New hunting opportunities have come for veterans and active military members in the state of Tennessee as the state recently hosted the first Military Waterfowl hunt for the men and women who have served our country. It’s a long-overdue hunting opportunity just for the troops. Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that most states have opportunities for young hunters to get the first crack at deer, turkey, and ducks through scheduled youth hunts at the beginning, or end, of the season. But most states have overlooked our service members. That’s why this new waterfowl hunt is such a big deal. It’s a small way to honor the ones who made big sacrifices to serve our country.
The hunt took place over two weekends, with one hunt scheduled for February 7, and a second hunt taking place the following weekend, February 14. I had the chance to join several old friends, as well as meet some new friends, that served many years ago. The hunt took place with the fine crew at Blue Bank Resort on the famous Reelfoot Lake. If you’ve never been to Reelfoot, you need to put it on your bucket list. Steeped in rich history, Reelfoot Lake has a little something for everyone, from fishing, to hunting, bowfishing, and eagle tours, too.
Every part of a duck hunt on Reelfoot Lake is an adventure. From the pre-dawn boat ride through flooded timber, to the majestic scenery and birds in the sky at sunrise, Reelfoot is a special place, indeed. A true Tennessee treasure tucked along the Mississippi River.
The troops took their place on the shooting deck of the blind minutes before shooting light as we began to hear whistling wings overhead. It was the signal that something special was about to take place. And within minutes of duck guide, Caleb Dunn, giving the greenlight that legal shooting time had arrived, ducks began to hit the water.
Despite the cold temperatures and brisk winds, things were heating up fast on our portion of the lake as ducks continued to present the troops with ample opportunities to keep their gun barrels smoking. The smiles, high-fives, and good times were in abundance throughout the morning as the duck strap began to fill up with a variety of ducks, including mallards, teal, and gadwall.
Good times with ducks in the blind.
Dunn’s dog, Tate, got his fair share of playing time as well, making retrieves of all kinds, short and long, throughout the hunt. Watching a good retriever dog work is worth the price of admission. It’s a display of God-given talent, drive, and ability that you’ll only find in a solid duck dog in pursuit of downed birds.
One of the greatest joys of a duck hunter is watching a good dog work.
Between volleys of ducks coming to the decoys, Dunn continued to slip back and forth from the shooting deck to the kitchen area of the duck blind to prepare lunch.
“What’s that I smell frying back there?” one of the guys asked.
“Deep-fried turkey!” Dunn hollered back from the kitchen.
Deep-fried turkey while waiting on the ducks. Does it get any better?
You can plan on eating big when you spend time with the crew at Blue Bank Resort. From their lakeside restaurant, to meals prepared in the duck blind itself, you’ll eat like kings – and probably gain a few extra pounds along the way.
After lunch, a few anxious mallards made their move toward our decoys and never left the hole. The troops had filled their limit. It was the end to a perfect day of hunting ducks on Reelfoot Lake.
“This is the best duck hunt I’ve ever been on,” said one of the military members as we climbed back into the boat to make our way back to the lodge. With all the gear and guns loaded up, we motored back across the lake with duck straps full and memories made.
It was a well-deserved hunt for some of the finest men I know. I was glad to see the perfect duck day fall on such a great group of guys and already look forward to the next time we gather again and pay tribute to the guys that have sacrificed much for the freedoms we enjoy every day.