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Reelfoot Lake Duck Hunting
Tennessee Duck Hunting Report
YOUTH WATERFOWL HUNTS EXTEND SEASON FOR KIDS
Although the duck season ends Sunday for most hunters, youngsters ages
6-15 years of age will get another chance at both ducks and geese during
two separate Youth Waterfowl Hunts. Two separate Saturdays---February 6
and 13---will be open to kids.
An adult at least 21 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into
the field and must remain in a position to take immediate control of the
gun according to federal regulations.
DUCK HUNTERS HIT HOME STRETCH AS COLD WEATHER ARRIVES
Falling temperatures and fall lake levels coincided as
Tennessee duck hunters enter the home stretch. The Volunteer State’s
60-day season will end January 31.
Hunters across the region experienced some improvement this week with
the inclimate weather pattern that dumped snow and ice over the region
and saw temperatures plummet to the season’s lowest mark. In fact, some
areas fell victim to ice the last few days, a sharp contrast to the warm
weather that dominated throughout November and December.
After a roller coaster ride for the last three weeks the Tennessee River
has finally settled back down to normal winter pool elevation but the
fishing scene has taken a back seat to this week’s winter weather. The
flooding earlier this month added another hurdle to the hunting scene
too as a lot of hunting areas and blinds were inundated with too much
For most of the season duck numbers have been below average and
scattered across a very wide area of the Mississippi flyway. West
Tennessee hunters have suffered as have waterfowlers in Mississippi,
Arkansas, Missouri, and western Kentucky.
Locally the popular wildlife management areas along Barkley and Kentucky
Lakes such as Dover bottoms, Big Sandy, Gin Creek, Camden bottoms and
West Sandy have experienced below average hunting success compared to
Homra Guide Service
About the only consolation for the region’s tough hunting picture is
knowing that hunters in other states have shared in the dilemma of
disrespectful ducks. Not everyone has endured tough times as a few spots
have outpaced the region’s shortfall.
This week duck hunting showed some improvement in extreme West Tennessee
around the Dyersburg area and in northwest Tennessee Reelfoot Lake
sector. Seems a lot of ducks have stayed around the Mississippi River
artery this year as some areas held ducks after the flood receded and
left abundant pockets of waters in low lying areas.
Ducks have had ample
feeding and resting areas since the mid-season flood. Prior to the
flooding unusually warm temperatures did not work in favor of the
migration. State and federal refuges reported below average duck numbers
across several states during the mid-winter survey period.
An interesting report this week from Arkansas helped put the season in
A midwinter waterfowl survey showed below-average duck abundance in The
Natural State, and many hunters have reported lackluster success
throughout the 2015-16 season.
Luke Naylor, the Arkansas Game Fish Commission’s waterfowl program
coordinator, prepared a summary of waterfowl population surveys from
Arkansas and neighboring states and also included weather data from the
National Weather Service. Naylor’s conclusion is that unseasonably warm
and wet December climate conditions have kept large numbers of ducks away
from Arkansas this season.
“I’m not implying we have a surefire way of quantifying what’s going on
this season, other than the reality that El Niño has brought extensive
flooding to the bulk of the midcontinent mallard range along with
unusually warm weather,” Naylor wrote in the report. “The weather has
gotten colder recently, but oftentimes this time of year ducks are
preparing to go back north, not push farther south. Days are getting
longer and the birds ‘know’ spring is coming. The final aerial waterfowl
survey we’re conducting this week will provide additional information.”
The report points out that Missouri’s duck counts typically peak around
Thanksgiving, but this year Missouri didn’t see a peak in duck numbers
until the second week of December. Naylor noted that Missouri received
widespread heavy rainfall across the state.
In Louisiana, the midwinter survey in the coastal region showed 1.85
million ducks, a 30 percent decline from Louisiana’s December aerial
survey and almost 40 percent lower than the long-term average. Likewise,
Louisiana’s northeast survey zone, the closest area to Arkansas’s Delta
survey region, showed a drastic decline from the December to January
surveys, with observers estimating 106,000 ducks and 88,000 geese compared
to 363,000 ducks and 199,000 geese in December.
Mississippi’s midwinter survey showed total duck numbers were about 23
percent below the Magnolia State’s long-term average (675,743 average,
521,662 this year), but mallard numbers in Mississippi were slightly
higher than average (1.5 percent). But other dabbler species remained more
than 40 percent below Mississippi’s long-term average.
The report concluded with weather data showing December 2015 was the both
the warmest and wettest December in 121 years of reporting. The average
contiguous U.S. December temperature was 38.6 degrees, 6 degrees above the
20th century average (the previous record for warmest December was 37.7
degrees in 1939).
The average maximum daytime temperature was 48.1 degrees, 5.3 degrees
above the 20th century average, and the average minimum temperature was
29.2 degrees, 6.6 degrees above average. The eastern half of the U.S.
was especially warm, with 29 states experiencing the warmest December on
record. With respect to precipitation, the December average
precipitation total for the lower 48 states was 3.93 inches, which is
1.58 inches above the 20th century average, surpassing the record of
3.76 inches from 1982.
Meanwhile, Tennessee waterfowlers are hoping the final week season has
some uplift. It appears decent weather will linger into next week for
waterfowlers and water levels have receded from the recent rampage. Snow
and ice have lowered temperatures and may stimulate some movement from
sluggish ducks before season’s end.
By Steve McCadams
Here is a phone video clip from a Reelfoot Lake youth hunt..."Smokin
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