This Missouri Duck Hunting article goes into deep detail about how we make our hunts work.
Nothing fun to read here.
A more interesting read would be the presentation on our wetlands and blinds.
Missouri duck hunting for those unfamiliar with this unguided hunter Association is primarily from permanent blinds on our private wetlands. Other waterfowl hunts include from wade-in, layout boats and field sets. The value of our approach to private wetlands self guided Missouri duck hunting is that no hunter is limited to just one blind or wetlands. Each hunter enjoys being able to hunt over different wetlands habitat types and from different blinds as his choice day to day on any hunt. That hunter may also hunt the entire season for our flat rate annual cost.
What the Association provides is the private wetlands at the Association cost of time and labor. Other spots are crop fields for field set hunts, ponds and lakes for combination wet and dry sets. Total there is 833 acres of floodable land of enhanced natural wetlands. We maintain 30 permanent blinds. An additional 8,000 acres is available for field sets to include on a variety of ponds, irrigation and watershed lakes in addition to dry land acreage.
Duck Boats, Layout or Otherwise
Duck boats of any type are not required to hunt Association blinds on our Missouri managed wetlands. Boats are required if hunting over sloughs, ponds, lakes, layout boat areas. These are areas of deep water. Boats are used on Association managed wetlands to make access to some blinds easier for heavier equipment loads. The difference is that all blind shooting pools and blind access require at the most chest waders. Many times chest waders are overkill. All boats are provided by the hunter. No trailer ramp access is available anywhere. Boats most commonly used are small enough to be hand drug across land. Their use is for those that like spreads bigger than what can be carried in a bag.
The hunter provides his own decoys, calling skill, camouflage, boat, dog as wanted to make the hunt. The hunter also secures his own local lodging at motels, provides his own transportation, meals and licensing.
How it all works is that if an applicant is allocated a membership in the Association he will gain access to the online library of map sheets.
The maps will get the hunter to the wetlands as well as all blinds and other hunt spots are numbered. That hunter would then talk to one of the two Association partners, Jon Nee or John Wenzel, and receive recommendations based on that hunter's preferences of where to scout the wetlands or other land available. Hunters would then schedule with the Association office a time to scout. That hunter scouts blind locations, fields, ponds, etc., learning the ground in daylight before ever trying to find those spots in the early morning dark hours.
Many pictures show more than just the ducks. This picture shows about half the total equipment of this hunt. A second vehicle out of picture carried the dogs and two of the four hunters. Knowing this group like we do the decoy bags in this truck seen represents the total decoys used on this hunt. Our self guided approach along with the size of the pools around the blinds do accommodate large spreads and there will be some 200 duck decoy spreads throughout the season. The blind reservation is for the entire calendar date reserved allowing as early as wanted access to the blinds to set a spread.
Once a hunt is planned a telephone reservation is made to secure that hunter's spot. Come hunt execution day that hunter travels directly to his hunting spot, sets his decoys and hunts on his own. No other checking in other than the telephone reservation that can be made up to 30 days before the hunt or as late as the day of the hunt. The real limitation to remember is that we are committed to have a live voice in the office Monday through Friday from 9 to 530 to give immediate confirmation or denial of a reservation.
On that note of confirmation or denial of a reservation we are a limited hunter organization. meaning we will not allocate more memberships than we have space in blinds. All will be able to hunt as often as wanted during the entire season. However, not all will always get their first choice of reservation as all of the Association private land is available on a first come first served basis. Amongst waterfowl hunters what does happen is that hunters will develop a preference for a particular blind or two or one wetlands over another. That hunter will often seek to hunt that wetlands or blinds. That same hunter will frequently find he will get his first choice. However, and it will happen to every one, on occasion there will be more than one hunter wanting to hunt the same blind on the same wetlands on the same day. Between the two of those hunters it is a matter of who calls in first. All Association land, blinds and such are available on a first call first served basis.
More limits to make success. In addition that no hunter may make a reservation earlier than 30 days before his hunt all hunters also have a daily limitation. For blinds no hunter may have more than two open days booking a blind at a time. This is a a rolling block of days meaning as soon as one blind reservation day is consumed he may make a reservation for a third. Once the second blind reservation is consumed the fourth maybe made and so on. This is not so much as a limitation on the total number of hunting days available to the hunter but a method a flexibility. That hunter after making his reservation is not stuck to any one blind for more than two days. This means if the ducks move so can the hunter to the better localities. If the ducks are working a wetlands well that hunter may stay by keeping his reservation up to date. And yes, the two day limit also makes sure that all waterfowl hunters in the Association have a chance at all the blinds to include those that may be perceived as better during any one part of the season.
