Nash Buckingham is a name any serious waterfowl hunter should recognize. An early conservationist and acclaimed outdoors writer, Buckingham hailed from Memphis, Tennessee, but it was the cypress filled waters of Beaver Dam Lake, just south of Tunica, Mississippi, where “Mr. Buck” left his greatest legacy.
Buckingham was a book author and an outdoors columnist. His collection of short stories, “De Shootinest Gent’man,” is a treasured classic among proper sportsmen. He was considered a national authority on waterfowl and upland birds. He played a key role in the 1930s and 1940s in bringing about drastic change to conservation practices. Buckingham was friends with Ding Darling and helped build support for the first Duck Stamp.
When Buckingham was a boy, just before the turn of the century, his father was part of a duck club on Beaver Dam Lake. In those days, hunters would ride a train called the “Limb Dodger” south from Memphis down through Tunica to a stop right next to Beaver Dam Lake. This new accessibility by modern transportation began the era when Beaver Dam came to prominence as a waterfowl destination.
"The Northern Mississippi Delta wasn’t developed until the railroad was built in the late 1880s," said Mike Boyd, owner-operator of Beaver Dam Hunting Services. "The early hunters would catch a steamboat in Memphis and ride it down river to the town of Austin, which is just off the westside of the north end of Beaver Dam. They’d take a mule-drawn wagon to a camp on the shore of the lake. Waterfowl was beyond plentiful."
Over the years, Buckingham’s fame grew, and one noted aspect of his legacy is his fabled shotgun, named Bo Whoop. A Burt Becker HE Grade 12-gauge Super Fox, this incredible firearm, paired with Buckingham’s shooting ability became legendary. Until, that is, 1948, when Bo Whoop was lost. Nash never saw it again. But miraculously, the shotgun turned up in Georgia in 2006. Today it hangs in the Memphis headquarters of Ducks Unlimited.
“Nash wrote about Beaver Dam and that’s where it got its fame from,” Mike Boyd said. “Nash still has a following even though he’s been dead since the early ’70s. People love to read his stories. He put Beaver Dam on the map for waterfowlers and that tradition carries on. We’re fortunate to have a portion of the lake.”
Beaver Dam is a private lake, meaning you can’t go there to hunt without a private invitation or hiring an outfitter. Father and son duo Mike and Lamar Boyd operate Beaver Dam Hunting Services, which Mike founded when he started guiding on the lake 38 years ago. Today, the outfitting business maintains an incredible reputation for being one of the premier places in the country to spend a few days in a duck blind, because of both how good the hunting is and the nostalgia of hunting hallowed water.
“A lot of our clients over the years have been history buffs. They know about this area, because it’s been well documented for 100 years how good the waterfowl hunting is. Now through websites, and social media and other technological advancements, word is really out about this part of the world,” Lamar Boyd said.
On my two-day trip with Beaver Dam Hunting Services, we stayed two nights in their lodge, which is a renovated home right on the lake. It’s very comfortable, with all the amenities and decor one would expect from an upscale hunting outfitter. For food, we visited the historic Blue and White Restaurant in Tunica, where Buckingham himself dined, along with most waterfowlers to visit the area since. The buffet included southern comfort foods, like fried chicken, catfish, fried okra, coleslaw, collard greens, cornbread and more. It was belt-loosening good.
“When you couple the stories by and about Buckingham with the fact that Dad’s been doing this now for nearly 40 years as a profession and I’m entering my 20th year, we’ve been doing it a while. We know what our clients expect, and we work to provide every aspect of a great experience. We’re fortunate to have return customers coming back year after year, and we enjoy meeting new clients, too,” Lamar Boyd said.
There are a few hunting spots left for this January at Beaver Dam Hunting Services. If you’re interested in hunting historic Beaver Dam Lake, contact Mike and Lamar Boyd through their website, www.beaverdamducks.com, or call them at 662-363-6288. And to stay up to date with their hunts, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
See you down the trail …
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Tribune. He can be reached at [email protected]. For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast on www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or anywhere podcasts are streamed.