Tunica, Mississippi - Beaver Dam Duck Hunting and Bird Hunting at The Willows
Beaver Dam – A Duck Hunter’s Dream
Editor’s Note: Every duck hunter in the nation believe that if they’ve lived good, sportsmen-like lives and have close relationships with God, they’ll hopefully get permission to hunt at Beaver Dam near Tunica, Mississippi, before they die. The next couple of days we’ll learn more about Beaver Dam’s outstanding duck hunting.
If you’ve ever:
* taken off your clothes in the dead of winter and swam out into an icy slough to pick up a duck you couldn’t reach from the bank;
* taken a shot at a flight of incoming mallards with their wings out, feet outstretched and necks bent;
* had a child, a lady or a beginning duck hunter in the blind with you and fired right after they’ve shot to down the duck and then you’ve said, “Way to go! You got that duck;”
* had your waders fill up with icy pond water, felt that tingling on your tongue and seen those white specks before your eyes because of the extreme cold before grabbing a duck on the water and running back to the bank;
* had a Labrador dive into the water after a duck and return through mud up to his chest, taken the duck from the dog and watched it shake mud off on you;
* dreamed about the good ole days when wave after wave of greenheads came down the Mississippi Flyway, and ducks had no limits on them, very-few people hunted ducks, and outdoorsmen hand-carved their own decoys, then I know you’ll enjoy the opportunity of hunting at Beaver Dam. Probably more writers and avid waterfowlers have written about their adventures, told lies and enjoyed good times at Beaver Dam than on any other duck-hunting waters in the Southeast.
Owning a Slice of Duck-Hunting Heaven:
Whether by good luck, a quirk of fate or the blessings of the duck gods, Mike Boyd was born into a family who owns a portion of Beaver Dam. “I’ve been living on Beaver Dam for 51 years,” Boyd of Tunica, Mississippi, told me one cool winter morning last year as we waited on first light and listened to mallards, pintails and gadwalls drop into our decoy spread before shooting time. “My grandfather, R.B. Boyd, lived about 70-miles south of Beaver Dam. He worked hard and saved his money. Eventually he bought two parcels of land in the northwestern corner of Beaver Dam Lake in 1949. My family has lived on the land and farmed it ever since.”
Beaver Dam, a longtime oxbow off the Mississippi River, just outside of Tunica, originally lay in the main channel of the Mississippi River about 10,000-plus-years ago. No one knows for sure how Beaver Dam received its name, but according to Boyd, “John Owens, whose family traditionally has owned and still does own most of the land surrounding Beaver Dam, told me he saw a really-old map that had this area labeled as Beaver Dam Lake. So, I know Beaver Dam has been the name of the lake for at least 100 years.”
Ducks always have come to Beaver Dam Lake. Many sportsmen believe that when ducks break out of their eggs in Canada, they already know the route to Beaver Dam. Nash Buckingham, a nationally-known writer for the Memphis, Tennessee, newspaper, who also freelanced for outdoor magazines and wrote books, helped make Beaver Dam famous back in the 1900s. Buckingham always named Beaver Dam as his special duck-hunting spot, made Beaver Dam come alive to his readers and mesmerized them with his waterfowling tales. He and his friends would travel by train from Memphis to Tunica, which in the past didn’t have casinos, major highways or even much of a town, and hunt the plentiful ducks – far away from the hustle and bustle of Memphis.
Outdoors writers write about their passion for hunting, the people they hunt with, the places they hunt and their hunting experiences. Buckingham had a love affair with Beaver Dam as passionate as that of Mark Antony and Cleopatra with Beaver Dam.
“Buckingham’s father was one of the original members of the Beaver Dam Club,” Boyd explains. “All of this territory was opened up in the late 1800s, when the railroad came through here. Before that time, this region was pretty-much inaccessible to most people.”
In Buckingham’s time, he and his friends would catch the Limb-Dodger train in Memphis to Evansville, south of Tunica, where Horace Miller, the caretaker of the Beaver Dam Club, would greet them. Since the trip only took about 2 hours, these sportsmen could leave Friday after work and reach Tunica quickly. Then Horace and his wife, Aunt Molly, would take Mr. Buckingham and his friends to camp, cook for them and take care of them. “These men started the Beaver Dam Club,” Boyd reports. “They’d ride the Limb-Dodger train from Memphis to Dr. Owens’ property in Tunica to hunt ducks.” Buckingham and his friends would let Horace Miller know when they’d arrive and how long they’d stay at the club. Miller would buy groceries and stock the shelves to ensure these Memphis outdoorsmen had plenty to eat and drink.
Armed with his love of Beaver Dam and his wordsmithing skills, Buckingham wrote extensively about hunting at Beaver Dam, recording the history of the ducks, the lake, the men and the times. His fluent and masterfully-crafted words caused his stories to sell like hotcakes. “Today, there’s a cult following of hunters of all ages who have read Nash Buckingham’s articles and want to come to Beaver Dam and hunt the same area Nash hunted,” Boyd observes. “I’ve hunted Beaver Dam my entire life, and it’s an absolutely-fabulous place to hunt ducks.”
To learn more about Beaver Dam, call Mike Boyd at (662)363-6288, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Avery Outdoors’ quality duck-hunting products, go to www.averyoutdoors.com. Go to www.visitmississippi.org or call 1-866-see-miss (733-6477) for more information on visiting Mississippi.
Tomorrow: Hunting at Beaver Dam