Deer Forecast-South

President's Island

The new President's Island WMA in the city limits of Memphis may provide the best opportunity for a trophy Tennessee whitetail. Formally opened in April, it was closed to the public for years but was a favorite hangout for poachers. A limited number of permits will be issued via a draw for archery-only hunting as Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) officials study how to manage the population. "President's Island has some excellent bucks and a good, older age-class structure," says Ben Layton, TWRA big-game project coordinator. "The city requires it to be archery-only, so that may hinder some of the antlerless harvest, but we would rather proceed slowly than have to back up on a management plan later." Hunters will find two statewide zones this year, instead of three. This should reduce confusion about limits and season dates. There are 90 WMAs and refuges ranging in size from 88 to 625,000 acres. The massive Land Between the Lakes in northwestern Tennessee receives a lot of pressure but offers secluded areas for hunters willing to get off the beaten path. Fort Campbell Military Reservation also has a good age-class structure, Layton says. The second-highest harvest on record, 155,523 deer, was recorded last season from a population of about 990,000. Layton expects a bump in the harvest of 5,000 to 10,000 this season. The limit is three antlered bucks, and no more than two may be taken per weapon type. Bonus quota hunts are held on some WMAs. Layton says the sprawling metropolitan Nashville area of Davidson and Williamson counties also offers good hunting.