Last weekend in duck blinds across northwest Tennessee, 115 teens had the opportunity to experience world-class duck hunting—many for the first time—at the 12th Annual Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt.
The weekend remembers Davis Rice through his favorite pastime and fosters an appreciation for wildlife conservation. Rice tragically passed away in 2007.
This year for the first time, Tennessee Wildlife Federation opened the hunt to the public. The weekend is geared toward middle and high school students who have never duck hunted before.
“Just over a year ago, we launched our Hunting and Fishing Academy which provides first-time hunters and anglers hands-on instruction in the art of being an outdoorsman,” said Taylor Martin, Hunting and Fishing Academy program manager. “With that infrastructure in place, we were able to make this year’s event open to the public, which is no small feat considering it’s the largest hunt of its kind in the Southeast.”
Turkey and small game hunting experiences are available this spring through Hunting and Fishing Academy. First-time and novice hunters, both youth and adults, can begin to learn more by visiting tnwf.org/interest.
The weekend kicked off with a Friday-evening banquet in Dyersburg that included a performance by magician and entertainer Terry Hedges, a hunting 101 course, silent auction provided by Delta Waterfowl, a firearm give away organized by Ducks Unlimited and the awarding of several scholarships.
- Luke Nielson of Spring Hill, Tenn. was drawn to receive a lifetime sporting license, which has a face value of nearly $2,000 and allows him to hunt and fish for the rest of his life. Nielson is a member of the Grace Christian Academy Shooting Team.
- Bartlett Trap Team athlete James McKinney of Lakeland, Tenn. received a $250 college scholarship from Final Flight Outfitters.
- A Delta Waterfowl $250 college scholarship was awarded to, Connor Webb a Cumberland County Youth Shooting Team member in Crossville, Tenn. Tyler McNeil of Fairview, Tenn. took home the other Delta Waterfowl $250 scholarship.
- Tennessee Wildlife Federation gave a $500 college scholarship to Travis Martin of Manchester, Tenn.
- Ducks Unlimited raffled three firearms to support the Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt. Tim Tower of Cookeville, Tenn. won a Tristar Viper Max 12-gauge shotgun. Chris Helton of Morrison, Tenn. won a Winchester Super X4 12-gauge shotgun. Logan Jones of Collierville, Tenn. won a Mossberg 930 12-gauge shotgun.
The hunt on Saturday got underway in foggy, 40-degree weather before dawn. Experienced hunters and volunteers employed boats, ATVs and waders to guide the novice youth hunters to 19 duck blinds across northwest Tennessee. More than 150 ducks were harvested with some youth reaching their allowable limit.
The weekend was made possible through the generous sponsorship of Wetland and Stream Restoration Services, Delta Waterfowl, Final Flight Outfitters, Ducks Unlimited, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Tim Grounds Championship Calls, YETI, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the City of Dyersburg.
“Hunters and anglers are the main source of funding for wildlife conservation in Tennessee,” said J.W. Worthen, director of programs for the Federation. “The Federation’s work to foster young sportsmen and women is vital to securing the future of our state’s wildlife and the Davis P. Rice Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt is one of the ways we do that.”
Those interested in learning the art of hunting beyond duck hunting, including deer, turkey, dove, squirrel and more, are encouraged to complete the form at tnwf.org/interest.