Woodsman, spare that snag.

A standing dead tree is called a snag. Many landowners make plans to drop a snag promptly post mortem. Wildlife biologist Joel D. Glover suggests, “Have you ever considered the benefits of a dead tree?”

Dropping a dead tree is logical if it is positioned to threaten people or property. However, a snag is a natural and necessary part of the woods. In forested habitats cavity-nesting birds may account for 30-45 percent of the total bird population. Snags are essential for nesting, roosting, and foraging; snags are a rich source of food.

Woodpeckers are the primary excavators of the snag real estate, and the cavities they create can have a long life span with a variety of tenants. Bird species include: Chickadees, bluebirds, wood ducks, titmice, great crested flycatchers, nuthatches, barred owls, screech owls, and kestrels. Other critters include: Bats, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, flying squirrels, raccoons, frogs, snakes, honeybees, wasps and spiders.

Manage your woodlot for a variety of habitats. An absence of suitable snags can be a limiting factor on the balance of nature. If you decide to make your own, snags should be large and well distributed using both hard and soft woods.

CRANES: Hunters unfamiliar with the big bird often ask, “What does it taste like?” Veteran waterfowlers that know will answer, “Sandhills are ribeyes-in-the-sky!”

The sandhill’s meat is quite different from other waterfowl. Perhaps that is because of its diet. They are omnivorous; they eat a wide variety of plants and animals, such as: Grains, seeds, berries, plant tubers, insects, grubs and earthworms, salamanders and frogs, lizards and snakes, mice, mussels, and crayfish. But sandhills do not eat fish as herons and other wading birds do.

Sandhill crane hunting has taken place in other (western) states for years. However, it has only been since 2013 that hunters have been allowed to pursue them in Tennessee in the southeast zone. Alabama is inaugurating their first sandhill hunt this year.

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 www.state.tn.us/twra/article/sandhill-crane.

The 2019-20 statewide sandhill crane season begins Dec. 7 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.

Sandhill crane hunting statewide occurs Dec. 7 – Jan. 31. Hunting in the Southeast Crane Zone has a split season. The first segment is Dec. 7 – Jan. 16; the second is Jan. 20- 31. Daily hours of hunting are a half-hour before sunrise until 3 p.m. EST, 2 p.m. CST.

NAME GAME: Changing names again? Smith & Wesson handgun fans were startled a couple of years ago when the iconic brand was absorbed into American Outdoor Brands Corp. (AOBC). Of course S&W kept its identity as a leading American firearms manufacturer. Well, the AOBC deck is being shuffled again.

American Outdoor Brands Corp. (NASDAQ Global Select: AOBC) includes firearms and many products for the shooting, hunting, and outdoor enthusiast. In 2020 the company has decided to split into two independent factions. Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. will represent the firearms business (S&W and Thompson/Center Arms) and will remain in S&W’s longtime Springfield, Massachusetts headquarters.

American Outdoor Brands, Inc. will represent the outdoors accessories products, including: Caldwell, Crimson Trace, Wheeler, Tipton, Frankford Arsenal, BOG, Hooyman, Smith & Wesson Accessories, Thompson/Center Arms Accessories, Schrade, Old Timer, Uncle Henry, Imperial and LaserLyte.


D: A quick search of GoFundMe has revealed a staggering number of treestand accidents. According to Glen Mayhew, president of the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA), there were approximately 3,000 treestand-related accidents in 2018 that resulted in injuries. But fortunately, that number is actually down nearly 50 percent from 2010. We are at least heading in the right direction.Of the offending treestands (2017 statistics), the following percentages apply: Homemade, 20 percent; ladder, 20; climbers, 25, lock-ons, 31; other, 4. Let’s be careful out there. Treestands are the leading cause of hunting injuries nationwide.

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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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