- Most licenses are available from county clerks, sporting goods stores, hardware stores, boat docks, all Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency offices and from various other merchants. You also can order your license by phone by calling 888-814-TWRA or on the TWRA Web site, http://state.tn.us/twra/. You will need a credit card, and an additional $3.95 processing fee will be charged.
- Hunting/Fishing combination: $28
- Annual Sportsman (all-inclusive): $136
- Junior Hunt/Trap/Fish (ages 13-15): $8
There was a time when Tennessee was more than just Tennessee.
Enter the state on any of the major highways or interstates in the early 1970s and you were greeted by signs that read "Welcome to the three great states of Tennessee."
The billboard-sized signs were a hat-tip to the many differences between the eastern, middle and western portions of the state.
When Winfield Dunn was elected governor, he did away with the signs and the slogan to make Tennesseans feel more unified. But hunters and fishermen from Mountain City to Memphis know they were the truth.
Travel to West Tennessee and its duck hunting in the winter, deer hunting in the fall and a lot of bass and crappie fishing year-round.
The deer herd on the left side of the state is bigger than in the east. Ducks migrate in the west and simply pass through the east. The crappie and bass may be no bigger, but they sure seem more abundant.
But in the game of East vs. West, this side of the state has a few cards of its own to play.
If you want to fish for trout, East Tennessee is known worldwide as home to some of the best and most diverse trout fishing in the U.S. Just a few minutes drive from Knoxville is the tail-race fisheries below Norris and Cherokee dams or the brook trout fishery in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Big-fish fishermen flock to Norris and Watts Bar lakes to take advantage of some of the state's best striped bass. Norris, for many years king of the striper lakes, is in the fifth year of a recovery from a striper die-off and is on its way to returning to elite status.
Thanks to a regulation change, Fort Loudoun and Watts Bar lakes boast some of the state's most consistent smallmouth fishing.
Hunters in East Tennessee may not find the numbers of ducks or deer that are on the other side of the Cumberland Plateau, but the trump card here is black bears.
Bear hunting is allowed in 12 East Tennessee counties, Blount and Sevier being the closest to Knoxville. Once thought to be endangered in East Tennessee, bear numbers have rebounded to the point where hunters killed a record 446 in 2008.
In fact, biologists with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are hoping increased hunting opportunities will limit the growing population. While bear hunting is not allowed in Knox County, it's no longer unusual to see wandering bears moving through the county in the spring and summer.
Knox County, which was closed to deer hunting until the late 1980s, also set a county record in 2008 with 695 deer killed by hunters. Increased antlerless deer hunting opportunities that were introduced this past season are expected to become the norm.
Bob Hodge may be reached at 865-342-6314.
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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