PUXICO, MO (STL.News) The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is preparing area wetlands for upcoming waterfowl seasons. Duck season in Missouri’s Middle Zone is Nov. 9 to 15 and Nov. 21 to Jan. 12, 2020. The South Zone duck season is Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 and Dec. 7 to Jan. 31, 2020. Managers of the wetland conservation areas in southeast Missouri have information for hunters on what to expect.
Areas in southeast Missouri have been less impacted by flooding than those along the Missouri river in the central and northwestern parts of the state. Due to spring flooding, some managed wetland areas in those regions may have sections closed for repair or have reduced habitat for waterfowl hunting.
“Fortunately, the summer floods in southeast Missouri won’t impede southeast region hunting opportunity,” said Nicky Walker, Duck Creek CA area manager.
In addition to plenty of hunting opportunities, hunters can look forward to a new and improved draw system across the state, which will reduce confusion among the previous different draw procedures. All areas now offer pre-season reservations along with in-season reservations. Walker said hunters without reservations will also be able to participate in the draw through the traditional poor line, using the one member draw method. This will speed up the draw process and make waterfowl draws consistent across the state.
Along with these changes, MDC now has assigned a QR code unique to every properly licensed hunter which helps speed up unit allocation for hunters and harvest data collection for MDC. The QR code unique to every hunter can be located on printed permits, on permits in the MOHunting App, and also on the Missouri Conservation Permit Card.
“Hunters just need to know to have their permit with them, either printed, on the App or using their permit card, to help the draw go smoothly,” Walker said.
Duck Creek Conservation Area (CA)
At Duck Creek CA, dirt work occurring as part of the final phase of the Golden Anniversary Renovation is nearing completion but could impact the area early in the season.
“The moist soil habitat looks excellent across the area,” Walker said. “With added precipitation and cool weather to put our trees into dormancy, we’ll start flooding timber units.”
The dry weather this fall has allowed the installation of four new hunting blinds on Duck Creek. Blinds E1 and Y2 were replaced this summer and blinds were added to Unit A in Pool 11 and Unit B in Pool 54. To start the season, Duck Creek has 17 available hunting locations, which will slowly increase to over 45 positions on the area.
Otter Slough CA
At Otter Slough CA, new area manager Luke Wehmhoff, said hunters can expect 28 hunting locations at the beginning of the season with a possible increase to 34 later in the season.
“The wet spring and summer made it an ideal year for moist-soil management, but a rough year for any kind of supplemental food plots in the hunt units,” he said.
Units 36, 37, 28 and Cul-de-sac will be flooded late due to tree growth and well issues that are currently being addressed on the area.
“Units at Otter Slough are already seeing significant use by early migrant waterfowl such as pintails, teal and shovelers,” Wehmhoff said.
Ten Mile Pond CA
Elevated Mississippi River levels earlier this year delayed some desired work on Ten Mile Pond CA this summer. However, habitat looks good according to new area manager Keith Cordell.
“We anticipate some cooperative weather and good migration events this fall and fully expect the birds to begin arriving soon. We believe they will find favorable conditions when they get here and look forward to a good waterfowl hunting season,” Cordell said.
By the start of the south zone season, Ten Mile Pond hunters can expect 10 to 12 hunting positions while gradually increasing to a maximum of 19 as water levels and habitat use allow.
All three area managers said they encourage hunters to ask questions if they’re not familiar with the areas. MDC employees are happy to help hunters, but generally have more time to do so once the draw is done. The other tip they have for hunters is to “Get where the ducks are and hide the best you can.”
“The number one thing that will help hunters is to conceal themselves as much as possible,” added Wehmhoff. “A duck’s ability to see hunters is underappreciated and as a result they don’t decoy as well.”
Three permits are required for goose, duck and coot seasons, including the Small Game Hunting Permit, the Migratory Bird Hunting Permit and the Federal Duck Stamp. Limits are six ducks daily with specific species restrictions found in the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest. All waterfowl hunters should have a copy of the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2019-2020, available where permits are sold and online at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZZa