david vowell duck hunting double murder
David Vowell of Martin, Tennessee is wanted for questioning regarding a double homicide by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. (Photo credit: TBI)
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An incident at Reelfoot Lake in the northwest corner of Tennessee yesterday morning has once again proven the point that just because you’re a hunter doesn’t mean you’re exempt from needing self-defense skills. Exactly what happened is still spotty, but it seems a 70-year-old hunter in his own duck blind got into a verbal altercation with a pair of younger hunters in another blind. That altercation allegedly ended with the older man shooting and killing both younger men.

WSPDLocal6 reported the basics:

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is searching for a 70-year-old man in connection to the shooting in Obion County that left two dead Monday morning.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday, the TBI announced that 70-year-old David Vowell is a person of interest in the case. He is considered armed and dangerous. The bureau has confirmed the two people killed in the shooting at Reelfoot Lake are 26-year-old Chance Black and 25-year-old Zachery Grooms, both of Weakley County.

“This is a very quiet area. A lot of hunters come in here and they enjoy the duck hunting and all, but to be upset over somebody shooting more ducks or whatever the case may have been, I don’t know,” [resident David Gray] said. “But it’s bad to hear that someone, especially young boys, being treated that way. It’s a shame that something like this would happen.”

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has requested “anyone who was on or near the north end of Reelfoot Lake Monday morning and heard or saw anything that might help agents in their investigation can call 1-800-TBI-FIND.”

The takeaway: just because you hunt doesn’t mean you’re proficient in self-defense skills. And just because you’re toting a long gun doesn’t mean you’re going to be fast enough to use it to defend yourself which is one reason I carry my EDC while hunting when and where legally allowed.

Getting on ducks with your shotgun isn’t the same as making a life-saving shot with the same shotgun in self-defense during a violent attack.

Is it possible the man wanted for questioning acted in his own self-defense? Certainly. Clearly we do not have all the information here, but you have to wonder why he fled if it was self-defense situation. More will certainly be revealed as the incident is further investigated.

Take the time to get yourself proper self-defense training, and I don’t mean only the live fire kind. Learn about the mentality of self-defense and how to handle potentially-deadly altercations. There’s much more to it than pulling triggers. Remember, any fight you walk away from is a win. Often the best solution is simply to leave.

We’ll see what other information comes out as this story develops. Stay tuned.

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  1. EDC where legally allowed is good policy everywhere, however difficult living close to a major university and lots of Federal facilities as I do. … One of many reasons I’m leaving.

    It’s hard to believe that at 70 David Vowell appears to be the hot head, but I guess some never mellow.

  2. Hat tip to Kat for acknowledging that this is incomplete information and a developing story. It would be real easy to imagine scenarios in which the deceased were the aggressors and we know nothing about background or character of any of them that might be suggestive of what transpired.

  3. This is a true “man bites dog” story. Usually, when two twenty-somethings have a contretemps with an old timer, the result is the exact opposite of what happened here.

      • I’m older than Vowell and have a lot to look forward too (at least I hope I do). He had plenty to lose — his duck hunting days are over, so is spending time with his family and friends, that little room he’ll have to share at the Graybar Hotel is a lot less comfortable than his former living arrangement, and they don’t serve beer — so his behavior is confusing to me. Well, really, the entire story makes no sense.

        • All I’m saying is the last thing I would do is get into an altercation with an old guy especially an armed one. We will probably never know exactly what happened the fact he did not call law enforcement immediately after speaks volumes.

  4. I am curious as to how they know it was due to a verbal altercation? If the two on scene are dead and the shooter is missing, who is giving the testimony that it was a verbal argument. Also why shoot both?
    Not something you see out of 70 year olds…. many questions.

    As for defensive carry, pretty sure a shotgun loaded and ready for ducks is about as defensive as it gets in this scenario. Downgrading to a pistol would not be my first choice.


    • Truth. This whole piece really strains to find a TTAG angle on a news story. I mean, “just because you’re a hunter doesn’t mean you’re exempt from needing self-defense skills,” who ever even said that?
      I’m a hunter, so I don’t need any self-defense skills, man.

