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TN – OPINION – The White Oak Mountain Rides Again – All This For A Duck

The recent horrific news of the deaths at Reelfoot Lake in the Northwest corner of our state washed over all hunters in waves of shock and sadness. We probably will never know exactly why or how these deeply tragic and sad events unfolded but I must confess that somewhere deep in my gut I didn’t find this sort of madness surprising. If you have any experience with hunting public land you probably have lived through more than your share of what can kindly be described as rude, unethical and greedy behavior from other hunters. Hopefully it didn’t end in murder. While trying to find details of the recent incident I ran across an article from a legacy outdoor media writer who described Reelfoot as a tough place, blind burnings, swing shooting, sky busting, jealous guides, boat ramp fist fights and gross crowding issues. Words like greed and an incipient culture of wrongness were thrown around to describe so many things that not only embarrass duck hunters in general but are retellings of events and incidents that have slowly become more dangerous than waders full of icy water, overloaded boats and drowned hunters. I’ve harbored an unrealized Reelfoot expedition in my bucket list for decades until now. My water fowling buddies tell me that Reelfoot is a duck hunters paradise, world class, blinds with kitchens and walk-in closets. They say the lake is a water fowlers Mecca when the birds are there and you manage to get the right blind before someone else beats you them to it. They say the lake is huge but because it is open to the public it seems to get a little more crowded by the year, even when the ducks don’t show up. It’s not too far fetched to assume that in a year fraught with pandemic travel restrictions and other hysteria a lot of hunters cancelled trips to Canada and similar exotic duck hunting dream spots finding themselves relegated to public hunting grounds like Reelfoot.  [full article]

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