Reelfoot Lake Wood Duck/Teal Opener

Guest Blogger: John Hoffman - see bottom of entry for biographical detailsFootball, county fairs and early wood duck season are just a few of the things you learn to love about fall growing up in west Tennessee. It comes right after the dove opener, just as the leaves begin to change and the mornings start to have the first hint of cool air. Some might call it a tradition, others a rite of passage. You know that the cold fronts and the big ducks are beginning to stage up north for their harsh journey south. It’s only a matter of time.

Hunters: Dalton Dyer, Ryan Dyer, Ian Martin, Jon Hankins, Ron Dyer, Robby Lynch, John Hoffman, Cody Richards, Nathan Richards

Date: Sept. 12, 2009

We all met at the Eagles Nest boat dock around 4:45 a.m. After a few hand shakes and jokes, we loaded the guns into the boats and rolled out. There were lots of other hunters headed out as well and Samburg ditch was lit up like Main street as the other boats made their way into the darkness. The boat ride across the glassy lake was cool, and as a few flocks of teal sprang from the lily pads you couldn’t help but think it was going to be a good morning.

Big Ron maneuvered the 22-foot F&F through the massive cypress trees like a slalom skier flying down the side of the mountain. We set a small spread of six wood ducks and 12 teal in a small opening in the smorgasbord of duck weed that has grown in the hole all summer. The lake is still just a little low, so we had to push poll the last few yards into the blind. The usual assembly line of guns and gear began from boat to blind, and we were ready to get this party started.

As dawn breaks, we see a few ducks buzzing by here and there, and that’s when the blood starts pumping. Around 6:07 a.m., the big lake comes alive and all of the sudden you feel like you could be in the middle of a fighter pilot dog fight as shots and consistent thumping ring out near and far. The first action in our blind came on the right end as three woodies dove towards the spread. Nine-year-old Dalton folded the first one cleanly and the other two hit the water not to long after. As the ducks began to stir the action was fast and furious for about an hour, it’s on, duck season has begun. Although we never got a chance at a fast-flying, highly coveted teal, we shot wood duck limits two days in a row, and I have eaten my first duck dinner of the season.

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John Hoffman is the photo editor for Ducks Unlimited Magazine, an avid waterfowl hunter and a soon-to-be father!

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