Preseason for spring turkey hunting is now. The 2019 statewide spring turkey season is March 30 to May 12. The Young Sportsman Hunt is March 23-24 for ages 6-16. The bag limit is one bearded turkey per day, not to exceed four per spring season. Get more details on page 39 of the 2018-2019 hunting guide, or at www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/twra/documents/huntguide.pdf.

The time to prepare for your turkey hunt is now. Finish your scouting about two weeks before opening day so that the birds can calm down and get some breeding done before the showdown. In fact, turkey calls that mimic the bird are prohibited on wildlife management areas from March 1 until the season opens. This is done so that the birds do not get call shy during their mating season. Locator calls, such as crow, hawk and owl calls, are permitted.

Be sure to sight in and pattern your shotgun and ammo for the best performance. Try several kinds of shotshells and different brands and sizes of shot for the tightest pattern; if necessary, spring for a new extra-full choke, but it will require shotshell patterning, too.

Preseason is prime time for poachers. Watch for piles of corn in the woods. Report suspicious activities to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Poaching Hotline; rewards are available from the TWRA and the National Wild Turkey Federation for anonymous tips. Poaching Hotlines: West Tennessee (Region 1) 800-831-1173; Middle Tennessee (Region 2) 800-255-8972; Cumberland Plateau (Region 3) 800-241-0767; East Tennessee (Region 4) 800-831-1174.

Rules of engagement for the youth spring turkey hunt: Young hunters ages 6-16 can hunt with an adult (at least 21 years old) that stays close enough to control the youth’s weapon. One adult can supervise more than one hunter.

Youths ages 6-9 do not have to have a hunter education certificate; ages 10-16 need the hunter education certificate, or they may purchase the Apprentice Hunter Education Exemption (Type 012), which can be renewed up to three times.

Hunters age 6-12 do not need a license, but a wildlife management area permit is required if hunting there. A Junior license is required for hunters ages 13-15; and age 16 needs an adult license. The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded turkey per day.

FISHING: The 2019 Tennessee Fishing Regulations brochure is ready and being delivered to all license agencies and TWRA offices; also, the complete guide can be viewed and downloaded online at www.tnwildlife.org. The new regulations went into effect on March 1. Remember that your smart phone can access the same information with the TWRA “On The Go” app.

Trout fishing in North Carolina? Be advised that approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters will be closed to fishing from March 1 to April 6, 2019. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will be stocking about 930,000 trout to prepare for opening day. For more information go to www.ncwildlife.org or call the Inland Fisheries Division, 919-707-0220.

BOATING: Before the warm spring weather arrives, be sure that all of your boat operators have a boating safety certificate. The certificate is required for any operator born after 1988 and is at least 12 years old. The certificate is issued by the TWRA and here is the procedure to follow.

First, go online or go to a license agency and buy a Type 600 permit for $10; this is your ticket to the exam.

Second, take a study course from the TWRA Boat Tennessee Home Study Course, the U.S. Power Squadron, or the U.S. Coast Guard. Many classes are held locally that combine a study course with testing. Boating regulations for Tennessee can be found at www.tn.gov/twra/topic/boating-safety.

Third, take the TWRA’s monitored exam at the appointed time. The statewide list of scheduled classes can be found at www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/boating/boating-educa tion.html, or by calling 800-837-6012. Registration is often required. The exam can be challenged without taking the study course but it is not easy.

Here are several upcoming boating safety classes for this area. Bring your $10 Type 600 exam permit. Two-day classes are usually 6 – 9 p.m. with test on second night; single Saturday classes are usually 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

John Sevier Hunter Education Center, 2327 Rifle Range Road, Knoxville, 6 - 9 p.m., fourth Tuesday of each month. The next class is March 26.

Farragut Town Hall, March 30, April 13, May 11, May 20-21, June 15, etc.

Blount County library call 865-982-0981/ext 3.

Bass Pro Shops in Kodak: March 23, April 27, May 18, June 8, June 22, etc.

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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