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

Skinner Mountain Wildlife Management Area, located in Fentress County on the northern part of the Cumberland Plateau, has nearly doubled in size. The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, announced on July 10 the protection of 3,041 acres that have been added to the state’s WMA.

The newly conserved forestland will be open to the public for hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, and other recreational activities, while continuing to support the local economy through sustainably harvested timber production.

This new area of Skinner Mountain WMA is located within a dramatic landscape of gorges, cliffs, waterfalls, and caves. It includes frontage on the East Fork of the Obey River and provides significant habitat for a variety of endangered and declining species of bats, mussels, migratory songbirds, and plants. The Mountain Eye Cave system is located within the newly conserved lands, providing critical habitat for 11 bat species of concern.

“The addition of these new lands at Skinner Mountain WMA is a conservation win for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Ed Carter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “It provides permanent protection to an area of high biological and recreational value.”

The entire Skinner Mountain Forest plays a major role in sustaining the water quality of the Obey River watershed, including Dale Hollow Lake and 43 miles of streams, filtering nearly 18 billion gallons of water annually.

The Conservation Fund makes conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, it is redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Check it out at

QUOTA: Wednesday, July 24 is the deadline for quota hunt applications for wildlife management areas and for the elk license drawing. The applications are available at license agencies and online at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website,

There are two ways to file your quota application. Fill out the form and take it to a license agency, or, file online at But do not try to mail it in.

SENIORS: Age 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 quota hunt applications, special licenses and WMA permits.

Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman (Type 167): Costs $50 each year; no supplemental licenses are needed; no cost for quota hunt applications and non-quota hunt permits.

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

DUCKS: On Saturday, Aug. 3, Tennessee’s traditional hand-drawn, in-person duck blind selections will take place at the regular sites and wildlife management areas across the state. At stake are the permanent blinds at the following sites in Middle and West Tennessee: Gooch WMA Unit A, Reelfoot WMA, Kentucky Lake (Camden Units I & II, Harmon’s Creek, Big Sandy, Gin Creek), Barkley WMA, Tigrett WMA, West Sandy, Old Hickory WMA, Cheatham Lake, Haynes Bottom WMA, and AEDC/Woods Reservoir.

New this year: At the blind drawings, a two-stage process will be used. Parties will be formed after the first drawing. The second drawing will be for blind locations for those selected in the first drawing.

Registration will be held from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. and the drawing of permits follows immediately at most locations. For specific addresses of blind drawings, interactive maps, and more information, go to, select Hunting and Waterfowl.

Computerized drawings will be held in September for duck blinds in the Chattanooga area and some other western counties. More on that later but applications are available at the above website.

NOPE: For the second consecutive year there will be no deer hunting at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant (HSAAP) near Kingsport. Without elaboration the following terse statement currently appears on the HSAAP website,

“Holston Army Ammunition Plant will not be holding any drawn deer hunts during the upcoming 2019 hunting season.” Concerning turkey hunts: “Because of increased security requirements on HSAAP, the installation no longer holds any wild turkey hunts.”

In the summer of 2018 a heavy outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) that hit Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina killed nearly 20 percent of the deer herd on the HSAAP property. HSAAP biologists apparently want to give their herd of 200 to 250 whitetails more time to recover.

EHD is an infectious, and sometimes fatal, virus that is transmitted to deer by tiny gnats in the summer. Afflicted deer will lose their appetites and their fear of humans, will have extensive hemorrhages, and will salivate excessively; they will often seek out water sources where they may die. Humans are not susceptible to EHD. Tennessee has an EHD outbreak every five to seven years.

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