Bald eagle tours under way; waterfowl making their way into area

Bald eagle tours under way; waterfowl making their way into area

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 12:00 pm

I have lots of reminders of important things that are on going in our area relating to the outdoors in this week’s column.
The local Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge in the Walnut Log area is now conducting bald eagle tours. These will be offered as free tours Thursday through Saturday, ending Feb. 28. Tour times are 8 a.m. and noon, each tour lasting 2 to 3 hours.
We take for granted to some degree that we have such a large gathering of the American Bald eagle just a short drive from here and folks drive for hours at a time just to get a glimpse of not only the eagles, but Reelfoot lake in general.
Reservations are required due to limited space, with five slots available per tour. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly and bring cameras and binoculars. A spotting scope will be provided, and binoculars are available for loan. The tour takes visitors on both the Grassy Island and Long Point units of the Reelfoot NWR, in addition to other areas around Reelfoot Lake where eagles are regularly spotted. Both refuge units have observation towers for viewing eagles, waterfowl, and other wildlife. Grassy Island, which has a newly built boardwalk, provides a photogenic viewpoint of Reelfoot Lake while Long Point provides excellent viewing opportunities for eagles and a wide variety of waterfowl.
For more information or to make reservations for tours, call 538-2481.
Just wanted to remind everyone that the third and final segment of Tennessee’s 2012-13 dove hunting season is now under way. The final segment began Dec. 19 and will continue through Jan. 15, 2013.
The daily bag limit is 15. There is no limit on collared doves. Doves not readily identifiable as collared doves will be considered mourning doves and will count toward the mourning dove daily bag limit. No person shall take migratory game birds by the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area. Any auto-loading or repeating shotgun must be incapable of holding more than three shells while dove hunting.
The hunter must have on his/her person a valid state hunting license and Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit at all times while hunting. Hunters must have landowner’s permission to hunt on private land.
Remember the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service down at Reelfoot Lake has announced their annual Turkey Quota Hunt procedures for 2013. This will be held on the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge on April 5-7. Applications will be accepted at the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge office or must be postmarked within the month of January 2013. Then, in February, a random drawing will be held to select 50 permittees (25 for the Long Point Unit and 25 for the Grassy Island Unit). A permit fee of $12.50 per hunter is payable upon notification of the selection for the quota hunt.
First, you need to submit a stamped, self addressed U.S. Postal Service postcard, then place the postcard in a envelope and mail to: Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, 4343 Highway 157, Union City TN 38261, Attn: Refuge Ranger.
Second, Type or print clearly on the back of the postcard: Your name, address, phone number, unit of choice (Long Point or Grassy Island). Each application can have up to four hunters with one hunter on the front of the postcard and up to three additional hunters on the back.
If you submit multiple cards and illegible or incomplete names or addresses, this will disqualify the application(s). For more information, please contact the folks at the Reelfoot office at 538-2481.
There will be another draw for hunts in the Chickasaw or Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuges. The hunts there will be in three seasons: April 4-7, April 11-14 and April 18-21. As stated above, these must be dropped of during the month of January or postmarked during January 2013. There will be 75 randomly selected permittees for each of the seasons on the Chickasaw NWR, and 25 permittees for each of the seasons on the Lower Hatchie NWR. There will also be a fee of $12.50 per hunter also. You will also follow the above info on selection of place to hunt and mail to the Reelfoot office.
As the major winter storm has now since moved on, even before the arrival of the storm, lots of new ducks had moved into the area. For sure some new ducks have hit this area and many hunters will see the affect. It seems the extended forecast shows normal to below normal temperatures to stay put in this area for the next several days and even weeks.
Many of the hunters I have spoken with over the last week have seen a increase in the number of waterfowl they are seeing as well as their numbers of ducks and geese being harvested has increased since the first of the season. As I have mentioned before, I always thought the best hunting was from Jan. 1 until the end of the season.
Don’t forget about he folks at the Obion County/Union City Helping Hand Ministry located right here in Union City are now collecting deer meat. They feel and have seen the need to help try and feed people that are having hard times.
This is their third year in collecting unwanted deer meat to help feed the less fortunate and needy in our area right here in Obion County and Union City. This organization has helped thousands in our area and now they want to help with food. Things aren’t the best economically around these parts and there is more and more of a need for food to feed local families. 
If you are interested in helping, what you need to do is call the Helping Hand Ministry at 885-3924 and ask for Stacia McIntosh. She will then tell you what to do from there. Helping Hand Ministry is located at 430 North Miles Ave. in Union City and their hours of service of being open at their location is Monday through Saturday from 8:30 am until 1:30 p.m.
This is one way we can help feed local people. Deer meat is very lean and good for you so overall this is a win/win situation for everyone. Please keep this in mind and I will continue to remind everyone each week about this program.
Water levels on Reelfoot Lake continue to rise a little bit after every storm system. One thing that helps is the evaporation rate is little to none during this time of year. Right now, Reelfoot Lake is in the 280.85 feet above sea level range. The normal lake level according to the USGS website is 282.20 feet above sea level.
The Mississippi River is coming up each day also and this will help Reelfoot Lake with the water table rising as well. Right now, the Mississippi River is in the neighborhood of 17.8 feet at the Tiptonville gauge. Then on the Ohio, the Cairo gauge is in the 27.0 foot range. This will all change with the major winter storm that has gone through the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys.
Gracyn, Lisa and myself wanted to wish my mother, Patricia Callicott, a very happy birthday. Not going to say which one but it is a special one for sure. She is absolutely the best. Happy Birthday Nana.
This will also be my last column for the calendar year of 2012. I consider it a honor to be able to share with you each Friday, information about the outdoors. This is my way of trying to give back and try in making a difference, keeping the general public and outdoors people informed of the goings on out in the outdoor world.
Remember, if you would like to pass along anything to our readers about the outdoors, please do so by contacting me at 446-3678 or by emailing me at brentcallicott@gmail.com. We would also like to encourage you to send us your pictures, especially of the young outdoors people.
Happy New Year to all of you and I hope and pray that this coming 2013 year is great for everyone.
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks.                  — Brent

Published in The Messenger 12.28.12

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