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

High school sophomores and juniors should look into this exciting — and free — trip to Washington, D.C. The National Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) is an opportunity for leadership training and a share of $55,000 in college scholarships, sponsored and paid for by the National Rifle Association. The two 2019 Y.E.S. sessions will be July 8-14 and July 22-28.

Y.E.S. encourages young adults to become active and knowledgeable U.S. citizens by learning about American government, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the importance of being active in civic affairs. Participants will enhance such academic skills as leadership, public speaking and debating. Tours of Arlington National Cemetery and other national monuments are included.

Up to 50 outstanding students will be chosen to attend each session. Applicants must include a high school transcript, an essay on the Second Amendment, one-page personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Applications are being accepted now and the filing deadline is Jan. 25. To apply or for additional information on the 2019 Y.E.S. go to, email, or call 800-672-3888, ext.1351.

65 OR OLDER?Which senior citizen hunting license is right for you? Here is a breakdown of the three special licenses available, not counting the Lifetime Sportsman license.

Annual Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap (Type 164): Costs $5 each year; no supplemental licenses are needed (waterfowl, and big game for gun, muzzleloader and archery); must pay fees for special licenses, WMA permits and quota hunt applications. Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman (Type 167): Costs $50 each year; no supplemental licenses are needed; no cost for non-quota hunt permits and quota hunt applications.

Permanent Senior Citizen Hunt/Fish/Trap (Type 166): costs $50 one time only; no supplemental licenses are needed; must pay fees for special licenses, WMA permits and quota hunt applications.

CRANE: The 2018-19 statewide sandhill crane season begins Dec. 1 for those who have already drawn tags. Earlier this year the wildlife agency conducted a computer draw for crane hunting tags, but also held a hand-draw in an area of the state referred to by TWRA as the Southeast Crane Zone. Hunters in the statewide drawing were issued one tag (white) each, while those for the southeast zone only received three tags (blue).

Sandhill crane hunting statewide occurs Dec. 1 to Jan. 27. Hunting in the Southeast Crane Zone has a split season. The first segment is Dec. 1 to Jan. 17; the second is Jan. 21-27. Daily hours of hunting are a half-hour before sunrise until 3 p.m. EST, 2 p.m. CST. Hunters with statewide tags can hunt in the southeast zone, but not during the closed portion of the zone’s split season.

Sandhill crane hunting has taken place in other states for years. However, it has only been since 2013 that hunters have been allowed to pursue them in Tennessee in the southeast zone. As sandhill crane populations have increased, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has granted TWRA wider latitude to provide hunting tags. The agency is closely monitoring the crane harvest, while also requiring hunters to learn how to differentiate sandhill cranes from the rare and protected whooping cranes. For more on this season go to

GRANTS: One hundred conservation projects and counting. Tennessee has been awarded $37,916 in grant funding in 2018 from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to benefit elk habitat and hunting heritage efforts. The RMEF has 2,200 members and eight chapters in the Volunteer State.

Since 1990 RMEF and its partners completed 100 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Tennessee with a combined value of more than $2 million. These projects protected or enhanced 77,805 acres of habitat.

RMEF also assisted with the restoration of wild, free-ranging elk onto their historic Tennessee range in 2000 and subsequent years. Currently there are more than 400 elk in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, and they need more quality habitat and forage openings that will allow the population to grow.

Campbell County received 2018 funding for two projects near the Hatfield Knob elk viewing tower: First was the conversion of 40 acres of young forest habitat to meadow forage openings to help with an eight-mile wildlife habitat corridor southwest of the viewing tower. Second was funding for seeding, fertilizing and noxious weed treatments across 34 acres immediately adjacent to the viewing tower to enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife.

Monroe County received RMEF’s Torstenson Family Endowment (TFE) funding for Eco Days, a three-day camp in Tellico Plains for middle schoolers from across the county to learn about conservation, natural resources, forestry and wildlife while taking part in various outdoor activities.

Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Founded over 30 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 227,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.3 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at, or phone 800-CALL ELK.

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(1) comment

The NRA wants to take your kid to Washington D.C. to indoctrinate them in the NRA's far right extremist political agenda which maintains basically, that the solution to america's gun violence problem is more guns. Their president Oliver North is a three time convicted felon, a gun trafficker to be exact who lied to converse. North regularly mocks and taunts children gun violence survivors. He also maintains that violent video games are the cause of america's gun violence epidemic( about 670 gun shot deaths per week) yet North was paid to work on the violent video game "Call of Duty". They will teach your child that a modern infantry style semi automatic, large magazine rifle , designed for the wholesale slaughter of enemy combatants on the modern battlefield is "america's rifle" Its a favorite of mass murders because of its ability to kill and maim dozens in a few moments.
The NRA has opposed all of the following safety measures because it would reduce the scope and scale of the gun market gun america, whixchits backers the gun and ammo industry oppose due to the loss of profits and revenue that would result. The NRA opposes and opposed universal background checks for gun buyers, mandatory safety training for gun owners, mandatory storage of weapons under lock and key when not in use(like the US military does), mandatory storage of ammo separately from firearms (like the US military does), funding for gun violence reach by the american medical association, the Centers for Disease Control and the AHA, funding so the ATF can get a digital computerized serial # registry sop they can find america's flourishing gun trafficking industry, mandatory license to own a gun, an assault rifle ban, a semi automatic pistol ban , and many other common sense gun safety measures. Now, Bart O'Kavanaugh will swing the SCOTUS farther to the right and he will argue that america needs more guns (currently we have 5% of the world's population and 50% of the guns. Gunshot wounds are the SECOND leading cause of death foe american children. Over 35,000 americans are killed by gunfire annually and another 100,000 are maimed and wounded. Millions of americans , including our school children are being traumatized due to the effective lobbying of the NRA to stop any and all common sense gun safety legislation.
Jeepers ! Who wants their child taught that the Second Amendment, which was written to allow the states to raise armed militias in 1798 when there was no standing army REALLY means guns everywhere and the NRA's all or nothing position on gun safety? sign 'em right up while you deny these realities if you believe this little propaganda piece written by the NRA's lobbyists to produce a new generation of guns everywhere voters who buy into the NRA's anti gun safety advertising .
I'm a former United States Marines infantry officer and I am opposed to the NRA's selling their lethal products to children while indoctrinating with their intentionally false and corrupt gun sales political views. We see you NRA.

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