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Reelfoot Lake Duck Hunting
Tennessee Duck Hunting Report
WAITING GAME CONTINUES FOR DUCK HUNTERS
By Steve McCadams
Most waterfowlers around the region are enduring a sluggish season with
somewhat empty skies at times. There have been a few success stories as
there always are but the overall scenario seems to be a lack of ducks in
Around the Kentucky Lake area hunting has been below average for most
public hunting areas ranging from the popular Camden Bottoms Wildlife
Management Area to West Sandy, Gin Creek and portions of the Big Sandy
on Barkley Lake has a small number of blinds bagging a few ducks at
times but that area too has been the victim of low duck numbers.
A few blinds in the pumphouse field of West Sandy have bagged ducks but
most have been species other than mallards. The upper end of Beaver Dam
and Holly Fork have not done well thus far.
West Tennessee have experienced a few days of activity but some
traditional locations known for holding good duck numbers are down too.
There have been some exceptions around the Dyersburg sector and Whites
Creek Refuge where duck numbers were decent at times but even that
sector has been inconsistent.
Homra Guide Service
has also experienced tough times the last week to ten days. A small
number of blinds have bagged ducks but the lion’s share are sharing
empty skies with the rest of us.
Aerial surveys taken December 6 on the Tennessee National Wildlife
Refuge help show the scenario waterfowlers are facing. Numbers of ducks
and geese are down drastically from times past.
The survey showed 62,141 ducks using the refuge and a mere 3,240 geese.
Odds are some of those geese are residents too.
Duck numbers were 33 percent below the 5-year average and 37 percent
below the 10-year average! Compared to the long range 20-year average
duck numbers were still 30 percent below normal.
As to the refuge survey a breakdown of species showed mallards topping
the list at 37,182 followed by gadwall at 12,137. Ringnecks were third and
estimated at 4,220.
There were also 17 eagles estimated on the refuge aerial survey at the
Dreary duck hunters are hoping things improve. For most it has been
somewhat challenging since season opened. Low duck numbers in the region
has an adverse effect on all hunters.
There are a few private places that pump up water and only hunt two or
three morning per week and short hours when they do. Those type places
have done pretty good but the average hunter isn’t in that boat so he
relies on the ebb and flow of duck movement when weather patterns change
and new ducks migrate to the region.
For duck hunters the waiting game continues...
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. That’s 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 50’s and low
60’s this week and are expected to last through the second season opener
this Saturday, which isn’t what duck hunters wanted to hear.
The extended stretch of mild weather hasn’t stimulated any migration so
duck numbers across the region haven’t 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.
It’s 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 White’s 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 TWRA’s 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
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Waterfowl Season Comments” on
the subject line of emailed submissions.
Here is a phone video clip from a Reelfoot Lake youth hunt..."Smokin
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