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.

Similarly, in an effort to allow hunting in a productive waterfowl area throughout the season and in an area often closed due to training, a second special waterfowl hunting area in Training Area 13A off of U.S. Military Hwy. was established in 2017.

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

Be aware, both sites have had very low water levels. A new barrier was constructed in Training Area 13A which should impound water in the future, but this area is more vegetated than usual this season. Both sites should be scouted before hunting since they look very different than past years.

These are ‚Äčthe only restricted access areas 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, Fish, & Other Outdoor Recreation (unofficial version updated 02 Aug 2019). 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 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 paries from each blind wish to hunt together and are safely firing in the same direction, then there are no directional shooting restrictions.

The US Military Hwy Hunting Area in Training Area 13A is accessed from US Military Hwy and utilized an old road bed next to the marsh as an access trail. This trail and edge of the marsh is referred to as the "shoreline." When Training Area 13A is closed due to military training, the Joint Access Policy applies and hunting/shooting must occur from or within 2m of the "shoreline." There are no constructed blinds.

When Can I Hunt?

The lottery system to hunt in these special waterfowl hunting areas 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 these special waterfowl areas are 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.

At Matoon Creek Marsh Hunting Area in Training Area 17B:

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: 

  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.

At US Military Hwy Hunting Area in Training Area 13A:

There are no preferences for the lottery. The chosen hunter 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

These are considered joint use areas, meaning if Training Area 13A or 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. 

At Matoon Creek Marsh Hunting Area in Training Area 17B:

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.)  

At US Military Hwy Hunting Area in Training Area 13A:

When Training Area 13A is closed due to use of the CACTF for military training, the Joint Access Policy applies and hunting/shooting must occur from or within 2 m of the "shoreline." If Training Area 13A is open for recreation, there are no restrictions and hunting can occur anywhere in the 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, preferred site (east or west), and names and pass numbers of up to three other individuals of the hunting party 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.)

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. 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 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.