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Excess Sandhill Crane Hunting Permits Available Oct. 16

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; October 14, 2013:

NASHVILLE — Leftover permits from Saturday’s drawing to participate in Tennessee’s first sandhill crane hunt will be available on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the four regional offices of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

There are 134 permits available following Saturday’s hand-held permit drawing held at the Birchwood Community Center in north Hamilton County. The remaining permits are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the four TWRA regional offices beginning at 9 a.m. EDT in Region IV and 8.a.m CDT at the three other regional offices.

The regional offices are located in Jackson (I), Nashville (II), Crossville (III), and Morristown (IV).

A total of 400 permits were available for the initial draw. Each permit carries a limit of three birds. Participants must have a Type 001 hunt/fish license plus a Type 005 waterfowl license or equivalent.

All sandhill crane permit holders must pass an internet-based crane identification test before hunting. All permits issued are not valid until a verifiable “Sandhill Test” validation code is written on the permit. The purpose of this test is to improve hunter’s awareness and ability to distinguish between sandhill cranes and protected species which may be encountered while hunting. The test is now available online.

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established a limited sandhill crane hunting season for a designated area in East Tennessee. The sandhill crane hunting season begins with the late waterfowl season on Nov. 28 and runs through Jan. 1, 2014.

TWRA Seeking Public Comments on 2013-14 Hunting Season Regulations

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; January 16, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is soliciting comments for its 2013-14 hunting seasons’ regulations. This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff.

Public comments will be considered by TWRA’s Wildlife Division staff and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes. Comments may be submitted by mail to: 2013-14 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife and Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to twra.comment@tn.gov. Please include “Hunting Season Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.

The comment period concerning the 2013-14 hunting season regulations began on Jan. 15, 2013 and will be open until Monday, Feb. 25.

Gun Season for Deer Opens Nov 17, Continues Through Jan 6

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; November 8, 2012:  

NASHVILLE — One of Tennessee’s traditions is the annual opening of gun season for deer which falls on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The 2012 season opens Nov. 17.

For the second year, sportsmen will find one continuous season that will continue through Jan. 6, 2013 The continuous season replaced the previously two segmented hunting seasons that were in place prior to last year.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency divides the state into three deer hunting units, A, B and & L. Hunters may harvest one antlered buck per day until the statewide bag limit of three is reached, including those deer harvested during archery and muzzleloader seasons. An antlered buck is a buck with an antler at least three inches long.

For antlerless deer hunting in Units A and B during this season, refer to the list of hunts on page 26 of TWRA’s 2012 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. All hunts listed are now non-quota. Each county listed on page 26 has its own bag limit. A hunter may harvest the bag limit of antlerless deer in any open Unit A or B county and then go to any other counties listed and take the antlerless bag limit there, also. The bag limit for antlerless deer in Unit L is three per day.

A Type 94 permit is required to harvest antlerless deer during this season on all non-quota hunts in Units A, B, & L, except for holders of an Annual Sportsman, Lifetime Sportsman, or Senior Citizen License Type 167 Permit.

TWRA personnel will be collecting data at selected check-in stations across the state on Saturday. Antlered bucks will be measured and aged for management purposes.

The second Young Sportsman Hunt will be held the weekend of Jan. 12-13, 2013.

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the Apprentice Hunting License (along with other required licenses) while hunting any species in Tennessee.

For more information about Tennessee’s 2012-13 deer hunting seasons, refer to the 2012 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide available at all license agents, TWRA regional offices in Jackson, Nashville, Crossville, and Morristown or on the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org.

TFA: TWRA Bow Hunting Policy for Handgun Permit Holders Needs Clarification

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; September 20, 2012: 

TWRA issues “clarification” or policy change on permit holders during bow season

TFA has received and confirmed reports that TWRA was advising its officers that a bow hunter (or muzzleloader hunter) who does not have a handgun permit could be charged with criminal hunting violations if they were hunting with another hunter who did have a handgun permit and a handgun while hunting. This is the essential body of an email from a TWRA official that was provided to TFA (emphasis added):

“It is illegal for any person, without a carry permit, to carry a firearm or to be accompanied by a person who is in possession of a firearm while archery or muzzleloader hunting. The carry permit supersedes 70-4-123 so that a person with a valid carry permit can be in possession of a firearm while archery hunting.

The answer to the question would be that you cannot be with your friends while hunting if they have a firearm in their possession.”

