- Taylor Wilson
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BEAVER DAM, Miss. Ever hear the one about the guy who struck gold in his backyard?
Well, I don't know if it was gold in the literal sense, but north Mississippi's Mike Boyd has certainly dug into a treasure.
"Yeah, it might not have been the best time of the year to dig out a boat chute, but I figured what the heck. A guy with a trackhoe had time, so I said, 'Get 'er done," Boyd said in explaining the fresh work in his backyard.
It's a backyard that is on the banks of Beaver Dam Lake.
Yep, that Beaver Dam.
It's the one near Tunica, Miss. The one that renowned outdoor scribe Nash Buckingham made famous in his writing. And, as a result, it is the same one that waterfowlers the world over still herald as a hunter's paradise and they are right.
"Oh on a good day I could really shoot ducks in my backyard," said Boyd, whose family has owned a parcel of the lake since the 1940s.
It's obvious this cypress-dotted lake, not far from the Mississippi River, is a thick thread in the fabric of Boyd's life.
He actually moved closer to the lake than where his parents live and they live just up the hill from the water. Heck, Boyd even has the site emblazoned on the license plate of his pickup truck.
Along with son, Lamar, he also runs Beaver Dam Hunting Services on the lake.
"It's just a special place," Boyd told me as we left Tunica's Blue and White Restaurant prior to our morning's hunt.
"That fellow back there, the one that said he finally got a limit the other day, he is a very wealthy man. He owned some land the casinos are on. But even he doesn't have a place like this to duck hunt," Boyd said with a satisfied grin.
"There are just some places that God only makes one of. I think there are simply places that man just can't come close to re-creating, either, and some you can't put a price tag on. For me, Beaver Dam is like that."
It was only a short hop via boat through the towering cypress trees and their fanglike knees to a blind that appeared to be tall on stilts.
"The water is low, so the retriever certainly has to watch his first step," Boyd said. He then quickly explained he really wasn't going to use a dog that day because of the low water.
"It's just too hard on 'em, trying to retrieve with all these shallow-water obstacles and getting them in and out of the blind. We'll just pick the ducks up with the Go-Devil boat and motor."
For most of the season, the mid-South's lack of rainfall paid off for Boyd. It concentrated the birds across the region, and especially at Beaver Dam.
The Boyds and their clients have been shooting early-morning limits on a daily basis this season.
"The lake owners have a gentleman's agreement not to shoot after noon," Lamar Boyd told me. So far this year, that hasn't been a concern for him and his dad.
This season, gadwalls have especially taken a liking to the masses of duck weed that cover the lake, but there are plenty of mallards around, as well.
I couldn't help feeling lucky to be there as I climbed in the blind on the famed lake. A ticket to the show is traditionally a hot ticket.
And it seems I only got an invite because two guys had called to cancel. I made a mental note to get the names of those two guys and call to personally thank them for not showing.
"The blind doesn't seem to have much brush," I told my hunting buddy Tommy Akin of Greenfield, Tenn.
"I bet it doesn't matter," Akin shot back.
He was right.
In just more than 30 minutes, six hunters had their limits. And that was taking only "webbed-feet-in-the-face-type shots," not just shooting at any duck in range.
Comments like, "incredible," "unbelievable," and "I've never seen anything like that," lingered in the air like so many of the duck feathers after the shooting.
In short, it was overwhelming. And I mean overwhelming in a good way. I had a feeling that after this morning duck hunting would never be the same.
I had a similar feeling once upon returning from a bass-fishing trip to Mexico, where 10-pounders were relatively common. After that, fishing at the old farm pond was still fun, but in the back of my mind the bar had been raised. Such has been the case during these post-Beaver Dam days.
After asking Boyd if he would adopt me, I left that morning feeling very fortunate to have been there. (Again, mental note: Call those two guys who cancelled and thank them; heck why not send them a care package.)
"Again, it is just a special place," Boyd told me from his bankside backyard.
I knew he was right. Beaver Dam really is an X one of those fabled spots marked on a map to note the treasure.
Could it get any better?
Probably not. But did I mention Boyd said the crappie fishing is fantastic, too?
To learn more about Beaver Dam Hunting Services, call 662-363-6288 or email email@example.com.
Taylor Wilson is a free-lance writer and editor for Bill Dance Publishing in Brownsville, Tenn. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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