The hunting season has ended and elk hunters in Tennessee took eight bull elk on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. This is the largest single-season elk harvest since Tennessee elk hunts began in 2009. It comes after the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission (TFWC) increased the number of bull elk hunting permits against the recommendation of TWRA staff biologists.
In May the TFWC voted to provide a total of 15 bull elk permits, up from 11 in previous years. They also increased the length of hunts from five days to seven days. TFWC is the 13-member, politically-appointed body that governs the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and sets all hunting and fishing regulations in the state.
Dist. 1 Wildlife Commissioner Chad Baker made the motion to increase the number of tags provided to seven archery tags, seven gun tags (one sold at auction) and one youth tag. Baker also proposed seven-day hunts versus five-day hunts.
Baker said, “Lets give the men and women in this state who fund this program more opportunity to take advantage of it.”
In spite of objections expressed by biologists and members of the public, the measure passed the TFWC unanimously by a voice vote.
The elk archery-hunt was the first segment held Sept. 30-Oct. 6 with three of the seven participants recording harvests, including Chattanooga hunter, Johnny Delaney. Reed Johnson from Manchester was this year’s recipient of the permit in the Young Sportsman Elk Hunt. The TFWC voted to allow a full week for the youth participant for the first time this year rather than a two-day weekend hunt. However, Reed only needed the first day on Oct. 7 to take a 4×4 elk that field dressed at 316 pounds.
The Oct. 14-20 gun hunt was open for seven participants with the option to use gun, muzzleloader, or archery equipment. TWRA reports, however, that one of the hunters selected in the draw did not participate due to a conflict.
Alabama resident Tim Fisk had the first harvest in the gun hunt. He took a 6×7 elk in Elk Hunt Zone 4 that weighed 702 pounds. He was the successful bidder of the permit that is annually presented to a non-governmental organization. Fisk paid $13,000 for his permit with the proceeds designated for the elk restoration program.
The second elk to be taken by a gun was killed by Gary Ownby (Clinton) on Oct. 16 in Elk Hunt Zone 7. This was the first elk taken from the Tackett Creek area. It had an antler size of 5×6, but no weight was measured.
Also taken on Oct. 16, was a 5×5 elk that weighed 510 pounds partially field dressed. Floyd Roach (Knoxville) made his harvest in Zone 1.
The final harvest came on the final day of 2017. Kimberly Mayfield (Etowah) recorded her harvest in the morning, taking a 6×6 elk with a field dressed weight of 625 pounds.
Since the first managed hunt in 2009, 41 elk have now been legally harvested. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has worked to make elk habitat improvements at North Cumberland WMA. The arrival of 50 animals came in December 2000, the first wild elk to be in Tennessee since they were last reported in Obion County in 1865.