The Manual of Southern Know-How

How to Escape Pluff Mud

An Alabama outdoorsman on the art of getting unstuck

photo: Ross MacDonald


We call it muck down here in the Mobile delta. I love it because it means there are ducks and snipes and redfish around. But I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get through the stuff. It just sucks you down.

First: If you have to walk in it, you’ve got to make yourself light. That’s the best way I can describe it. Look for a patch of marsh grass and try to step on it. That’ll give you a little bit of firmer footing. And you’ve got to move fast. But even that doesn’t work for longer distances.

The muck will make you get creative. I tied tennis rackets to my feet. I used snowshoes. I tried water skis. None of them
worked. They all got stuck, and when you sink with something like that tied to your feet, you’ve got a real mess.

If you’re in the muck and you start sinking up to your calves, stick your knee out. That’ll give you some support. Then make yourself prone as quick as you can. If you get in real trouble, there’s only one thing left to do: You have to swim your way through it. And you won’t look too pretty when it’s over.


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