By Daniel Mires
By the time you read this the 2019/20 duck season will be in full swing and this information won’t do you much good this season; but it could provide future waterfowl hunting opportunities.
In Tennessee, the traditional hand-drawn, public Wildlife Management Area (WMA) duck blind drawings are held the first Saturday in August. This year these drawings were conducted differently this year.
To deter the illegal “buying” of drawn duck blinds the TWRA made a change in the process.
In years past, one put their name in the pot, and then when all the names were in, they would draw one name at a time. Those drawn then signed for his blind along with all others in is party (known as sign-ons) for that season.
This year, once drawn, those drawn along with their sign-on party members would then go into second drawing—a winners’ round, so to speak. It was the second round that allowed all winners an actual blind selection in sequence of names drawn.
As with anywhere you hunt, there are prime blind sites. So, after the second drawing, and the top blinds are chosen, many people started to leave. If there were, for example, 35 blinds and the top five are taken, that leaves 30 more blinds and 30 more people. When people leave the drawing due to not wanting anything except a top spot, that leaves vacancies or leftover blind spots.
The leftover WMA draw blinds are available for the entire duck season on a first-come, first-served basis. But some sites are just that, sites, with no actual blinds. Therefore, hunters should be prepared to hunt while wading or from a boat.
Feddersen also said hunters interested in leftover blinds can call the area managers to get more information. Contact information is in the Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide which you can find on their website (www.tnwildlife.org)
Some Tennessee WMAs draw blind sites by computer. There were vacancies left as well. Fedderson said there were such leftovers from Candies Creek, Johnson’s Bottoms, Rogers Creek and Yellow Creek. This was held on November 12. For additional information, folks can contact the Region 3 Office at (833) 402-4698.
There was one leftover drawing for all leftovers from Shelby Forest WMA. This was held on November 9. For additional information, folks can contact Chris Park at (901) 876-5169.
There was one leftover drawing for all leftovers from White Oak. This was held on November 9. For additional information, folks can contact Chad Harden at (731) 687-3444.
There were up to 9 leftover drawings at Bogota depending on leftover availability. These are held each Monday (Nov. 25 – Jan. 27) at 6pm at the Dyersburg TWRA Workbase in Dyersburg, TN. For additional information, folks can contact Josh Emerson at (731) 285-6124.
There were up to 9 leftover drawings at Gooch Unit A depending on leftover availability. These are held each Monday (Nov. 25 – Jan. 27) at 6pm at the Kenton Gym in Kenton, TN. For additional information, folks can contact James Whitaker at (731) 749-5587.
There were up to 9 leftover drawings at Thorny Cypress depending on leftover availability. These are held each Monday (Nov. 25 – Jan. 27) at 6pm at the Dyersburg TWRA Workbase in Dyersburg, TN. For additional information, folks can contact Josh Emerson at (731) 285-6124.
Feddersen agrees that the leftover sites or pools are not picked due to their not being as productive as the prime sites. And he said this is generally be the case, but not always, and opportunities are there for those wanting to do their homework.
There was in increase in applicants this year. There were 3,714 applicants for the computer draw this year, up approximately 500 from last year.
The dates for computer draw hunts are set by the area managers (within Federal frameworks) and locations for their area. In some cases, spots like these are not likely to produce daily limits, and in some cases, they won’t be for the faint of heart. The logistics of getting hunters and gear into and out of some of these spots can be a lot of work. They will, however, provide a chance to get out, spend some time with family and/or friends and you might even kill a few ducks to provide some great table fare for yourself or family.