NASHVILLE — While the big news out of the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission’s monthly meeting here Friday was the addition of a bear hunting season for 15 counties, including Scott, Fentress, Pickett, Morgan and Cumberland counties on the northern Cumberland Plateau, there were few major changes to the statewide hunting season for 2014 and the spring of 2015.
The whitetail deer hunting seasons will follow traditional dates. The archery season will begin on Sept. 27. The muzzleloader season is Nov. 8 through Nov. 21. The gun season will open Nov. 22 and continue until Jan. 4, 2015. The Young Sportsman Hunt will be Oct. 25-26 and Jan. 10-11. The archery season will be closed Oct. 25-26 during the youth hunt.
Bag limits were unchanged, with the exception of antlerless opportunities in a handful of counties — Blount, Marion, Putnam, Tipton and Washington. In Unit B, which includes Scott and neighboring counties, the antlerless limit is four during the archery hunt and one during the muzzleloader hunt. There will again be an antlerless non-quota gun hunt in Scott County for one week in December, with a limit of one. The antlered deer limit is three across the state.
Next spring’s turkey hunt will follow its tradition of opening the Saturday nearest April 1, which will be April 4 of Easter weekend. As always, the season will continue for 44 consecutive days.
The most-discussed item at Friday’s meeting was this fall’s hunting seasons for dove. With a 90-day season expected to be allowed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service — which mandates migratory bird hunting seasons — the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency plans for the first segment to run from Sept. 1 through Sept. 28, with the second segment running from Oct. 11 through Nov. 2. The third and final segment would start on Nov. 29 and continue until Jan. 6.
The third segment of dove season represents a change from recent years, moving the season forward by several weeks. Last year, the third segment of the dove hunting season began Dec. 19 and continued until Jan. 15.
The Fish & Wildlife Commission approved a recommendation from TWRA biologists to close the fall turkey hunting season in three Tennessee counties — Lawrence, Giles and Wayne. TWRA recommended the change as a study is being conducted to determine why the wild turkey population has declined in those three southern Middle Tennessee counties.