Chiseled in stone is the first Saturday of August on the calendars of waterfowlers across Tennessee. It’s the annual drawing day for duck blind sites on Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s wildlife management areas across the Volunteer State.
Waterfowlers will flock to the location of their choice on Saturday morning, along with an army of their fellow hunters hoping luck is on their side. Registration will be held from 7-10 a.m. at all locations with the actual drawing getting underway at 10 a.m.
Locally, the state’s most popular event in terms of participants, will take place at Big Sandy’s City Park. Kentucky Lake’s popular WMA units consisting of Camden Bottoms, Big Sandy, Harmon’s Creek and Gin Creek lure the most participants over all other drawing sites.
Offered at the Kentucky Lake drawing at Big Sandy will be approximately 81 sites among the four public hunting area units.
The Henry County Ducks Unlimited chapter will again host the Kentucky Lake Waterfowl Festival where several exhibitor booths will be set up to offer various items for outdoorsmen.
And what are the odds of hearing your name drawn? For the last several years, over 2,000 people have entered the draw. Last year, there were 2,534 signing up and hoping to hear his or her name drawn. That number was up by 114 over the previous year.
So the odds are not in your favor, but that hasn’t deterred area waterfowlers from showing up and tossing their names in the wire baskets. The mere chance at getting one of the top blind sites for the upcoming season is well worth the price of admission despite the odds, at least in the eyes of most duck hunters.
Each year, waterfowlers watch closely the amount of crops planted on the WMAs as that plays a big role in their decision to pick this or that blind or unit. The acreage of winter waterfowl food planted and the location can greatly alter the usage of ducks to the area.
A breakdown for the area units shows Camden Bottoms with the lion’s share as there are 230 acres of corn planted plus some millet and rice. The crops look good but are in need of rain as are most all the units across West Tennessee.
Big Sandy has 57 acres of corn, and nearby Gin Creek has 64 acres of corn. Harmon’s Creek is mostly river blinds, and no food has been planted in that sector. Dover Bottoms in Stewart County has 242 acres of corn, and the crop looks good.
West Sandy WMA here in Henry County, which will have 42 blind sites — three more than last year — available in the draw this year, has 104 acres of corn, and the crop needs rain. The drawing for West Sandy will again be held in the Enoch Building at Henry County Fairgrounds.
Most of the crops were planted in late June and early July this year, which was earlier than last year’s planting, according to TWRA’s Ronnie Cole.
“It has been dry since we planted, so we’re really needing rain to advance the growth in most units across the region. We still have time to make good duck food,” he said.
That wish for rain came true Tuesday evening as most of the region got a good rain that helped boost the late
corn crops in the WMAs, which is good news for waterfowlers.
Participants are reminded to obtain their proper licenses prior to the registration as they are not sold on site. A complete list of what’s needed is posted on TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org. All drawing locations across the state are listed there as well.
Duck season dates for the upcoming season are expected to be similar to last year’s 60-day season with minor changes in daily bag limits.
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is email@example.com.