Welcome, autumn! The autumnal — or September — equinox occurs on Sept. 22 at 9:54 p.m. EDT (Sept. 23 01:54 Universal Time). For East Tennessee, sunrise will be at 7:24 a.m. and sunset will be at 7:32 p.m. At this time, the sun rises due east and sets due west.

In late September, daylight is waning rapidly every day. Each sunrise arrives nearly one minute later, and the sunsets occur about one-and-a-half minutes earlier every day. Interestingly, the actual “equinox” or equal periods of day and night does not occur in this area until Sept. 26.

Now is the best time for watching Tennessee elk. Perhaps the best place to go is the elk-viewing pavilion at Hatfield Knob on Peabody Mountain in Campbell County. More than a dozen elk are frequenting the area mostly in the mornings and evenings.

Directions: I-75 north to Caryville, then take U.S. 25W to LaFollette and about 6½ miles past. Immediately after topping the mountain, turn left at the sign onto a gravel road and go about 4½ miles to the parking area. The pavilion is about a one-third mile walk. Or check out the Tennessee elk cam at www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/ mammals/large/elk.html.

The application period for the TWRA’s computerized drawings for duck pools and blind sites is Sept. 5-26. The blinds are located in the following areas: Bogota and Thorny Cypress WMAs in Dyer County, Gooch Unit E, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, White Oak (Lebanon Pond area in Hardin County), and the four units on the Chickamauga WMA (Candies Creek, Johnson Bottoms, Rogers Creek and Yellow Creek.

Paper applications are available online or at license agencies and TWRA regional offices, but they must be delivered to a license agency and cannot be mailed in. The form resembles those for WMA quota deer hunts, except for group filings; however, each successful hunter may bring up to four guests to the duck blind each day. For those unsuccessful, the Priority Drawing System is available for better luck next time.

Five hunters are allowed per pool/blind. Also, parties of up to five are allowed to apply together, instead of only individually. This means that five hunters, who apply as a party, will have five chances of being drawn. For more information go to www.tnwildlife.org and select For Hunters, Migratory Birds and Waterfowl; or telephone TWRA’s Region III office at 800-262-6704.

The application period for Tennessee’s statewide sandhill crane hunt is underway and will continue through Sept. 26. About 1,274 permits (two per hunter) will be issued through the computerized draw. These tags are valid statewide, including the Southeast Sandhill Crane Zone.

The statewide sandhill hunting season is Dec. 1 through Jan. 27; however, the season is closed in the Southeast Zone from Jan. 18-20. Applications for the sandhill crane hunt can be made on www.tnwildlife.org.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share with your news and comments with Tom Wiest.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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