Here is a special opportunity for young hunters who have never taken a deer. A free hunt at Buffalo Ridge Refuge in deer-rich Humphreys County (Unit L) has been arranged again by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for Oct. 27, the opening day for the statewide youth deer hunt.

Hunters ages 10-16 with a hunter education certificate and accompanied by a non-hunting adult are eligible. A total of 30 licenses will be issued. Last year, 16 of 30 hunters took their first deer.

There will be a free Friday night cookout and campout (participants must have their own camping gear), or hotels are nearby. Breakfast and lunch also will be served on Saturday. Treestands will be provided, including three that are handicap accessible. The Unit L bag limit is two bucks (one buck per day) and three does per day.

Registration deadline is Oct. 15, when the lottery drawing will be held. Applications and more information are available on the TWRA website, by phoning Don Hosse at 615-781-6541, or by email at Applications can be mailed to TWRA, Youth Deer Hunt Giveaway, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, Tenn., 37204; or faxed to 615-781-6543. Selected hunters will be notified by Oct. 20.

Watching Tennessee elk: Besides the elk-viewing pavilion at Hatfield Knob, 6½ miles north of LaFollette on U.S Highway 25W, the original release site at Montgomery Junction lets you drive through the countryside watching for elk and other wildlife.

It is near the community of Norma in Scott County. To get there, take I-75 north to exit 141 (Oneida/Huntsville); go west on State Route 63 for 11½ miles and then left on Norma Road, going about five miles to a left turn onto Montgomery Creek Road. About a mile further is the original release site, a good place to begin slowly driving and listening and glassing. (Note: A total of 15 elk hunters will be active here on from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5 (archery) and on Oct. 13-19 (rifle) and one youth hunter on Oct. 6-12.)

MUZZLE: Here is a unique sports banquet not to be missed. The Tennessee Muzzleloading History Banquet will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27, at The Venue in Lenoir City. Stephen Tucker and his world record Tucker Buck will be a featured speaker.

Some of the evening’s attractions: A collection of Tennessee ML rifles; a historical exhibit of ML in Tennessee from 1769; Sgt. Alvin York guns and memorabilia; Civil War reenactment with Whitworth rifles; vintage barrel-making machine demonstration by Rice Barrels; Q&A with national champion ML shooters; Knight Rifles and other ML vendors on-site.

Socializing, viewing the exhibits and cocktails begin at 4 p.m. The dinner and program is 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $35 each and $20 for under 18 years. Pre-register at

TROUT: The largest trout tournament in the Smokies, the 20th annual Smoky Mountains Trout Tournament, will take place on the weekend of Oct. 6-7 on 20 miles of the Little Pigeon River in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. At least 10,000 trout are stocked immediately prior to the event.

The top prizes will be $250 for the largest trout and $250 for the smallest. Other prizes will include trophies for the top three anglers in four divisions, cash awards, fishing equipment and gift certificates to restaurants, hotels and local attractions.

The entry fees are $25 for one day or $40 for both days. Cash prizes will go to the four divisions of adults and youths, both locals and tourists. Register or get more information at, or call Rocky Top Outfitters at 865-661-3474.

INTERIOR: Secretary of the Interior Ryan K. Zinke has announced a nearly $1.9 million distribution from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to Tennessee for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects. The exact amount for 2018 is $1,889,644.

This is part of a $100 million distribution from the LWCF to all 50 states and territories. LWCF funds are non-taxpayer dollars derived from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues and are awarded through federal matching grants administered by the National Park Service.

In addition, the $100 million in LWCF funding distributed now was supplemented by the June distribution of $61.6 million in revenues to states from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.

The LWCF was established by Congress in 1965 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations. The LWCF invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to permanently conserve outdoor recreation areas for public use and enjoyment. The funds, $4.2 billion to date, enable state and local governments to improve park and other recreation areas in their communities. For more 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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