TFA looked into this issue and confirmed that this was the TWRA’s policy on this matter. TFA contacted Senator Mike Faulk, known to be an avid hunter himself, for further confirmation. Senator Faulk did look into this matter and provided to TFA a copy of a memorandum issued by TWRA on September 17, 2012 reversing this policy. The TWRA memorandum now states:

For purposes of enforcing T.C.A. 70-1-123, a person who is accompanied by someone authorized to carry a handgun pursuant to T.C.A. 39-17-1351 shall not be considered to be in violation of this statute.

While this is a victory for hunters in Tennessee, the policy requires further clarification. Note that the policy is expressly limited to armed companions who are carrying firearms pursuant to the civilian handgun permit statute 39-17-1351. There may be many loopholes:

  • What if the person is carrying based on reciprocity? Since Tennessee’s reciprocity statute is under 39-17-1351(r), that should be ok.
  • What if the person is legally carrying other than pursuant to this specific statute? TWRA’s policy is not clear. The policy, as written, might not apply if the armed companion is any of those several groups of individuals who in the wisdom of the Tennessee or Federal governments are allowed to carry firearms without a civilian handgun carry permit. Thus, if your companion is carrying pursuant to the federal statutes, as current or retired officers, if they are a current federal officer, by a current officer from “out of state” (39-17-1308(a)(10), if they are carrying as law enforcement in an “off duty” capacity (see 39-17-1315 or 39-17-1350), if they are a local, state or federal judge or magistrate (39-17-1308(a)(7)), etc.

State Looks to Lease Fields for 2012 Dove Season

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; August 13, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking fields to lease for the upcoming 2012 dove season. The first phase of dove season opens at noon on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Mourning doves are a popular game bird and one of the most widely distributed and abundant birds in North America. More mourning doves are harvested than all other migratory bird species combined in 39 of the continental states. In Tennessee, about 40,000 hunters harvested approximately 300,000 mourning doves last year.

Landowners can earn up to $3,000 for providing a dove field for public hunting. These fields must be available for a minimum of three priority hunt dates in September.

TWRA began its leased dove field program in the late 1980s and the program has been very successful in providing quality hunting opportunities for hunters. In addition to leased fields, many public dove fields are provided on wildlife management areas in each TWRA region. The TWRA website has specific information about WMAs and leased dove fields in each region.

The standard fall leased field is a harvested grain or millet/hay field to which TWRA leases the hunting rights for three priority dates. Rates paid to landowners for traditional fall leased fields will be $75 per acre for a maximum field size of 40 acres for a total contract of $3,000 per field. These fields will be signed up by Sept. 1.

Anyone interested in leasing a dove field to TWRA should contact their TWRA regional office. The TWRA has four regional offices across the state that interested landowners can contact: Region I (West Tennessee) 731-423-5725 or toll free 1-800-372-3928; Region II (Middle Tennessee) 615-781-6622 or toll free 1-800-624-7406; Region III (Upper Cumberland) 931-484-9571 or toll free 1-800-262-6704; Region IV (East Tennessee) 423-587-7037 or 1-800-332-0900. For additional information, contact Tim White, TWRA Migratory Game Bird Program Coordinator at (615) 781-6610.

TWRA: Application Deadline July 25 for Big Game Quota Hunts

Press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; July 20, 2012: 

NASHVILLE — The application period deadline for all Wildlife Management Area (WMA) 2012 Big Game Quota Hunts will run is July 25. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency began accepting applications on June 13.

The instruction sheet lists information about which WMAs will hold the hunts, the bag limits, any antler restrictions and hunting implement types allowed on each hunt. Applications are available and will be accepted at any TWRA license agent, TWRA regional office, or online at the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org. Mailed applications will not be accepted. The applications must be received by midnight (CDT), July 25.

Sportsmen are reminded to read the instruction sheet carefully, fill out all requested information, double-check the form, and take it to a license agent where it will be entered into the system. When applying at any TWRA license agent, there is no fee for current Annual Sportsman License holders, Lifetime Sportsman License holders, or seniors possessing a Type 167 permit. For all other applicants, there is a non-refundable $10 permit fee for each drawing entered plus a $1 agent fee.

Hunters may also apply over the Internet at the TWRA website. There is no fee for current Annual Sportsman License holders, Lifetime Sportsman License holders, or seniors possessing a Type 167 permit. All other applicants, in addition to the $2 internet usage fee, will be charged a non-refundable permit fee of $10 per drawing entered. The $2 usage fee is collected by the company that maintains the Internet site. (It is not a fee that is charged by the TWRA.)

