are not too many people living today that remember the olden days when
you could use live ducks for decoys and the days when there were no
limit on the number of ducks you could kill. There were hunters that
hunted for the market (to sell commercially). A person had to have a
shooting permit. This was part of their living as well as trapping and
commercial fishing. There were professional hunters who followed the
ducks on their flyway south. I can remember three hunters from Illinois
who camped at Blue Bank when they come into Reelfoot for their hunt.
They would come in from hunting with all the ducks they could carry and
have to go back to their boat for more. They would draw the blood from
the ducks, hang them out on a line to drain, and then place the ducks in
barrels to be shipped to New York. The mallards were $3.50 a dozen; the
canvasbacks brought more. Small ducks like ringneck scaup, teal,
gad-wall and widgeons were 10 cents each. The natives would pick the
feathers from the ducks after a hunt. It would take about 16 mallard
ducks to get one pound of feathers for a pillow. A feather bed required
about 35 pounds of feathers. Most hunters would load their own shells,
some would use Chief Black Powder. You could buy shells then fro 35
cents a box.
*Lexie Leonard spent much of his life learning the waters, creatures and habitat of Reelfoot Lake. His book Reelfoot Lake Treasures is a down to earth, good old boy view of Reelfoot Lake. Although this book is out of print, you can still purchase copies at various locations around the lake. If you can get your hands on one, get it. You'll never get a more insightful and caring view of this wonderful habitat.
Many thanks to his daughter Rose Leonard Burkett for allowing us to print these interesting excerpts from his book.
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