The 2018 statewide turkey season is March 30 to May 12. The season bag limit is four bearded birds, with only one allowed per day. Birds taken on quota hunts and designated wildlife management areas are bonus birds. Legal hunting times are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. All of the turkey hunting regulations are on page 39 in the 2018-2019 Hunting Guide, and online at www.tn.gov/assets/entities/twra/attachments/huntguide.pdf.

The wild turkey population in Tennessee has stabilized at a little more than 315,000 birds statewide, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; and the spring harvests have been over 30,000 for the past 15 years, but that run ended last year. The 2018 spring turkey harvest dropped to 28,286, thanks to cold weather the first two weeks; and, not to mention the opening weekend was Easter and the closing weekend was Mother’s Day.

The 2017 spring total was 34,538, which was the third highest on record for Tennessee. Superlative harvests rank thus: 37,110 (2010); 35,885 (2006); 34,538 (2017); 34,027 (2011); and 33,700 (2012).

The best places to hunt? Last year the top five counties were, in order: Maury, Greene, Dickson, Montgomery and Rutherford.

OUTERS: Outdoors men and women have a choice on where they spend their hard-earned money, and they are choosing to support their political interests. This report comes from The Outdoor Wire on March 13.

“Continuing to pursue the tightened gun policies that initially drove its stock down, Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) has announced it will remove hunting gear from about 125 stores. The change, expected to begin August 1, will affect about 17 percent of the company’s stores.

“The announcement, coupled with continuing declines in same-store sales since 2017, is being credited with a nearly 11 percent decline in stock price yesterday. Dick’s closed at $34.45 on the NYSE, down $4.28/share. Dick’s CEO and major shareholder Ed Stack has told the Wall Street Journal that if the 125-store move ‘goes well’ the company may remove hunting gear from more stores next year.”

Last month, Stack was one of four CEOs to sign a letter supporting a gun control bill recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has also joined the business council of Everytown, the nonprofit organization founded by Michael Bloomberg that advocates for gun control.

PLANTING: By now the flood waters have receded and it won’t be “too wet to plow”. Now is the time to plant something to benefit wildlife, be it year round habitat or food plots for hunting this fall. Food plots are good for attracting game such as deer, turkey, dove, waterfowl, and upland game like grouse and quail.

For wildlife in general the TWRA website www.tnwildlife.org has a large site called “Wildlife Enthusiasts” with two helpful sections, Backyard Basics and Habitat Management. Some of the topics are: Tennessee Tree Planting Guide, Landscaping for Native Plants, Wildlife Damage Control, and other related subjects.

For turkey and most of the bird species, both game and songbirds, check out the National Wild Turkey Federation. Its website www.nwtf.org has great information and an excellent selection of products for food plots. There are seeds for food crops, such as sorghum and millet, and seeds for warm season grasses and forbs for habitat and food.

For deer hunters check out the website for the Quality Deer Management Association, www.qdma.com. These guys take a scientific approach to ensuring the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat in general, and our hunting heritage.

LWCF: Rejoice all ye who love the outdoors. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been permanently funded by federal law. President Trump has signed the bipartisan bill S.47, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (formerly known as the Natural Resources Management Act). The LWCF is a significant tool for increasing recreational access to public lands and supporting fish and wildlife habitat. This public lands package also contains more than 100 local and regional public lands bills that aim to benefit sportsmen and women.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund works in partnership with federal, state and local efforts to protect land in our national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, national trails, and other public lands. The program’s goal is to preserve working forests and ranchlands; to support state and local parks and playgrounds, to preserve battlefields and other historic and cultural sites and to provide the tools that communities need to meet their diverse conservation and recreation needs.

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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