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In an effort to create and maintain a sustainable and productive waterfowl hunting area and provide an opportunity for physically-challenged hunters,  an approximately 75 acre waterfowl hunting area and "refuge" has been established in Training Area 17B on the peninsula at Matoon Creek Marsh. 
This is the only restricted access area for waterfowl hunting on Fort Drum. Hunting and other recreational use of Fort Drum is in accordance with New York State Hunting Laws and Fort Drum Regulation 420-3 Hunting, Fishing, Trapping and Camping (updated 1 May 2016). Fort Drum is Wildlife Management Unit 6H. Waterfowl hunting seasons on Fort Drum coincide with the Northeastern Hunting Zone in New York State. For more information about hunting on Fort Drum, see the other pages on this web site: Hunting in the Training Area or Disabled Access Opportunities.

Who Can Hunt?

Hunting in this area is available ONLY to hunters drawn in a lottery system, except during the Youth Waterfowl Weekend and September Canada goose season (see "When Can I Hunt?" below for more information about exceptions). One hunter is selected in a lottery per blind per hunting day, but that hunter can bring three additional guests.

There are three levels of preference for the lottery drawing.

First preference are hunters with accessibility needs which 
include: hunters possessing a New York State Non-Ambulatory Hunter Permit; hunters with severe permanent disabilities eligible for a New York State Parking Permit or License Plate; or hunters with a life-threatening illness participating through a non-profit organization. To be considered, hunters must contact Fort Drum’s Fish & Wildlife Management Program (315-772-9636 or Raymond.E.Rainbolt.civ@mail.mil) to show proof of eligibility and register.

Second preference are Soldiers currently assigned to a Warrior in Transition Unit or disabled hunters with a 100% Rating Decision in a VA Award Letter. To be considered, hunters must contact Fort Drum’s Fish & Wildlife Management Program (315-772-9636 or Raymond.E.Rainbolt.civ@mail.mil) to show proof of eligibility and register. 

If no hunters apply in the first two preference levels, then the lottery is conducted with all other applicants. 

Chosen hunters may have up to three other guests in the blind, but the hunter chosen in the lottery must be present.

Where Can I Hunt?

The Matoon Marsh Hunting Area is accessed from a parking area located off of Matoon Creek Road and down a universally accessible trail on the peninsula leading into the marsh. The first approximately 400 yards of this area (including the shrubs, cattails and entire peninsula area) is within the “hunting area”; the latter 250 yards north of the peninsula and including the north end of the open water area is considered “refuge.” Access to the “refuge” is limited to retrieving any downed birds—no  other act of hunting is allowed, except as identified below.  The refuge area will be delineated with orange buoys attached to poles in the water.

Two universally accessible waterfowl hunting blinds are available, one each on the east side and west side of the peninsula. Hunting does not have to occur from the blind, but can only be conducted facing in an easterly or westerly direction depending on the selected blind. No shooting can occur in a more than northerly or southerly direction from each blind, with the peninsula being the shooting boundary from each side (i.e., no shot can pass over the peninsula). If hunting parties from each blind wish to hunt together and are safely firing in the same direction, then there are no directional shooting restrictions.

When Can I Hunt?

Hunting in the waterfowl hunting area during the regular waterfowl and goose seasons in October – December is allowed from ½ hour before sunrise to noon on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during the regular waterfowl  and goose seasons (October – December) and on Saturday during the youth waterfowl weekend.  All hunters must be out of the area by 2:00 pm on hunting days.

There are no restrictions or lottery in September during the Canada Goose Season and hunting for geese can occur within the hunting and refuge area during all legal hunting hours (i.e., ½ before sunrise to sunset).

There is no lottery
during the youth waterfowl weekend; however, hunting is only allowed on the Saturday of the youth weekend and is restricted to the hunting area only per the hours above.  It is expected that interested youth hunting parties will coordinate  with each other to safely distribute themselves within the allowable hunting area.

Co-Use Area when Training Area 17B is Closed

This is a co-use area, meaning if Training Area 17B is closed to recreation because of military training, waterfowl hunting  may still occur.  If closed to recreation, access to the hunting area must occur from the northern end of Matoon Creek Road (see Appendix D map above) and vehicles can go no further than the parking area. All vehicles must be parked in such a way to not obstruct the road, accessible trail, and/or disabled hunter’s vehicles (i.e., enough room should be left for hunters to access their vehicles to load or unload wheelchairs or other mechanisms of transport to and from the hunting area).  Hunters that are selected through the lottery must contact Range Control (315-772-3152) to utilize the joint access policy on the hunting day. If no Joint Use is allowed due to training activities, hunters will be informed as soon as possible.

Other Requirements

* All hunters are still required to call and check-in to the Sportsman’s Hotline (315-772-7153) per Fort Drum Regulation 420-3.

Hunters with accessibility needs must hunt with a dog or at least one other hunter capable of making difficult or challenging retrievals to minimize loss of wounded animals.

Each hunter may not use or possess more than 25 non-toxic shells per day.

* No feeding or baiting of wildlife for the purpose of hunting is allowed.

* A
ll other federal, state, and Fort Drum regulations apply.

Lottery System

Lottery requests must be submitted via e-mail at Raymond.E.Rainbolt.civ@mail.mil  by 6:00 am on Thursday morning to hunt the following Tuesday, Thursday, and/or Saturday (e.g., 6:00 am  Thursday, October 8 to hunt Tuesday, October 13, Thursday, October 15; or Saturday, October, 17.) This lag should provide the necessary coordination with Range Control to ensure co-use and no last minute cancellations due to military training. A calendar with the final dates of the 2016 waterfowl season is provided for your convenience.  

An individual can only apply for two of the three days of any three-day period. To apply, the name, pass number, hunting dates, preferred site (east or west), and names and pass numbers of up to three other individuals of the hunting party (if known) is required—also please mention any first or second preference considerations. (This does not preclude anyone from hunting other days as a guest of another selectee.)

Selections will be made by close of business Thursday and the applicants will be informed via e-mail or text.  During Thanksgiving week, lottery requests must be submitted by 6:00am Wednesday, November 25, and select ions will be made by close of business Wednesday.

Applicants will have until 6:00 am the Monday following the lottery to reply to Raymond.E.Rainbolt.civ@mail.mil and provide any updates of names and pass numbers of the hunting party that will be hunting on the designated days. Up to four people including the selected individual may hunt from the blind (or blind area) on the selected day. This information will be provided to the game wardens and Range Control to facilitate co-use of the area with training.

In order to track the success of this effort and make improvements, applicants will be contacted with a short survey after the hunt requesting information re: total # of hunters participating, # and species of waterfowl seen, # and species of waterfowl harvested, and # and species of waterfowl shot but not recovered.

Applicants that do not reply,  show up for their hunt, and/or fail to respond to the survey will not be eligible for future lottery drawings.