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Reelfoot Lake Duck Hunting
Tennessee Duck Hunting Report
YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNTS ARRIVE
By Steve McCadams
Although the statewide duck season ended last Sunday at sunset
youngsters falling in the age bracket of 6-15 years of age have two more
days to call their own.
Each year Tennessee allows two Youth Waterfowl Hunts after the regular
season closes. The first of those occurs Saturday. The next one will be
the following Saturday, which is February 10.
An adult at least 21 years of age must accompany the young hunters and
multiple youths may be accompanied by a single adult. Adults may not
hunt ducks but can take geese according to TWRA regulations.
Wildlife Management Areas will be open all day during both Youth
Waterfowl Hunts. For additional details log on to www.tnwildlife.org or
refer to the Tennessee Waterfowl Hunting Guide color brochure available
at local license agents.
HOME STRETCH FOR WORM OUT DUCK HUNTERS
Ducks fly south when itís cold and it sure fit that description these
last few weeks! In fact, it was too cold at times.
An Aerial survey flown at Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge last Friday
was the first one taken in quite a spell. Waterfowlers across the region
have been yearning to see updates for the last six weeks as the
statewide duck season ends Sunday, January 28.
recent survey showed a big increase of waterfowl on the refuge in the
aftermath of the long cold spell. Unfortunately, most hunters around the
region were victims of snow and ice and didnít get the benefit of the
migration in the Kentucky Lake region.
have gotten a little reprieve this week as season winds down. A few
shallow water areas have thawed enough to allow access back to blinds
that had been frozen out for weeks. However, there was still ice present
in many backwater swamps as of Tuesday.
lasted so long that some backwater areas and shallow fields had ice as
thick as three inches or more! Thatís takes quite some time to thaw.
For most weary waterfowlers it has been a tough second half of season.
When you cannot even get to your blind because of ice and snow itís sort
of insult to injury. A lot of hunters have already thrown in the towel,
cutting their losses and hoping next year is a bit more cooperative.
Homra Guide Service
As to the survey
ducks on the three units of the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge were
estimated to be at 271,539! Thatís above average for this time of year.
Compared to the 5-year average ducks were up 71 percent. When compared
to the 20-year average the numbers were 79 percent ahead of the norm.
And, present numbers were up 56 percent ahead of last year at this same
time to put the waterfowl scene on the refuge into perspective.
the pack as to species were mallards at 188,502, followed by gadwall at
33,195. In third place of the specie rankings were pintails at 17,960
followed by greenwing teal at 9,030. Round out the top give species were
ringnecks at 8,190.
A breakdown between the three units showed Duck River holding the lionís
share of ducks and geese and far out of proportion to the Big Sandy
unit. Duck River had 234,295 ducks compared to a mere 5,460 on the
The Big Sandy unit didnít have but 31,784 ducks on it out of the 271,539
refuge total! That may speak to why the hunting has been off here in the
Paris area for most worn out duck hunters.
There were 61 eagles observed in the aerial count too. The colder
weather no doubt had an influence on them too pushing more down south to
find open water and accessible food as the eagle often follow the
waterfowl migration as well.
Numbers of geese also increased on the refuge. The estimate was 9,456,
which is up over the last few years with almost half of the estimate
comprise of either snow geese or white fronted species. There were 3,040
white fronted geese and 1,530 snow geese on the three units of the
With the season hitting the home stretch this week it appears mild
weather is in the forecast so at least hunters wonít have to battle ice
on the final weekend of season.
Meanwhile, young duck hunters ages 6-15 years of age will have two
separate Saturdays to extend their season during the Youth Waterfowl
Hunts. Dates of those hunts are February 3 and again on February 10.
BAITING VIOLATION DIMS DUCK OPENER AT BIG SANDY WMA
Opening weekend of the stateside duck season was a good one for some, fair
for others and downright awful for a few. Thatís usually the way it goes
across the region once season kicks in as there are always the have and
Mild weather greeting waterfowlers last weekend and has lingered ever
since with above average temperatures, sunny days and light winds
dominating the weather scene. Temps have been in the upper 50ís and low
60ís this week and are expected to last through the second season opener
this Saturday, which isnít what duck hunters wanted to hear.
The extended stretch of mild weather hasnít stimulated any migration so
duck numbers across the region havenít increased much lately since the
initial early push of late fall.
For some hunters at Big Sandy wildlife management area it was a bitter
opening weekend. Law enforcement officials with Tennessee Wildlife
Resources Agency and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service closed several prime
blinds in the public hunt area after an alert of baiting.
As a result, law enforcement has closed a sector of the WMA until further
notice. Popular blinds numbers in the unit closed to hunting are numbers
5, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
Itís a very unfortunate situation for several blinds who may be innocent
of the violation yet still in the flyway of a baited area under USFWS
guidelines. After all bait is removed the law stipulates the area much be
closed for up to ten days.
The scenario is still under investigation by state and federal agencies.
Meanwhile, other popular public hunt areas such as Camden bottoms, Gin
Creek, West Sandy and Dover bottoms reported fair opening day hunts with
duck diminishing on the second day. A few blinds in West Sandy took limits
of various species but mallard numbers were down.
Gin Creek hunters took several wood ducks and a few ringnecks. Camden
bottom blinds took a mixed bag as well ranging from gadwalls to ringneck,
greenwing teal, canvasbacks and a few mallards and diver species.
The open waters of Kentucky Lake were again without the support of aquatic
vegetation in the shallow bays and flats this year. Without the aquatic
grassbeds the early arriving species such as greenwing teal, gadwall and
mallards have little reason to frequent the area.
Also down were diver species such as less scaup, bufflehead and ringhecks.
As a result the open water shooting was below average.
Further west hunters fared better as the extreme western portion of the
state around Dyersburg and the Whiteís Lake area caught early water from
heavy rains a few weeks ago and were holding good numbers of mallards.
Last year at this time many areas there were in need of water but this
year it was a different story and the sector got off to a good start.
The second segment of season open Saturday for a 58-day straight stretch,
offering waterfowlers a wide window of opportunity all the way through
January 28, 2018.
WATERFOWL COMMENT DEADLINE
The Nov. 30 deadline is approaching to submit comments to the Tennessee
Wildlife Resources Agency for the 2018-19 waterfowl and other migratory
bird hunting regulations, including sandhill cranes. The comment period is
an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about
hunting regulations with TWRA staff.
Due to changes in the timing of the federal regulation process, waterfowl
and other migratory game bird hunting seasons are now proposed to the
Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its January meeting and voted
upon at its February meeting.
Public comments will be considered by TWRAís Wildlife Division staff and
may be presented as proposals for regulation changes. Comments may be
submitted by mail to: 2018-19 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife and
Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to
email@example.com. Please include ďWaterfowl Season CommentsĒ on
the subject line of emailed submissions.
Here is a phone video clip from a Reelfoot Lake youth hunt..."Smokin
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