Duck Creek Conservation Area, which covers more than 6,000 acres, is located in southeastern Missouri. This area is known for holding a significant amount of ducks throughout the fall migration and giving waterfowlers a chance at chasing them across a variety of landscapes. From shallow marshes to flooded timber, Duck Creek has it all. The habitat this place offers, along with the habitat of other conservation areas nearby, makes it one of the most popular places for ducks to stop during their migration south. Hunters from many states visit Duck Creek each year because of its location and high success rates.
Reservations at Duck Creek Conservation Area
Hunters apply for preseason reservations at Duck Creek Conservation Area from the beginning of September to mid September through the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online application. All applicants not awarded a preseason reservation may apply through the “quick draw” reservation system once the season begins. Only Missouri residents may apply.
Quick draw reservations
Quick draw reservations at Duck Creek 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 Duck Creek, which makes your chances of being awarded a reservation low. Only Missouri residents are eligible for a quick draw reservation.
The poor line is available to hunters at Duck Creek Conservation Area the morning of the hunt. The poor line requires one member of each party to “draw” a number (or multiple numbers) from a box. Numbers 1-20 drawn from the box will typically guarantee you and your party a hunt at a desired location for the day. At Duck Creek, 60-80 parties drawing for 20-30 locations in the poor line is not uncommon. Additionally, reservation holders have first access to areas which leaves fewer areas available to hunters relying on the poor line to hunt. All hunters, regardless of where they are from, are eligible to draw in the poor line.
All hunters must have one of the following to duck hunt at Duck Creek Conservation Area:
- Pre-season reservation
- Successful quick draw
- Successful poor line draw
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Where to hunt at Duck Creek Conservation Area
A & B Units
The A and B units at Duck Creek Conservation Area consist of 17 different pools for hunters to duck hunt in. The habitat in these pools is made up of shallow marshes and flooded timber. Since there is typically an abundance of habitat in these pools, hunters find it easy to stay hidden from the ducks, which usually gives them more success. The pools closest to pool 1 refuge (8, 10, 11, and 13) are popular among hunters. These are highly sought after and tend to produce successful hunts all throughout the season.
Pool 2 at Duck Creek Conservation Area is made up of 17 water blinds for duck hunters to use. The habitat this pool offers, which is primarily flooded timber, makes concealment easy for hunters. Also, hunters are usually successful in this pool because it is close to pool 1 refuge, which holds a significant amount of birds during the season. F1, G1, and D1 are notable blinds in the pool. These blinds are popular among hunters because they are located close to the refuge and see consistent bird activity throughout the day.
Pool 3 at Duck Creek Conservation Area consists of 13 different blinds in the timber. There are boat lanes leading to each blind, as you can see on the map. Throughout the day, birds coming from the refuge (pool 1) will fly over pool 3 and give these holes in the flooded timber a look. The blinds closest to the pool 1 will typically see and shoot more birds during the season. The blinds are located close to one another, so competition can be intense if all the blinds are full of hunters.
Pool 8 at Duck Creek Conservation Area is a walk-in only pool. There are no blinds in this pool, so hunters can set up anywhere they would like. In general, management will allow 30-40 hunters to hunt in this pool each day. Competition can become intense since parties of hunters can setup close to each other. This pool usually does not open until later in the season, or until there is enough water in the pool to hunt.
This is not a comprehensive list of all areas to hunt at Duck Creek Conservation Area. For a comprehensive list and map, please see the links at the bottom of the page.
What to expect when duck hunting Duck Creek Conservation Area
Pool 1 refuge
Pool one refuge at Duck Creek Conservation Area is centrally located and holds the majority of the ducks at this area. This pool is also used as a water source to flood parts of the area throughout the season. As the season goes on, the amount of birds using the refuge typically increases due to hunter pressure and cooler temperatures. The blinds and pools located closer to the refuge typically have the most success throughout the fall.
Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
The amount of habitat Mingo National Wildlife Refuge has to offer makes duck hunting at Duck Creek Conservation Area even better. This wildlife area is located west of Duck Creek and offers thousands of acres for migrating ducks to utilize during their trip south. Once this refuge is holding peak numbers in the fall, it is time to get to Duck Creek. The birds will hop back and forth and if you are under their flight line, the hunting will be exceptional.
Best time of year to duck hunt at Duck Creek Conservation Area
Early season: Late November to mid-December
Early in the season at Duck Creek Conservation Area, hunters should expect variable water conditions, many hunters, and lots of puddle ducks. The number of blinds and pools hunted at this time of year is dependent on water levels. The more water the area has caught throughout the year, the more locations hunters will have to choose from. Also, the beginning of the season catches the attention of many hunters that are eager to pull the trigger. Therefore, more than 100 parties trying to draw for a spot is not unheard of. Duck Creek is typically holding a significant amount of birds by this time of the year. The birds are easier to decoy at first, but they quickly learn where they are safe.
Mid-season: Mid-December to Mid-January
The middle of the season at Duck Creek Conservation Area has its ups and downs. Once the season gets to this point, new birds have either moved into the area, or no significant push of birds has occurred. If new birds have moved in, then the hunting will be excellent. If not, the ducks will be stale and very difficult to decoy. Therefore, much of the success at this time of year is dependent on the weather up north.
Late season: Mid-January to end of January
The hunting can be stellar during the last 2-3 weeks at Duck Creek Conservation Area. By this time, cold weather has typically pushed some new birds into the area. Also, the ducks will be thinking with their stomach and trying to find a quality food source. Many of them will be trying to find acorns in the flooded timber, which can make some of the pools and blinds more successful than others. Learning where the birds want to be and scouting the area will pay off late in the season at this place.
This article is not a comprehensive resource regarding rules, laws, and regulations. Please see the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website for more specific information.
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