The participants in the 2022 Tennessee elk hunt and the grand prize winners of the Tennessee Conservation Raffle were announced Friday during the August meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission held at the Edgewater Conference Center.
The outcome of the meeting with the most relevance to Benton County was regarding the proposed 900-acre waterfowl refuge on Big Sandy Wildlife Management Area. A public comment period has been underway since June 4 and to date, 21 comments have been submitted with 11 against, eight four, and two neutral in regard to the proposal. It was decided to table the proposal and evaluate this area throughout the next hunting season and discuss management options at that point.
Winners of the 14 drawn permits to hunt elk on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area or private lands within the Elk Restoration Zone were announced by TWRA Elk Program Coordinator Brad Miller. A total of 11,143 people registered for the opportunity to participate in this year’s elk quota hunts, in line with 2021 and up 1,540 from 2020. A total of 368 applied for the youth hunt.
Tennessee began its elk hunt in 2009 with the participants randomly selected from a computer draw. Selected for the archery only hunt to be held Sept. 24-30 were Cody Deese (Clarksville), Preston Rouse (Knoxville), Brian Cowan (Portland), Gary Ward (Jacksboro), James Kelly (Spring Hill), and Richard Britt (Signal Mountain).
One youth permit is award for a participant between the ages of 13-16 for the Oct. 1-7 hunt. This year’s youth tag permit winner is Garrett Ballard (Atoka).
Six permits were announced for the Oct. 8-14 hunt where participants will have the option to use archery, gun, or muzzleloader. The winners of those permits were James Chambers (Chattanooga), Gregory Cooper (Savannah), Maya Stewart (Atoka), Randy Dodd (Humboldt), Michael Hurd (Mount Carmel), and David Seal (Jacksonville, Fla.).
Joey Woodard, Executive Director of TWRF, reported on this year’s raffle and announced the 10 grand prize winners. The first person drawn with first choice in prize selection was John Brink (Decatur, Ala.). He was followed by Greg Stephenson (Cookeville), Jeffery Sole (Frankfort, Ky.), Timothy Hix (Shelbyville), David Swartz (Liberty), Leon Majcen (Nashville), David Campbell (Old Hickory), Travis McNabb (Burns), Stephen Moody (Franklin), and John Baker (Kingsport). An additional 100 people will receive a hunting knife.
In the order drawn, the winners have their choice of prizes. This year’s raffle is also highlighted by a $50,000 voucher which can be applied to a new vehicle from any Mid-South Ford dealership. Other packages include an elk tag for the Tennessee Premier Elk Zone, a deer hunt on Presidents Island; a Tracker boat, a UTV, turkey hunting package; waterfowl hunting package, a $5,000 Academy + Sports Outdoors gift card, a Best of the West precision long-range shooting package, and Tennessee Heritage hunting package. An additional 100 winners will receive a knife.
The raffle totals were similar to last year with 26,000 orders received resulting in 170,000 tickets sold for more than $1.8 million. Proceeds from the raffle support habitat restoration efforts.
In other items at the meeting, a proclamation was made to name Tennessee’s annual free fishing day “Bobby Wilson Free Fishing Day,” in honor of retiring TWRA Executive Director Boddy Wilson. Wilson was a long – time member of the Fisheries Division, and was serving as Fisheries Chief, before becoming TWRA Deputy Director, and then Executive Director in 2020.
Outgoing TFWC Commissioner and Chairman Jim Ripley was also honored. A Kodak resident, Commissioner Ripley resigned his commission position after being elected as a chancery court judge in East Tennessee.
TWRA Executive Director Jason Maxedon introduced new staff additions, appointments, and the executive leadership team. An overview of the TWRA’s 2023-24 budget was also presented and approved by the Commission.