John's Journal... Entry 74, Day 1
The Tenn-Tom Hunting Lodge
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm not a purist. I like to hunt anything, anytime, anywhere with anybody. The more different kinds of hunting I can do in a day, the happier I am. This season I've found my ultimate playground -- the Tenn-Tom Hunting Lodge located just outside Pickensville, Alabama, on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. This fine lodge offers duck hunting in the morning and deer hunting in the afternoon. Or, you can duck or deer hunt all day. But I prefer to shoot quacks at daylight and bag whitetails in the afternoon. This week we'll introduce you to the people and the hunting on the Alabama/Mississippi border along the Tenn-Tom Waterway that creates river navigation from the port of Mobile, Alabama, into the Great Lakes region.
"I got mine," I yelled. And as I turned to look behind me, I saw two ducks falling from the air. Tony Dutton of Northport, Alabama, and lodge manager Kenny Crimm of Millport, Alabama, both had connected and had ducks tumbling from the sky.
At the same time, the big pintail I'd shot not 20 yards from the blind now plummeted head over heels straight for me. I ducked as the duck dropped just over my head. But the pintail hit Crimm squarely on the shoulders. He looked up in disbelief and told me, "that's the first time I've ever seen anyone shoot a duck and have the bird fall in the blind with him."
I laughed before explaining to Crimm that, "I've been practicing that shot for years, and this is the first time I've able to successfully pull off that shot." After we all laughed at the lie I'd told, Dutton sent his black Labrador retriever, Savannah, to retrieve the two downed ducks that he and Crimm had bagged. Without hesitation, the Labrador became airborne and splashed down in the icy water that her ancestry had insured that she'd swim. Savannah went straight to the first duck, a ringneck, and brought it back without hesitation. Although the second duck had fallen into some high weeds, Dutton used his whistle and hand signals to direct Savannah to the right spot to find the duck and make the retrieve.
As we sat in the early morning fog watching the sun promising light for a new day, I thought to myself, "life doesn't get any better than this -- great duck hunting in the morning and productive deer hunting in the afternoon. How can you find a better hunt?"
The Tenn-Tom Lodge near Pickensville, Alabama, saddles the Alabama-Mississippi line on the edge of Aliceville Lake. Because Arkansas has been frozen up since the first of waterfowl season, many of the ducks that generally come down the Mississippi Flyway have moved over from Mississippi and Louisiana where they haven't found water to light on and have poured into Alabama like gasoline coming out of a nozzle.
The Tenn-Tom Lodge offers two complete different styles of waterfowling. The lodge has field hunting in millet and rice fields to make sure the ducks have plenty to eat and controls the water in those fields. The lodge also offers a green tree reservoir hunt in flooded acorn flats just off the Tenn-Tom Waterway. When the waterfowling hunting pressure builds up on the Waterway, the ducks really swarm into the flooded fields and the acorn flats. As most hunters know, hunters generally have the best waterfowling either in the early morning or the late afternoon. However, when you hunt an area with plenty of ducks, you usually can limit out on one good morning hunt. Then you'll have nothing to do the rest of the day. But at the Tenn-Tom Lodge, sportsmen can duck hunt in the morning and hunt deer over greenfields in the afternoon.
The afternoon I arrived at the lodge, Richard East of Jacksonville, Alabama, just had taken a really nice 8-point buck with a heavy rack. "I had another shooter buck that came out into the greenfield and bedded down in front of me," East said. "But he didn't have the mass that I was looking for. When the buck I took showed up, he began to make a scrape on one side of the field, and the buck that was bedded-down walked to the other side of the field and bedded-down. I couldn't believe I had two harvestable bucks from which to choose."
Duck hunting in the morning, deer hunting in the afternoon, a warm fire, great food and good fellowship -- well, hunting doesn't get any better than that. To learn more about hunting deer and ducks on the Tenn-Tom Waterway, contact Hugh Snoddy, the owner of the Tenn-Tom Hunting Lodge (662) 726-2555, or write him at 16234 Buggs Ferry Road, Macon, MS 39341. Or, contact the lodge manager, Kenneth Crimm at (205) 662-3382.
Tomorrow: How Dutton Calls, Why He Uses the Decoy Spread He Does and a Late-Season Crop for WaterFowl
Check back each day this week for more about The Best Of Both Worlds ...
Day 1 -The Tenn-Tom Hunting