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Duck hunting season arrives in Tennessee; water levels remain low

Duck hunting season arrives in Tennessee; water levels remain low

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 12:00 pm
By: By Brent Callicott

The Messenger 11.23.12

The much awaited 2012-13 full duck season for both Reelfoot Lake and the Tennessee statewide season is one week away with final preparations being made by area hunters.
But first, the Tennessee statewide two-day duck season will be this weekend. The Reelfoot zone is not included as their two-day early season was back Nov. 10-11.
One thing that some are having concerns about are water levels in the area they plan to hunt. Some folks just won’t get to hunt until Mother Nature decides to give them water, but there will be very few.
Those who plan to hunt on Reelfoot Lake need to pay extra attention due to low waters when navigating during the early morning hours each day until the lake waters come up later in the season. Make sure you have good running lights, which is a state law, a strong Q-Beam type light and reflectors on both the front and rear of the boat. Make sure you have a push pole, cell phone or some type of communications with you. It is also a good idea to travel in pairs, boats that is.
Most, by now, are used to the low waters on Reelfoot Lake and have made adjustments. Most know where to run their boats and where not to run. Even the most experienced can run into trouble, though. Just use common sense out there folks. Many have been getting their blinds and decoys ready making several trips back and forth from the ramp out to their blind.
There will be some who are on the lake who don’t know the area as well as others; these are the one you have to pay close attention to.
As of midweek, Reelfoot Lake was up a couple of inches over the past week or so with the lake reading being 280.39 feet above sea level. Normal level according to the USGS is 282.20 feet above sea level. This would put Reelfoot Lake in the neighborhood of 20 plus inches below the normal level. All of this information comes from the USGS website and is updated minute by minute.
Once the Tennessee statewide two-day season is over this Sunday, both seasons will start one week from tomorrow on Dec. 1 and will last through Jan. 27. The seasons will maximize the number of weekends open to duck hunting and will end on the latest date allowed (the last Sunday in January).
There is a lot of time and money that goes into each duck season with several odds that could strike for a not so good season. This year, water is the main concern. One other concern that goes into a duck season, especially with low waters, is a cold winter season. Mix the two together and you have ice that will form in many areas. The shallower the waters, the faster water temps cool, which forms ice.
During this season in both duck zones, you will be allowed a six-duck bag limit.
The number of days allowed for Canada goose hunting seasons has been extended by six days in each of the zones. The daily bag limit for Canada geese has also increased to three from two in all zones.
A daily bag limit of six ducks may include no more than: four mallards (no more than two of which may be a hen), three wood ducks (during the late waterfowl season only), four scaup (an increase of two from last year), two pintails, one canvasback, and one black duck. The daily bag limit of merganser would be five, only two which may be hooded mergansers.
Season dates for Canada geese are Nov. 24-25, and Dec. 1-Jan. 27 in the Statewide Zone. In the Northwest Zone, the dates are Dec. 1-Feb. 10. The daily bag limit is three per person.
The white-fronted goose season runs statewide from Dec. 1-Feb. 10. The daily bag limit is two per person. Season dates and bag limits for light geese (snow, blue, Ross) are similar to last season with a shift for the calendar. The standard season will run from Nov. 24 through Feb. 10 (standard regulations apply). Federal Conservation Order provisions allow the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns for the Feb. 11 through March 10 portion of the season. The daily bag limit of light geese is 20 per person, per day during the conservation season.
This year, the youth waterfowl season in the Statewide Zone and Reelfoot Zone will be split into two one-day hunts on consecutive Saturdays, rather than a Saturday-Sunday format. The dates in 2013 will be Feb. 2 and 9 for youth ages 6-15.
Two more small game seasons are well underway in Tennessee. Rabbit and quail seasons are underway in Tennessee, which began on Nov. 3 and will continue through Feb. 28. The daily bag limit is five for rabbits. The daily bag limit for quail is six.
The second segment of Tennessee’s dove season closed on Oct. 28. The third and final segment starts Dec. 19 and will continue through Jan. 15 with a daily bag limit of 15.
Did You Know?
I have read where 98 percent of bass anglers made some kind of fishing-related purchase in the past year. How did the other 2 percent get by without spending a penny?
This finding is one of many in the Southwick Bass Fishing Report, an annual publication that helps businesses, such as manufacturers, retailers, marketers and hotels, pinpoint the buying habits of bass anglers.
Here is what the survey said.
Seventy-seven percent of bass anglers use artificial lures and baits. There are more bass anglers (56 percent) fish from the shore, a dock or other land-based structure than from engine-powered bass and other style boats (49 percent).
Annual fishing expenditures total about $45 billion in this country with roughly $16 billion of this dedicated to bass fishing, according to this report. Tell me fishing doesn’t help the economy.
Trout stocking
The TWRA will once again be hosting their annual winter Trout Stocking Program starting next month. Here in Union City, the city’s pond down at the former Reelfoot Packing Company will be stocked once again on two different dates.
The first stocking will take place Dec. 12 and then again on Jan. 16. For more information on this program and details of what you need and don’t need as for licenses and permits, go to
From my family to your family, we hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, enjoying the family time together. It’s hard to believe its just a month away ’til Christmas. Wow!
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks.
                       — Brent