  5. While I would never endorse bird shot for a defensive load I have seen what a 3 inch magnum load of steel BB does to a groundhog up close. With the Federal flite control wad it is horror movie gruesome up close.

    • I don’t know about that, Seems I remember Dick Cheney shooting another hunter in the face with bird shot (while poaching without a license) and the guy apologized to Dick for blocking his shot.(or something on those lines)

      • They were hunting quail. Normally I use number 7’s for that. And the shots tend to be at ranges out to 30 yards. As long as you don’t take one to the eyes it is a very survivable situation.

        Saw a man hit with a load of 7 and a halves during a quail hunt in Ohio at fairly close range. It was a frosty day and the few pellets that penetrated the heavy layers he was wearing left bee sting like welts.

      • I don’t know much about the Cheyney accident, but quail hunting, at least the way I have done it with a party of four hunters involves hunters maintaining their positioning so that each hunter knows where the other hunters are located and the direction in which each hunter is allowed to take a shot. Depending on where the dogs point, the two hunters in back sometimes have to move fast to swing around behind the two front shooters.. A good guide/dog handler makes sure everyone is in the right position before flushing birds.

        • Calling it an “accident’ is far to generous, “incident” would be more appropriate. What bothered me most about it at the time (and still chafes my hide) Is Cheney was hunting without a license (poaching) and was allowed to buy a license after the fact to cover “his debt to society” instead of being charged with the crime. You or I would have gone to jail for negligently causing great bodily harm while in the commission of a crime. Like the saying goes “Some animals are more equal than others.”

    • Not really. A lot of boomer retard fudds hated Trump with a passion.

      On the other hand, we just know that the gangbangers of Chicago are card carrying members of BLM and the Democrat party, and voted in droves for Beijing Biden corruption.

      • I hear ya. At some point having someone bring food and checking on you every day to see if you’re still alive and kicking can make the thought of prison sound not so bad after all. Although, I did do 60 days in county lock up 40 years ago and I’m not ready to go back just yet.

  6. if im in the woods
    alone or not
    hunting or not
    rifle or shotgun or not
    with coyotes and black bears and cougars and who knows what other human predators about
    im carrying
    whatever “the law” states
    id rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6
    or eaten alive by however many

  7. It would seem to me the blinds were very close if he could kill them with his duck, load .
    I’ve only gone a few times but with a serious water fowl guy , getting out early to get a good spot , and then moving if someone was already there was the thing to do .

    If I had to guess one party thought that has ,” his / their “ spot . Sad .

    • Larry,

      If I had to guess one party thought that has ,” his / their “ spot .

      I have experienced that exact situation two times.

      The first time I was on public land in an official state forest. I was there two days before the other dude showed up and claimed that I had to leave “his” spot.

      The second time I was on private property with explicit permission of the owner and the previous owner of that property who was trespassing berated me, claiming that he had every right to be there and I had to leave. The frosting on the cake: not only did I have a survey of the property and PROVE that I was an invited guest — and the ONLY invited guest — on the private property, THE OWNER STOPPED BY TO SEE HOW I WAS DOING AND THE GUY STILL TRIED TO ARGUE THAT HE HAD A RIGHT TO BE THERE AND THAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO LEAVE. After 10 minutes of yammering on and failing to convince us to acquiesce to his version of “truth”, the trespasser walked away mumbling about who knows what. The property owner was completely dumbfounded and told me that he has never ever had anyone talk in such a nonsensical manner.

      I was on extremely high alert in that second encounter. I had my shotgun in hand (loaded with a 50 caliber slug for white-tailed deer) in an inconspicuous hold that I could bring to bear almost instantly and was constantly evaluating the trespasser’s body language and stance. I figured there was a 25% chance that we would attempt to swing his shotgun toward me and I was ready if he decided to do that.

      This is the ugly side of hunting.

      • People are crazy. We were water skiing on a river (just upstream from and practically a lake), and went by some guy fishing on the shore a few times. He yelled at us every time we passed. He finally shot at us. I assume a warning shot. This was before everyone had a cell phone handy. We promptly left and called the police. By the time we drove back to meet the police, he was gone.

