The fourth Saturday of August is the traditional opening of hunting season, with squirrel beginning on Aug. 25 and ending next year on Feb. 28 — the longest season on the calendar. There are three hunted species of squirrels: gray (most plentiful), fox (largest) and red (smallest, called “boomers”). The daily bag limit for all species combined is 10.

Aug. 25 is also Free Hunting Day in Tennessee. All hunters who are Tennessee residents are exempt from hunting licenses and wildlife management area permits that day. This is an excellent opportunity to initiate a new hunter, treat an ex-hunter to an outing, or treat yourself to a relaxing day afield. In addition to squirrels, those species that have a year-round season will be open as well; the year-round species include armadillo, beaver, coyote, groundhog and striped skunk. More details are at www.tnwild Hunter education requirements still apply.

September is Treestand Safety Month. Treestands are by far the most dangerous part of deer hunting, of all kinds of hunting. Sadly, 75 percent of the people who had treestand accidents in recent years were not wearing a harness or any form of fall restraint. That is an appalling statistic, given that every manufactured treestand since 2004 has been sold with a full body harness; and there are more than a million sold every year.

Here is a good treestand safety course online: www.hunter Also, check out these excellent YouTube videos on how to correctly use treestand equipment, created by Hunter Safety Systems: “How to safely use a lifeline” and “How to use the climbing belt.” See them at www. SystemTV.

The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact is an interstate agreement that recognizes the suspension of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses in member states. This means that illegal activities in one state can affect a person’s hunting or fishing privileges in all participating states. Tennessee is a member of the compact, and Nebraska just became the 46th member state.

Any person whose license privileges or rights are suspended in a member state may also be suspended in the other member states. Tennessee honors all similar wildlife violation suspensions from other member states.

The compact also establishes a process whereby wildlife law violations by a non-resident from a member state are handled as if the person were a resident, meaning they can be served a ticket rather than being arrested, booked and bonded. This process is a convenience for hunters, fishermen and trappers of member states and increases efficiency of wildlife officers by allowing more time for enforcement duties.

Three states have legislation pending to join the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact: New Jersey, Massachusetts and Delaware. Only Hawaii is not interested. For more information, go to tn/twra/law-enforcement.html#interstate.

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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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