Watch for field bait

Friday, September 14, 2001 at 1:00am

If you're a dove hunter, it's always a good idea to check any dove field before hunting to make sure it is not baited illegally.

The responsibility of every hunter is to be certain that he or she is not hunting over a baited field.

How does a hunter know whether or not the field is baited? The key to determining whether or not a field is legal is whether bona fide agricultural practices have been employed.

If corn, milo, wheat, or some other grain crop has been planted and harvested in a normal manner, it is perfectly legal to hunt. However, if cracked corn, wheat, or some other grain has been poured on the ground in big piles, that is not a bona fide agricultural practice and would be illegally baited.

Every hunter should check the field before beginning a dove hunt, if a field has been freshly disked and has a large concentration of doves; check to see what type of grain is attracting the doves.

If there is cracked corn, soybeans, sunflower seeds, or other grain, and no evidence that those grains are simply typical remains from harvesting the crop that was grown there in the field, it is best to leave.

If grain is present along with crop stubble that makes it apparent the crop was harvested from that field, it is legal.

Wheat is sown at this time of year in Tennessee as a standard agricultural practice, so if a hunter checks a field, which has been disked and sown with wheat, it may be legal. But the wheat must be evenly distributed, not sown more than one tome in a the same area, and cannot exceed a normal planting rate.

If the wheat is in piles or deep strips, it is illegal. If there is an excessive amount of wheat, even through it is evenly distributed, it is illegal.

Know the landowner and make sure that they comply with wildlife regulations.

Remember, an area is considered baited even ten days after all the bait has been removed. This regulation is to protect the doves, because they will continue to come back to a baited field for up to two weeks after the bait has been removed.

If you have any doubt that a field may be illegally baited, the best thing to do is leave the area and contact the TWRA.

2001-02 Hunting seasons

Tennessee's early goose season is underway and will continue through Saturday, with the daily bag limit three geese.

When the early goose season shuts down, the opening of archery season for deer hunters will begin. Bowhunters will be pulling strings beginning Sept. 22, and continue through Nov 2. Bowhunting will re-open on Nov. 12, close Nov. 16, and the last segment for bowhunting only starts Dec. 10-14.

Here's the schedule for the 2001-02 waterfowl season in Tennessee:

Early goose season in Middle Tennessee opened on Sept. 1, and as I pointed out will close Saturday.

Duck season will kick off first over in Northwest Tennessee on Reelfoot Lake, where hunters will take to duck blinds on Nov.17-18, shut down and re-open on Dec. 1 and continue through Jan 18. A canvasback only hunt will be held on Reelfoot lake Dec. 12 through Jan 31, with the bag limit six ducks which may not include more than four mallards...no more than two of which may be females, one black duck, one pintail, three scaup, two redheads, and one canvasback.

The statewide waterfowl season for duck hunters begins Dec. 1 and shuts down on Dec. 3, re-opens on Dec. 15 and continues through Jan 31. The canvasback only season kicks off on Jan 12 and runs until Jan. 31. The bag limit is the same as Reelfoot Lake's.

A Youth Only Hunt is scheduled for Feb. 9-10 for hunters 15 years of age or younger. An adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into the field. The adult cannot hunt. The bag limit is the same as those on other waterfowl areas.

As for the goose season, white-fronted season begins Nov. 22 and runs through Feb. 15. Bag limit is two (2) per day. Canada goose season is set for Oct. 6-14, Dec. 1 through Jan 31.

Kentucky/Barkley Zone waterfowl hunting begins Dec. 13 and continues through Jan 31. Bag limit, blue and snow geese 20 daily; Canada geese, two daily.

Good hunting!

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