The fourth Saturday in November is a special date on the calendar for deer hunters in Tennessee. That signals the traditional opening day of the deer season for regular gun hunters.

Chilly weather has hung around all week and may well linger into the weekend.

For eons, folks referred to the opening day of deer season as the date when the regular gun season kicked it off. As deer numbers increased across the state, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency added more days to the bow season, added special Youth Deer Hunts and expanded muzzleloader segments.

By the time the fourth Saturday in November arrives nowadays, deer hunters have already had an abundance of opportunities to hit the woods and fields.

Still, the opening of regular gun season sees a big number of hunters marching to their stands and it’s likely the most popular day of the entire season in terms of hunter participation.

Timed to coincide with the peak of the rut, the fourth Saturday of November usually has pretty good timing for Volunteer State hunters. Some years are earlier than others but overall, the timing is about right.

Meanwhile, harvest numbers across the state continue to rise on a daily basis after a somewhat sluggish start this year.

Henry County hunters had chalked up 788 deer at the start of the week, which has pushed their statewide ranking up to the No. 5 spot on the roster among the state’s 95 counties.

Leading the state for the last several weeks has been Montgomery County. It continues to hold the top spot as hunters there have checked in 1,112 thus far.

Meanwhile, during gun season, sportsmen may also use muzzleloader or archery equipment. The season will continue through Jan. 6. The second Young Sportsman Hunt is Jan. 12-13.

Anyone born on or after Jan. 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 2018-19 deer hunting seasons, refer to the 2018-19 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.

This is the fourth year that the statewide bag limit for antlered deer is two. The number includes those taken during the archery-only, muzzleloader and gun seasons.

The start of muzzleloader season was on Nov. 3, and Tennessee deer hunters had a harvest of 7,683 on the opening weekend, compared to the previous year’s 4,823 when temperatures were above normal.

Since archery-only season began in late September, there have been 29,705 deer harvested through the first weekend of muzzleloader season, which also includes the Young Sportsman hunt in late October.

The statewide bag limit for antlered bucks is two. No more than one antlered deer may be taken a day. Hunters are allowed the following antlerless bag limits: Unit L— three a day, Unit A — two a season, Unit B — one a season, Unit C — one a season (Nov. 17-Dec. 2 only), and Unit D — one a season (Nov. 17-23 only).

 

STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is stevemc@charter.net.

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