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Today is July 15, 2020

Hidden Mississippi Buckatunna Creek

Paddling unfamiliar streams with the Man in the Dugout Canoe

By Sandra M. Buckley

Hidden Mississippi Buckatunna Creek

“Adventure for Drew Turner is all about exploring the unknown,” said his wife, Donna. In 2011, she added, he built a dugout canoe from a poplar tree with a determination to explore the “familiar” as well as the “unfamiliar” streams of Mississippi. Since then, her husband has paddled his dugout canoe more than 1,500 miles and has become known throughout the region as “The Man in the Dugout Canoe.”

“The early explorers of American history had no idea of what lay ahead when they set off on a journey,” she noted. “They simply set off to find new things in unfamiliar territory. That is not any different than what Drew does today; he just does it on a smaller scale, in his dugout canoe.”

Adventure for Drew — and Donna who accompanies him on every float — is all about attitude. “You cannot have an attitude of doubt; it must be one of determination and grit,” she said. “Mississippi is full of undiscovered streams of beauty. If you want to find them, you must be willing to go to unfamiliar places.”

Attempting to access these unfamiliar streams, however, can sometimes be physically challenging — especially if there is not a cemented boat ramp or the terrain is rocky and steep. “Drew considers these a CrossFit workout and a simple canoe-trip-turned-adventure,” Donna said with a laugh. Buckatunna Creek in Wayne County is one such example, where the designated boat put-in is difficult to maneuver; though, like with many creeks, there are simpler and lesser-known loading and exiting options that can be found nearby.

The name Buckatunna, in fact, is derived from a Choctaw word meaning a creek with much weaving. “I recommend doing the Buckatunna float in the spring when there is ample water,” she shared. “About three miles into the float, the terrain begins to change drastically. The banks become rocky with high overhanging cliffs. Some of the rock walls are so high it feels like you are in a giant bowl. The ferns droop over the edge of the cliffs and looks like a beautiful green valance. There are several small waterfalls, and the springs flow from the rocks overhead into the water beneath. The sights, the sounds and the fragrance create a magical experience that cannot be captured in words or with the stroke of a pen.”

For the adventure-seeking Man in the Dugout Canoe, who turns 61 in June, his passion is encouraging people to discover our “Hidden Mississippi.” His many adventures are documented on his Facebook page, featuring hundreds of beautiful photos, helpful information and a touch of humor.


Drew Turner uses his Man in the Dugout Canoe platform as a ministry to promote families spending time together outdoors as well as acknowledge God as the Creator of the universe. A taxidermist by trade, he is a storyteller and speaker who shares his message with church groups and at wildlife events. The Turners live in Hattiesburg and are Pearl River Valley Electric members. Visit for more information.

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