Youth waterfowl hunts a great time to get youngsters involved
Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 12:00 pm
By: By Brent Callicott
This year, the state of Tennessee decided to do something a little different for the two weekend youth waterfowl hunts. In the past few years, one youth hunt would be statewide for a Saturday and Sunday and then the next weekend would be a youth hunt only for the Reelfoot Lake zone for a Saturday and Sunday.
They decided to change that to the following:
There will be two juvenile hunts scheduled the next two Saturdays. This year, the youth waterfowl season has changed for the better in the Statewide Zone and Reelfoot Zone. They will be split into two one-day hunts on consecutive Saturdays, rather than a Saturday-Sunday format. The dates will be this Saturday and the following Saturday (Feb. 9) for youth ages 6-15.
Now, this hunt is for the youths only, no adults are supposed to be using a gun. This is also a great time to have several of the young hunters get together and hunt in the same blinds or introduce a youngster to waterfowl hunting who may have never been.
An adult at least 21 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into the field and must remain in a position to take control of the hunting device. The adult accompanying the young hunter may not hunt ducks but may participate in other open seasons. Geese, coots, gallinules, moorhens, and ducks, including pintails, may be taken by youths during Youth Waterfowl Season. WMAs with special closing times are open all day, each day of the Youth Waterfowl Season.
There is still a season or two open for the adult hunters.
Season dates for the closing of the Canada geese was last Sunday in the Statewide Zone. In the Northwest Zone, the Canadian Goose season will end Feb. 10. The daily bag limit is 3 per person. The number of days allowed for Canada goose hunting seasons has been extended by six days in each of the zones. The daily bag limit for Canada goose has also increased to three from two in all zones.
The white-fronted goose season runs statewide until Feb. 10. The daily bag limit is 2 per person. Season dates and bag limits for light geese (snow, blue, Ross) are similar to last season with a shift for the calendar. The standard season will run through Feb. 10, 2013 also (standard regulations apply). Federal Conservation Order provisions allow the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns for the Feb. 11 through March 10, 2013 portion of the season. The daily bag limit of light geese is 20 per person, per day during the conservation season.
Well, the 2012-13 Tennessee and Kentucky Duck season has basically come to a end for the exception of the two youth hunts the next two weekends. Overall, from those that I have talked with, this season might be rated fair at best. Some, very few at that, would say this has been a good season. There have been a hand full of blinds on Reelfoot Lake that had really good seasons and above average but most was fair to poor on Reelfoot and the surrounding area. Other parts of the West Tennessee and western Kentucky area, the season was very slow until the last 3 weeks of the season. Some hunting started picking up around Christmas with others the last two weeks of the season being decent.
Hunting in Missouri was decent and better in Arkansas. I was told during the season that Arkansas held the majority of the ducks in this part of the Mississippi Flyway.
Overall, the season was a letdown for many. So many things fall into the factor of why not many ducks were harvested by hunters, to many for me to mention. In my opinion, year in and year out, the overall amount of ducks just aren’t in the flyway. There are way more hunters now days, tons more refuges up and down the Mississippi Flyway than what it was just 20 years ago to keep waterfowl scattered about, budget cuts by different wildlife agencies up and down the flyway means less food, we had a dry fall and early winter which meant less water area wide til the last 2 weeks of the season.
Now the season is done and before you know it we will be talking about the 2013-14 season.
Water levels on Reelfoot Lake are the best they have been in months, since early last spring and rising still as you read this column. Mid-week rains sent more fresh water into the once low water Reelfoot Lake, which should now be in really good shape until the hot and humid weather arrives in June, July and August.
Water levels on Reelfoot Lake remain very good and came up several more inches with the midweek rains. Area-wide, we received from 2 to 3 inches with many locations in the 2.25 to 2.50 inch range. Then the cold weather followed once again.
Reelfoot now sits in the 282.95 feet above sea level range and may still be rising just a bit. Normal lake levels are 282.20 feet above sea level. All of this information is according to the USGS website. This is good because the lake is now full and will remain that way for several months going into the hot, summer season.
I went down to Gibson County Lake Monday. Didn’t have much luck but did do a lot of looking around. The lake remains very, very low but did come up a few feet from the heavy rains 3 weeks ago and will rise even more from this past rains at midweek. You can still get in the lake unloading and loading your boat but use the middle of the ramp and take it slow. Out from the ramp itself, it is only about a foot and a half deep in that general area so please use extreme caution. The water is slightly stained with the water temps in the lower 40s and that was with the warm up in air temps. Could have reached 45 to 47 degrees but has fallen back down due to the cold front that has invaded our area.
My good friend and BassMaster Elite Series Bass Professional Mark Menendez will be teaching bass fishing again this month. Menendez, a veteran professional angler and holder of a degree in fisheries biology from Murray State University, will conduct his 4th annual bass fishing class at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, Ky. The class will held on three consecutive Tuesday nights (Feb. 12, Feb. 19 and Feb. 26). The cost is $65, which includes lures. Call (270) 534-3335 for registration. If you want to learn from one of the best, sign up and car pool with your buddies; you will be glad you did.
Now is the time to make sure your boat is ready for the upcoming fishing seasons. Check your batteries, clean out things from last year that were left behind, grease you bearings on your boat trailer, pump grease in the fittings located in the motor area that helps for turning, change your lower unit oils, change spark plugs, replace your boat plug, make sure your live well works, your bilge pumps work, running lights are in working order, make sure your motor will crank but hook up to a water source before doing so, trailer lights, check all tow ropes and trailer tie down straps, a first aid kit and this is just some of the main things you need.
Also, make sure you have the following in your boat: a paddle, a fire extinguisher, a throw cushion, running lights, registration, fishing licenses, a flashlight.
News from the TWRA, all Tennessee K-12 students are invited to compete in the 2013 Federal Junior Stamp art competition. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency serves as a partner in the contest which is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Tennessee has been involved in the project since 1995. The Junior Duck Stamp Program is also a conservation program designed to teach children about waterfowl and the value of wetlands. The dividends for program participation have proven tremendous.
All entries for the Tennessee art competition are due on March 15, 2013. Click here to print the rules and entry form for this free competition. Please keep in mind two key rules. First, the species of waterfowl you draw must be a native North American duck, goose, or swan. Second, all entries must be drawn horizontally and be nine inches high by 12 inches wide.
Soon after the annual entry deadline, the artwork is judged by a panel of experts. The judges change each year, but the panel typically includes a combination of waterfowl biologists, artists, and natural resource professionals. The art is separated into four grade groups (K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12), and each group is judged independently. Once the first place winners for each group have been selected, they are viewed again to select a single Best of Show for the state.
You can send entries to the following address:
Tennessee National Wildlife
Attn: Joan Stevens
3006 Dinkins Lane
Paris, TN 38242
Other helpful web sites: www.fws.gov/tennesseerefuge/JrDuckStamp and www.fws.gov/duckstamps/junior/junior
We here at the Messenger would like to be able to share your photos, stories, or anything else that pertains to the outdoors by contacting me at 731-446-3678, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply drop by the Messenger office on Jackson Street in Union City.
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks. — Brent
Published in The Messenger 2.1.13