This page brought to you by:
Reelfoot Lake Duck Hunting
Tennessee Duck Hunting Report
FINAL YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNT
Youngsters ages 6-15 years of age get another crack at duck and goose
hunting Saturday as the final Youth Waterfowl Hunt arrives. The kids got
to hunt last Saturday as well.
Each year two days are set aside for the special Youth Waterfowl Hunt
and this year those days were separated by a one week closure, allowing
the hunts to take place on two different Saturdays after the regular
MEDIOCRE DUCK SEASON FOR MOST…NUMBERS BELOW AVERAGE
By Steve McCadams
It was supposed to be a banner fall flight of ducks as news from the
breeding grounds last summer showed an above average hatch. Several
species were above their long-term average when brood surveys were taken
by biologists with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian
When news from the prairie pothole region of Canada and the Dakotas
showed a wet spring and good habitat enhanced nesting efforts the stars
were once again in line for a liberal daily bag limit and a long 60-day
duck season for the flyway states.
Hunters were pumped. There was reason for optimism.
All hunters know weather is the big factor as it influences when ducks
fly and also where they go. Other factors enter the equation too such as
rainfall or lack thereof. Flooding can scatter ducks at times but it
also helps backwater and lowlands areas for some mobile hunters who
follow the water and the ducks as they wade or use boat blinds and other
Homra Guide Service
Cold weather is always on the
minds of duck hunters as they thrive when north winds gust, dropping
temperatures while raising the interest level as new ducks migrate
south. Too warm and the ducks sit around fat and sassy; too cold and ice
enters the picture, adding another hurdle.
Tennessee’s statewide season ended last Sunday and for most it was
mediocre while a few had a downright poor one. There were a few---and
there always are---that were above the curve and enjoyed a decent year
bagging sufficient numbers. They were in the minority.
Duck numbers here in the Kentucky Lake area were pretty good back in mid
to late November and this year’s early weekend opener November 22-23 was
the beneficiary of some unusual early cold weather that pushed good
After a good opening weekend across the region and a decent second season
opener the honeymoon ended early. December was mild with a lot of days
favorable to winter fishing but not too suitable to waterfowlers yearning
for wind and cold fronts.
Popular wildlife management areas such as Dover bottoms on Barkley Lake
and the units of Camden bottoms, Big Sandy, Gin Creek, and West Sandy’s
Springville bottom had a few blinds that flirted with activity from time
to time but the overall scenario was one of inconsistency.
For every blind spot that reported a good season there were numerous ones
that suffered tough hunting and downright poor shooting for the duration
of the season. Despite some corn and other crops planted the units didn’t
seem to attract and hold ducks in decent numbers as the season progressed
but neither did the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge.
Aerial surveys taken throughout the season help tell the waterfowl
story. At a time when ducks should have been building in big numbers at
the peak of the winter migration the estimates actually declined at times
or were well below average when compared to totals last year and in the
long term of five, ten and twenty year averages.
The most recent survey taken January 21 during the last week of the duck
season showed numbers were 43 percent below last year at this time. When
compared to the 5-year average the estimate was 23 percent below normal.
Another comparison to the 10 and 20-year average showed the latest duck
count to be 18 percent below average.
The aerial survey showed 131,786 ducks
on the refuge. A few weeks earlier a survey reported 93,158 ducks, a
number that actually declined from a December survey at a time when it is
supposed to be increasing. There were 49 eagles observed and 6,148 geese
but many of the geese---2,444---were either white fronted or snow geese
with a mere 3,704 Canada geese on the entire refuge.
The refuge surveys, which are somewhat of a mystery, help tell the story
of the Kentucky Lake area this season.
Some areas in west Tennessee reported better luck as more ducks were using
the Mississippi River drainage areas such as the Forked Deer, Obion, and
Hatchie River drainage areas. Several ducks were seen and taken throughout
the season around the White’s Lake and Horn’s Bluff refuge units.
Some waterfowlers feel the migration has shifted westerly the last few
years as duck numbers appear to have increased to our west. Weather and
heavy rainfall always have an influence and this year the local region did
not receive a lot of rainfall during the season, which may have kept ducks
further to our west where a lot of flooded rice attracted and held ducks.
Tennessee duck hunters closed the book on a tough season last Sunday in
hopes next year will be better. The youngsters get a chance to close the
season on a good note as the next two Saturdays are earmarked for the
Youth Waterfowl Hunt.
If only the ducks knew how much we spent, how early we rise and how far we
Here is a phone video clip from a Reelfoot Lake youth hunt..."Smokin
Page designed by
All contents except Mallards and David Maass
artwork are property of Reelfoot.com