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Limited sandhill crane hunting approved by commission

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The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to approve the state’s first sandhill crane hunting season during its August meeting which concluded Friday.  
The inaugural season will be held From Nov. 28 through Jan. 1, 2014. It is more conservative than what is allowed by the USFWS.  
Hunting hours will be sunrise daily until to 3 p.m. There will be 400 permits available and each permit will carry a limit of three birds. Hunters receiving a permit will be required to pass a crane identification test before their permits become valid. Details of the drawing will be available at a later date.
After the establishment of the season was approved unanimously by the Wildlife Management Committee on Thursday, the full commission unanimously voted to approve the hunt during Friday’s meeting.
Concerning the other waterfowl seasons, the statewide season will open Thanksgiving Day and run for 60 days.
For late waterfowl seasons, the possession limit has been increased from two times the daily limit to three times the daily limit. This does not change the daily bag limit.
The TWRA’s Fisheries Division presented its proposed changes in the sport and commercial fishing regulations for 2014-15. The complete changes with comment period dates for both the sport and commercial fish regulation proposals will be available on Monday, Aug. 26.
The commission also voted to approve the TWRA’s budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.  
Special presentations on Friday included a resolution honoring Sen. Lamar Alexander for his support of the TWRA and the sportsmen and sportswomen of Tennessee. He was actively involved in helping prevent the permanent closing of access on tailwaters below dams on the Cumberland River system and helped gain the continuation of funding for federal fish hatcheries in Tennessee and Georgia.
Bill Swann III of the Chattanooga Chapter of the Safari Club International and Keith Watson of the Dunaway Hunting and Fishing Club of Dunlap presented a check of $4,000 to the TWRA to be used in the elk restoration project.
The commission will hold its next meeting Sept. 19-20 (Thursday-Friday) in Nashville at TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building. Committee meetings will begin at 1 p.m. on Sept. 19 and the formal session starts at 9 a.m. on Sept. 20.

TWRA leasing dove fields

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking fields to lease for the upcoming 2013 dove season. The first segment of dove season opens at noon on Sunday, Sept. 1.
Mourning doves are a popular game bird and one of the most widely distributed and abundant birds in North America. More mourning doves are harvested than all other migratory bird species combined in 39 of the continental states. In Tennessee, about 40,000 hunters harvested approximately 300,000 mourning doves last year.     
Landowners can earn up to $2,400 for providing a dove field for public hunting.  These fields must be available for a minimum of three priority hunt dates in September.  
TWRA began its leased dove field program in the late 1980s and the program has been very successful in providing quality hunting opportunities for hunters. In addition to leased fields, many public dove fields are provided on wildlife management areas in each TWRA region. The TWRA website has specific information about WMAs and leased dove fields in each region.  
The standard fall leased field is a harvested grain or millet/hay field to which TWRA leases the hunting rights for three priority dates. Rates paid to landowners for traditional fall leased fields will be $60 per acre for a maximum field size of 40 acres for a total contract of $2,400 per field. These fields will be signed up by Sept. 1.
Anyone interested in leasing a dove field to TWRA should contact their TWRA regional office (Upper Cumberland) at 931-484-9571 or toll free 1-800-262-6704.