Quick Draw option for waterfowl hunting increases “poor line” spots

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Based on feedback from waterfowl hunters and analysis of past waterfowl seasons, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is implementing a minor change to “Quick Draw.” This online draw system is used for allocating waterfowl hunting spots at three of the Department’s 15 conservation areas that offer managed waterfowl hunting.

For 2013 and 2014, the Quick Draw system for Grand Pass, Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough conservation areas will increase the “poor line” ratio from 20 to 25 percent of available hunting spots. The poor line is an on-site drawing for hunting spots held each morning during waterfowl season. No reservations are needed and hunters can just show-up and vie for a poor line spot.

“For the past several years, 80 percent of hunting spots at the three Quick Draw areas have been randomly drawn and offered to applicants,” said MDC Wildlife Programs Supervisor Shawn Gruber. “The remaining 20 percent of spots, along with any unfilled spots from applicants, go to the poor line.”

He added that not all hunters who get selected under Quick Draw actually show up to hunt. “Our analysis of past seasons revealed that only 43 percent of hunters who actually went afield on the day of their hunt were drawn under Quick Draw,” said Gruber. “Hunters from the poor line accounted for 57 percent.”

The Department expects that by shifting to a 25 percent poor line ratio for the three Quick Draw areas, waterfowl hunters drawn from the poor line will make up about 62 percent of hunters who actually go afield. Quick Draw hunters will fill only about 38 percent of hunting spots.

The poor line increase for Quick Draw areas will also require a shift from one hunting spot out of every five being allocated to the poor line to one spot out of every four.

Depending on wetland conditions, there is generally a maximum of 40 daily waterfowl hunting spots at Grand Pass, 20 at Eagle Bluffs and 34 at Otter Slough.

Over the past three years, MDC gathered feedback from waterfowl hunters on Quick Draw through public meetings, online comments, a waterfowl hunter survey, and focus groups.

“The rationale for this change is based on hunter feedback,” Gruber said. “During the first two years, we received more than 1,100 comments with the most common recommendation being increasing the poor line ratio. In 2012 we conducted an online survey of waterfowl hunters. Of the nearly 3,700 hunters who responded, 54% wanted to increase the poor line ratio. It was not a significant majority so a modest adjustment seemed appropriate.”

Also based on feedback from waterfowl hunters and analysis of past hunting seasons, the Department will not limit the number of times a waterfowl hunter can be randomly drawn per season under Quick Draw.

In 2010, MDC implemented Quick Draw as an internet-based waterfowl hunting draw system for the three conservation areas. The new system was an effort by MDC to offer waterfowl hunters an alternative draw method.

“Quick Draw accommodates those waterfowl hunters who prefer to make plans within a week of their desired hunt dates,” explained Gruber. “The short lead time with Quick Draw also allows those hunters to focus their choices on dates with favorable weather and waterfowl numbers, and to know they will have a guaranteed hunt and a specific place in line for the morning draw before driving to the hunting destination.”

Gruber added that the pre-season reservation system used at MDC’s 12 other managed waterfowl hunting areas accommodates hunters who need to make hunting plans up to several months in advance. The advance reservation process offers little control over which dates hunters may receive in random drawings and no indication of how those dates will relate to weather or waterfowl numbers.

He added that MDC will conduct a review of its entire managed waterfowl hunt program in 2015 and make changes as needed.

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt waterfowl and the state has a variety of public and private options for waterfowl hunters. MDC intensively manages almost 32,000 acres of wetlands on 15 conservation areas that provide managed waterfowl hunts. Aside from Quick Draw areas, the other 12 managed waterfowl hunting conservation areas are: B.K. Leach, Bob Brown, Columbia Bottoms, Duck Creek, Fountain Grove, Four Rivers, Marais Temps Clair, Montrose, Nodaway Valley, Schell-Osage, Ted Shanks and Ten Mile Pond. MDC also maintains 80,000 acres of wetland habitat on 169 conservation areas where walk-in waterfowl hunting is allowed. More than 93 percent of Missouri land is privately owned, including extensive areas of private land used for waterfowl hunting.

For more information on waterfowl hunting in Missouri, go online to mdc.mo.gov/node/9619.