Tommy Hoff is an avid duck hunter and he knows he has it good, living on the edge of one of the country’s best duck areas.

“I hunt ducks in Tallahatchie County, because it is not far from home,” said Hoff, who works at nearby Enid Reservoir, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer flood control project just outside the county line. “I can keep a watchful eye on the waterfowl hunting situation in this whole region. Typically in a normal year — when there is adequate water, rainfall supplementing a rise in the rivers and creeks, some soybeans have been left on the edges of fields or other foods are plentiful, and northern weather drives ducks south — this area is pretty hard to beat. Sure it’s no Stuttgart (Ark.) but then it’s not as crowded either.”

Hoff hunts private lands, where he and friends can control the environment with risk of setting up and running into other hunters. His favorite spots are near the unincorporated communities of Tippo and Brazil, and near Charleston, the largest town in Tallahatchie County.

“The whole duck hunting region is basically fed by the Tallahatchie River and many other smaller water courses,” Hoff said. “Usually water is not the issue. Other factors contribute to whether or not the ducks show up and then stay once here. We always take our chances when it comes to waterfowl hunting even in the Mississippi Delta.”

A cold winter is the key to Delta duck hunting, but even then some areas are better than others. Ducks can be non-existent in one place but a mile away hunters might be covered up with flights and burning up boxes of shells. That is the true nature of duck hunting, which Hoff certainly knows. He can point to the 2012-13 season, one in which some Tallahatchie County duckmen produced record numbers.

“This past season was not so great for us,” he said. “In fact it was a terrible year for us. I have been on single hunts in the past when we killed more ducks than we did this whole past season. Sometimes it just works out that way.”