Turnout and harvest were low on the first deer hunt of the year at the Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area on Suck Creek Mountain.
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency online records, only three deer were taken on the archery-only hunt from Sept. 15-17. The hunt had a 500-hunter quota; however, area manager Clint Smith said there was an extremely low turnout. Hunters do not have to check in, but Smith said he estimated that only half of the 500 hunters showed up during the hunt.
The youngsters on the Hiwassee Refuge, using shotguns or muzzleloaders, were more successful. One hundred youngsters had permits to deer hunt the 2,500-acre area, and a total of 10 deer were taken. Only limited hunting is allowed on the small area to keep the deer herd from becoming overpopulated.
The regular statewide Tennessee deer season for archery hunters only opens Saturday. The season dates are Sept. 22-Oct. 26 and Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
The antlerless deer bag limits by units are four in Units A and B deer management areas and three per day in Unit L areas. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission approved the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s proposal to increase the antlerless archery season bag limit in Unit B to four deer per season at its 2012-13 seasons-setting meeting in May.
The antlered deer bag limit is a total of three for the year. A hunter may take his or her three antlered deer during any season, but no more than one per day. In addition to deer, archers may harvest wild turkeys of either sex during the archery-only deer season in counties that have a fall turkey gun hunt. Turkeys harvested during the archery-only deer season count toward the fall turkey county bag limits. (A list of counties and their bag limits are located on page 32 of the 2012 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide.)
During the opening weekend of the 2011 deer archery-only season, 2,811 were harvested, an increase of 407 from 2010. All 95 counties reported harvests during last year’s opening weekend.
Remember that any hunter born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the apprentice hunting license (along with other required licenses).
Richard Simms is a contributing writer, focusing on outdoor sports.