Turkey restoration leads to chart-topping season
By Tom Wiest | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The wild turkey population in Tennessee has stabilized at a little more than 312,000 birds statewide, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; and the spring harvests have been over 30,000 for more than 10 years. With every county in the state now having a spring turkey season, the restoration of this species has been an amazing success, thanks to the TWRA and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The 2012 spring harvest (including the youth hunt) was excellent, topping out at 34,016 and ranking fourth highest. Superior harvests ascending are: 2011 at 34,027; 2006 at 35,885; and 2010 at 37,110.
Where is the best hunting? Last year the best county harvest was Middle Tennessee’s Maury County at 1,040; ranking second was our own Region IV’s Greene with 932. Greene led the state in 2011 with 896 birds.
• If you are planning – or dreaming – of a special hunting or fishing trip, in Tennessee or especially out-of-state, there is a smart website called Outfitters Rating that will help you plan it and maybe avoid a disaster. Created just three years ago, there are already more than 1,000 outfitters listed nationally and internationally for scores of species.
Outfitters Rating is free to the public and to outfitters. Information is gathered from former clients that answer a survey on the performance of their outfitter. Results are not based on whether an animal was killed, but on whether outfitters made good on promises, displayed competence afield and provided the services that were promised. Whether you book an outfitter or not, there is good information on planning your trip. Check out http://www.outfittersrating.com .
• A large bull elk was shot and killed between Coalfield and Oliver Springs last December. The poachers used a .44 magnum rifle and a 12 gauge shotgun. The Morgan County wildlife officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Travis Buchanan, investigated and eventually arrested five local men.
All five perpetrators have pled guilty to a list of charges including: Hunting and killing an elk during a closed season, violation of centerfire weapon law, illegal possession of a wild elk, illegal transportation of a wild elk, and criminal conspiracy.
Nearly $28,000 in fines, court costs and restitution were issued. The poachers collectively received 14 years of suspended jail time and court supervised probation. This case set a state court precedent for restitution to the State of Tennessee for illegal taking of an elk at $5,000.
Tom Wiest welcomes news, questions and comments from readers. Contact him at (email@example.com)