The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission held a one-day march meeting on Friday, March 25 at the Buffalo Ridge Refuge in Humphreys County. The panel heard presentations about the refuge and several other current programs and future projects of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Buffalo Ridge comprises nearly 2,000 acres in the southern part of Humphreys County. Since becoming a TWRA safe haven in 2016, the area has been used as a center for outreach, education, learning, and TWRA’s Law Enforcement Training Academy. Future plans include adding a new education center and shooting ranges.
A report and invitation to attend the upcoming 2022 Tennessee National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Championships to be held March 31-April 1 at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro. The championships will be held at the facility for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic. Nearly 1,500 students including representatives from 80 schools compete in three divisions.
Tennessee launched the NASP in late 2004 with 12 pilot schools participating in the program. The number of schools has grown to over 600 now participating in the program. NASP is a 2 week school taught program that teaches international style target archery.
A presentation on the TWRA Honor Guard was given. The Honor Guard is represented statewide with 22 wildlife officers and wildlife managers. The honor guard renders services at funerals and ceremonies. The Honor Guard presented the colors at various sporting events such as the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators and participated in a ceremony at the National Fallen Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
TWRA’s effort to restore musk populations was discussed. An overview of restored populations, hatchery supported fisheries and the value of these fisheries was presented. There are now several muskellunge fisheries located in the Cumberland and Tennessee river basins.
Hellbenders have been in decline in Tennessee since the 1980s. Efforts to increase numbers have been discussed by TWRA’s Biodiversity Division. TWRA and its partners have participated in surveys to determine the current distribution and population numbers in the state. Due to the declines, a start-up program has been developed with the Nashville Zoo to augment populations where recruitment is not occurring. The primary habitat of Hellbenders is fast-flowing, highly oxygenated streams and rivers with large cap rocks.
TWRA has a fully certified dive team that performs multiple tasks for both the agency and its partners across the state. The dive team was formed in 1988 at the height of the commercial mussel industry to collect data to monitor mussel health. In the early 1990s, TWRA Environmental Services personnel began participating in the program
In 2011 TWRA implemented a scientific diving program and to date Tennessee is the only inland state with an OSHA compliant scientific diving program. TWRA’s diving standards are equivalent to those of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. All TWRA divers hold various certifications and the roster now has 19 divers.
The team assists in the investigation and recovery efforts both within TWRA and other agencies. The team also maintains water control structures.
Tennessee turkey season opener
Tennessee’s 2022 spring turkey hunting season opened in most parts of the state on Saturday, April 2.
In an effort to help the turkey population in specific areas, the season begins April 16 in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) unit (composed of Dyer, Lake, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Tipton counties) and Giles, Lawrence, Lincoln and Wayne counties in central Tennessee. The hunt for young sportsmen takes place on April 9 and 10 in these counties. The season ends May 15 in all areas of the state.
“The purpose of the delayed opening in the MAV unit and some counties in Middle Tennessee is to give the birds a chance to breed undisturbed,” said Roger Shields, Wild Turkey program coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Hopefully this will lead to better breeding and help increase the population in these areas of concern.”
This will be the third spring season for the turkey to “Tag Before You Drag,” where hunters tag their big game in the field before moving on. Hunters can use the TWRA On the Go app to simply electronically tag and report their harvest in the field in one easy step, with or without cellphone service, before heading out.
If you don’t have a phone, attach one of the temporary transport tags printed on the bottom of your permit this year and you have until midnight on harvest day, or before leaving the state, to register. your harvest online. at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com or at one of the many busy checkpoints. Temporary transport labels can also be obtained by logging in to GoOutdoorsTennessee.com.
One bearded turkey is allowed per day, not to exceed the spring season limit of three bearded turkeys (two birds in the MAV unit).
A hunting and fishing combination (Type 001), plus an additional big game license, or a sports license is required. To purchase a license online, go to https://www.gooutdoorstennessee.com/.
More information on the 2022 spring turkey season can be found in the 2021-22 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide is online at www.tnwildlife.org and available at TWRA offices and licensing agents.
Hunting times are 30 minutes before legal sunrise until legal sunset (times found based on your location in the TWRA On the Go app). Legal hunting equipment includes shotguns using ammunition loaded with #4 lead or smaller, longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows.
Firearms and archery equipment may have sighting devices, except for devices using artificial light capable of locating wildlife.