The muzzleloading deer season runs Nov. 9-22 for all the big game units. The limit on bucks is the same for all units, two, which happens to be the annual maximum for the state. The antlerless limit depends on the unit: Units A and B are two each; units C and D are one each; Unit L is three per day. Note that the antlerless bag limits are per unit; a limit may be taken in each unit.

Can deer urine lures be used in Tennessee? The answer is “It depends”. To prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on July 1, 2019 enacted a ban on natural cervid (deer, elk and moose) urine lures for use and possession by hunters; however, in the published details of the ban (see page 15 in the 2019-20 hunting guide) there are some conditions where natural urine lures can be used.

If the product is produced in a safe manner and federally approved, it is permissible in Tennessee. Currently on the market there are some deer urine lures that are certified by the Archery Trade Association (ATA), and these comply with the federal requirements. The TWRA accepts these ATA-certified lures. Hunters should be sure to keep the original container with them as proof of compliance.

TRUTH: The truth, the whole truth – or less than half the truth! A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) touched off a wave of nationwide headlines about deer hunters contracting tuberculosis from deer.

Most of that broadcast coverage failed to provide a very important detail: Bovine tuberculosis is eradicated in white-tailed deer nationwide, except in a small area in the northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Outside northeast Michigan, there is no reason for deer hunters to be concerned about bovine tuberculosis (TB).

The CDC case involved one 77-year-old Michigan hunter who contracted tuberculosis in 2017, apparently while field-dressing a deer. Even in the historical detection area that includes 13 counties in northeast Michigan, bovine TB is rare in deer; only two percent of the deer tested for bovine TB are positive.

Still, since there is the possibility of transmission of some other pathogens when field dressing all game — especially hogs, it is recommended to wear gloves and take precautions.

DUCK: The 2019-20 fall duck hunting for Tennessee begins in the Reelfoot Duck Zone on Nov. 9-10 and continues on Dec. 5 – Jan. 31.

The Statewide Duck Zone will again have its familiar 60-day split season, opening on Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 (Thanksgiving Day weekend) and continuing Dec. 7 – Jan. 31. The Youth Waterfowl Hunts are Feb. 1 and Feb. 8 for both zones.

The daily bag limit is six ducks, consisting of no more than four mallards (maximum of two females), three wood, three scaup, two redhead, one pintail, two canvasback, and two black.

The season for Canada geese in the Northwest Canada Goose Zone continues Nov. 9-10 and Dec. 5 – Feb. 14. The Statewide Canada Goose Zone continues Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 and resumes Dec. 7 – Feb. 14. The daily bag limit is three in all zones. Most of the other goose species are open Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 and Dec. 7 – Feb. 14. For more see the waterfowl section in the 2019-20 hunting guide, pp.22-27, or see it at

It looks like another good season is in the offing for waterfowl and duck hunters. The 2019 Waterfowl Population Status Report, conducted jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service since 1955, puts the breeding duck population at 38.90 million, a 6 percent decrease from last year’s population of 41.19 million, but still 10 percent above the long-term average (LTA). The 2019 survey marks the first time since 2008 that the estimated breeding duck population has fallen below 40 million.

Even though breeding duck numbers are down overall, the lower numbers are a reflection of last year’s dry conditions for nesting ducks. The U.S. prairies were incredibly wet from south to north, which will lead to strong duck production. Conditions remained wet and actually improved during the breeding season, with temporary and seasonal wetlands retaining water into July and August. This should also increase the number of more easily decoyed juveniles in the fall flight, compared to the savvy, adult birds. For more detailed information go to

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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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