TWRA’s priority drawing system gives priority points (this year a maximum of 7 points) to hunters based on the number of years they have participated without being drawn for a hunt. Applicants who were successful last year will start over with a priority of zero.

When applying at a license agent, hunters must remain at the location while the application is processed to verify the information, such as hunt codes and their TWRA ID number on their receipt, is correct.

After all the drawings are conducted, leftover permits will be sold by all license agents on-line on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning Aug. 29.

TWRA Accepting Applications for Fall Elk Hunting Permits

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, March 30, 2012:

Application Period for Tennessee’s Fourth Elk Hunt to be Held April 1-May 31, 2012

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will accept applications from April 1 through May 31, 2012 for participation in Tennessee’s fourth managed elk hunt.

The fourth elk hunt will be held Oct. 15-19, 2012 at the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, located off I-75, north of Knoxville. Once again, there will be five Elk Hunting Zones designated at the WMA.

Persons may apply at any TWRA license agent, TWRA regional office or online at www.tnelkhunt.org. The deadline is midnight (CDT) on May 31. Mailed applications will not be accepted.

As in the previous two hunts, five individuals will be selected to participate. Four of the participants will be selected through a computer drawing conducted by the TWRA. Nonresident applicants will be restricted to no greater than 25 percent of the drawn permits. The fifth participant will be the recipient of a permit that is donated to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), which this year is the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.

In addition, newly-added this year is a Young Sportsman Elk Hunt. After completing the regular elk hunt draw, a special computerized youth drawing will take place for resident applicants who will be between the ages of 13-16 on the opening day of the elk hunt. The lucky recipient will be awarded the special youth elk tag. The dates of the youth hunt will be Oct. 20-21 and the participant would be able to hunt on any of the five elk hunting zones designated at the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. A youth entering the draw must designate if he/she would prefer to participate in the youth hunt or regular hunt if drawn.

There is no application fee for current Tennessee Annual Sportsman License holders, Lifetime Sportsman License holders, or an Annual Senior Citizen Permit (Type 167). All other applicants will be charged a $10 non-refundable permit fee, and an internet usage fee (if applying online or by telephone). For those applying at a license agent, there is a $1 agent fee in addition to the $10 non-refundable permit fee.

The successful applicants will be announced at the June meeting of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission. Successful applicants will not be allowed to reapply for an elk quota hunt permit for 10 years following a successful draw.

TWRA’s ‘Free Hunting Day’ Saturday

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, Aug. 26, 2011:

NASHVILLE — All Tennesseans are reminded that Saturday, Aug. 27 is Free Hunting Day in Tennessee when state residents may hunt without a license. The annual event coincides with the opening day of squirrel season.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in hunting. Squirrel hunting is one of Tennessee’s oldest and favorite traditions. The day serves as an excellent opportunity for persons to experience the enjoyment of the sport. Regular hunters are encouraged to introduce friends and family members (young and old) to the outdoors sport. It is also an excellent opportunity for those folks who have not tried hunting for some time.

On Free Hunting Day, state resident hunters are exempt from hunting licenses and WMA permits requirements. Many of the WMAs are open to hunters seeking public access on Aug. 27. Hunters are asked to check the information for particular WMAs in the newly-published 2011 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide which is available online at www.tnwildlife.org or copies are available at any TWRA regional office or at most outlets where licenses are sold.

Hunter education requirements have not been waived for Free Hunting Day. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to have successfully completed a hunter education course. A one-time, one-year apprentice license is required for those born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 if the hunter education course has not been completed.

Hunters are allowed to harvest up to 10 squirrels a day from this Saturday through Feb. 29, with each hunting day beginning a half-hour before sunrise and ending a half-hour after sunset.

In addition to squirrels, those species that have a year-round season will be open as well. The year-round species include armadillo, beaver, coyote, groundhog, and striped skunk.

For more information about hunting in Tennessee, visit TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org or contact your nearest TWRA Regional Office.

 

Voters to Decide if ‘Personal Right’ to Hunt & Fish is Reasonable

The term “reasonable” doesn’t appear in the U.S. or Tennessee Constitutions, except for proscriptions against the government carrying out “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

But the Tennessee Wildlife Federation — with the endorsement of all but three members of the state Legislature — wants to add that word, and 59 or so others, in the form of a constitutional amendment that would place hunting and fishing on the list of legally protected rights enjoyed by Tennesseans.

