Reservations at Otter Slough Conservation Area
Hunters apply for preseason reservations at Otter Slough 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. Only Missouri residents may apply.
Quick draw reservations at Otter Slough 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 are allowed to apply for a quick draw reservation.
The poor line is available to hunters at Otter Slough 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. Otter Slough 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. All hunters, regardless of where they are from, may try to draw for a spot to hunt the morning of the hunt.
2021/2022 Otter Slough Conservation Area draw times
|Nov. 6 – Nov. 7||3:45 a.m.|
|Nov. 8 – Nov. 14||4:00 a.m.|
|Nov. 20 – Nov. 28||4:00 a.m.|
|Nov. 29 – Dec. 12||4:15 a.m.|
|Dec. 13 – Dec. 24||4:30 a.m.|
|Dec. 26||4:30 a.m.|
|Dec. 27 – Jan. 9||4:45 a.m.|
Where to hunt at Otter Slough Conservation Area
Otter Slough Conservation Area Hunting Map
If you are hunting walk-ins or find yourself taking a boat ride on public land. A headlamp is a must. This is our favorite light source we have in our blind bags. Click the image to check current pricing on Amazon.
Otter Slough Conservation Area Map – Northern Pools
The hunting locations in the northern pools of Otter Slough Conservation Area are popular among hunters. Many of these locations are blinds positioned in a beautiful section of flooded Cypress trees. Much of the success in these hunting locations depends upon how many birds are utilizing the refuge pictured in the image above. When the birds are congregated on Cypress Lake and the nearby refuge wetlands, the hunting can be phenomenal. Do your scouting and note that if birds are utilizing this refuge, the hunting at these locations pictured can be second to none. If you do plan on hunting any of these blinds, plan to bring a boat.
Otter Slough Conservation Area Map – Western Pools
The hunting locations in the more western section of Otter Slough Conservation Area can be great as well. These hunting areas usually have a mixture of moist soil vegetation and agriculture crops mixed in which creates a great food source for migrating waterfowl. If you plan to hunt here, make concealment a priority. There is not an abundance of natural vegetation to hide in, which can make the hunting difficult. A layout boat works very well in these pools, especially when it is covered in natural vegetation.
Otter Slough Conservation Area Map – Southern Pools
The hunting locations in the more southern pools at Otter Slough Conservation Area tend to be the best on the area. The refuge located in the picture above will hold thousands of birds throughout the fall migration. When the birds are stacked up here and flying the pools throughout the day, the hunting will be exceptional. Pools 21-26 are popular among hunters and are often chosen first the morning of a hunt. Pools 16 and 17 are also notable locations. Be sure to do your scouting if you plan on being in any of these pools. The birds will prefer some areas over others and being in the right location will make all the difference.
What to expect when hunting Otter Slough Conservation Area
Bring a boat
A boat will come in handy at Otter Slough Conservation Area. Whether you are hunting a blind or a walk-in pool, having a boat will allow you to quickly and safely access the location you want to hunt. On Otter Lake, where blinds 1-7 are located, a boat is required. The water tends to be too deep to wade most years, so be sure to bring a boat if you know you may end up hunting in one of those blinds. If you find yourself hunting a walk-in, a boat is not always required, but it can be useful. Oftentimes the further back in the pool you go, the better off you will be. Using a shallow water boat will certainly do the job.
The blinds at Otter Slough Conservation Area can be hit or miss. One blind in particular that has produced great results in the past is the Frog Pond blind. Since it is located close to the refuge, it usually does well throughout the season. The blinds at Otter Slough are camouflaged well. However, like any duck blind, as the season goes on the natural camouflage wares off and the birds start to easily recognize where the blinds are. If you find yourself hunting in a blind at Otter Slough late in the season, bring some extra brush to spruce up the blind. This will certainly help when it comes to hiding from the birds.
The refuges at Otter Slough Conservation Area hold thousands of ducks throughout the fall migration. Once the birds learn where the are safe, they congregate in that area, especially if it has a quality food source. When looking at the kill charts of the area, you can see that the closer you hunt the the refuge, the more success you will typically have. When you find yourself hunting close to the refuges, always obey posted areas and do not enter the refuge for any reason.
Gain in popularity
In recent years, Otter Slough Conservation Area has become a popular place for hunters across the Midwest to go to. Hunters from Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois frequently try their luck in the poor line here. This has to do with Otter Slough’s location being relatively close to these states, and the fact that this area can have phenomenal hunting in the fall makes more hunters want to come here. If you are trying your luck in the poor line here, do not be surprised to see many parties from out of state.
Best time of year to hunt
The best time of year to duck hunt at Otter Slough Conservation Area depends on weather and the quality of habitat within the area. In most years, the best time to shoot mallards at Otter Slough is later in December after the northern part of the state has frozen up. This area is also great earlier in the season as well. Due to quality habitat management, many species of ducks including teal, pintail, and wood ducks are common during the first few weeks of the season. When or if the area freezes up, the hunting can be great if you can get a hole open and pack it full of decoys. Watch the weather and do your scouting, you never know when fresh birds will move into the area.
This article is not a comprehensive resource for rules, laws and regulations. Please visit the Missouri Department of Conservation website for specific information.
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