In this area we’re blessed to have several national wildlife refuges nearby such as Cross Creeks, Reelfoot and our own Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge along the shores of the Tennessee River here in West and Middle Tennessee.
Enjoy stellar outdoor recreation and the country’s wildlife heritage during National Wildlife Refuge Week now underway through Saturday. Celebrate your access to nature on the nation’s largest network of public lands dedicated to wildlife conservation, the National Wildlife Refuge system, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Founded by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, national wildlife refuges offer access to a host of popular activities while providing vital habitat for thousands of wildlife species. Nearly 60 million people visit refuges each year. You can find at least one refuge in every state and every U.S. territory and within an hour drive of most major cities.
National Wildlife Refuge Week celebrates all the ways people can discover a range of world-class recreation opportunities from hunting, fishing, biking and paddling to trail running, photography, walking and virtual nature programs.
Sportsmen can celebrate with expanded hunting and fishing on national wildlife refuges from coast to coast with new opportunities to pursue migratory birds, upland game and big game, as well as a range of fish species.
Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation, including wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation, and interpretation, when these activities are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on 430 wildlife refuges. Fishing is allowed on 360 wildlife refuges.
More than 101 million Americans – 40 percent of the population age 16 and older – pursue wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.
Refuges pump $3.2 billion a year into local economies and support more than 41,000 jobs, according to the Service’s report Banking on Nature. National wildlife refuges also make life better by conserving wildlife, protecting against erosion and flooding and purifying our air and water.
Findings of a major study show Americans from all backgrounds understand thriving wildlife populations and places dedicated to their conservation help them and their families live happier, healthier lives.
Learn more about this year’s celebration by visiting: www.fws.gov/refuges/events/National-Wildlife-Refuge-Week.html.
SHOOTING FOR HOPE AT HOLLY FORK
Shooters from the region are invited to Shooting For Hope, a sporting clay benefit event planned for Oct. 24 at Holly Fork Shooting Complex, 6133 Hwy. 79 northeast of Paris.
Sponsored locally by the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Tosh Farms and Clifty Farms, the event will benefit Hope Center Ministries.
Its purpose is to provide men and women the opportunity to overcome drug and alcohol addiction through their faith.
“Our program is designed to show these individuals how to find peace and lasting freedom from their addictions through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” says local Hope Center director Dana Bowden.
“We’ve been in the community just over three years and are working to restore women and families at our homes. We’re in need of funds to establish playgrounds and upgrade kitchens to help people who haven’t been exposed to this atmosphere. It really is helping them get their life together,” Bowden said.
Entry is $100 a shooter or $450 for a five-man team; lunch will be provided. Carts and side-by-sides are optional.
Participants can register the day of the event or call ahead and register plus make a donation to this nonprofit organization at 931-264-0228. You can also email Bowden at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Hope Centers visit www.hopecm.com.
JAKES DAY WILL BE DIFFERENT
Every year, the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation hosts its annual Jake Day in conjunction with the state’s first youth deer hunt weekend. This year some things have changed but a celebration — to some degree — will still take place.
In times past, the chapters offered all sorts of shooting contests and games followed by a big meal outdoors, but that has changed this year. Still, kids can come and check in deer and possibly win prizes.
It’ll be on the weekend of Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Holly Fork.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the event will only be checking in deer that weekend at the facility. Volunteers will be there both days to check in deer and each youngster will be signed up.
There will be a big buck and big doe contest. And, the biggest buck will earn a mount from Head and Shoulders Taxidermy. Prizes of $150, $100 and $50 will be awarded in the biggest doe and buck contest, plus another $50 random draw giveaway.
Winners will be announced Nov. 2 on the Tennessee River Longbeards Facebook page. For more information, contact Keith Hickman at 336-3769.
ONE TRILLION TREES INITIATIVE
President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council, which will be responsible for coordinating the federal government’s support of the global One Trillion Trees Initiative. The order names U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt as co-chairman of the council, along with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“President Trump has boldly led on many conservation initiatives, including the One Trillion Trees Initiative,” said Bernhardt. “The President’s Council will support and enhance the incredible efforts already taking place under the Trump administration to better manage our forests and woodlands across our public lands.”
On Earth Day this year before Trump and first lady Melania Trump planted a maple tree on the south lawn of the White House, Trump said, “On this special occasion, we are renewing our strong national commitment on conserving the wonder of God’s creation. We’re also honoring our country’s heritage of conservation through the One Trillion Tree Initiative, which is a very big deal.”
