Enterprise South deer hunt begins; opponents try to block 2nd - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Enterprise South deer hunt begins; opponents try to block 2nd round

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Not fast enough for 'first in.' But within half an hour, he takes the first doe of the year's first deer hunt at Enterprise South's Nature Park.

"I've been over here for over a week every evening," Bowen tells Channel 3. "Walking out, setting up field cameras, keeping track of 'em, just doing my thing."

He's been doing his thing since BV: Before Volkswagen. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency began organized deer hunts at Enterprise South in 2005; 30 years after the old Army Ammunition Plant closed and hunters began stalking the grounds informally.

Since VW's arrival, the TWRA has confined the hunting grounds to what has become the Nature Park: 2800 acres adjoining the VW campus.

This year's hunts are October 10-11 and 24-25. Eighty hunters for each two-day period; drawn by lottery in July. Bow-only, two deer per hunter. The first deer taken must be a doe.

"We hope, over the four day hunts, to harvest about 50-60 deer," TWRA biologist Ben Layton. "But I'm expecting about 30 or 40."

Weather could be a major factor. Monday's warmer temperatures, and heavier foliage mean that the larger harvest could come in the second round of hunting.

"They don't even have to complete this round," Nature Park employee Joan Farrell says.

Farrell maintains that her group of neighbors and park users doesn't oppose hunting per se; rather that the TWRA hasn't made a case for it.

"How many deer are in the park, male and female," she asks. "How many turkeys? How many are optimally to be in the Park?"

"They could measure it by thermal imaging or distance sampling," she says. "They know how to do this. They are refusing to do this."

The group's attorney, Diane Dixon, will go before a committee of the Hamilton County Commission Wednesday afternoon, to try to stop the second round of hunting.

"Nothing in their (the County's) contract with TWRA requires a certain number of hunting days," Dixon tells Eyewitness News. "They can stop this completely."

"For deer management, we really don't need to have an absolute population estimate," Layton says. "Look at how much they've eaten. We're managing basically, based on how deer are affecting the habitat and how the people are being affected by the deer."

The picture will become clearer, as hunters check in and tag their kills.

"One of the first three does came in underweight," he says. "But that could be for a variety of reasons."

But Bill Bowen's doe, is prime.

What isn't on the table for Monday dinner, is going straight into his freezer.

He's back, to look for a buck.

"I look at it like this," he says. "I'd rather come in here, and take em out, than come over, and watch deer starve."

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