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Kentucky Lake and Reelfoot Lake Have Ducks Aplenty


Editor’s Note: Jason Patterson from Jackson, Tennessee, has been hunting waterfowl for more than 20 years and is the original Pro Staff Manager for waterfowl on the Mississippi flyway. He primarily guides in northeast Arkansas and west Tennessee.


The big water that I hunt is Kentucky Lake, and I like hunting a 400-acre soybean field there that floods during duck season. To hunt the bean field, we use a cotton trailer as a blind. The cotton trailer is a big, open trailer that cotton is dumped into that takes cotton from the field to the cotton gins. We have our cotton trailer blind parked right alongside a river that’s one of the major flyways that ducks come down, and it feeds Kentucky Lake. From this blind, we get quite a few migratory birds flying up and down the river. Once they see that big 400 acres of flooded soybean fields, they’ll usually come down from on high to investigate. We’ll generally put out about 200 decoys on the bean field, so the ducks easily can spot our spread. Since we’re primarily hunting migratory ducks, we don’t have to put out decoys and take them up every day. But I’ll often move the ducks in our spread around, so the local ducks and the ducks that have seen our spread more than one or two times don’t see the same decoys in the same place.

We’ve made a frame that goes around the cotton trailer to make it look like part of the field. This blind can shoot about 8 hunters. This blind off Kentucky Lake is where we mainly take mallards, pintails, Canada geese and snow geese. When we go to Reelfoot Lake in the open water, we’ll primarily take mallards and pintails. When we hunt back in the woods at Reelfoot, most of the ducks we take are mallards. One of the big advantages of hunting Reelfoot Lake is across the Mississippi River from Reelfoot is the State of Missouri where there’s Big Lake and Otter Slough - waterfowl refuges just north of Reelfoot. In northwest Tennessee is the Black Bayou Waterfowl Refuge. Those three really big waterfowl refuges pull in a lot of ducks and hold numbers of ducks during waterfowl season. Ducks are constantly going to and coming off the refuges and flying to Reelfoot. The big open-water duck hunting and green tree reservoir hunting at Reelfoot Lake are reasons that Reelfoot is one of the most popular waterfowl areas. It’s right on the edge of the freeze line.

To learn more about Jason Patterson you can contact him at

Day 2: The Freeze Line and Waterfowl Hunting 

Tomorrow: What about Hunting Geese?

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