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FOR DUCK HUNTERS…CROPS AHEAD OF LAST YEAR
Last year at this time most of the wildlife management areas throughout
the Kentucky Lake area were flooded and no crops had been planted for
wintering waterfowl as the big day for duck blind drawings approached.
This time around things look better.
The first Saturday in August is a big day for duck hunters. For several
WMAs spread across west, middle and a small portion of east Tennessee it’s
drawing day when waterfowlers venture to their chosen area in hopes of
hearing their name called. Should they get lucky then it’s decision time
on what blind location to choose for the forthcoming season.
Hunters always like to know the status of crops planted in the various
units as that has a lot of influence on the decision making process.
Season may be several months away but the winter food scenario has a lot
to do with where the ducks will be when bone chilling mornings and gusty
north winds descend.
There was a rare chill in the air last Tuesday morning when I linked up
with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency WMA manager Ronnie Cole to visit
some of the area units and take a first-hand look. Touring the areas when
blinds are high and dry sure offers a different perspective.
No boat motors to crank. No ice to break. No quacks from duck callers or
ducks. Not a duck in sight but once summer loses its grip to fall,
feathered friends will arrive with an appetite and in need of a place to
Despite some late planting efforts due to wet conditions in the low lying
areas that are vulnerable to late spring and early summer rains, TWRA
crews have managed to get corn planted in all the area units. In fact,
most of the fields need some rain to boost growth.
“At least we’ve got something in the ground this year for the ducks as
last year at this time these fields were under water,” said Cole, pointing
to a field of corn approaching knee high height in Big Sandy bottom. “We
planted 50 acres here on July 9th. It’s late but coming on and some rain
would sure help. It will make duck food and that’s what it’s for.”
A spot check of neighboring West Sandy, where about 110 acres are planted,
showed a good stand of corn around the Old Union and Springville pumphouse
areas too. Gin Creek also has about 50 acres of corns and had to be
replanted after flooding so the crop is late there too.
Camden bottom has about 150 acres of corn with about 60 or so left for
duck food. It got planted early and looks good. Dover bottoms on Barkley
Lake has some 220 acres of corn planted and the crop looks good there.
So as the big day approaches hunters are busy planning their strategy on
which area to enter the drawing and how to fine-tune their list of blinds
should they get lucky and have to make a quick decision.
Registration will be held from 7-10 a.m. and drawing starts at 10 a.m.
Locally, the drawing for West Sandy WMA will be held at Henry County
Fairgrounds livestock pavilion. For Big Sandy, Gin Creek, Camden bottoms
and Harmon’s Creek the drawing will be held at Big Sand City Park.
At West Sandy there will be 37 blinds available. There are a total of 74
blinds available in the other Kentucky Lake units drawn at Big Sandy.
Dover bottoms offers 26 blinds in the draw held at Dover.
And what are your odds of hearing your name drawn? Last year there were
283 entered at the West Sandy draw with a whopping 3,200 at the Big Sandy
event. At Dover there were 1,380 last year. The odds are not in your favor
but you’ve got to enter to win.
Meanwhile, it appears the fall flight forecast is a good one for duck
hunters throughout the Mississippi Flyway as numbers are up 8 percent over
last year. It was a wet spring on the breeding ground and ducks responded
Tennessee’s duck season dates will be finalized at the wildlife commission
meeting scheduled for August 28-29 in Jackson. It appears another 60-day
season and 6-duck daily bag limit are in the cards.
One point of concern for some hunters is the rumor that TWRA will propose
the duck season open again on Thanksgiving Day, a date which is not in
harmony with many who prefer season open on a Saturday. Not only would the
Thanksgiving opener conflict with many family gatherings on the special
day but also deprive hunters of a split-season where two opening weekends
would allow a five day closure that allows ducks to rest, feed and return
to popular hunt areas.