Between 2017-19, the Interior Department planted more than 58 million trees on federal lands across the country, including more than 17 million trees being planted by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement for active mine reclamation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all support healthy forest management by planting trees to restore habitats, rehabilitate areas following wildfires and revitalize tribal lands.
The Interior Department expects to plant an additional 22 million trees by the end of this year.
FEDERATION TO HOST HUNT ACADEMY
The Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of the largest and oldest nonprofits dedicated to conserving our state’s wildlife and natural resources, invites Tennessee families to learn how to hunt deer. Six experiences have been announced for October.
First-time or novice deer hunters — or those interested in future experiences around turkey, dove, or fish — can sign up at tnwf.org/interest.
The Federation’s Hunting and Fishing Academy program provides engaging, hands-on instruction in the art of being an outdoorsman through multi-day, immersive experiences.
For hunters, this includes practical sessions about reading the land and understanding the species to pick the best location, how to create a blind, what to consider to ensure ethical harvesting, safely field dressing the harvest, and more.
Participants are mentored by volunteer Hunt Masters, who are skilled, lifelong hunters and anglers.
Dates, times and locations for upcoming deer hunting experiences in West Tennessee are Oct. 30-Nov. 1, near Dover, near Greenfield and near Jackson; and Oct. 31-Nov. 1, near Jackson.
“If you’re interested in learning to hunt or fish but don’t know a sportsman, getting started can be hard,” said John Worthen, director of programs for the federation. “Hunting and Fishing Academy provides beginner outdoorsmen and women experienced mentors who serve as a resource long after their Academy experience.”
In addition to gaining proficiency in hunting and fishing, participants will have opportunities to learn core outdoor recreation skills such as campsite selection and setup, orienteering with a compass, and the principles of “leave no trace” outdoorsmanship.
Participants will leave the experience with all of the basic skills and knowledge needed to go again on their own.
Parents and guardians aren’t just present during these excursions. They are participants, learning and doing right alongside their child so they are prepared to lead your family into the great outdoors.
The cost to attend a Hunting and Fishing Academy experience depends on the duration and covers all of the equipment you will need, meals, and lodging. Scholarships are available for participants who wish to attend an Academy experience but are unable to pay the full amount.
Get started at tnwf.org/interest.
FREE YOUTH DEER HUNT
Youths between the ages of 10-16, who are hunter safety certified and who have never harvested a deer, are eligible to win a spot in what has become an annual special hunt. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will host the hunt in conjunction with the opening day of the 2020 Tennessee Young Sportsman Deer Hunt on Oct. 31.
Youths from various regions from across the state have participated in the event held at Buffalo Ridge Refuge in Humphreys County. Last year, 16 young hunters had their first deer harvests.
A total of 30 young hunters will be selected to participate. The area incorporates a variety of wildlife management practices and totals more than 2,000 acres of prime deer habitat. Treestands will be provided including three which are handicapped-accessible.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines will be followed. A Friday night cookout will be held. Sites will be available for those who wish to camp (participants must provide their own camping gear). Breakfast and lunch will also be provided Saturday.
The TWRA will hold a drawing and the winners will be notified by Oct. 21. Confirmation packets will be sent via email to the successful participants that will include directions and a list of items to bring as well as a list of area hotels. Winning hunters are responsible for providing the appropriate Tennessee hunting license and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 21 years of age or older.
Interested hunters may complete an application online on the TWRA website, license.gooutdoorstennessee.com/Event/ViewEvent.aspx?id=36586.
All applications must be received by Monday. For more information or to receive an application, contact Donald Hosse, TWRA outreach program coordinator at Don.Hosse@tn.gov.
DEER HARVEST UPDATE
Updated harvest totals across the state and region show some increase since last week. Stewart County is still leading this area as hunters there have checked in 158 deer since bow season began in late September.
The statewide total stands at 8,175 and that changes daily as do most of the county totals. Henry County’s total harvest stood at 101 while a check of neighboring counties showed Benton at 52 and Carroll with 93. Weakley’s total stood at 90.
Looks like deer hunters will get some cool weather as the weekend approaches. Time for the coveralls.
Today-Saturday — National Wildlife Refuge Week in progress..
Saturday-Sunday — Youth Deer Hunt, Land Between the Lakes.
Oct. 24 — Shooting For Hope, Holly Fork Shooting Complex.
Oct. 29 — Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Facebook Live Event On Chronic Wasting Disease.
Oct. 30 — Archery deer season closes.
Oct. 31-Nov. 1 — Statewide Youth Deer Hunt.
Oct. 31-Nov. 1 — Jakes Day, Holly Fork Shooting Complex.