Sept. 1 is the traditional opening day for mourning dove, a Saturday this year. The shooting begins at noon (opening day only) and the first segment ends on Sept. 28. The daily bag limit is 15. In addition, the exotic collared dove is eligible and has no limit. Dove season continues Oct. 13 to Nov. 4 and again Dec. 8 to Jan. 15.

A list of leased public hunting areas and available wildlife management areas, all free of charge, is at www.tnwildlife.org; select “hunting,” “migratory birds,” and then “dove hunting.” Remember that in addition to the basic hunting and fishing combination license, the Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit ($2) is also required. And remember to install your shotgun’s magazine plug.

The resident Canada goose season is Sept. 1–15 with a daily bag limit of five. Also, Sept. 1 is the opener for moorhens/gallinules and rails (Virginia and sora). The Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit is required to hunt all of these species (as well as later for woodcock and Wilson snipe).

This year’s Calendar Photo Contest (for 2019) for the Tennessee Wildlife Federation has an entry deadline of Aug. 31. The TWF wants photos that represent the beautiful natural resources and wildlife of Tennessee. Tip: It is good to focus on the Tennessee state parks, wildlife management areas and national forests; also, winter scenes and aquatic species are in short supply. So, if not this year, plan now for next year.

Winning photographers will receive a display copy of their photo, a $20 gift card and TWF apparel; the two top winners will receive gift cards of $200 and $100. Go to https://tnwf.org/photocontest for more details, helpful tips and to enter the contest.

Tennessee Wildlife Federation is one of the largest and oldest organizations in Tennessee dedicated to the conservation of the state’s wildlife and natural resources through stewardship, youth engagement and conservation policy. TWF sponsors Hunters For the Hungry, Scholastic Clay Target Program, TWF youth hunting and fishing, and other conservation programs. Learn more at https://tnwf.org.

Every year, the Quality Deer Management Association issues an annual report on the status of white-tailed deer, the most important game species in North America. The QDMA collects the harvest data from each state wildlife agency and consults with the nation’s leading deer researchers.

More hunters pursue whitetails than any other species, and whitetail hunters contribute more financially than any other hunter segment. Collectively speaking, whitetails are the foundation of the entire hunting industry.

Following is a summary of just the introduction to the 2018 QDMA Whitetail Report. The entire 68-page report makes for fascinating reading. See it at https://www.qdma.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Whitetail_Report_2018.pdf. The data comes from the previous complete season, 2016-17.

So, how are whitetails and deer hunters doing? There are some very positive trends occurring. Yearling buck harvest rates remain at record low numbers, and the percentage of 3½-year-old and older bucks remains at one third of the total antlered buck harvest. Hunters are clearly reaping the benefits of more naturally balanced age structures in herds across the whitetail’s range.

In addition, 4 percent more antlered bucks (those 1½ years or older) were shot last season than the year before, and last season’s buck harvest was 3 percent above the previous five-year average. These are very positive signs for deer hunters and managers.

More good news, antlerless harvest was down 1 percent from the prior year, and it was 11 percent below the five-year average. The antlerless harvest has declined 19 percent in the past decade. In 1999, hunters harvested more antlerless deer than antlered bucks for the first time in recorded history, and in 2016-17 that harvest trend nearly flip-flopped as hunters shot 2,818,571 antlered bucks and only 2,830,264 antlerless deer. This was a mere difference of 11,693 deer.

Regarding the 2016-17 total harvest, 65 percent of deer were shot with a firearm, followed by 23 percent with a bow, 11 percent by muzzleloader, and 1 percent by other means. The biggest issues and trends include the continued spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). Last year state wildlife agencies collected approximately 100,000 CWD samples. This was nearly double the number collected in 2008.

Crossbows now are legal for the majority of hunters during at least a portion of the archery season in 78 percent of states. This is up from 57 percent in 2012. Trail cameras with texting capabilities are legal during hunting season in 93 percent of states, while drones are only legal in 38 percent of states.

Finally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claims hunter numbers have declined by more than 2 million from 2011 to 2016, while state wildlife agencies report a nearly identical number of deer hunters in 2007 and 2017.

All previous editions of the Whitetail Report are available as a free PDF at www.QDMA.com under the “About” menu.

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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