John's Journal...

Duck-Hunting Guides Tell All

Billy Blakely

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: For 23 years, Billy Blakely has hunted ducks every day of duck season on Reelfoot Lake’s Bluebank Resort near Tiptonville, Tennessee, in Tennessee’s northwestern corner. Most of the guides who work with him at Blue Bank Resort hunt 40 to 50 days each season. They’ve seen all the mistakes duck hunters make and know how to solve duck-hunting problems. Let’s listen to the confessions of these duck-hunting guides and learn how to solve some of our own duck-hunting difficulties.

“At least twice a year, we’ll have a hunter show up to go duck hunting with a brand-new shotgun that’s never been assembled and still resides in a cardboard box,” Blakely reports. “He’ll take the cardboard box and get in the boat with it. Once we get the gun to the blind,Click to enlarge we usually have to put the gun together for him, show him where the safety is, and try to teach him how to shoot. Generally that first-time duck hunter will stand next to the guide supervising.

“One morning, while I wasn’t looking, one of these nimrods put his shells in backwards and got his gun jammed-up. Now, shells will go in an automatic backwards, but the gun won’t work. Once we got the shells out of his gun and loaded it properly, he had a good day of shooting. After the hunt, he took the gun apart and put it back in the box when suddenly the spring that fed the shells to the magazine popped out of the forearm and went into the lake. He’d shown up with a brand-new gun, was able to shoot it for one day, but couldn’t shoot it the next day because he didn’t haveClick to enlarge a spring for it. He had to borrow a gun for hunting. We had another hunter show up who started firing when the first flight of ducks came. The barrel and the forearm of his gun fell into the lake. One of the guides had to get in the water and fish the front half of the man's gun out. Then this past season, a hunter had his gun sitting in the rack when for no reason at the entire gun went off and blew the brush off the blind. The hunter never touched the gun; it just went off. Somehow when he sat the gun on the floor, the firing pin hit the shell and caused it to fire. Everybody jumped backwards, scared to death. However, what happened wasn’t the hunter's fault.

“On another day, I didn’t have a dog with me because my dog had cut its foot. When we knocked a duck down behind the blind, one of my hunters said, ‘I’ll go gClick to enlargeet it.’ I told the hunter not to get the duck because the land was so wet and marshy. However, he was one of those hunters who knew it all, and he insisted on getting the duck. The third step he made away from the blind he went out of sight, and all we could see was his hat floating above the water. We all had to climb out of the blind and pull him out of that sinkhole. Another hunter came to hunt one morning during duck season and still had the tags on the hunting suit he’d bought from L.L. Bean. On this cool morning, this hunter backed-up to the heater in the blind to get warm. But he got too close the heater, after I’d already warned him and caught his brand-new hunting coat on fire. He started running down through the blind like a mouse with its tail on fire. We caught him to beat the fire out, and honestly, he needed a good beating.”

To learn more about duck hunting at Bluebank Resort, call (731) 253-8976 or check out

Tomorrow: Shane Upchurch

Check back each day this week for more about "Duck-Hunting Guides Tell All"

Day 1: Billy Blakely
Day 2: Shane Upchurch
Day 3: Jason Craig
Day 4: Solving Five of the Most-Common Duck-Hunting Problems
Day 5: Solving Seven More of the Most-Common Duck-Hunting Problems



Entry 388, Day 1