Hunting Seasons Preview Held at Commission Meeting

Monday, March 27, 2023 | 10:42am

HUMPHREYS COUNTY, Tenn. --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency previewed its recommendations for the 2023-24 hunting and trapping seasons at the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s one-day meeting held Friday at Buffalo Ridge Refuge.

Wildlife and Forestry Division Chief Joe Benedict opened his presentation by explaining the season-setting process. Data collection is compiled annually during the hunting seasons. Public comments, Commission input, Agency meetings, and surveys are involved in the process. Public input is solicited December-January and March-April.  Recommendations are then made to the Commission for voting.

A review of the state’s big game hunting seasons was held. The Agency is proposing changes to the elk hunt proclamation which will add two elk hunting zones and an archery and gun permit to each of the new zones. The new zones would be located on the Ed Carter Tract and on the Sundquist tract. If approved, the number of elk zones will be 10 and permits would be 19 total.

There were no proposed changes to the deer, bear, and turkey seasons. Proposed regulation changes on various wildlife management areas and refuges were also presented, including potential new quota hunt locations. A vote on these proposals is expected during the April TFWC meeting.

The Wildlife and Forestry Division also provided an update on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) following the fall deer hunting season. The Agency sampled 20,726 harvested deer during the season with 798 returning CWD positive results. No new counties were found to have positive cases.

“This is good news for us and for the hunters of Tennessee,” said Wildlife and Forestry Chief Joe Benedict. “We expected it to take around five years to find the extent of CWD in Tennessee. and it is encouraging to see effective management practices working to control the spread of the disease.”

To support hunters with CWD management goals, the Agency issued 587 Replacement Buck tags for CWD positive bucks, 823 Fight CWD Incentive Program processing vouchers, and 3,643 Earn-a-Buck tags for harvested deer that were submitted for testing.

The Fisheries Division previewed a pair of proposed changes to the commercial fishing proclamation. One would open up commercial fishing for silver carp and paddlefish on the Mississippi River on a 30-mile stretch from mile marker 715-745. Sampling this past winter indicated that the level did not meet or exceed the level for consumption. The second proposal was a change which would allow the use of 5-inch mesh gill nets to be fished on Pickwick Reservoir to be help in the battle against silver carp on the lake.