(Updated April 4, 2019)
Tennessee anglers shine in Bassmaster Classic
Tennessee anglers captured the top two places and posted two additional spots among the top seven in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic. The impressive performances capped off the three-day event in Knoxville.
Ott DeFoe put the finishing touches on a storybook performance in his hometown. The Knoxville angler was the overall champion with a total of 49 pounds, 3 ounces. He earned the title after a sixth place finish a year ago.
Harrison resident Jacob Wheeler came in second place in his third B.A.S.S. tournament. He had a three-day total of 45-5. Brandon Lester claimed sixth place. The Fayetteville native had a three-day total of 40-3. Right behind in seventh position was Spring City's Wesley Strader with 39-8 to give all the Volunteer State's anglers competing top 10 finishes.
The Classic showcased Tennessee as one of the nation's top fishing destinations. A record attendance of more than 153,800 were in attendance at the tournament venues, including the daily afternoon weigh-ins at Thompson Boling Arena, the Classic Outdoors Expo at the Knoxville Convention Center and World's Fair Exhibition Hall, and the morning takeoffs at Volunteers Landing.
Fishing is big business in Tennessee. With 1.8 million anglers and an economic impact of more than $1.1 billion in Tennessee, fishing drives tourism throughout the state and supports close to 10,000 jobs. The Classic alone had an economic impact of more than $25 million in and around Knoxville
CWD meeting at Somerville
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) will host a public meeting to discuss Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) at Fayette Academy located 15090, Highway 64 in Somerville. The meeting is April 9 from 7-9 p.m.
The meeting will be the second public meeting to discuss and answer questions in regard to the disease since CWD was confirmed initially in Fayette and Hardeman counties in December. Currently, there have been 185 confirmations with a few more sampling results yet to be received by the TWRA. A total of 2,999 deer have been tested from the eight county CWD Management Zone with 107 confirmations coming from Fayette County, 77 from Hardeman County, and one from Madison County.
A short presentation will be made with any updates and planned monitoring activities in the areas. Following the presentation, TWRA staff along with representatives from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, will entertain questions.
For those who cannot attend in person, the meeting can be viewed on Facebook live and after the meeting on TWRA Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TennesseeWildlifeResourcesAgency/.
More information on CWD can be found by visiting the website, CWDinTennessee.com.
Migratory gamebird hunting seasons set
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission TFWC) has set the state's 2019-20 migratory gamebird hunting seasons. The commission approved the regulations for next season which includes the season dates and bag limits for ducks, geese, crows, dove, snipe, woodcock, rails and sandhill cranes.
Changes in the federal framework require the TWRA to update its proclamation each year. The season changes were made to duck, woodcock, and crows.
The duck season for the Reelfoot Zone will be Nov. 9-10 and reopen Dec. 5 through Jan. 31. The statewide season will be Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 and the second phase is Dec. 7-Jan. 31.
Changes to the woodcock season were driven by hunter input to provide opportunities to hunters in East Tennessee who see a large number of woodcock migrating through the area in January. The dates are Nov. 9 and closes Dec. 1 for the first segment. Phase 2 is Jan. 10-31.
The changes to crow include a split season with hunting on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from June 1 through Aug. 18. The second phase is Oct. 5-Jan. 1 with hunting allowed all seven days through the week. One of the primary reasons for the change was to give hunters more of an opportunity during expected cooler weather.
Concerning bag limits, the only change was a reduction for pintail from two birds per day to one per day.
The commission has also elected its officers to serve for 2019-20. Kurt Holbert (Decaturville) will serve as chairman, Brian McLerran (Moss) is the vice chairman, and Angie Box (Jackson) is the secretary.
The five outgoing commissioners were honored for their service during the two-day meeting as their appointments conclude. Completing their service were Chad Baker (Bristol), Dr. Jeff Cook (Franklin), Bill Cox (Collierville), Bill Swan (Dunlap) and Jamie Woodson (Lebanon).
On the road with CWD discussions
The AGFC held public meetings in Waldron, Mountain Home and Mountain View to speak about the need for an expansion of the current Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone for deer and elk. Recent test results from CWD-positive deer along the outer edge of the zone boundary have caused the AGFC to consider expanding the current CWD Management Zone to include Baxter, Scott and Stone counties.
Biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission identified 238 new positive cases of chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer and three elk during the 2018-19 deer hunting season. Among these were positive cases on the northern edge of Scott County and the eastern edge of Searcy County. To ensure compliance with the AGFC Code of Regulations, any county where a wild or captive cervid tests positive for CWD and any county within a 10-mile buffer of a positive CWD sample will be included in CWD management zone regulations.
The following wildlife management areas will be affected by new regulations concerning CWD: Cedar Creek WMA, Muddy Creek WMA, Norfork Lake WMA and Sylamore WMA. Within these WMAs, button bucks will now count toward a hunter's antlerless bag limit and antler size restrictions such as the three-point rule will be removed. These liberalizations are meant to increase the harvest of young bucks, which are the most likely to disperse and possibly carry the disease further.
Private land hunters in these counties also will see the lifting of antler restrictions and the change from button bucks being listed as bucks to antlerless. Deer harvest limits also will be liberalized on private land to help lower concentrations of deer and slow the spread of the disease. Baxter, Scott and Stone counties will be included in Tier 2 of the CWD Management Zone's carcass movement regulations as well. The last notable change to wildlife regulations for these counties is the restriction of feeding wildlife except when used for hunting from Sept.1-Dec. 31. Outside of this window, feeding wildlife will no longer be allowed, with some exceptions (see www.agfc.com/en/hunting/big-game/deer/cwd/cwd-regulations).
DU honors two Arkansans
Two Arkansans were honored at North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference by Ducks Unlimited for their work in promoting and conserving North America's wetlands and waterfowl. Senator John Boozman and Jim Ronquest, producer of Rich-N-Tone videos, were recognized with two of the six awards DU presented.
Boozman received the annual Wetlands Conservation Senior Federal Official award for his continued commitment to wetlands conservation and its impact on not only the natural resources but the communities that thrive from the watchable wildlife, hunting and tourism dollars associated with waterfowl and wetland species.
Ronquest received the annual Wetlands Conservation Communications award for his efforts in influencing youth education and conservation efforts. In addition to his many videos capturing the thrill of waterfowl hunting in Arkansas and other states, Ronquest organizes free duck-calling classes and many other hunting- and conservation-oriented events for youths interested in the outdoors.
Fishing looks good for NE Mississippi
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) fisheries biologists expect another good year for anglers in Northeast Mississippi.
"Supplemental forage stockings of bream and threadfin shad in 2018 should enhance the bass populations at lakes Lamar Bruce, Monroe, and Elvis Presley," said MDWFP Fisheries Biologist Trevor Knight. "Last year, Lamar Bruce, which is popular with bream anglers in the area, started producing bass over 10 pounds and we anticipate that Monroe will do the same in this year."
Anglers who do not want to fight the crowds should consider checking out Lake Lowndes State Park.
"Our fall surveys indicated a healthy crappie population that is often overlooked," Knight added. "Trophy-sized bass and catfish are also present due to an abundant gizzard shad population."
The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway will continue to provide consistent results for crappie, bass and catfish anglers. Bay Springs and Columbus Lake boast healthy populations of bass and crappie.
Poor production in recent years will make for a more challenging season
Missouri turkey hunters can expect a challenging spring season according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). The spring turkey hunting season starts with a youth-only weekend April 6-7. The regular spring season runs April 15 through May 5. Although the good hatches of 2011, 2012, and 2014 helped bolster turkey numbers in much of Missouri from a low point during the late 2000s, poor production in recent years will have an adverse effect on the 2019 spring turkey season.
Missouri deer hunters donated 259,414 pounds of venison
The MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) thank the thousands of Missouri deer hunters who donated 259,414 pounds of venison to the state's Share the Harvest program this past deer season, including 4,855 whole deer. Thank you also to the more than 100 participating meat processors throughout the state who grind the donated deer meat into ready-to-use packages. The donated deer meat goes to local food banks and food pantries to help feed hungry Missourians all around the state. To get Share the Harvest venison, contact local food banks or food pantries.
Since the program was started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided more than 4 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to help feed hungry Missourians, including this past season's donations and 289,292 pounds of venison donated the year before.