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Letter to the Editor: Fairer draw system for duck hunters

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

To the editor:Since 2004, I have randomly asked two dozen-plus Southeast Missouri waterfowl hunters if they liked the every-member draw at Otter Slough and Ten Mile Pond conservation areas. Only two favored the every-member draw.

When people hunt waterfowl at Otter Slough, Eagle Bluffs or Ten Mile Pond, every member of a hunting party can draw a numbered cube from a box. Having more members drawing cubes gives larger parties -- up to four members per party -- a better chance to hunt. Until 2004, only one member could draw a cube, making the system fair to one- or four-member parties alike. More hunters in a party doesn't always translate to a better hunting experience.

Regarding the Missouri Department of Conservation's decision to make the new draw statewide next year, including at Duck Creek Conservation Area, one young MDC employee told me the state wants to impose the new draw regardless of the negative feedback it has received. The Missouri Waterfowl Digest says that "over 50 percent" of Otter Slough hunters surveyed were in favor of the every-member draw. Unless a hunter read all survey results, he may never know that 61 percent who hunted on MDC land between 75 and 99 percent of the time favored the one-member draw.

Last November when I bought a yellow Lab pup, I was excited that I would be able to hunt alone at Ten Mile with my new companion. The new every-member draw, however, makes it nearly impossible for a single-member party to hunt MDC land.

STEVEN BENDER, Cape Girardeau