District Digest News Stories

Middle Tennessee Youth Help Manage Deer Population on Public Land

USACE Nashville District
Published Dec. 4, 2018
Eli and Randy Randolph don blaze orange, a crossbow, and backpack of gear as they hike to their staked-out hunting location in Carthage, Tenn., Dec. 1, 2018.  (USACE photo by Ashley Webster)

Eli and Randy Randolph don blaze orange, a crossbow, and backpack of gear as they hike to their staked-out hunting location in Carthage, Tenn., Dec. 1, 2018.

CARTHAGE, Tenn. (Dec. 4, 2018) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District staff at Cordell Hull Lake held the project’s annual youth deer hunt Dec. 1-2 at Defeated Creek and Tailwater Recreation Areas. 

 “The youth deer management hunt derived from the overpopulation of white tailed deer in our two recreation areas,” said Park Ranger Kenny Claywell, biologist at the lake.  “As a result of the large concentration of deer, we looked at ways to better manage the deer herd.”

Defeated Creek Recreation area alone receives over 100,000 visitors a year.  The high population of deer, mixed with the number vehicles traveling the single road entrance has produced an occasional issue over the years.  The ranger staff has witnessed up to 50 different deer during patrols of Defeated Creek Recreation Area.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has been a founding partner since the organized hunt began in 2010.  Every year, Smith County Wildlife Enforcement Officer Bob Lowery speaks to the group three weeks prior to the hunt where he provides safety instructions, confirms mentor and youth hunter education certificates, and explains how the hunting efforts fall within wildlife and resource management.

The Corps of Engineers organize the required prehunt meeting to assign the kids to their hunting locations, review safety measures, and explain the logistics for the two-hunting days.

The 10 youth hunters, ages 10 to 16, and their mentors stepped onto public land as early as 5 a.m.  Despite the official sunrise taking place at 6:36 a.m., early entry allowed the youth and their mentors to get acclimated to the dark and allow the area to be quiet before sunrise.

The first shot rang out at approximately 6:30 a.m. on the first day of hunting and led to a single doe being harvested by Anna Gatlin.

“Today we were able to get a deer within 30 minutes and was definitely worth attending,” Gatlin said. “Usually a hunter would have to enter the woods well in advance.  Then we would have to be really patient and wait a couple of hours.”

The Cordell Hull Resource Management Office provided lunch, which gave hunters the opportunity to dry off from the wet weather and build relationships with peers who share the same love for the great outdoors and hunting.  A local hunting club affiliated with Smith County High School, Timberloft restaurant, and Walmart sponsored the food.  Randall Smith, advisor of the Smith County Hunting Club, prepared the food for the participants.

 “The organized hunt is great for young hunters to get out and get used to the experience of hunting.  When they get older, they are going to take their kids, and hopefully remember this event,” Gatlin said.

Every participant left the two-day hunt with a token to commemorate their stewardship efforts with the overpopulation of deer.  Some contributing partnerships locally and from surrounding counties were Smith County Hardware, Wildwood Resort and Marina, French’s Shoes, and Outdoor Junction.  Claywell thanks all the sponsors and their contributions.  Without their support this event may not be as impacting and memorable for the youth and mentors.

“The hunt not only stewards a love for the great outdoors, but also offers a great occasion for the hunters and their mentors to spend the day together,” said Mark Herd, Cordell Hull Lake Natural Resource manager.  “The hunters made an impact to next season’s population.  The eight deer harvested this weekend could have birthed up to fourteen offspring depending on their maturity.”  

Next year’s hunt is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend in December.   For more information follow us at www.facebook.com/cordellhulllake or contact the Cordell Hull Lake Natural Resource Management office at 615-735-1034.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, http://www.facebook.com/cordellhulllake, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)