What started way back on the last Saturday in September will soon draw to a close for Tennessee deer hunters.
The curtain falls Sunday at the end of the two-day young sportsmen’s deer hunt, which gives kids ages 6-16 the last shot of the year.
Every year, youngsters get two weekend hunts to call their own. The first one traditionally opens the week prior to the regular gun season.
The final hunt is always the weekend after the regular gun season expires. The regular gun, muzzleloader and archery season ended Sunday.
However, a few hunters received an extension to their season with a five-day private-lands-only antlerless hunt this week, which ends today.
Overall, it seems to have been a pretty good year for the Volunteer State in terms of the statewide harvest.
At midweek, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s database indicated some 131,489 deer had been checked in among the state’s 95 counties.
Although still in the top 10 counties among the statewide tally, Henry County hunters have dropped a few notches these last few weeks from the second- and third-place ranking posted earlier in the season.
Hunters here had chalked up a total of 1,367 at midweek. It will be interesting to see the final number after results of the young sportsmen’s deer hunt are tallied next week. Meanwhile, hunters in Giles County continue to hold on to first place, as they have tagged 1,705 thus far.
This year’s deer season was somewhat dominated, at least here in west Tennessee, by the concern of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) within the state’s herd. The mysterious disease has long been a concern in western states among elk and mule deer herds for a number of years.
Tennessee biologists were so concerned as to the spread that a special CWD Deer Unit was established in southwest Tennessee. Comprised of eight counties — Chester, Fayette, Hardeman, Haywood, Madison, McNairy, Shelby and Tipton — the unit was somewhat of a test in and of itself.
In fact, special season dates and bag limits were established for the new CWD unit. So far, no deer taken in Henry County or surrounding counties were checked in this year testing positive for CWD. Deer hunters in these parts are hoping it stays that way.
And so it is that the curtain will soon fall on the statewide deer season. It will be interesting to see how the final tally plays out and which counties make the top 10 as to total harvest.
It seemed the bow season that began last fall got off to a slow start. Unusually hot and dry weather seemed to curtail activity the first few weeks.
Once the cooler weather of late fall entered the picture and muzzleloader season got underway, deer harvest numbers really increased and it jump-started a sluggish harvest.
All in all, Tennessee deer season may well have turned out to be a pretty good one as the numbers are crunched next week by biologists in Nashville at TWRA headquarters.
How about you? Did your season go well?
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.