The two day limit does not apply to field sets, pond, irrigation, wade-in, layout boat or watershed lake hunts. For these areas the hunter may reserve up to three days at a time. These three days are also a rolling block of days. Using day one allows for day four's reservation. Using day two allows for day five's reservation and so one. The hunter has the option of choosing to stick to one spot or float around to several as he sees fit to make his own hunt.
The flexibility of the unguided hunter being able to pick and choose his location and scheduling of a hunt is frequently commented on benefit. Compared to public wetlands hunting of more hunters than space the Association's luxury of planned/confirmed hunt spots takes away the anxiety about if there will be a hunt.
Wetlands and blind quality is such that anyone that knows any thing about waterfowl hunting is satisfied. After that it is just a matter of weather and migration.
Hunter pressure is the basis of hunt quality and we the Association recognizes that requirement. The Association is operated as a business and not as a club. That business approach is that we know what it takes to get hunters to return for years of hunts to come.
The gray haired nature of the Association hunter avoids the youthful hunter and the unnecessary baggage that goes along with young hunters.
Then of course is our unguided aspect. It is the self guided hunter that enjoys the rewards and pitfalls of making his own hunt. Those that rely on their self rather than be led by the hand and told how to hunt know well this satisfaction.
The Less Good About Our Self Guided Missouri Duck Hunting
We do share blinds. The ideal we know is what is desired by all and that is a private blind available on demand for the entire season on a great wetlands. It is a matter of economics recognizing it does take a good number of folks to pay for several miles of levee building and yearly maintenance, pump electrical cost exceed any one Association hunter's annual dues, bulldozer and back hoe hours to repair annual flood damage, beaver huts and muskrat burrows. Draining, dirt work and planting of food plots all adds up.
For anyone conducting a cost - benefit analysis comparing unguided Missouri duck hunting through this Association and all the other options out there it should be a short requirement.
Compared to public wetlands Missouri duck hunting is limited to the public wetlands being a cheaper option. The consequence of course is regardless of how low cost an option may be if the birds are not huntable on a consistent basis the hunter will seek other options or settle for less than what is available
Compared to a private club the variance is great in terms of costs paid and amenities received. There are many fine clubs out there that do beat the Association on quality and services. That is until costs are included in that analysis. If money is not a factor then join one or more of the several high end clubs and enjoy the heated blinds, jacuzzis and wet bars. We have none of that.
Wetlands ownership is one of the ideals of any waterfowl hunter and any that have one we do agree is a great option. Both of the Association partners own their own farms that are largely their own little hunter playgrounds. A great mind clearing diversion year round not limited to waterfowl hunting. All would be encouraged to do the same. All that do will agree it is great to have their own piece of heaven and all the do also agree it is better to have that plus other places. The variety aspect of not having to go to the same spot every hunt adds much to the motivation to hunt.
Having a single blind lease is probably the worst comparison. That placement of all eggs in to that one basket approach most will agree works very poorly. The occasional times a limited approach does work is always a deep minority compared to the days it does not work.
Weekends we cannot take reservations as we like all other business must draw the line at costs at some point. Forty hours of time spread over five day weeks is enough to accommodate most to include those late to plan their hunts. This is the case where the majority of the Association hunters should not be penalized for the failures of a few. That penalty would be a drain of Association membership fees to pay for weekend office manning.
Open water is available courtesy of nature. Cold weather will make ice requiring the unguided hunter to make his own open water. None of our wetlands have water agitation or any other device to keep water from freezing. Our one late season advantage is our wetlands extend from northern to central waterfowl zones allowing for more open water time in our middle, or our more southern, zone later in the season.
As seen from inside the blind looking out over the shooting pool that extends for chest wader access clear to the far shore.
Opening weekend in the north zone with the minority of our blinds spread across four water spots combine with the anxious hunter wanting early season hunts means all the northern blinds will be full the opening weekend. Come that opening week Monday the wetlands and blinds open up and remain so. The middle zone opening a week later spreading everyone around. If there should be a short duration peak to the migration that peak period may again find the blinds congested. Otherwise any other time of the season there are more than several blinds open bringing a natural rotation limiting pressure.
Never Oversell Our Unguided Missouri Duck Hunting
Our approach is to remind all we are not more than we are. We never over promote the value of what we offer. At the same time we know what else is out there and most will agree after a season hunting in this Association they cannot find anything better. If they can then we too would like to see what that is.
Versatile Dog Hunters