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By Steve McCadams

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.

At midweek deer hunters across the state had already harvested a total of 55,281 as the regular gun season opener approaches.

Henry County hunters have checked in a total of 1,197, which is in the top four counties across the state at the present time. Montgomery County is the leader among the state’s 95 counties with a tally of 1,587.

Meanwhile, one of Tennessee’s long-standing annual outdoors traditions begins Saturday 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


Last weekend’s youth deer hunt went over well as a lot of youngsters were in the woods with a friend, relative or family member. Judging by talk on the street there were a lot of young hunters who bagged their very first deer.

Official numbers hadn’t been released at midweek but it appears after the soggy start on Saturday things improved in this area and a lot of hunters went back to the deer stands that afternoon and throughout the day on Sunday.


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 exploitation.

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 sports.

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.


American deer hunters are killing the highest-ever percentage of bucks age 3˝ 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 3˝ 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 (1˝ 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 mature animals."

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