The application period for the 2019 spring turkey quota hunts has begun and the filing deadline is Jan. 16. There are 13 adult hunts and five youth hunts available. Sign-ups must be done online or at any license agency; they cannot be mailed. The turkey quota hunt instruction sheet is also available at license agencies or online at www.tnwildlife.org, then choose “Buy a License Online”, or go to https:// quotahunt.gooutdoor stennessee.com.

The 2019 spring turkey season will run March 30 to May 12. The Statewide Youth-only Hunt (ages 6-16) will be March 23-24. The bag limit for the regular hunts is one bearded bird per day, not to exceed four per season. Turkeys taken on wildlife management area hunts are bonus birds. Most WMAs are open for turkey hunting, but some have special restrictions; see page 39 of the 2018-2019 hunting guide and the various WMA listings.

DEER: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking public comments regarding its five-year plan for deer management in Tennessee. The comment deadline is Jan. 6.

The TWRA has undergone a comprehensive and inclusive process to develop a strategic plan for Tennessee’s Deer Management Program. The planning process, which began more than a year ago, has included key stakeholders.

The plan focuses on building a critical foundation for deer management efforts in Tennessee over the next five years (2019-2013). The plan has five major goals including:

Gathering more information about Tennessee’s deer herd, the harvest, and the desires of Tennessee hunters; developing support programs for landowners and communities for deer-related problems; minimizing the threat of chronic wasting disease; improving communication between the TWRA and the public; and identifying the funding necessary to improve the hunting, management, and overall health of Tennessee’s deer herd. Following the 30-day public comment period, TWRA will consider all public comments and modify the draft plan as appropriate. To read the draft plan and to comment, go to https://www.tn.gov/TWRA/deerplan,

OAK RIDGE: The Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area had its third and final deer hunt of 2018 on Dec. 8-9. A total of 17 deer was taken, nine bucks and eight does. The largest buck field-dressed at 104 pounds; the biggest rack was only eight points; the largest doe weighed 100 pounds. None of the 17 deer was retained due to internal radiological contamination. There was no turkey harvested in this hunt.

Superlatives for the three ORWMA hunts of 2018: Total harvest was 194 deer, 116 bucks and 78 does; largest buck was 175 lbs. (second hunt); biggest rack was 12 points (first hunt); largest doe was 126 pounds. (first hunt). None of the deer this year was retained.

Two turkeys were harvested, both in the second hunt. The largest weighed 22.0 pounds.; longest beard was 9.8 inches; longest spur was 1.2 inches. None was retained. Historically, the 2018 deer harvest was about half of its normal amount.

REMINDER: During all statewide deer hunts and the entire small game season, wild hogs can be hunted in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and at the Obed Wild and Scenic River. All weapons legal for deer are allowed and there is no bag limit on hogs. A five dollar permit is required and it is available online at www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/hoghunting or at the visitors centers at Bandy Creek and Obed River. Small game hunting, and thus hog hunting on the BSFNRRA, ends on Feb. 28.

WATERFOWL: Which areas in Tennessee have the most ducks – right now? The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is physically counting the ducks bi-weekly on the state’s wildlife management areas. You can see the latest counts in the waterfowl section at www.tnwildlife.org along with other good information. The direct link to the data is www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/hunting/migratory-birds.html#counts.

For a broader view or a look later into the future, the Ducks Unlimited Mobile App is a big help. You can track the fall migration of waterfowl from DU’s northern observers so you know ahead of time where to go and when to go. The app has a useful waterfowl identification gallery, plus breaking news, hunting reports, season and bag limit details, special DU events, videos, and hunting tips. Of course the website www.ducks.org has all that and more.

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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