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TWRA Updates and Closures due to COVID-19

Final Changes to Public Land Duck Hunting

March 5 2021

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC) approved several proposals by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for changes to public land duck hunting and blind draw procedures at its two-day meeting which concluded Friday at the Marriott of Cool Springs.

TWRA’s proposal for public land duck hunting is a significant effort to increase access for hunters statewide and retain traditional season-long, 60-day blind locations as offered currently. In addition to the 414 season-long blinds, there will be 52 hunt locations designated for quota hunts for 3, 4, or 7-day periods at a marked location or an Agency-built blind. There are no changes proposed to privately-owned/permanent registered blinds.


Background:

For many years Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has received public comments about how the current public land duck hunting system operates. The comments mostly fall into 2 categories: the need for increased duck hunting opportunities on public lands (i.e. more access) and concerns over the fairness of the handheld duck blind draw system.  A scientific survey of duck hunters done in partnership with the University of Tennessee validated these comments, as well as other issues with in-person handheld draws, and desire for opportunities to hunt for shorter time periods.

In 2019, we made changes to make the in-person drawings more fair and equitable, with limited success. In 2020, due to COVID, all handheld duck blind drawings were computerized and online, which made the process fair and equitable for hunters across Tennessee.  

For 2021, we are taking another step, by increasing the number of duck hunters who get drawn to hunt our public WMAs each season. This is an effort to increase public access for duck hunters. TWRA’s final approved proposal for public land duck hunting is a significant effort to increase access for hunters statewide and retain traditional season-long, 60-day blind locations as offered currently. In addition to the 414 season-long blinds, there will be 52 hunt locations designated for quota hunts for 3, 4, or 7-day periods at a marked location or an Agency-built blind. There are no changes proposed to privately-owned/permanent registered blinds.

Season Long Permits

For hunters who prefer a season-long blind on public lands, most things will remain similar to 2020-21 except for these key changes:

  • Application and drawings will be electronic, web-based, and lottery-style (like the deer/turkey quota system).  
  • Applicants may form parties and each member’s name will be included in the lottery, so parties of 5 will have 5 chances to be selected, parties of 8 will have 8 chances, etc.
  • Slightly fewer permits will be issued for season-long blinds; historically successful locations are included.
  • Application and draw timing will be late summer and blind construction timing and requirements will have slight modifications. Main change is that walls of blinds must be solid material.

Quota Hunt Permits

We will increase the number of quota permits issued for duck hunters who prefer shorter hunts. Quota permits will be for hunts from 3 to 7 days and are for agency-built blinds or marked locations. You can apply for these through our online quota hunt system (like the deer/turkey quota system).

To further increase the chances for hunters to obtain a permit during the duck season, there will be 3 application periods- early, mid, and late, as well as the ability to receive priority points for any drawing you are not selected. When selecting specific quota hunt locations (WMA and Site number), please note that there are several types for which to apply:

  • Agency-built blinds
  • Marked/staked location that may or may not have a blind on site from the previous season
  • Location with a natural cover but no blind structure must hunt within 25 feet of the location

Blind Tiers Explained

Tier  1

- Season-long permit issued

-  Application and drawings will be electronic, web-based, and lottery-style (like the deer/turkey quota system).  

- Permanent blind structure required

 - Construction standards (solid walls required)

- Occupancy requirements for daily use 

- Blind hopping allowed

 

Tier  2

- Quota Process with 3 Computer application and draw periods (early, mid- late)

- Quota permits issued for 2 - 4 day hunts

- Permanent blinds constructed and maintained by TWRA

- Occupancy requirements - A permit holder must be present for daily use

- No blind hopping

- Notice of Intent (NOI) must be submitted

Tier  3

- Quota permits issued for 3-7 days

- Temporary blinds may be constructed - Must be removed at the end of the hunt

- Permanent blinds may not be constructed, some structures may remain for a time

- Occupancy requirements for daily use

- Blind hopping allowed

- 3 local draws will be held per hunt period for vacant blind sites.

