The Waterfowl World of the McCadams Brothers

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - by Richard Simms
Hunting & fishing guide Steve McCadams (left) calls at a high duck with his "baby brother" Kevin, a tennis pro, at his side.
Hunting & fishing guide Steve McCadams (left) calls at a high duck with his "baby brother" Kevin, a tennis pro, at his side.
- photo by Richard Simms

I've been in the duck blind before with Steve McCadams, one of the most successful and well-known hunting & fishing guides in Tennessee, if not the Southeast.

Today however, I was to get a double-dose of McCadams.

"My brother is in town. He'll be going with us today," Steve told me.

Kentucky Lake Duck Hunt Photo Gallery

There were several of us in Steve McCadams' blind that day, but it wasn't hard to pick out the other Brother McCadams. Both wear the ruddy look belied by their Irish names. And both are quick to laugh or smile, although not always at each other.

"Me being the little brother, it was always my fault for not tying the boat in good and it floating away," laughed Kevin McCadams.

"I dropped his gun in the water a couple of times," he said. "That always led to a good McCadams Brothers fight. Sometimes it was like Ali and Frazier out here, but that was just part of it."

Kevin is about five years younger than Steve. That meant when Steve got a driver's license, being the good big brother that he was, he often carried Kevin on hunting excursions.

"I carried him hunting all the time," said Steve. "And when you're the older brother you've got to look after the boots and the guns and the shells and make sure things work."

Obviously the same thing a guide must often do for clumsy clients… so no doubt we can credit his little brother with Steve McCadams' skills as a guide. The two boys grew up in a place and a time that many sportsmen dream of. They know the Big Sandy area of Kentucky Lake like most folks know the way to the mailbox.

"My Dad started hunting here in 1951," Steve told me. "I killed my first duck with a .410 shotgun forty-something years ago on the point of one of those islands out there. It was a widgeon. I've got him mounted on the wall, so I've got a lot of great memories out here.

"It was 1968 when me and some of my buddies started fixing and maintaining blinds in just about the same place we're hunting today."

1968 or 2006… I'm sure it looked much the same when four mallards cupped their wings and pitched out of the grey Kentucky Lake sky. To my right the two siblings went to work with calling skills honed on these very waters decades ago. The mallards were no match for the McCadams Brothers. One circle, two and then on the next pass all four birds hovered, orange feet down over the decoys. Twelve gauge thunder struck them down, and Steve's dog Molly went to work.

Years ago the McCadams Brothers shared guiding duties on occasion.

"The guiding is still in me… I love to call," said Kevin.

But he had a different calling as well.

"Different strokes for different folks…. I just got into the ball sports a little bit more," he said.

Kevin McCadams became a tennis pro and athletic facility manager. Jobs have taken him away from Big Sandy, but one thing brings him back every winter.

"I always make sure I get home for the duck hunting," said Kevin.

Kentucky Lake Duck Hunt Photo Gallery

And just like any good brother, Steve is quick to remind folks that Kevin now lives north of the Mason Dixon Line.

"He talks like a Yankee so we have to retrain him when he comes back down," Steve said with a big grin. "He'll help me on the blind a little bit but now he just shows up and shoots and hunts and eats, so he gets in on the good part."

Of course I would be remiss if I didn't share that while Steve and I talked, little brother Kevin was busy loading up the boat with a fresh batch a goose decoys that needed to be placed.

And he's got a few stories of his own about big brother.

"My brother used to be in a rock & roll band," said Kevin. "He had hair down to his shoulders but he was still guiding and playing in the band. He'd stay out all night and come in and go duck hunting. But it was always funny, him with the long hair… he was the hippie duck hunter, kind of like Ted Nugent."

Perhaps for no reason other than to goad a little brotherly competition, I asked who was the best shot.

"Me," answered Steve quickly, "because I get to shoot more often… but he's the best tennis player. I can't hit a tennis ball."

Kevin didn't argue, but perhaps it was only because he spotted another mallard winging its way North. The bird's flight was soon cut short however by a pair of McCadams Brothers highballs.

I left that day knowing Kentucky Lake is in good hands.

Kentucky Lake Duck Hunt Photo Gallery


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