Deer hunt concludes at Enterprise South; more to come?
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- By luck of the draw, Scott Wheeler bagged an opportunity to take deer by bow in the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's second weekday hunting session at the Enterprise South Nature Park this month.
He cut his trip short Tuesday; taking a five-and-a-half year old, 100 pound doe.
"We hadn't seen no bucks in two days," he says. "The temperatures are getting hot, but it was a productive day."
But if this day goes down as the final hunt at Enterprise South?
"The sportsmen would be losing a lot," Wheeler says. "Our license fees, help pay for the deer. the game wardens, the rangers and stuff."
"If the deer herd is left unchecked, they're going to grossly overpopulate," TWRA biologist Ben Layton says.
Layton seems even more confident of that as the hunts end, though the TWRA hasn't head-counted the herds here.
"I was expecting them to be a little bigger," says Carl Ellis, whose taking a 75-pound, field-dressed doe back home to Cocke County.
"They seem to be not in as good a shape as they should be, because of the lack of acorns," Layton says.
Opponents vow to continue the fight to halt such hunts, even though they lost a motion for a temporary restraining order in Hamilton County Chancery Court Monday.
"I don't think people realize we don't do this for fun," plaintiff Joan Farrell says. "It's costly."
"We'll do something," attorney Diane Dixon says. "We're not just going to walk away."
Nor, it seems, will the TWRA. Agency attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss Farrell's lawsuit, citing sovereign immunity.
Tuesday, the City of Chattanooga filed a dismissal motion on grounds that Farrell had no standing to sue.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, hunters were on track to take more than forty deer, over the course of four days and two lot-drawn hunts.
"I expect we'll probably recommend some sort of hunt for next year," Layton says. "It may not be the same as what we had this year."
The TWRA spread the hunts at Enterprise South over four days; October 10-11 and 24-25; and drew eighty names for each from among licensed archery hunters who applied this summer.
Each hunter was allowed to take two deer and one wild turkey. But the first deer taken must be a doe.
Wheeler believes the compromise worked.
"We're not putting the park patrons out," he says. "Most of their busiest days are the weekends. Mondays and Tuesdays are quiet.
The bigger picture, he maintains, is controlling the herd.
"There's deer lying by the roads where we've been hit," he says. "We saw two this week. As long as we can all get along with it, so there's less impact on everybody, the better."