Want to see bald eagles and waterfowl in their natural winter environment at nearby beautiful Reelfoot Lake?
Every year, those opportunities are available throughout the winter but a special three-day weekend to highlight this winter wonderland is forthcoming.
Billed as The Reelfoot Lake Bald Eagle and Waterfowl Weekend, the event is fast approaching and will be held Feb. 5-7. A series of bus tours will be available to ferry folks around the area and offer valuable information on the history of the lake and the migration of eagles as well.
It’s a great educational opportunity, not to mention offering abundant chances to shoot excellent photographs.
To learn more, log on to the Reelfoot Lake State Park website www.tnstateparks.com/parks/reelfoot-lake for a listing of bus tour departure times.
Reservations are encouraged and some tours are already sold out. Pontoon and bus tour reservations can be made online. You may also call the park office at 731-253-9652.
Reelfoot Lake State Park is located at 2595 Hwy. 21 E, Tiptonville.
While in the area, you’ll also want to partake of one of the great restaurants known for serving delicious family style country cooking. That’s a big ingredient in the recipe for a visit to the Reelfoot Lake area.
VETERAN, ACTIVE MILITARY HUNT
After the regular statewide duck season ends this year, there will be four special hunts. Two days are set aside for the annual Youth Waterfowl Hunt for youngsters falling in the age bracket of 6-16 years of age and another two days for active military personnel and veterans.
Dates of the Youth Waterfowl Hunt are two separate Saturdays: Feb. 6 and 13. The Veterans and Active Military Personnel Hunt dates are Feb. 7 and 14, which are two separate Sunday hunts.
This is the first year for the special hunt held for military personnel and veterans. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regulations say veterans of the Armed Forces on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty other than for training, may participate and harvest ducks and geese.
Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age. Adults shall not hunt during the youth waterfowl hunts and multiple youths may be accompanied by a single qualifying adult.
DUCK SEASON DRAWING TO A CLOSE
Tennessee’s 60-day duck season is rapidly drawing to a close. What began on Nov. 28 for a two-day segment and resumed Dec. 5 for a 58-day straight stretch will come to an end on Jan. 31.
As waterfowlers enter the home stretch next week, many are somewhat burnt out after a long and dreary season where the ducks were somewhat scarce for the lion’s share of hunters. Overall it has been a season of disappointment for legions of hunters who scanned empty skies throughout the long season.
Not everyone faced tough times as there are always a few areas that experience success. They were in the right spot at the right time and they know they were lucky this year as many of their comrades did not fare well.
After the closing date of Jan. 31, there will be two separate youth hunts and two separate hunts for veterans and active duty military personnel.
BOATING FATALITIES UP IN STATE
After a record low year of eight boating fatalities in 2019, the most boating-related fatalities in 37 years with 32 occurred on Tennessee waters in 2020, according to the TWRA in its year-end report.
Various outdoors activities saw a substantial increase in 2020 and boating was no exception.
The TWRA reported a noticeable increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers.
Preliminary numbers indicate about 30% of the 2020 fatal incidents had alcohol and/or drugs as a contributing factor. In addition to the fatalities, there were 61 serious injury incidents that injured 82 people and 82 additional property damage incidents.
During the year, TWRA wildlife officers made 62 boating under the influence arrests. With the increased traffic, calls for service saw a leap. TWRA officers strive to practice social distancing to help protect the public as the pandemic continues.
As the new year is underway, TWRA wildlife officers encourage the boating public to help keep Tennessee waterways safe by doing things such as:
1) Take a boater safety course.
2) Wear your life jacket while out on the water.
3) Be aware of the water conditions around dams, both above and below.
4) Always boat with a sober operator. Operating impaired is a crime.
5) Report unsafe operation, boat accidents, or law violations to your nearest TWRA dispatch center.
For West Tennessee, the regional office number in Jackson is 1-800-831-1173.
Jan. 31 — Duck season ends.
Feb. 5-7 — Eagle/waterfowl tours, Reelfoot Lake State Park.
Feb. 6, Feb. 13 — Youth Waterfowl Hunt.
Feb. 7, Feb. 14 — Veterans and Active Military Personnel Hunt.