The youth deer hunt and bear hunt was on Oct. 27-28. Young deer hunters took a total of 5,277 animals statewide, comprised of 2,650 antlered, 245 antlerless males and 2,382 females. This 2018 harvest is well below the 2017 figure of 6,418 and the 2016 total of 5,854.

This year’s counties with the top deer harvests for the first youth hunt were: Giles – 157, Lawrence – 140, Wayne – 126, Carroll – 116, and Weakley – 112.

The youth bear hunt harvest for all of the Bear Hunt Zones was three, all females and all taken with guns. Zone 1 contributed one bear and Zone 2 had two.

PELTS: Nature prepares furbearing animals for winter with thick, prime pelts. For Tennessee pelts are prime from early November through February. Tennessee’s trapping season corresponds to that time and is Nov. 16 – Feb. 28 (Note: The 2018-19 hunting guide has a misprinted opening date of Nov. 23).

Eligible furbearers are: Bobcat, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, river otter, raccoon, skunks (striped and spotted), and weasel. There are no daily or annual limits. Beaver, coyote and groundhog can be trapped year round since they are such costly pests to farmers, stockmen and landowners.

Modern trapping is highly regulated by state wildlife agencies and it is similar to hunting as an effective tool for controlling populations of target species. Such regulations include the style and size of traps, identification tags on all traps, and frequent inspection of trap sites. See pages 14-16 of the 2018-19 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide for more details at www.tnwildlife.org.

HERE COME THE DUCKS:

The Ducks Unlimited Mobile App has new updates for 2018. The app is a big help for waterfowlers and it is free for your smart phone. You can track the fall migration of waterfowl so you know ahead of time where to go and when to go.

There is a useful waterfowl identification gallery, plus breaking news, hunting reports, season and bag limit details, special DU events, videos, and hunting tips.

Of course the website www.ducks.org has all that and more.

YSSA GRANTS: The Youth Shooting Sports Alliance (YSSA) is offering youth shooting programs an opportunity to receive new and used firearms, archery equipment and accessories on a loan basis for 2019. Program leaders are encouraged to participate in the grant process, available now through January 31, 2019.

In addition to .22 rimfire rifles, shotguns, BB guns and archery equipment, the YSSA will be adding a small supply of centerfire rifles for introductory hunting programs.

Grants are approved contingent on your program length, size and product availability. Ensure that your program is registered on the “programs” section of the website www.youthshootingsa.com. This will also make you eligible for discounts from certain suppliers.

A list of the products available is included in the grant application.

The Youth Shooting Sports Alliance was founded in 2007, an offshoot of the National 4-H Youth Shooting Sports program. To date, the YSSA has loaned more than $1.5 million in equipment to youth programs across the country, benefitting more than 85,000 youth. For more information about the YSSA, contact Cyndi Flannigan at executivedirector@youthssa.com.

DUCK SCHOLARSHIPS: Ducks Unlimited has launched its inaugural National Scholarship Program offering graduating high school seniors who are DU members the opportunity to advance their education. Starting in 2018, DU will annually award 61, one-time scholarships, funded on an annual basis through the Youth & Education Endowment, to eligible applicants at the following levels: 50 Varsity Scholarships at $500 each, 10 Conservation Scholarships at $1,000 each, and one National Scholarship of $10,000.

The online application period is now open and will close on March 1. Applicants will need to provide their high school transcript, DU member/volunteer history and a list of any service or academic awards received. In addition, applicants will write a 300-word essay describing their most memorable outdoor experience and how it has impacted their view on conservation. All applications will be reviewed by DU’s National Scholarship Selection Committee and recipients will be chosen based on the merits of those submissions.

The list of scholarship recipients will be sent to all applicants by April 15 with awarded checks released to the student’s college or university prior to registration. Recipients will be recognized in Ducks Unlimited magazine, and the national scholarship winner will be announced at the DU National Convention. For more information visit www.ducks.org/scholarship or contact Mark Horobetz, at 901-758-3892, or mhorobetz@ducks.org.

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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