Fall turkey reports not promising

Fall turkey season is underway.

Fall turkeys flounder: Tennessee's once-popular fall turkey season opened virtually unnoticed on Oct. 12 and runs through Oct. 25, and reports are not promising.

Some veteran hunters say they are seeing few, if any, birds, and others say they are not even bothering to hunt because of shrinking flocks.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, as part of its effort to restore declining populations -- including some parts of Wilson County -- put hens off-limits in the fall season.

At one time as many as six hens could be killed during the fall in most Middle Tennessee Counties. Theoretically, one hunter with access to several counties could kill several dozen hens -- leaving fewer to nest in the spring. Hens have always been protected during the spring season.

The situation became so dire in some counties such as Giles -- in which turkeys were once abundant -- that the fall season was discontinued.

The TWRA is trying to determine the cause of the decline. There are several theories, but so far biologists have come up with no specific cause, or combinations of causes.

So far the traditional spring season limit of four bearded birds has not changed.

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Top shots: Gerald Steyer and Kerry Hale both shot perfect rounds of 50 to share top honors in last week's trap shoot at the Cedar City Gun Club.

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Tree grants: The TWRA is offering $500 tree-planting grants to individuals and community groups. For information about how to apply for the grants, visit tnwildlife.org.

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Hunters for Hungry: With deer season underway, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation asks hunters to donate some of their venison to Hunters for the Hungry.

The processed venison is distributed to the state's needy, through various charitable organizations such as Second Harvest and church groups.

Information about how to donate a deer or how to apply for the processed venison is available on the TWF website.

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CWD monitoring: the TWRA reminds hunters who kill deer or elk out-of-state about new import restrictions, as part of an ongoing battle to curtail Chronic Wasting Disease. Details are available in the Tennessee Hunting Guide and at twwildlife.org.

Deer killed in Tennessee's newly-designated Chronic Wasting Disease zone are inspected for symptoms of the deadly disease. Since the first case of CWD was diagnosed last winter, 197 more positives have been detected.

So far CWD is confined to a few West Tennessee counties, but biologists fear the highly contagious disease will gradually spread.

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Youth hunt: The 30 successful applicants for the TWRA's upcoming youth hunt will be notified this week. The hunt is Oct. 26 in Humphries County.

The hunt is held annually for youngsters who have never harvested a deer. Last year 18 of the young hunters were successful.

PHOTOS WELCOME: Caught a big bass or bagged a buck? Share your favorite outdoors photos with readers of The Lebanon Democrat by emailing them to areed@lebanondemocrat.com.

Larry Woody is The Democrat's outdoors writer. Email him at larrywoody@gmail.com.

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