunters know that there are special non-quota deer hunting opportunities for the public on South Cherokee Wildlife Management Area. Located near the North Carolina border south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the 250,000 acre area includes the former Ocoee and Tellico units. If you do not have a Sportsman License, the Non-quota Big Game permit is needed (Type 094, 095 or 167).
Deer hunts this year include one muzzleloader on Oct. 26-28 (one buck only), one young sportsman gun hunt on Nov. 3-4 (one deer either-sex), and two general gun hunts on Nov. 17-27 (two bucks only) and Dec. 14-28 (two bucks only). All deer taken on these South Cherokee hunts are bonus deer and do not count toward the state bag limit. Wild hogs are open on all hunts and no bag limit. See pages 54-55 of the 2012 hunting guide for more information.
For an easy introduction to the South Cherokee WMA, join up with the Tennessee Valley Sportsman’s Club as they muster for the Oct. 26-28 muzzleloader hunt. Call Rocky Hall for more information at 865-579-6389.
• The fall turkey season runs Oct. 13-26 in 78 counties of the state, and not statewide. Fall turkey hunting regulations can be complicated. Make sure you understand all the special details.
Shotgun and archery equipment are permitted. The season bag limit varies per county. Anderson/Blount County is open, limit two, either-sex. See the complete list of open counties and bag limits on page 32 of the 2012 hunting guide, or see the guide at http://www.tnwildlife.org .
Either-sex turkey hunting is also open for bowhunters during the archery-only deer season, now through Oct. 26 and Oct. 29 – Nov. 2, but only for those listed counties. Only bow and arrow may be used at this time, and hunters may not possess a firearm for hunting during those dates. New this year: Turkeys taken during archery-deer season will count toward the county limit; last year one bird taken with bow did not count.
• Tennessee’s short woodcock (or timberdoodle) season is Oct. 27 – Dec. 11 with a limit of three. During this time woodcocks are migrating through Tennessee from the north-central states and will winter on the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida.
Although their numbers have been dwindling over the past 20 years, the reason is not hunting. Studies have shown that this ground-dwelling bird prefers brushy cover and second-growth forest. Nowadays the forests are more mature due to forest fire suppression. Modern wildlife management now includes strategic controlled burns to vary the age of our forest habitats.
In the early spring woodcocks return to this area to mate and nest. The males’ aerial courtship antics are a sight to behold. They rocket high into the air and descend chirping and zigzagging, finally making a smooth and impressive landing. Watch for this performance on warm evenings from mid-February to early April.
• Scent-Lok, maker of odor reducing carbon hunting apparel, has claimed a complete victory in the nine federal lawsuits that challenged Scent-Lok’s ability to control human odor. After more than five years of litigation, all of the plaintiffs finally agreed to dismiss all of the pending lawsuits with prejudice. The final straw for plaintiffs was the district court’s order dismissing the first-filed Minnesota case.
In that order, the district court noted the extent to which these lawsuits were lawyer-driven: “The Court is firmly convinced that this litigation is so feeble that it is best to end it immediately, as its only goal ... appears to be fees for the plaintiffs’ lawyers. There exists no perceptible public benefit.”
Tom Wiest welcomes news, questions and comments from readers. Contact him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)