The Young Sportsman hunts for deer and bear are Oct. 26-27. Hunters ages 6 to 16 are eligible, and they must have a non-hunting adult at least 21 years old with them close enough to control the hunting weapon. Both need to wear the required fluorescent orange, but the adult does not have to have a license. Any legal weapon may be used: Gun, muzzleloader, bow, and crossbow.

Hunters ages six through 12 do not need a hunting license; hunters ages 13 through 15 must have the junior license; those age 16 (when the license is purchased) must have an adult license. Young hunters age 10 to 16 must have their hunter education certificate or the Apprentice License.

For deer: The season bag limit for bucks allows one antlered deer per day up to the state maximum of two bucks per year. The antlerless bag limit for this youth hunt is two for the big game units A, B, C, and D; Unit L and Unit CWD allow three does per day. Some of the TWRA wildlife management areas will also be open for this hunt. See the WMA list online or in the 2019-20 Hunting and Trapping Guide (a WMA permit may be required).

For bear: Young hunters will have exclusive use of these Bear Hunt Zones: BHZ-1, BHZ-2 and BHZ-3 (The adult archery bear season ends on Oct. 19). Dogs are not allowed but all weapons are (gun, muzzleloader and archery). The season limit is one bear (without cubs) per person.

The later bear seasons continue in BHZ-1, BHZ-2 and BHZ-3 on Oct. 28 – Nov. 1 with dogs and all weapons (guns, muzzleloaders and archery); this area reopens on Nov. 23-26 for no dogs. The next season for BHZ 1-2-3 opens on Dec. 2 with dogs but the closing dates vary: BHZ-1 closes Dec. 21, BHZ-2 closes Dec. 26, and BHZ-3 closes Dec. 15. The final bear hunt is in BHZ-3, with dogs, on Dec. 26-29. The Transitional Zone and BHZ-4 continues through Nov. 25 for archery, no dogs.

The counties in BHZ-1 include Carter, Cocke (north of I-40), Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington. BHZ-2 counties include Blount, Cocke (south of I-40), Jefferson (east of Hwy 411), and Sevier. BHZ-3 counties are McMinn (east of Hwy 411), Monroe and northeastern Polk.

THE COLOR PURPLE: Hunters, watch out for the color purple in the field. Just as a flash of hunter orange means “do not shoot”, a splash of purple on a tree or fence means “no hunting or trespassing”. In 2017 Tennessee joined a growing number of states with a new law that simplifies a landowner’s task of posting his property.

Once a traditional “No Trespassing” sign is posted in a prominent place, the law authorizes property owners to provide notice that trespassing is prohibited on their property by marking trees and posts with purple paint as an alternative to posting signs. The purple mark can be an “X” or a vertical stripe at least one inch wide and eight inches long placed in the baseball strike zone (three feet to five feet high) for easy viewing. Trespassing in Tennessee is a Class C misdemeanor which can result in a $50 fine or up to 30 days in jail.

Delta Waterfowl: “The Duck Hunters Organization”, has expanded its efforts to increase the dwindling number of waterfowlers. First, in 2003 DW began “First Hunt”, now the largest hunter recruitment program in the U.S. To date DW chapters have introduced more than 72,000 new people to the ways of duck and goose hunting.

In 2017 DW began the “University Hunting Program”, designed to introduce wildlife management students to waterfowl hunting. DW is building partnerships with universities nationwide, 24 schools to date. Also in 2017 DW began another popular initiative.

The “Mentor Recognition Program” is designed to raise awareness of the critical need to recruit new hunters and reward people who share their love of waterfowl hunting with others. Here’s how the program works (By the way, membership in DW is not required):

Anyone who mentors a new waterfowl hunter is eligible to upload to DW a photo and short story about your hunt. In recognition, DW will send to the mentor a certificate of appreciation, Delta Waterfowl Mentor hat, special DW decal, and an engraved metal band to display on a call lanyard.

The new hunter will get a merit certificate, DW hat, two decals, and if successful at taking a duck or goose, they will earn a Delta Waterfowl First-Duck Pin. Again, you do not have to be a DW member to participate. For more information go to the “What We Do” section of And join them if you like. Or contact Joel Brice, vice president of waterfowl and hunter recruitment programs, at 888-987-3695 ext. 5225 or email

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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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