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John's Journal... Entry 119, Day 1


America's Best Public Duck Hunting


EDITOR'S NOTE: My duck hunting partners, Tate Wood of Memphis, Tennessee, and Buddy Harris of Greenwood, and I hunted in Mississippi from a flat-bottomed, War Eagle boat with an Avery Quick Set Duck Blind that we could pop up in less than a minute and drop to the side of the boat in about the same time. I wasn't confident that we'd see many ducks in these public-land hunting areas. And if I hadn't witnessed our hunts with my own two eyes, I never would've believed that we would have the opportunity to take hundreds -- even thousands -- of ducks each day.

As we motored out of the launch site into the hushed fog, I saw a macabre-looking scene with Spanish moss hanging from the trees. The small, flat-bottomed johnboat made the only ripples in the water as we dodged trees and went through narrow channels in the flooded timber. Visions of the movie, "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and thoughts of swamp monsters floated through my over-active imagination as the eeriness of the fog and the moss created a haunted feeling. Hunting ducks in a place like this gave me reason to believe I'd hunt the ducks from hell. I also wondered just how productive I'd find the duck hunting on this public-land area -- Mathews Brake, a national wildlife refuge located in Flora County, just south of Greenwood, Mississippi.

When we finally arrived at an opening in the vast, flooded timber, we jammed the boat between two trees to stabilize the craft and eliminate the use of anchors. After we put up the Quick Set Duck Blind on the boat, I asked Buddy Harris how many ducks he'd decoyed, called in and landed before in this spot. With a big grin, he said, "I'll tell you, but you won't believe me. We've landed between 500 and 1000 ducks in this little pothole at one time." "I can't believe that," I said in the pre-dawn light. Why don't more people hunt this area?" "Well, most folks who live around here have access to private land, they have the money to join expensive hunting clubs, and/or they hunt deer during duck season," Harris explained. "The few people who do hunt Mathews Brake only hunt on weekends. Because this refuge has 3,500 acres, we need at least eight to 10 different parties of hunters to keep the ducks moving."

When I asked how many hunters he had seen hunting the brakes at one time, he answered, "One day I saw 42 trailers in the parking lot. But we still got our limit of ducks and made it home by 9:00 a.m. This morning I saw only five other trailers at the ramp. I hope we have enough shooters to keep the ducks moving."






Check back each day this week for more about Duck Hunting...

Day 1 - America's Best Public Duck Hunting
Day 2 - Migrating Patterns
Day 3 - The Quacks Come In
Day 4 - Another Great Duck-Hunting Spot
Day 5 - Secret Duck-Hunting Spots

John's Journal