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Commission will set Tennessee hunt dates May 20-21

From the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission

-- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission will vote to approve the 2009-10 state hunting seasons during its meeting May 20-21.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency presented its proposals for the 2009-10 hunting seasons at the April meeting of the TWRC. Although there are few changes to the big game seasons, there was a substantial change proposed to the white-tailed deer season dates.

TWRA is recommending unifying the two muzzleloader segments by bringing the December segment forward and attaching it to the tail end of the November segment. This creates a continuous 14-day muzzleloader season that runs right up to the opening day of gun season.

With the proposals, no traditional opening dates are changed and no season will gain or lose any days. TWRA officials say it allows all hunters to hunt the peak of the rut with a muzzleloader or archery equipment if they so choose.

A continuous 12-day fall turkey season would be created which appears to be a very popular move among surveyed hunters.

What appears to be the biggest increase in opportunity is that Unit B hunters will now follow the same season dates as Units A and L. This proposal means that there would be no more closed days in the middle of deer season for East Tennessee hunters.

Besides the season date shift, the TWRA is recommending a flat statewide three buck limit, eliminating the two buck restriction in Unit B. Data presented confirms the fact that so few hunters harvest multiple bucks that there is no need for tighter restrictions. It was also noted that there was no change in the harvested age-structure in Unit B after four years of the two-buck limit.

The TWRA also has adjusted antlerless opportunities in several counties. West Tennessee saw a number of counties increase their antlerless opportunities while a few Cumberland Plateau counties pulled back their antlerless opportunities due to concern for the herd.

In bear and boar seasons, there were no changes recommended from last year's record-setting season other than moving the Nov. 16 dog hunt up two weeks to Nov. 2 to reduce potential conflict between bear hunters and deer hunters.

Turkey recommendations were also minimal. Other than creating the 12-day fall turkey season, Dec. 7-18, a few counties saw increases in their fall turkey quotas. There were no recommended changes to the 2010 spring turkey season.

TWRA is making a strong push to unify WMA seasons across the state. Many WMAs were opened to statewide seasons with few restrictions.

Don King, Chief of Information and Education Division, will introduce a video presentation highlighting the late April sturgeon release into the Cumberland River near downtown Nashville. Boating Education Coordinator Betsy Woods will make a presentation on the Wear It! Tennessee campaign. Other reports will include legislative and real estate updates.

The public is invited to attend committee meetings at 1 p.m. on May 20, and the regular TWRC meeting at 9 a.m. on May 21.

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