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TN 2016-17 DEER SEASON
By Steve McCadams
DEER HARVEST UPDATE
Deer hunters across Tennessee had taken a total of 5,992 at midweek since
the archery season opened. Hamilton County is leading the statewide
harvest total as hunters there have checked in 158 deer so far.
Henry County hunters have checked in a total of 86. A check of neighboring
counties shows Stewart at 88, followed by Carroll at 55, Weakley with 52
and Benton trailing the pack with 33.
ARCHERY OPENER HAS NEW REGULATIONS
It’s the fourth Saturday in September and that’s the traditional
start for deer hunters throughout Tennessee.
Most everyone was hoping for cooler weather to kickstart the season
and perhaps stimulate more movement. They won’t get their wish for this
Practically everyone from bow hunters to anglers have been wishing
for a weather change. Seems the whole region has been under a blanket of
hot and humid weather where daytime temperatures have been running some
6 to 10 degrees above average.
Fall officially arrived Thursday but someone forgot to tell that to
the thermometer. These 90-degree plus days have been consecutive far too
Here it is the third week of September and not only are the days hot
but the nights haven’t cooled off either. Sooner or later a cool spell
will arrive but it’s long overdue now that summer is gone and fall has
Meanwhile, deer hunters ready to pull a string are reminded of
changes made for the 2016-17 deer hunting seasons in Tennessee in regard
to the definition of antlered deer. An antlered deer is now defined as
any male or female deer with an antler protruding above its hairline.
An antlerless deer is now defined as any deer with no antler
protruding above its hairline. The new definition was established by the
Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its season-setting meeting
this past May. The definition is also listed with photo examples on page
23 of the 2016-17 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide as produced by
the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Male fawns with no antler protruding above the hairline do not count
toward a hunter’s antlered bag limit, rather toward the hunter’s
antlerless bag limits. Deer having already shed their antlers and does
without antlers are also considered antlerless. Male fawns with an
antler protruding above the hairline do count toward a hunter’s antlered
bag limit, since the deer does have antler(s) as opposed to hair covered
pedicles (i.e., antler attachment point to the skull). Velvet antlered
deer are also considered antlered.
The statewide archery season for deer is Sept. 24-Oct. 28. The
first of two Young Sportsman hunts is Oct. 29-30. Archery season resumes
Oct. 31-Nov. 4. Archery/muzzleloader season is Nov. 5-18.
Gun/muzzleloader/archery season has the traditional opening
date of the Saturday before Thanksgiving which this year is Nov. 19. The
season runs through Jan. 8, 2017. An antlerless hunt on private lands is
Jan. 9-13 in Unit L counties only while the final Young Sportsman hunt
is Jan. 14-15. Anterless bag limits in archery season are three per day
in Unit L while Unit A, B, C, and D have a bag limit of four. The
antlered bag limit is two for the license year.
Hunters can refer to the 2016-17 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping
Guide, available where hunting and fishing licenses are sold and at all
TWRA offices. The guide can also be viewed at TWRA’s website at
DEER HARVEST 2015 - 2016
According to figures from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
the statewide deer harvest stands at 167,240 for the 2015-2016 season
Henry County deer hunters had another good year and were leading the
state’s 95 counties for a few weeks in the latter part of the season but
lost the top spot ranking to Giles County by only 116. Hunters in Henry
County checked in 4,616 but Giles was tops with 4,732.
Neighboring counties had the following totals for the year: Benton
2,228; Carroll 3,334; Stewart 3,043; Weakley 2,956.
YOUTH DEER HUNT ESCORTS END OF SEASON
For the Young Sportsman Hunt, youth, 6-16 years of age are allowed to
participate. The young sportsmen must be accompanied by a non-hunting
adult at least 21 years of age who must remain in a position to take
control of the hunting device.
The accompanying adult must comply with fluorescent orange regulations,
as specified for legal hunters. Multiple youth may be accompanied by a
single qualifying adult.
The first youth hunt of the season was held Oct. 31-Nov. 1 and the young
hunters had a harvest of 5,846 and increase from 5,663 the previous
year. Last January’s final youth hunt netted a harvest of 2,001.
GUN DEER SEASON OPENS…FOURTH SATURDAY IN NOVEMBER IS A TRADITION
It’s billed as the opener of gun deer season in Tennessee Wildlife
Resources Agency literature. Yet a big number of deer hunters across the
Volunteer State have already been in the woods and fields for quite some
time with a muzzleloader or bow.
