JEFFERSON CITY — Missourians who want to hunt ducks or geese on most wetland areas managed by the Conservation Department can start applying for reservations Sept. 1. Those who hunt at three areas will enter the drawing closer to their hunt dates. All applications will be handled online this year.
The Conservation Department will accept applications for reservations on 12 managed wetland areas from Sept. 1 through 18 at http://www.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/birds/waterfowl. Drawing results will be available Oct. 1 at the same website.
The phone reservation system used in the past has been discontinued this year. Wildlife Division Chief DeeCee Darrow noted that the decision was based on a need to cut the agency’s budget and on the dwindling use of the telephone system.
“Maintaining a telephone reservation system made sense when it served a significant portion of waterfowl hunters and was reasonably economical,” said Darrow, “but we have reached a point where it’s no longer a good use of taxpayer dollars.”
According to Darrow, the telephone reservation system handled 27 percent of all applications in 2002. In 2009, only 4.5 percent of hunters applied by phone. This, together with the expense of maintaining the telephone reservation system, prompted the decision to discontinue the service.
“I know that going to all computer reservations is an inconvenience for hunters who do not have Internet access,” Darrow said, “but with department revenues down, we are cutting costs wherever possible. We simply can’t justify spending thousands of dollars on the phone system that serves such a small number of hunters.”
Also for the first time this year, the Conservation Department is testing a new reservation system, called Quick Draw, at Eagle Bluffs, Grand Pass and Otter Slough conservation areas.
Having a reservation under the traditional system does not always benefit reservation holders. Reservations often do not coincide with days when large numbers of migrating waterfowl are present. Under the current system, the only way to concentrate hunting efforts on the best hunting days is to stand in the “poor line.” However, 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. Quick Draw gives hunters more flexibility by letting them apply for hunts as little as three days in advance. This allows hunters to try for guaranteed hunting slots on the best hunting days of the year.
Quick Draw is helpful to parents who want to take their children hunting during breaks in the school year. It also gives more hunters guaranteed reservations each day by increasing the proportion of reservation holders from 50 percent of hunting spots to 80 percent. By reducing the time needed for assigning hunting spots each morning, Quick Draw will get hunters into the marsh more quickly.
Grand Pass CA will the first area to test the new system, because it is in the North Zone. Applications to hunt during the first three days of the 2010 duck season will open at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 22 and close at 3 p.m. Oct. 25. Results will be available after midnight that day. Successful applicants will be notified by e-mail or text message if they provide contact information. They also can check the results online.
Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough CAs are in the Middle Zone, so applications for reservations the first three days of the season at those areas will open at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 29 and close at 3 p.m. Nov. 1. Results will be available after midnight Nov. 1.
After the initial drawing in each zone, Monday drawings will award reservations for Friday through Monday. Applications will be open from Monday through Wednesday to assign reservations for Tuesday through Thursday.
Whether applying through the traditional reservation system or Quick Draw, applicants need the nine-digit identification number found at the top of their hunting or fishing permit. The number also is shown next to the bar code on Conservation Heritage Cards.
To apply for reservations under Quick Draw, hunters over age 15 and under age 65 need a small-game hunting permits and a migratory bird permit. Hunters under age 15 only need a Conservation Identification Number. Disabled veterans need a Conservation Identification Number and a certified statement of eligibility from the Veterans Administration. The certification must be presented the morning of the hunt.
Quick Draw applications will close at 3 p.m. the day of the draw. Results will be posted at the Quick Draw website at 12:01 a.m. the following day. Successful applicants who provide e-mail addresses will receive notice of their reservation and of their order in the morning lineup to select hunting spots. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified, but can check draw results online.
Neither Quick Draw nor the traditional systems allow nonresidents to apply for reservations. However, resident hunters who draw reservations can include nonresidents in their hunting parties. Nonresidents also can take part in the daily, on-site “poor-line” drawings under both systems.
Up to three additional people can hunt with someone who gets a reservation through Quick Draw. If four people want to hunt together, it makes sense for all four to apply. Hunters who fail to use their reservations are not penalized. Unclaimed reservations are added to those available in the “poor line,” where hunters who show up without reservations can draw for a chance to hunt.
Quick Draw also will determine reservation holders’ place in line for selecting hunting spots. To give “poor line” hunters an equal chance at the best hunting spots, Quick Draw divides the selection process into tiers of five spots each. In each tier, one spot will be reserved for poor-line hunters. Daily “poor line” drawings will continue under the every-member-draws system.
Quick Draw will handle reservations for handicap-accessible blinds at the three Quick Draw pilot areas. Handicap blind reservations at other areas will be handled as in the past. The trial will not affect youth hunts.
Hunters may apply for reservations at only one Quick Draw area per day. However, there is no limit on the number of days you can apply. If you submit an application and change your mind about where you want to hunt, you can change your application up until the time of the drawing.
Hunters should check hunting conditions before applying for reservations. For the latest report, visit http://www.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/birds/waterfowl/preseason-waterfowl-reports/resource/preseason-report-area-wetland-.