SPECIAL WATERFOWL HUNTING AREAS

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" was established in 2015 in Training Area 17B on the peninsula at Matoon Creek Marsh.

*** Only hunters selected in a lottery are eligible to hunt in this area during the regular waterfowl season.***

 

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, & Other Outdoor Recreation (Unofficial Version effective & updated 1 Aug 2022)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 Hunting in the Training Area or Disabled Access Opportunities.

Where Can I Hunt?

The Matoon Creek Hunting Area in Training Area 17B 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 boundary is delineated with orange buoys attached to posts 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 either blind. 

 

 

When Can I Hunt?

The lottery system to hunt in this special waterfowl hunting area is in effect during the regular waterfowl and goose seasons from October - December from 1/2 hour before sunrise to noon on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; and on Saturday during the youth waterfowl weekend. All hunters must be out of the area by 2:00 p.m on hunting days.

There are no restrictions or lottery in September during the Canada Goose Season. Hunting for geese can occur within the hunting and refuge area of the Matoon Creek Marsh Hunting Area during all legal hunting hours (i.e., 1/2 hour 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.

Who Can Hunt?

Hunting in this special waterfowl 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?" above for more information about exceptions.

One hunter is selected in a lottery per blind per hunting day, but that hunter can bring additional guests. 

There are three levels of preference for the lottery drawing: 

  1. 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 Natural Resources Branch (315-955-5173 or Fred.J.Ossman.civ@mail.mil) to show proof of eligibility and register.
  2. 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 Natural Resources Branch (315-955-5173 or Fred.J.Ossman.civ@army.mil) to show proof of eligibility and register.
  3. 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.

Joint Use When Training Areas Are Closed

This is considered a joint use area, meaning if Training Area 17B is closed to recreation because of military training, waterfowl hunting may still occur subject to determination by Range Control. Hunters that are selected through the lottery must still 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.  

If closed to recreation in general, but access to waterfowl hunting is allowed, the hunting area must be accessed 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.)  

Other Regulations:

  • All hunters are still required to check-in and check-out through the Sportsman's Hotline per FD Reg 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.
  • All other federal, state, and Fort Drum regulations apply.

Lottery System

Lottery requests must be submited via email to Fred.J.Ossman.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, 2020) 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. During Thanksgiving week, lottery requests must be submitted by 6:00 am Wednesday and selections will be made by close of business Wednesday.

An individual can only apply for two of the three days of any three day period. To apply, the name, pass number, hunting dates, and names and pass numbers of the other individuals of the hunting party is required. (This does not preclude anyone from hunting other days as a guest of another selectee.)

Selection will be made by close of business Thursday and the applicants will be informed via email or text. Applicants will have until 6:00 am the Monday following the lottery to reply to Fred.J.Ossman.civ@army.mil and provide any updates of names and pass numbers of the hunting party that will be hunting on the designated days. 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 are asked to provide the following information after the hunt: number of hunters participating and number of species of waterfowl seen and harvested.

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