Kevin Miles

Doubling up on Henry County bucks last week was the father and son duo of Tim (left) and Kevin Miles of Paris. The hefty bucks were taken during muzzleloader season and most area hunters feel the peak of the rut began a little earlier this year when compared to times past.  The area deer harvest has shown impressive numbers this year.

The opening of the regular gun season for deer was once pretty much considered to be the unofficial start of the season. In the old days not a lot of deer were harvested during the bow season and muzzleloader season was still very much in its infancy.

That’s all changed. Nowadays, both archery equipment and muzzleloaders have advanced with technology, bringing with it an increased participation by legions of hunters who take to the woods long before the opening of the traditional regular gun season, which was set aside several years ago to begin on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, Tennessee’s 2020-21 statewide gun hunting season for deer opens Saturday. During gun season, sportsmen may also use muzzleloader or archery equipment. The season will continue through Jan. 3, 2021.

For more information about Tennessee’s 2020-21 deer hunting seasons, refer to the 2020-21 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide available online at www.tnwildlife.org, the TWRA On the Go App, or physical copies can be obtained at license agents or TWRA regional offices.

Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of 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.

The statewide bag limit for antlered bucks is two. No more than one antlered deer may be taken in 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. 21-Dec. 6 only); and Unit D — one a season (Nov. 21-27 only).

In Unit CWD, there is a limit of three antlerless deer a day with no season limit. The statewide bag limit of two antlered deer applies in Unit CWD. However, the statewide bag limit of two antlered deer may be exceeded within Unit CWD if taken under the Earn-A-Buck Program or taken under the Replacement Buck Program.  

Details on each of the programs are at www.CWDinTennessee.com. For the exact boundaries of the different deer units, hunters can refer to the guide. For complete license and permit requirements, refer to www.tnwildife.org or the 2020-21 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide.

 

DUCKS UNLIMITED BANQUET OFF

The Paris-Henry County chapter of Ducks Unlimited has had one of the more successful banquets and fundraising events across Tennessee during the last few years. It has a reputation as being one of the top chapters statewide even when compared to some of the larger cities across the state.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a wide net over a variety of nonprofits and fundraising events this year and the local Ducks Unlimited banquet is one of them. The local chapter announced earlier this fall that no event would take place for the traditional November or late October time frame.

“We decided that due to our overwhelming need for community support for our organization to thrive that we should be responsible members of the community and cancel the banquet this year,” said Paris-Henry County DU spokesman Michael Culley. “We felt that if there was even a chance of the virus spreading due to our event that it was a risk we were not willing to accept.”

“We want to thank the community for their continued support and look forward to an even bigger banquet next year,” continued Culley. “Keep an eye out for events that are in the planning stages for the spring and please support Ducks Unlimited in any way possible as they navigate through this. You can still buy a Ducks Unlimited membership and find all the virtual events at ducks.org. Thank you again to everyone for their support.”

 

QUAIL FOREVER YOUTH HUNT

Nice weather and a good turnout combined for a successful youth hunt last Saturday for the Kentucky Lake chapter of Quail Forever. The annual event introduces youngsters to the outdoors in addition to a day of good food and overall fellowship.

Thanks to a grant from the Friends of the NRA the annual event introduces children to quail hunting and great dog work as the youngsters get to witness the activity up close and personal.

“Another great FNRA Youth Hunt last Saturday is in the books,” said chapter spokesman Fran Holberg of Puryear. “Special shout out to the Ellis family for organizing, cooking, and making sure all had a great time. Many thanks to Lou Faulkner, Ken Creamer and Charles Jones for setting up and running the clay throwing machines and the Daisy Pellet Gun Range.”

“It was great enjoyment watching awesome dogs waiting their turn or in the field.  Many thanks to the FNRA for sponsoring this hunt to help teach youth gun safety and stewardship of our land,” said Holberg.

 

DEER HARVEST INCREASES

The peak of the rut may have occurred the past week to 10 days if the increased harvest of hefty bucks is any indication.

Many veteran hunters report significant activity increase in the rut recently so the biological clock has indeed been ticking and may have moved up a bit compared to times past.

Meanwhile, updated harvest figures show the statewide total had increased to 51,000 at midweek and was changing daily. Montgomery County is now the new leader among the state’s 95 counties. Hunters there have checked in 1,494 thus far.

