His shotgun barrel was red hot but Gray Gardner was cool under pressure again last Saturday. When the smoke settled the young Henry County shooter had busted 100 straight targets in skeet.
It wasn’t just another day at the gun club. He was in a shoot-off with fellow Scholastic Clay Target Program athlete Aaron Conrad, also of Henry County. The two sharpshooters had shot their way into a tie last month at the national contest in Ohio.
The SCTP offers a prestigious Poston Cup award, a title and honor awarded to the Tennessee shooter who gets the highest skeet score at the National Championship.
This year these two young guns wound up tied with a score of 198 last month at the big show so that merited a return to the gun range where both would face off each other.
“These kids are something else and both are smart too,” said shooting coach Bill Neese of Paris. “Aaron Conrad is now off to Tennessee Tech and Gray Gardner is heading to Mississippi State. They both plan to study engineering.”
A tip of the hat to Gardner for an impressive win and to all the coaches and kids who represented Henry County well this year in the SCTP programs.
Henry County won both the National Championship and runner-up in skeet and the National Doubles Skeet Championship.
EARLY SQUIRREL SEASON IN LBL
Want to get a jump on the statewide squirrel season? You can do just that as Saturday morning is the opener for busy tails in Land Between the Lakes.
Squirrel season opens in LBL a week prior to the Tennessee statewide season each year. Bag limit will be the same as last year at 10 daily.
It doesn’t seem like it has been a year since this early season rolled around but the calendar says it has.
All hunters must possess a hunter safety card and all applicable permits and licenses as required by state and federal regulations. Additionally, all youth hunters not required to carry a hunter safety card by the state, must receive basic hunter safety instructions and carry a verification form signed by a responsible adult. The form and additional information is available on LBL’s website at www.lbl.org.
FARMERS, LANDOWNERS SOUGHT
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking fields to lease for the upcoming 2018 dove season. The first segment of dove season opens at noon on 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, an estimated 25,000 hunters harvested approximately 408,500 mourning doves last year.
Landowners can earn up to $3,600 for providing a dove field for public hunting. These fields must be available for a minimum of three priority hunt dates in September.
The 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 field to which TWRA leases the hunting rights for three priority dates. The hunting access rate paid to landowners for fall leased fields may be up to $75 an acre for a maximum of 40 acres. Fields that are top sown with wheat are eligible for an additional $15 an acre. Interested landowners must sign up their fields in August.
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 800-372-3928.
FIRST STATEWIDE ARCHERY DEER
Sportsmen will have the opportunity to participate in Tennessee’s inaugural statewide archery, private lands only/antlered only deer season from Aug. 24-26.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission voted at its May meeting to establish this short season to give hunters an opportunity to harvest a buck with velvet-covered antlers. The hunt is not open on any of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s wildlife management areas. Sportsmen are reminded to ask for permission to hunt on private lands.
The annual bag limit for antlered deer is two. Deer taken during this three-day hunt will count toward the bag limit.
More information about this year’s hunting seasons is in the 2018-19 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. It is available from businesses that sell hunting and fishing licenses and also on the agency’s app and website at www.tnwildlife.org.
BIG GATOR CAUGHT
From Outdoor Hub news comes word that Florida wildlife officials are breathing a sigh of relief after capturing what they claim may be the largest gator they’ve ever dealt with.
The gator, measuring 13 feet in length, recently was captured out of Shamrock Park in Venice, Fla.
Fox News also reports two German shepherds were recently attacked in the same location the gator was captured, and that one of the dogs died. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported on the original story, which says the dogs ran off while momentarily off leash. One of the dog’s handlers said they heard a loud yelp, followed by one of the dogs appearing out of the water.
The other dog’s body was never found.
Saturday — Squirrel season opens at LBL.
Aug. 24-26 — Archery antlered deer season private lands only.
Aug. 25 — Free hunting day and statewide squirrel season opens.
Aug. 25 — Hummingbird banding, Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, Dover.
Sept. 1 — Dove season opens.
Sept. 1-15 — Early season on resident geese opens.