The Missouri Department of Conservation will test an online drawing system called Quick Draw. The system is intended to change the way daily drawings are conducted to assign waterfowl hunting opportunities at state wetland areas. The new system still will include a predraw portion (Quick Draw) and a daily drawing for remaining open slots.
The Department will test Quick Draw at Eagle Bluffs, Grand Pass and Otter Slough conservation areas to determine whether the online system enhances convenience and hunter participation. Depending on how well it works, the system might be modified and expanded to other state-managed wetland areas in future years.
During this year’s trial run, Missouri residents will enter online drawings for hunting slots twice a week instead of having to go to the three conservation areas for the daily draw. Hunters entering the drawing through Quick Draw can apply to hunt at one area per day. The system will not limit the number of days for which hunters can apply, or the number of days they can hunt if they are drawn.
A drawing on Monday of each week will assign hunting slots for the following Friday through Monday. A drawing each Thursday will assign slots for the following Tuesday through Thursday. The Quick Draw system will accept applications a few days prior to each drawing.
The online drawings will assign 80 percent of hunting slots each day. The remaining 20 percent of slots will be assigned in a drawing at each wetland area the morning of the hunt. This arrangement—commonly called the “poor line” drawing—is part of the current drawing system.
Wildlife Division Chief DeeCee Darrow said the trial is part of a larger effort to re-examine how the Conservation Department does business and to use every technological means at its disposal to improve services.
“Our current daily drawing system for assigning waterfowl hunting opportunities has been around for a long time,” says Darrow. “However, it does have some drawbacks. We had no way to address those shortcomings in the days before the Internet. We think Quick Draw will make hunting at our wetland areas more practical for more hunters.”
The current drawing system assigns hunting opportunities in two ways. Each September, Missouri residents apply for hunting reservations at wetland areas. Those reservations can be from late October into January. The reservation system assigns half the hunting slots available at each wetland area each day. The other half are assigned in drawings—the so-called “poor line”—held early each morning at each wetland area. The three areas where Quick Draw is being tested will not be included in the reservation system this year.
Daily “poor line” drawings allow Missouri residents who do not have reservations and nonresidents to drive to the wetland areas of their choice for a chance at drawing one of the unreserved hunting slots. This feature is retained under Quick Draw.
Having a reservation under the current system is not always good for reservation holders. Reservation dates are locked in weeks or months in advance, and they do not always coincide with those days when large numbers of ducks and geese are present. Under the present system, the only way to concentrate your hunting efforts on the best days of the year is to stand in the “poor line.” The new system gives hunters more flexibility by letting them try for guaranteed hunting slots on the hottest hunting days of the year.
Driving to wetland areas to stand in the “poor line” is a costly gamble for those who live far from their favorite hunting areas or who must take a day of vacation for a hunt. It also creates a quandary for parents who want to hunt with their children but hesitate to take them out of school without any assurance they will get to hunt.
Quick Draw’s twice-weekly drawings will increase the number of hunters who have guaranteed slots when they arrive at wetland areas. It also will enable hunters to focus their efforts on the best hunting days.
Under Quick Draw, the computer drawing will determine the order in which successful applicants get to select hunting spots. It also will determine where successful hunters in the “poor line” fit in the selection of hunting spots. On any given day, the No. 1 spot can be in either the Quick Draw or “poor-line” portion of the draw.
Darrow said the new system will reduce the number of hunters turned away from wetland areas on site each morning. Furthermore, she expects it to speed up the process of getting hunters to their hunting spots.
“We think hunters will find a lot to like about this system,” says Darrow. “We know from past surveys that lack of time is one factor that prevents people from enjoying outdoor activities. This will help Missourians make better use of their time.”
Darrow noted that high fuel prices make fruitless trips to distant hunting areas expensive. Quick Draw will save waterfowl hunters money. “No system can please everyone,” says Darrow, “but we hope this new arrangement will make it easier and more affordable for people to take advantage of waterfowl hunting at state wetlands. If it lets more people enjoy hunting, itwill be a success.”
Darrow said the Conservation Department is interested in finding out what hunters think of Quick Draw, both before and after this year’s trial. She said the new system is still in development, with time for fine-tuning to make the test run as convenient as possible for hunters and as useful as possible in post-test evaluation.
Hunters interested in providing suggestions about Quick Draw can contact the nearest Conservation Department office (Page 3) or send written comments to Wildlife Division, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.
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