Migration Alert: West Tennessee migration improving

Report posted December 12, 2011
By Wade Bourne

Hunting on Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee has been slow, but action is picking up today as a new migration of puddle ducks—mainly mallards—is showing up on the lake. 

Veteran-guide Jackie Van Cleave reports from his blind that flights of high ducks from the north started coming yesterday and continued this morning. No current duck numbers are available for the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge or the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's Black Bayou management unit, but according to Van Cleave, these areas are "filling up." Van Cleave, who guides on the north side of Reelfoot's Grassy Bend area, says ducks have been "hard to work," but sunshine and a light wind this morning have helped this situation.

Due to recent heavy rains, many fields surrounding Reelfoot Lake are holding slash water. Also, the nearby Mississippi River is close to flood stage, and adjacent sloughs and lowland bottoms are flooded. Typically when water fills these areas, many ducks leave the lake and scatter into the fields and bottoms where fresh food is available. However, Kelly Powers of Final Flight Outfitters in Union City, Tennessee, has hunted in the famed Hickman Bottoms (north of Reelfoot in southwest Kentucky) the past two days and reports that ducks there are scarce. "We zeroed yesterday," Powers reports, "and so did several other hunters I talked to last night."

So, it's a mixed bag in northwest Tennessee. Water conditions are very good, but so far duck numbers have been disappointing. Today's report of a new flight should signal an upturn in the number of ducks in this area and hunters' opportunities for better shooting.