Henry County’s total stood at 824 while Stewart County, last week’s leader, was still good but behind Montgomery. Stewart’s total is 1,194, followed by Carroll (799), Weakley (717) and Benton (484).

 

CHRISTMAS TREE KIT AT REFUGE

This year the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge will not be having its annual Trim a Tree for Wildlife event because of the recent spike in COVID cases. However, the Friends of Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge are offering free craft kits that will hold all the parts and instructions for four different children’s Christmas crafts.  

These craft kits will be available to pick up in front of the refuge visitor center located at 1371 Wildlife Drive in Springville beginning Monday and continuing as long as supplies last. Along with the four craft kits, the packages include some good tips on how to care for wildlife during the winter months. 

So, drive by anytime during the day and pick up your craft kit from the tub sitting in front of the visitor center. While there, how about sitting for a quiet moment on the back patio to listen and look for waterfowl? The refuge also invites you to visit adjacent V.L. Childs observation deck for another way to see the wildlife that abounds there. 

 

NICE FISHING WEATHER RETURNS

For fall fishermen on Kentucky Lake the parade continues. More beautiful weather is in the process of returning and above average temperatures are forecast for the approaching weekend. Some rain is possible early next week, but it should be sunny prior to that.

As to lake levels, the TVA will continue a slow but gradual drop in the days ahead, which will keep plenty of current in the river channel for catfishermen who have thrived this fall.

Forecasts for the weekend show the reservoir dropping slightly to an elevation of 354.4 feet. That is flirting with the low ebb of winter pool levels and is down a few inches from last week.

Water color remains quite clear. Surface temperatures cooled a bit from last week and are back down to the mid- to upper 50s. Some cool nights have entered the picture compared to last week when surface temps rose to the mid-60s for a couple of days.

When southwest winds have returned with light velocity, crappie fishermen have been scoring some pretty decent stringers. There were a few days earlier in the week when nasty north winds took a bite out of the fishing but really had a bite to the air.

After a couple days of diminished activity because of cool snaps and high pressure skies, the crappie responded favorably. The bite from midrange depths of 8-12 feet has been good at times.

Anglers are vertical fishing jigs and minnows over manmade fish attractors. Some are opting for just a live minnow presentation while others are tipping the jig color of their choice with shiner minnows to enhance bites.

A few boats are stalking deeper ledges and finding some scattered fish in the 18- to 24-foot zones. Some fish are there but the bulk of the catches are coming from midrange depths, which is the norm for this time of year given the mild weather we’ve had.

Still showing up in the creel have been nice size slabs. Hefty crappie tipping the scales at 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds are being caught on a regular basis. Most anglers are not loading the boat with big numbers of fish but catching enough to keep it very interesting.

Bass activity is still sluggish for most with a few isolated reports of decent stringers taken on swim bait, shad colored variations of crankbaits and some suspending jerkbaits at times plus Rattle Trap style lures fan cast over sloping flats and sandbars out on the main lake areas.

 

REFUGE AREAS CLOSED

The public is reminded that several areas within the refuge are now closed off to both boat and road traffic. The seasonal closure period began last week and will remain in effect until March 15, 2021.

Seasonal closures are implemented in mid-November every year to provide sanctuary to bald eagles and wintering waterfowl.

Areas under the closure within the Big Sandy unit of the refuge are Swamp Creek, Bennett’s Creek and portions of the Sulphur Well Basin. Some roads are closed off as well.

There are still a lot of locations to observe wildlife and wintering waterfowl.

For further information on the refuge, contact the refuge office at 1371 Wildlife Drive, Springville, TN 38256 or call 642-2091. Waterfowl surveys will begin soon and those results will be available by dialing this number at extension 33, or can be viewed at the refuge web page at www.fws.gov/refuge/tennessee. or www.facebook.com/tennesseenwr. 

For further information about Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, contact the office in Dover at 643 Wildlife Road or call 931-232-7477 or see the website at www.fws.gov/refuge/cross_creeks. 

 

SPORTSMEN’S CALENDAR

Today — NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) application deadline.

Today — Muzzleloader/archery season segment ends.

Saturday — Gun/muzzleloader/archery season opens.

Sunday — Wildlife Management Area closure on Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency sub-impoundments begins.

Nov. 28-29 — First segment of statewide duck season.

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