I, like so many others, look forward to opening day of duck season all year. The months and days leading up to it seem to drag along at a snail’s pace. For me, the anticipation is only magnified because the excitement of mallards falling from the heavens into our set of decoys or watching my dog, Diche, slashing through the water on a retrieve is coupled with the fact that this all happens at famed Beaver Dam Lake.
Years ago while playing golf I met a man named Robert Corley. Robert and I became fast friends due to our love of golf and our passion for waterfowl hunting. He (Robert) grew up in the Mississippi delta in the town of Clarksdale, and has been a duck hunter all his life. When we began discussing the upcoming season he suggested we do some hunting together. I readily agreed and was excited about the prospect of having a new hunting buddy that shared my love for the sport. Little did I know at the time, but that invitation would lead to some of my fondest memories of chasing waterfowl and take me to what would soon become my favorite place on Earth.
Robert’s family owns a portion of Beaver Dam Lake located just off the Mississippi River south of Tunica, MS. This majestic waterfowl paradise was made famous years ago by Nash Buckingham, arguably the greatest outdoor writer to ever put a pen to paper. Buckingham was born in the late 1800s and hailed from Tennessee. In his life he published nine books and hundreds of articles related to hunting and the outdoors. Beaver Dam Lake and Buckingham are synonymous with each other. He spent many years hunting along the banks of this cypress filled oxbow lake and told of his hunting adventures here in his writings. Besides being one of the most famous outdoor writers Buckingham was also famous for his gun, Bo Whoop.
Bo Whoop was a nine pound nine ounce side-by-side Super Fox 12 gauge custom made by A.H. Fox Gun Company in Philadelphia. A hunting buddy of Buckingham’s had given the gun the name “Bo Whoop” in reference to the sound it made. In 1948, Buckingham and a fellow hunter where returning from a morning of duck hunting, when they were stopped by a game warden. The warden quickly realized who Buckingham was, and he asked if he could see the famous Bo Whoop. Once Buckingham returned home he realized that he had left his gun on the truck of his car. He traced his route back hoping to find the gun but was unsuccessful. The whereabouts of the most famous waterfowl gun in history remained a mystery until 2005 when a man walked into a gunsmith shop in South Carolina wanting to get a stock repaired on a gun he had inherited and had been hiding in his closet for years. The gunsmith noticed that the barrel had been hand stamped and read, “Made for Nash Buckingham”. He informed the owner of the gun about its significance but the man seemed unimpressed. Years later this man’s son would inherit Bo Whoop and put it up for auction. When all the bidding was done the long lost gun that once belonged to Nash Buckingham had sold for $201,250. The man who bought it announced that he would donate the gun to Ducks Unlimited in Memphis, TN in honor of his father’s friendship with Buckingham.
Nash Buckingham’s writings of Beaver Dam Lake and the mystery of Bo Whoop have made this waterfowl paradise famous, but that’s far from its only appeal. It also produces thousands of ducks flooding into the big cypress brake each year. On my first trip with Robert to his blind located amongst two big cypress trees in the south end of the lake, I quickly saw why Buckingham spent so much time here. The sun began to rise through the towering cypress trees that morning, and there was no doubt that I was hunting on hallowed ground. As I looked out across the decoys floating amongst the duckweed, I knew I was staring upon one of God’s most beautiful paintings. The view from the blind that first morning was like something I had never seen before. It was the type of beauty that words can’t describe and pictures fall short of doing justice. Soon after, I watched as group after group of ducks circled our set and made their way to the water. Robert and I stayed most of the morning and managed to bag our limit of mallards and gadwall. It is a hunt I will never forget.
A few seasons later my wife Erin, who is an avid deer and dove hunter, wanted us to take her along on her 1st duck hunt. I went out and bought her a pair of waders and an over-under 20 gauge and on opening morning she and I and our dog Diche met Robert and his cousin Preston at the boat ramp and we made our way to the blind. The overcast sky was filled with ducks that morning and by the end of the hunt we had managed to bag just short of a four-person limit. As one particular group of mallards made their way into decoys, Robert called the shot and we all lept to our feet. After a bevy of gunfire there were several ducks lying on the water. Robert, Preston, and I had emptied our shotguns, and as one lone greenhead was leaving we heard a single shot. The mallard folded in the air and splashed hard into the water. We all were three amazed at the shot Erin had made. I sent Diche on the retrieve and just a few short moments later my wife had her 1st duck.
I have been hunting Beaver Dam Lake for years now, but even to this day, when I make my way from the boat into Robert’s blind just before shooting light, the anticipation of what’s to come and the history of this place gives me a feeling like no other. Robert and I have spent countless hours shooting mallards and gadwalls from his old blind that was built so many years ago. The memories we have made and the stories we will tell for years to come all happened at this wonderful place. Beaver Dam Lake has not only provided me with some of the best waterfowl hunting of my life, but even more so it has provided me with a life long friend and hunting partner.
Edward Wall is on the MLF Field Pro team, and lives with his wife, Erin, and dog, Diche, in Mississippi. You can follow him on Instagram at @edwall81.