    • The range is always crowded in the fall when the Fudds have to figure out if their deer rifles and slug guns still shoot.

    • I’m concerned that this will bring shotguns further up on the restriction RADAR.

      Here in WA, the last round of repression kinda ignored shotguns. It’s the only firearm that you can still be in and out of the store in 15mins, gun in hand, no delay.

      The new requirement of the ST.Patrol to track, record, and store purchases does not include shotguns. Hope that doesn’t change.

  8. Arizona law was corrected to remove the infringement on hunters carrying a non-hunt gun for self defense. So, we have that going for us.

    Will be interesting to hear if they figure this one out. Did the old guy defend himself? Or was he the aggressor? Is he dead someplace from wounds received?

  9. Call me paranoid: I have always felt a bit uneasy going out into the wilds to hike, hunt, and camp. Events like the subject of this article reinforce that uneasiness.

    I think it stems from two facts when you are out in the wilds:
    1) You are focused on your environment; there are no home/city-life distractions.
    2) You quickly realize how isolated and potentially vulnerable you are.

    Now throw in an occasional douchebag who likes to erroneously claim “his/her spot” and you can see how quickly things could go south.

    • Trust me…If you are out in the wilds, you are far safer and less likely to be in danger than you would be in ANY city in this country. That would probably be true for animal attacks too.

      • David Bradford,

        You could very well be right, especially if you are referring to cities with populations over 20,000 people.

        I have had two “conflicts” while out in the wilds as I stated in my comment above. I have had one potential conflict, one almost certain conflict, and two certain conflicts in/near cities. Of course that probably comes from the fact that I spend a lot more time in/near cities than hiking, camping, and hunting in the wilds and there are a lot more people to encounter in/near cities than out in the wilds.

        Not sure how to categorize it: I have also had two significant altercations at a campground in an isolated location. (As it turns out, both altercations occurred at the same campground on different trips.) I had to carry an ax around with me after the first altercation. And the second altercation required informing/recruiting other campers to create an impromptu/temporary campground militia.

  10. I don’t think a pistol in a pocket would beat a shotgunm in hand. Most duck hunters I’ve hunted with were pretty fast.
    Shotgunms, I’ve been stung by pellets from aways off, and I’ve also blown the head off a goat up close.


    • There you go! Ducks of the world unite!

      Donald duck, migrating to Mexico for his fourth winter down south, had finally had enough. Seeing the hunters in their blinds below, Donald circled around three times from high up to scope out the situation. Seeing a golden opportunity, Donald swooped in silently from behind, took the shotgun out of the hands of the elderly guy, and then sneaked over and blasted the two younger duck hunters — successfully framing the elderly hunter and facilitating his escape.

    • Chinese trained killer duck insertion exercise?
      The old man is simply a scapegoat that will surprisingly die of Covid before authorities have an opportunity to speak with him.

  12. And it didn’t help that the police didn’t help share info with the neighboring counties to be on the look out for him.

    • Chief Deputies son? I’ve encountered that situation a time or two in my life. The children of law enforcement, especially in small towns and rural areas, believe they are above the law and are a law unto themselves.

      It rarely ends well. You claim to be from WV. Were you around during the days of the Constables? The most corrupt law enforcement in the world, bar none. Mexican police were a tower of virtue in comparison.

  13. Your making a lot of assumptions about this case with no details. He could have simply killed them with no warning.
    I understand the point your trying to make but …

  14. I know the area well, it’s rough-and-tumble, excellent hunting and lots of short fuses and bad blood. The history of the area is one of conflict and simmering feuds between locals and outsiders, and amongst each other, too. Reelfoot is a spooky, totally unique 15k shallow lake with cypress trees, formed by an earthquake in 1812, and is known across the country for ducks, slab crappie and bald eagles. Unforgettable place, and a lot of people have been burned out and disappeared out there. Words can turn into violence real quick; check out the NightRiders of Reelfoot.
    The man in question is an old bull rider and his family has been in the lumber business out in Martin, TN, for over 100 years. High-profile figure in the local business community, and known to most everybody.
    Lots of stories flying around about the confrontation but suffice to say it began over hunting and harsh words.

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