Reminder for deer and elk hunters: As of July 1, 2019, lures containing natural urine are now prohibited in Tennessee, due to the possibility of spreading chronic wasting disease (CWD); only synthetic deer and elk lures are legal. So, stop using what you have and be careful how you dispose of it. It really is a potential hazard to our deer herd.

Aside from the new CWD Unit for deer hunting in West Tennessee, deer and elk hunters all over the state should stay vigilant for the disease in their areas. Although there is no evidence that CWD is contagious to humans, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Centers For Disease Control recommend that deer with CWD should not be eaten. Consider having your harvested deer tested from now on.

Hunters that want to have their deer tested can take it to a TWRA collection point in the CWD Unit. If that is not convenient, hunters can send their samples to any of eight laboratories in other states listed at the TWRA’s CWD Information website, Testing procedures and fees vary, but the initial cost is around $20 with an additional fee for a positive sample (retesting).

ELK: Time is running out to enter the special Tennessee Elk Raffle. In addition to the state’s online lottery drawing for elk licenses, the TWRA grants one license to be raffled off by a non-governmental organization. This year it is again the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF) and all proceeds go to the Tennessee elk program. Ticket sales will end on Aug. 2. The drawing will be Aug. 5.

A single ticket is $20, three tickets for $50, and 10 for $100; no limit. The grand prize winner will be awarded the 2019 Conservation Elk Permit, plus will win a hunting rifle and other prizes. A complete list of the prizes can be found at Although there is only one elk tag up for grabs, participants will have five chances to win valuable prizes. Last year’s raffle netted $224,840 for the Tennessee elk program. To purchase tickets for the raffle go to

TWRF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting habitat conservation, responsible land stewardship, and Tennessee’s hunting and fishing heritage for the benefit of TWRA and Tennessee’s outdoor enthusiasts.

DUCK STAMP: Congratulations to 17-year-old Erica Brock from LaFollette. Erica won Best of Show in the 2019 Tennessee Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest. Her creation has become the 2019 Tennessee Junior Duck Stamp, a collectible state waterfowl stamp that is produced annually and sold for conservation education.

The program is an art contest managed by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and designed to teach students the importance of conserving wetlands habitat and waterfowl. It pairs science, the arts, and other core subjects to creatively teach greater awareness of our natural resources. The Tennessee program is sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.

Brock’s winning entry is a pair of redheads created with mixed media using a combination of colored pencil, acrylic and pastel. She received the $1,000 Jeanette Rudy scholarship provided by the TWRF, along with other prizes, including a framed 2019 Federal Duck Stamp Print. The national contest winner’s artwork is used for the Federal Junior Duck Stamp each year.

The public is invited to purchase the collectible stamp for $11 each; they are not required for hunting. Each state stamp is numbered and printed in full color, measuring 1 3/8 by 2 inches. In addition all previous stamps are available. Funds from the sale of the stamp will be used for habitat improvement. Go to the Programs section of, or contact the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge by telephone at 731-642-2091.

UNCHARTED: The TVA-sponsored PBS series “Tennessee Valley Uncharted” is back with Season Five. Fishing, hiking, exploring caves, sampling tasty treats, hiking with llamas — it’s all here in TVU’s brand new season. Take a journey through the Tennessee Valley as hosts Erick Baker and Ariel Nicole explore its unique natural wonders, urban secrets, recreation destinations and hidden gems. Check your local station for listings, or go here to play the episodes:

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

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