Ducks, bucks, squarebills and jigs

j_garrett_ducks_1.jpeg

Alan McGuckin

Fresh off Thanksgiving turkeys, let’s talk about ducks. Because during this time of the year, you’re just as likely to find me wearing waders in a duck blind as you will slinging squarebill crankbaits from the front deck of a bass boat.

Much like my love of fishing, my love of hunting was fostered by my grandpa – we call him “Paws” – and when I was a young boy he’d often times take me duck hunting in the morning on legendary Reelfoot Lake, and then we’d go deer hunting in the evening. 

Nowadays, as a college student, I actually earn money to support my living expenses and tournament fishing by working on Reelfoot as a duck hunting guide at Parker’s Outfitting. 

In addition to keeping up with my college courses, I work most every Monday through Friday of the 60-day duck hunting season. Mallards are my personal favorite species to hunt, and they’re most popular with our clients too. Most of the mallards feed on the other side of the Mississippi River in Missouri and Arkansas, and then fly over to rest on Reelfoot in the afternoon. 

There’s not much rest for us hunting guides though. We work hard beginning 4:30 a.m. in all kinds of weather, and much like tournament fishing, my success each day is often judged by how many ducks we harvested.

Our hunting customers come from all over America to West Tennessee. We have a lot of clients from Louisiana, but a lot come from the East Coast too, and we even provide them breakfast and lunch in the duck blind. I’m no chef, but I’ll make sure you’ve got a warm biscuit for breakfast and pizza or fried chicken for lunch.

This is my fourth year to work as a duck guide, and I love it. But don’t think I never take time to take advantage of the awesome late fall bass bite too. It’s hard to beat a squarebill crankbait right now, but make sure you’ve got a 7/16-ounce finesse jig tied to 15-pound fluorocarbon too.

I focus on fishing shallow right now around boat docks, and banks where the main river or creek channel swings near the bank, and of course, you’re always looking for active baitfish. 

Before I head back to the duck blind, just let me say this is such an awesome month to be active in the outdoors. Be safe, and make sure you get out to enjoy what is arguably the very best time of year for both hunting and fishing.