Sportsmen are reminded of changes made for the 2016-17 deer hunting seasons in Tennessee in regard to the definition of antlered deer.
An antlered deer is now defined as any male or female deer with an antler protruding above its hairline. An antlerless deer is now defined as any deer with no antler protruding above its hairline.
The new definition was established by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its season-setting meeting this past May. The definition is also listed with photo examples on page 23 of the 2016-17 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide as produced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Male fawns with no antler protruding above the hairline do not count toward a hunter's antlered bag limit, rather toward the hunter's antlerless bag limits. Deer having already shed their antlers and does without antlers are also considered antlerless.
Male fawns with an antler protruding above the hairline do count toward a hunter's antlered bag limit, since the deer does have antler(s) as opposed to hair covered pedicles (i.e., antler attachment point to the skull). Velvet antlered deer are also considered antlered.
The statewide archery season for deer is Sept. 24-Oct. 28. The first of two Young Sportsman hunts is Oct. 29-30. Archery season resumes Oct. 31-Nov. 4. Archery/muzzleloader season is Nov. 5-18.
Gun/muzzleloader/archery season has the traditional opening date of the Saturday before Thanksgiving which this year is Nov. 19. The season runs through Jan. 8, 2017. An antlerless hunt on private lands is Jan. 9-13 in Unit L counties only while the final Young Sportsman hunt is Jan. 14-15.
Anterless bag limits in archery season are three per day in Unit L while Unit A, B, C, and D have a bag limit of four. The antlered bag limit is two for the license year.
Unit C and D are new management units this year. Unit C includes Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Jefferson, Unicoi, Union, and Washington counties. Unit D includes the four counties of Blount, Monroe, Polk, and Sevier.
For the exact boundaries of the different deer units and license requirements, hunters can refer to the 2016-17 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide, available where hunting and fishing licenses are sold and at all TWRA offices. The guide can also be viewed at TWRA's website at www.tnwildlife.org.