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Early Wood Duck Season Prevails
by Steve McCadams

Waterfowlers in Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida came close to loosing the early wood duck season again this year. It's been labeled by the U. S Fish and Wildlife Service as a "experimental season" but it has been underway for twenty years.

Tennessee's wood duck hunters will be thrilled to know that their late summer tradition of early wood duck hunting will continue this year and apparently for years to come, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

"We recently got word from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that there is no longer an effort being made to halt the early wood duck season," said Steve Patrick, the manager of TWRA's Region II office. "Our understanding is that the Service has decided to indefinitely leave that season intact."

The season is set this year for September 8-12. Hunters will also be allowed to bag teal during the early season. The bag limit will remain the same as always, with hunters allowed up to four birds, but no more than a two wood ducks per day.

The U.S. Fish Wildlife Service establishes season guidelines for migratory birds, including wood ducks. Three years the federal agency announced that Tennessee would no longer be allowed to have an early wood duck season starting in 2001.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service felt like TWRA didn't have enough data to prove that the wood duck population was healthy enough to justify an early season," explained Patrick. "Tennessee is only one of three states allowed to have a September wood duck hunt and that began as an experiment about two decades ago."

The TWRA disagreed with the Wildlife Service and argued that point vehemently with Fish and Wildlife officials. "I think between the points that the TWRA made in discussions with federal biologists and an effort by sportsmen to let the Service know that they wanted to keep this season is what ultimately allowed us to continue this tradition," noted Patrick.

Steve McCadams
  is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area and host of The Outdoor Channel's television series  IN-PURSUIT. 




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