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Reelfoot Lake Duck Hunting
Tennessee Duck Hunting Report
FOWL FELLOWSHIP…DUCK SEASON OPENER FOSTERS FRIENDSHIPS
By Steve McCadams
Alarm clocks will sound off early Saturday morning for duck hunters
across Tennessee. The statewide season opens one half hour before
sunrise but most waterfowlers will be up and at ‘em long before the
official shooting time arrives.
It’s a sport that requires early wake-up calls, leaving the comfort
zones of warm beds and dry, temperature controlled environments and
treading around in the muck and mud where wet encounters await. Duck
hunting is not for the faint of heart!
So why do so many sportsmen of all ages pursue the web footed creatures
who always seem to hold a home court advantage?
Those who do not hunt aren’t likely to understand any reasonable
explanation. In fact, quite a few members of the non-hunting population
consider us to be nuts and a few degrees off plum! There are times I
have trouble questioning their opinions and judgmental views, especially
after a few wet days in the swamps where leaky boots, saturated
raingear, frozen feet or hands and no feathers to show peg the sanity
Yet there are times when sharing sunrises with friends and family or a
young retriever pup scanning the skies with those big “can’t wait to
swim” eyes helps answer the predawn call. Silhouettes of ducks and geese
rising from the roost, heading out to feeding areas or riding a cold
front that stimulated the phenomenon of migration.
Geese honk from the high heavens and a mallard drake’s unique quack
commands silence from the crew monitoring the lowlight conditions with a
stare toward slow sunrises and a cocked hear hoping to pinpoint his
From the musician comes the music. Duck calls pierce the waking
wonderland in hopes of fooling illusive waterfowl into a closer
proximity. Decoys bounce in the wind, their Judas display mimics a clan
of feeding friends inviting more to the locale.
Homra Guide Service
When ducks respond and descend from the upper levels with cupped wings
time seems to stand still. It is this moment when waterfowlers forget
all their troubles. The expense and distance of the journey are moot
points. Ducks downwind seem to right all wrongs.
Heartbeats thump far above the normal scale. Bone chilling conditions fade
to comfort and joy. Watching ducks work and circle over the decoy spread
with cautious observation that can easily spot irregular movement or
clumsy sounds makes for a special moment when it all comes together.
There is no pill to combat duck fever.
Deer hunters experience a similar high when a trophy buck trots toward
their stand and turkey hunters are also in a daze when that gobbler struts
his stuff, responding to the soft yelps from a camouflaged caller.
To appreciate the sport you just have to be there. Up close and personal.
Telling someone about it pales in comparison to the true experience of
that “on the front line” moment.
Seeing a Labrador retriever live up to his breeding reputation, tail
wagging with joy while returning to his master with a big fat mallard in
mouth adds another dimension to it. Watching the world wake up and all the
creatures stirring at first light. Friends making memories, swapping
sausage and biscuits and sipping coffee in-between stories of yesteryear
where old friends, dogs of days gone by, shot taken and shots missed are
resurrected with pinpoint accuracy.
Bagging birds is important but not always mandatory for a successful hunt.
Fellowship has no seasonal limitations. Yet once duck season opens it
seems to grow legs and take on an accelerated life of its on within the
confines of a duck blind.
While the sunrises are majestic all year long, there’s something about the
duck season opening that brings people together with a high level of
Call it a catalyst for conversation where those participating seem to gain
a better understanding and appreciation for nature, wildlife management
and all things big and small in God’s garden. Sometimes you just need to
get a little mud on your boots!
MILD WEATHER RETURNS
Volunteer State duck hunters were hoping for a brisk north wind and a cool
snap for the season opener. They won’t get it.
Mild fall weather is in the forecast this weekend as Tennessee’s 60-day
duck season opens Saturday for a two-day run. After a 5-day closure the
second segment kicks in on December 5 for a 58-day straight stretch,
ending on January 31, 2016.
The weatherman indicates duck and deer hunters may be outdoors this
weekend under rainy skies. Perhaps the most popular duck blinds and deer
stands will be the ones with a good roof on them.
Temperatures are expected to remain in the lower 60’s for a few days,
which isn’t exactly what waterfowlers were hoping for but opening day is
special regardless of what the weatherman delivers.
Sometimes it has been too cold for a few areas on opening day as shallow,
puddle water freezes easily so those hunting the backwater swamps or
shallow corn, rice or soybean fields with knee-deep water don’t want it to
be frigid. This year things are going their way for the opener.
Good water is now present for wildlife management areas across West
Tennessee after heavy rains last week inundated swamps, fields and all
lowland areas braced to trap and catch runoff. Prior to last week’s
downpours some were quite dry and praying for rain.
Duck numbers across the region are fair as the season opener arrives but
somewhat scattered as ample water has dispersed ducks. Several gadwalls,
widgeons, green-wing teal, shovelers and a few pintails and mallards are
here as part of the early influx that begins each fall in early November.
Several wood ducks have been seen in the bottoms as well. Since the rains
ducks have left much of the open water of Kentucky and Barkley Lakes and
headed to flooded bottoms such as West Sandy, Big Sandy, Gin Creek, Camden
and various drainage areas across West Tennessee such as the Obion, Forked
Deer and Hatchie.
Areas that were almost dry ten days ago and holding very few ducks now
have the lion’s share feeding and roosting in them. Ducks love to flock to
fresh water as it opens up new feeding and roosting zones.
Most of the public hunting areas under TWRA’s umbrella have been closed to
boat traffic and activity this week, paving the way for a good opener for
blinds located in these units.
Further west decent numbers of ducks have been reported this week in
Tigrett and Gooch wildlife management areas with numbers building around
White’s Lake and the Bogota area.
Meanwhile, waterfowlers will see a bag limit similar to last year which
allows six ducks daily. The bag may include no more than four mallards and
not more than two hens, three scaup, three woodies, two pintails, redheads
and canvasbacks with only one black duck allowed.
After season ends on the last day of January two special youth waterfowl
hunts will be held for kids 6-15 years of age on February 6 and again on
February 13, 2016.
For more details on regulations and license requirements pick up a copy of
TWRA’s Waterfowl Hunting Guide at local license agents or log onto
Here is a phone video clip from a Reelfoot Lake youth hunt..."Smokin
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