Spring sprung now keeps your hands off
By Tom Wiest | (email@example.com)
Pups, poults, shoats, cubs, goslings, chicks, calves, fawns, kittens, and kits. Nature’s renewal process is giving birth to all kinds of wildlife and there is something important you can do: Nothing.
Don’t get involved. Wild babies that are found alone are rarely abandoned, but human scent on them can endanger them. A parent is usually nearby, perhaps resting or eating, and watching. Remove yourself and enjoy watching from afar.
One exception to the don’t-touch rule is with baby birds that have fallen from their nests. Use a paper towel to handle them when returning them to the nests, and they might not be rejected by the parents.
Caution: Tick season begins now and there are millions of the suckers hatching. It will take about six weeks for the birds to make a sizeable dent in the population, but ticks will be around until the first frost.
• April is a prime time for varmint hunters. Right now coyotes are focused on the birthing season for livestock and deer, decimating whitetail fawns at an alarming rate and attacking newborn calves while the mothers are too weak to protect them. Ground nesting birds are also on the menu, especially quail, grouse, woodcock, teal, and wood ducks; next month nesting wild turkeys will be the special treat.
Hunters should consider our burgeoning coyote population a direct threat to nearly all the game they love to hunt. Stockmen know coyotes to be a major predation expense and some will welcome careful hunters on their land.
Groundhogs are out of hibernation and are extra active, digging new burrows and eating voraciously. In April wild grasses and commercial alfalfa fields – a big favorite – are not high enough to completely hide them.
A groundhog’s tunnel in a field can collapse and break a horse’s leg or a tractor’s axle, costing the landowner thousands of dollars.
Here are some hunting tips. Groundhogs are most active in early and mid-morning and late afternoon, when temperatures are relatively cool. Midday they are often in their burrows where it can be 20 degrees cooler than outside. One clue to an active burrow is flies buzzing around the entrance. There will be several entrances and up to six big rodents can be using the complex.
If a grazing groundhog looks at you, don’t move; it will usually go back to eating in 10 to 15 seconds. If the critter does run to its burrow, it will often reemerge in five to ten minutes.
•The 2013 spring turkey season is off to a cold, sluggish start. The opening weekend tally has a total harvest of 5,159, a far cry from last year’s impressive opener of 9,850 (bolstered by ideal weather). Opening weekend for 2011 was 7,065 and 2010 was 7,161.
This year’s opening harvest breaks down as 4,513 mature toms, 614 jakes and 32 hens.
For the second consecutive year, our Greene County was second best take in the state with 145 birds, following the perennial leader Maury County’s 229. The state’s top producing counties continue with Sumner at 132, Montgomery at 125, Giles at 117, and Hickman at 116. In comparison Anderson has 15 and Blount has 49.
• What do you think about the current fishing regulations? The public comment period for the 2014 fishing seasons has begun and continues until May 3. Your comments will be considered by fisheries managers and should be presented as proposals for regulation changes; include your expected results if your ideas are enacted.
Send your suggestions to: TWRA Sport Fish Comments, Fisheries Management Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204; or e-mail with “Sport Fish Comments” in the subject line to http://twra.com (firstname.lastname@example.org) No phone calls. The new regulations will be announced in October at the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting.
Tom Wiest welcomes news, questions and comments from readers. Contact him at (email@example.com)