Tennessee’s long-standing annual outdoors traditions
begins with the opening of the 2015-16 gun hunting season for
deer. Deer gun season has the permanent opening date of the Saturday
prior to Thanksgiving.
The biggest change for hunters in 2015-16 is the statewide bag limit for
antlered deer is now two. The number includes those taken during the
archery only, muzzleloader, and gun seasons.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency divides the state into three
deer hunting units, A, B and & L. No more than one antlered deer may be
taken per day toward the bag limit.
For antlerless deer hunting in Units A and B during this season, refer
to the list of hunts on page 26 of TWRA’s 2015-16. The bag limit for
antlerless deer in Unit L is three per day. An antlerless deer is
defined as those deer with no antlers or deer with both antlers less
than three inches in length.
A Type 94 permit is required to harvest antlerless deer during this
season on all non-quota hunts in Units A, B, & L, except for holders of
an Annual Sportsman, Lifetime Sportsman, Senior Citizen License Type 167
Permit, or landowners hunting under the landowner exemption. A Type 94
permit is required for all ages.
TWRA personnel will be collecting data at selected check-in stations and
deer processors across the state on opening day. Antlered bucks will be
measured and aged for management purposes.
Anyone born on or after January 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of
satisfactory 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.
For more information about Tennessee’s 2015-16 deer hunting seasons,
refer to the 2015-16 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide available at
all license agents or log onto the agency’s website at
NATIONAL HUNT/FISH DAY
Over 100 years ago, hunters and anglers were the earliest and most vocal
supporters of conservation and scientific wildlife management. They were
the first to recognize that rapid development and unregulated uses of
wildlife were threatening the future of many species.
Led by fellow sportsman President Theodore Roosevelt, these early
conservationists called for the first laws restricting the commercial
slaughter of wildlife. They urged sustainable use of fish and game,
created hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for taxes on sporting
equipment to provide funds for state conservation agencies. These actions
were the foundation of the North American wildlife conservation model, a
science-based, user-pay system that would foster the most dramatic
conservation successes of all time.
Populations of white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, wood ducks
and many other species began to recover from decades of unregulated
During the next half-century, in addition to the funds they contributed
for conservation and their diligent watch over the returning health of
America’s outdoors, sportsmen worked countless hours to protect and
improve millions of acres of vital habitat—lands and waters for the use
and enjoyment of everyone.
In the 1960s, hunters and anglers embraced the era's heightened
environmental awareness but were discouraged that many people didn't
understand the crucial role that sportsmen had played-and continue to
play-in the conservation movement.
On May 2, 1972, President Nixon signed the first proclamation of National
Hunting and Fishing Day, writing, "I urge all citizens to join with
outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring
their proper management for the benefit of future generations."
By late summer, all 50 governors and over 600 mayors had joined in by
proclaiming state and local versions of National Hunting and Fishing Day.
The response was dramatic.
National, regional, state and local organizations staged some 3,000 "open
house" hunting- and fishing-related events everywhere from shooting ranges
to suburban frog ponds, providing an estimated four million Americans with
a chance to experience, understand and appreciate traditional outdoor
Over the years, National Hunting and Fishing Day boasted many more public
relations successes, assisted by celebrities who volunteered to help
spotlight the conservation accomplishments of sportsmen and women.
Honorary chairs have included George Bush, Tom Seaver, Hank Williams Jr.,
Arnold Palmer, Terry Bradshaw, George Brett, Robert Urich, Ward Burton,
Louise Mandrell, Travis Tritt, Tracy Byrd, Jeff Foxworthy and many other
sports and entertainment figures.
National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated the fourth Saturday of every
September, remains the most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken
to promote the outdoor sports and conservation.
BIGGER DEER BEING TAKEN
American deer hunters are killing the highest-ever percentage of bucks age
3½ and older, according to data gathered by the Quality Deer Management
Association for its 2015 Whitetail Report.
In the 2013-14 season, the most recent season with compete deer harvest
data available from all states, 34 percent of bucks harvested in the
states that collect buck age data were 3½ or older. That statistic is up
from 32 percent the season before, and significantly up from a decade
before in the 2003-04 season, when only 23 percent of the national buck
harvest was mature. These gains have been made while the percentage of
yearling bucks (1½ years old) in the harvest has steadily declined,
reaching a record-low of 36 percent.
"This is a testament to how far we've come as hunters in the past decade,"
said Kip Adams, QDMA's Director of Education & Outreach, who compiles the
annual Whitetail Report. "More hunters are choosing to protect yearling
bucks, and they are being rewarded by seeing and killing more of them as