Four Rivers Conservation Area is located on the western edge of Missouri in Vernon and Bates Counties. The area is comprised of nearly 14,000 acres of timber and marsh land. Each fall, thousands of ducks stop at this location, which makes it a popular place to hunt among waterfowlers in Missouri. From mallards to Canada geese, this area boasts great opportunity for avid hunters.
Reservations at Four Rivers Conservation Area
Pre-season reservations at Four Rivers
Hunters apply for preseason reservations at Four Rivers Conservation Area from the beginning of September to mid September through the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online application. This application is only available during this time period. Hunters not awarded a pre-season reservation are then able to apply during the season through the quick draw reservation system. Only Missouri residents may apply.
Quick draw reservations at Four Rivers
Quick draw reservations at Four Rivers Conservation Area are awarded to hunters who apply for a reservation throughout the season. Quick draw reservations may be applied for approximately one week before a hunt. Hunters from across the state apply for a quick draw reservation at Four Rivers, which makes your chances of being awarded a reservation low. Only Missouri residents may apply.
Poor line at Four Rivers
The poor line is available to hunters at Four Rivers Conservation Area the morning of the hunt. The poor line requires one member of each party to “draw” a number(s) from a box. Numbers 1-10 drawn from the box will typically guarantee you and your party a hunt at a desired location. Four Rivers is a popular place to hunt in Missouri. Therefore, there can be as many as 40-50 parties drawing for a spot the morning of the hunt.
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Where to hunt at Four Rivers Conservation Area
Unit 1 at Four Rivers Conservation Area is located on the west side of the area and has 3 refuges within close proximity. Pools 2A, 2B, 3, and 4 are open to waterfowl hunters during the season. Additionally, hunters must have a reservation or draw for a position to hunt in unit 1.
The pools located within unit 1 typically consist of flooded corn or another type of crop that provides food for the ducks. The majority of the unit is wadable, but bringing a layout boat and decoy sleds along will certainly make navigation easier and faster. More than one party is usually in the same pool together in this unit, so competition can become challenging for hunters. The southeastern corner of pool 4 is usually a great spot to hunt considering how close it is to the pool 5 refuge.
Unit 2 at Four Rivers Conservation Area is another unit where hunters must have a reservation or successful poor line draw to hunt. The unit consists of pools 6, 7N, 7S, 8, and 9. Pool 9 is designated to the handicap accessible blind. This unit is located in the northeastern corner of the area and a refuge borders it on its southern boundary line.
The pools in the unit also consist of flooded corn or another type of moist soil plant for ducks to feed on. Similar to unit 1, more than one party is usually placed in a pool during a hunt. The majority of unit 2 is wadable and does not require a boat. In many instances, hunters use decoy sleds to pull their equipment in the water, as it is much easier that way. Hunters that are closer to the refuge typically have the most success in this unit, as they are closer to the ducks when they move throughout the day.
Units 3 and 4
Units 3 and 4 at Four Rivers Conservation Area are open hunting areas where a successful draw or reservation is not required. In a dry year, these units will have little to no water, as they are only filled by natural rain and runoff. However, when the conditions are right and there is enough water to hunt, these two units can be phenomenal for ducks traveling between the refuges. A layout boat or other type of shallow water boat is recommended for hunting units 3 and 4 to help with navigation and concealment. Using decoy sleds to haul gear is also recommended.
Even though a successful draw or reservation is not required to hunt units 3 and 4, hunters must still check in at headquarters the morning of the hunt. When hunters are having success in these two units, competition can become intense since there are no boundary lines for parties of hunters.
See the area map at the bottom of the page to take a closer look at the different hunting units.
What to expect when hunting Four Rivers Conservation Area
Hunting among other parties is common at Four Rivers Conservation Area. In units 1 and 2, the pools are separated by a berm or levee, but parties of hunters should still expect to hunt relatively close to one another if they are in the same pool. In units 3 and 4, no levees separate pools and therefore parties can setup anywhere they want. This can create intense competition among parties, especially when many ducks are using the area.
In both instances, competing for ducks is common. The management and staff at Four Rivers does an exceptional job managing where hunters are located and give hunters the best chance at having a successful hunt.
There are several refuges located throughout Four Rivers Conservation Area. Many of them have an abundant food source for migrating waterfowl and provide a safe location for them throughout the day. Even though many of the birds roost in the refuges, they still fly the pools frequently. As a result, hunters located closest to the refuges usually have the most success.
Late in the season when ice has covered the area, the ducks will usually keep a hole open in the refuges which allows for great hunting later in the year. When hunting near the refuges, be sure to check the boundary lines to ensure you are not breaking the law and startling the birds that are there.
Best time of year to hunt Four Rivers Conservation Area
Early season: Beginning of November to Mid-November
Early season at Four Rivers Conservation Area consists of mild weather, unpressured ducks, and many species of ducks using the area. During this time of year, temperatures are not below freezing at night, which usually keeps teal, gadwall, and widgeon around for a few weeks. Since these ducks haven’t been hunted much, they decoy well and usually respond to a duck call. At the first sign of a north wind and cooler temperatures, many of these birds will leave and more mallards will move into the area.
Mid-season: Mid-November to early December
Once cooler temperatures move into the area, Four Rivers Conservation Area can be one of the best places to duck hunt in Missouri. During this time of year, the majority of the birds on the area will be mallards. Also, they will be utilizing the flooded crops in the pools and refuges to prepare for going further south. Many of these birds have been hunted for part of the season, so some may show signs of being pressured. Nonetheless, this time of year can be great if birds are not too decoy shy and the weather cooperates.
Late season: Mid-December to end of season
By late season, temperatures usually drop below freezing during the day and night. Therefore, hunters have a good chance of finding themselves hunting over ice. However, using full bodies on the ice when it is thick enough is a great way to fool the birds that are still using the area. Many of these birds are pressured and are difficult to decoy. At the first sign of birds becoming decoy shy, it is time to change things up. Changing your decoy spread, calling tactics, and making sure you are concealed are all ways to fool pressured birds.
Do I need a reservation to duck hunt at Four Rivers Conservation Area?
Hunters need a reservation or successful poor line draw to duck hunt in units 1 and 2 at Four Rivers Conservation Area. Units 3 and 4 do not require a reservation to hunt.
Do I need a boat to hunt at Four Rivers Conservation Area?
A boat is not required to hunt at Four Rivers Conservation Area. However, boats are permitted and make navigation and concealment easier.
Can I teal hunt at Four Rivers Conservation Area?
Hunters may teal hunt at Four Rivers Conservation Area during the respective teal season in Missouri.
How many hunters can be in my party at Four Rivers Conservation Area?
Parties may consist of up to 4 hunters. Parties may not join together at Four Rivers Conservation Area.
Are there blinds at Four Rivers Conservation Area?
There is 1 handicap accessible blind at Four Rivers Conservation Area. The rest of the area is designated to walk-in style hunting.
Is Four Rivers Conservation Area handicap accessible?
Four Rivers Conservation Area has one handicap accessible blind located in pool 9.
Is there flooded corn at Four Rivers Conservation Area?
In most years, there is flooded corn at Four Rivers Conservation Area. The amount and quality is dependent on weather conditions.
Which waterfowl zone is Four Rivers Conservation Area in?
Four Rivers Conservation Area is in the middle zone (as of 2021) for the Missouri duck season.
MDC Four Rivers Conservation Area
This article is not a comprehensive resource for rules and regulations. Please visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website for more specific regulations.
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