The amendment, which if passed would be added to the section of the Tennessee Constitution that grants state government the authority “to enact laws for the protection and preservation of game and fish,” reads as follows:

“The citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions prescribed by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state’s power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take non-threatened species.”

The process of getting the measure before voters has been years in the making. Conceived in 2004, the language has twice been approved by the General Assembly — most recently, this past legislative session — and must now attract “yes” votes from a majority of voters participating in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Critics of the amendment suggest that a change to the Constitution is unnecessary and excessive.

Argues the state’s largest metropolitan newspaper, “a simple resolution would have sufficed to send the message that hunting and fishing is here to stay.” Furthermore, the use of the word “reasonable” is “vague and open to interpretation.” It could, for example, embolden litigious malcontents to challenge licensing and fee requirements placed upon sportsmen by the Tennessee Department of Fish and Wildlife and thus jeopardize “a crucial revenue source,” the Tennessean editorial board worries.

Those concerns, however, don’t appear to be shared by state government wildlife managers.

Nat Johnson, TWRA assistant executive director of staff operations, said the term “reasonable” sounds reasonable enough to officials and attorneys with the department, although he noted that the agency cannot by law take a formal stance of support or opposition on the measure.

Officials do, however, offer that they in no way see the language of the amendment as hindering “the responsibilities of the agency to set manner and means” for taking fish and wildlife, said Johnson, who also serves as TWRA’s legislative liaison to the Tennessee General Assembly.

“Legal staff has looked at this, and they have not seen it become an issue in any other states,” he said. “They haven’t seen that it provided any avenues for people to challenge a state’s ability to regulate and set reasonable rules and regulations.”

More than a dozen other states have guarantees of hunters’ rights written into their constitutions, and others are considering measures.

Tennessee Wildlife Federation CEO Michael Butler told TNReport his group consulted closely with state wildlife officials, constitutional attorneys and the chief legislative sponsors of the amendment, Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, and Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, to ensure that the amendment language enumerates the desired right without undermining state government fish and wildlife management authority.

“Most people already think they have a right to hunt and fish. So for most people, this amendment is just confirming what they already thought,” Butler said. “They can’t really imagine not being able to do it.”

However, the whole point of the amendment, he said, is to add a layer of legal defense against political activists and pressure groups that believe hunting and fishing not only aren’t “rights,” but probably shouldn’t even be tolerated by government.

Constitutionally speaking, “all it would take now to get rid of a hunting or fishing season is a vote by the Legislature,” Butler said.

Johnson confirmed that the department advised the wildlife federation on the amendment “almost since its inception.”

“We worked to achieve a comfort level that we thought everybody could live with,” he said.

Vanderbilt constitutional law professor James Blumstein noted that although the term “reasonable” isn’t one you’ll find in constitutional language, it “permeates our law.”

While a subjective interpretation might at times be “fairly debatable,” Blumstein said, judges generally approach it from the standpoint of asking if government has “a rational basis for doing something, and that it meets a reasonableness test.”

“There will be some deference to the regulation, but the regulations have to be reasonable,” he said. In situations where hunting rights conflict with public safety, private property or species management goals, Blumstein said he believes the amendment leaves the government “ample authority to regulate.”

“But what the government cannot do is to simply say we’re against hunting, on the grounds of policy, or that we think that is immoral or that it’s inappropriate in some way, and just have a flat-out ban,” Blumstein said. “Most rights in the Constitution are not absolute rights, and this is recognizing that the right to hunt may exist, but it is not absolute.”

Ramsey Supports Lifetime Sportsman Licenses

Press Release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville; April 6, 2010:

NASHVILLE — Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is an owner of a lifetime sportsman license in Tennessee and encourages all other sportsmen to follow suit. Lt. Gov. Ramsey visited with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency staff members as they were present at Legislative Plaza recently to promote 2010-11 hunting and fishing licenses to members of the House and Senate.

“The TWRA performs a great service by offering the lifetime license,” said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. “I am proud to own one and I recommend it to all my friends who hunt and fish.”

License sales provide the primary funding for the TWRA, which does not receive any funding from the state’s general fund (i.e. state sales tax). The TWRA relies on license sales as its primary source for funding for its management programs. Licenses are available at any Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) regional office, licensing agent, and on the TWRA Web site, www.tnwildlife.org. The licenses are valid through February 2011.