Bob Brown Conservation Area, located in Holt County Missouri, is a well-managed area to duck hunt in the northwest part of the state. Although not as large as other managed duck hunting areas, this place holds a significant amount of birds throughout the fall migration. Its close proximity to other waterfowl refuges also adds to its ability to attract a large amount of birds on their way south. Since it is in the Missouri River bottoms, the staff at Bob Brown is able to raise a good crop of moist soil vegetation as well as agriculture crops in years when the weather cooperates. This allows thousands of ducks and geese to stop here each year on their way down the Missouri River.
Reservations at Bob Brown Conservation Area
Hunters apply for preseason reservations at Bob Brown Conservation Area from the beginning of September to mid September through the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online application. 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 Bob Brown 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 Bob Brown, 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 Bob Brown 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 1-10 drawn from the box will typically guarantee you and your party a hunt at a desired location for the day. At Bob Brown, 20-30 parties drawing for 10-20 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.
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Where to hunt at Bob Brown Conservation Area
There are four walk-in pools and one handicap accessible blind at Bob Brown Conservation Area. The walk-in pools are large, therefore more than one party is usually hunting in the same pool. A boat is not required to access all the hunting areas, but it certainly makes navigation easier, especially if you are headed further into the pool to hunt. Pintail Slough, which is located in the southeastern corner of the area, is traditionally a great spot to hunt. That said, go out to the area before you hunt and do your scouting. This will help you determine where you should go and what to bring. If the weather cooperates, all the pools will have a quality food source for the ducks as well as enough vegetation to hide you and your hunting party.
What to expect when hunting Bob Brown Conservation Area
The waterfowl refuge at Bob Brown Conservation Area is centrally located among the hunting pools. In fact, the refuge borders all hunting pools on at least one side. This is great for hunters because in general, the closer you are to the refuge, the more success you will have. Most years the refuge is planted with a mixture of moist soil vegetation and corn.
As the season progresses, more and more ducks will begin to utilize the refuge at Bob Brown. They will fly the area throughout the day and give hunters a look, but they quickly learn where they are safe. The refuge boundary line is clearly marked on its borders. Always obey these signs and do not enter the waterfowl refuge.
In recent years, Bob Brown Conservation Area has suffered extreme damage due to flooding. When the Missouri River gets high enough, this area will take on too much water and the habitat will be destroyed. It takes a significant flood for this to happen, but always check the status of the area before heading out to hunt.
The habitat that is nearby Bob Brown Conservation Area helps make this place special. Loess Bluff National Wildlife Refuge, Nodaway Valley Conservation Area, and the Missouri River bottoms all add to the amount of habitat available for ducks to use in this part of Missouri.
Best time of year to duck hunt at Bob Brown Conservation Area
Early season: Early November to Mid-November
Early season at Bob Brown Conservation Area usually consists of a variety of puddle ducks, many hunters, and mild temperatures. Since the temperatures are usually between 40-60 degrees throughout the day, many of the birds move early in the morning and late in the evening. If you like shooting at teal and other small puddle ducks, this time of year is for you. The pools throughout the area will be packed full of teal, gadwall, and widgeon, as the weather has not become cold enough to push them out yet.
Mid-season: Mid-November to Mid-December
Mid-season at Bob Brown Conservation Area can also be exceptional. By this time, a cold front has usually pushed new birds into the area, which means they will be more responsive to calls and more likely to decoy. Also, if a significant cold front has come through the area, hunters will start bagging more mallards, as more of them will begin to utilize the habitat Bob Brown offers.
If a cold front has not pushed through the area, then the hunting can become challenging. Without a change of weather, the ducks will become stale and difficult to harvest. If this is the case, be sure to change up your spread and calling techniques in order to fool these highly pressured birds.
Late season: Mid-December to End of season
Late season at Bob Brown Conservation Area can be hit or miss. If the weather has stayed above freezing and ice has not covered the area, then hunters still have a chance to harvest late season mallards. That said, the ducks on the area at this time of year are most likely pressured. They have seen countless decoy spreads coming down the flyway and they know what to look out for. At the first sign of birds acting this way, change up your spread and make sure you are hidden. You do not want to miss the chance to harvest birds during the last few days of the season.
Some years cold weather makes hunting Bob Brown difficult late in the season. When temperatures drop below freezing, ice can accumulate and push ducks out of the area. However, in some instances the birds will keep a hole open in the refuge. When this happens, it is time to break out your full body decoys to put on the ice. The hunting can be great when this happens, but be sure to always be safe and use caution.
Missouri waterfowl hunting regulations
Missouri Department of Conservation
This is not a comprehensive article regarding laws and regulations. Please see the links above for more specific information surrounding laws, rules, and regulations.
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