Tennessee Duck Counts
Average historic waterfowl distribution, 2013-2022
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Tennessee duck counts, by the numbers...
Duck season in Tennessee usually starts off with a bang, with many on the western side of the state referring to it as the “4th of July–in Winter”. While success can be had throughout the entirety of the season in the Volunteer State, waterfowl counts are generally at their lowest for the opener and build throughout the season.
In the central part of the state, the Tennessee River National Wildlife Refuge is usually a sure bet for holding birds throughout the season. The Duck River Unit and the nearby Camden Bottoms hold modest concentrations of birds early on.
Most of the refuges along the Mississippi River attract moderate amounts of birds in November, but on average the White Lake Refuge and Lauderdale Waterfowl Refuge (both near Dyersburg) hold the highest amount of birds this time of year.
During the month of December, duck counts in the state usually increase substantially relative to the months prior. On average, mid-December duck counts are two to three times higher than that of mid-November.
In the central part of the state, in addition to the Tennessee River National Wildlife Refuge, the Obion River Bottoms between the Tennessee River and Reelfoot Lake see a moderate increase in the abundance of waterfowl in December.
The western part of the state is where duck counts increase the most in December, with the largest concentrations on average occurring around Reelfoot Lake, in the White Lake Refuge, and around the Eagle Lake Refuge near Memphis.
Generally speaking, the areas that hold the largest amount of ducks in December also increase in duck counts in January–ducks go where the ducks already are.
Similar to the months of November and December the, western extent of the Tennessee River in the central part of the state usually holds a moderate amount of birds in January. The areas of eastern extent of the Tennessee River usually see an increase in overall numbers in January, but still remain low in concentration relative to the rest of the state.
The refuges and areas in and around Obion County and Lake County hold the largest amount of ducks in January, with Maness Swamp Refuge and Hop-in Refuge attracting a moderate amount of ducks (in addition to the areas mentioned for the month of December).
About the Tennessee Waterfowl Distribution Maps
Migration Station’s waterfowl distribution maps are contour maps created with a combination of historic migration data and harvest data from the US Fish & Wildlife Service which aim to display relative waterfowl distributions over certain periods of time throughout the season. These maps take into account Arkansas duck counts, goose counts and general migration reports.
Due to the nature of contour creation and our methods of averaging large amounts of data from over a long period of recent history, this information is intended to represent a rough approximation. As such, these maps are meant to be illustrative in nature only, and actual concentrations vary year to year depending on a a variety of factors such as, but not limited to, weather, hunting pressure, available habitat, etc.