Tier  4

-  No permit required

-  Temporary blinds only

-  Permanent blinds may not be constructed, some structures may remain for a time

WMA Waterfowl Hunting Area Maps

                 
R1 Waterfowl Sites Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Quota Permit TOTAL SITES Open Access Tier 2 locations Tier 3 locations
Barkley 18 3 3 0 24 No 8,9,20 7,10,11
Bogota (Draw Sites) 0 0 0 6 6 No None None
Bogota Pool 1 (Non-Draw Sites) 0 0 0 0 0 Yes None None
Big Sandy 12 0 0 0 12 No None None
Gin Creek 4 2 0 0 6 No 50,51 None
Camden Unit 1 28 5 2 0 35 No 104,106,107,108,133 132, 135
Camden Unit 2 6 1 0 0 7 No 74 None
Gooch - Unit A 25 5 5 0 35 No 28,30,31,34,35 27,29,32,33,36
Gooch - Unit E 0 0 0 10 10 No None None
John Tully - Fig Field 0 0 0 10 10 No None None
John Tully - Fullen Unit 0 0 0 1 1 No None None
Meeman-Shelby State Forest Park 0 0 0 9 9 No None None
Obion River - Maness Swamp Unit 0 0 0 5 5 No None None
Reelfoot 61 5 0 0 66 No 8,15,36,55,60, None
Thorny Cypress (Draw Sites) 0 0 0 9 9 No None None
Thorny Cypress Pools 10-12 (Non-Draw Sites) 0 0 0 0 0 Yes None None
Tigrett 15 3 0 0 18 No A1, A2, A4 None
West Sandy 36 2 0 0 38 No 4,25 None
White Oak - Lebanon Pond 0 0 0 10 10 No None None
                 
R2 Waterfowl Sites Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Quota Permit TOTAL SITES   Tier 2 locations Tier 3 locations
Cheatham Lake WMA 30 4 0 0 34 Yes 14,15,16,17, None
Haynes Bottoms 22 2 0 0 24 No 121,123 None
Old Hickory Unit 1 97 6 0 0 103 No 24,25,26,27,28,29 None
Old Hickory Unit 2 43 0 0 0 43 No None None
AEDC - Woods Reservoir 35 4 0 0 39 No 26,28 None
                 
R3 Waterfowl Sites Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Quota Permit TOTAL SITES   Tier 2 locations Tier 3 locations
Chickamauga - Candies Creek 0 0 0 8 8 No None None
Chickamauga - Johnson Bottoms 0 0 0 5 5 No None None
Chickamauga - Rogers Creek 0 0 0 8 8 No None None
Chickamauga - Yellow Creek 0 0 0 5 5 No None None

Final Approved Waterfowl Hunting Changes FAQ

  • Permits for all tiers requiring permits will be issued by a computer application and drawing.
    • An application may be made by an individual or party (max party size is 8 adults).
    • Each party members' name will be included in the lottery, so a party of 5 has 5 chances to be selected, a party of 8 has 8 chances, etc.
    • No sign-on will be made after the drawing.
    • One priority point will be issued to unsuccessful applicants for each individual drawing (see below).
    • Priority points are not transferable from one drawing to another.
    • Permits are nontransferable.
  • Tier 1 (season-long) permits will be issued during a single application period in July.
  • Tier 2 and 3 permits will be issued during three (3) application periods during the regular duck season- early, middle, and late; corresponding to three 20-day periods (during years with a 60-day duck season).
  • Individuals/Parties who receive a Season-Long Waterfowl Permit are ineligible for other waterfowl drawings.
  • Eligible hunters may obtain a quota permit for each application made during the three (3) hunt periods:  Early Waterfowl, Middle Waterfowl, Late Waterfowl.
  • Local vacancy (leftover) drawings will be held after a Notice of Intent (NOI) period.  See below for a description of NOI.

Notice of Intent (NOI)

The NOI is currently used on existing quota duck hunts in Tennessee (i.e. Bogota, Thorny Cypress, Chickamauga, etc.).  The purpose of the NOI is to reduce the no-show rate by requiring hunters who have been issued a quota permit to notify TWRA of their intention to hunt or not during their permitted hunt.  NOI may be submitted either electronically or by paper/mail.  If an NOI is not submitted or received by established deadlines, the quota permit is forfeited and becomes invalid.  All forfeited/unclaimed or returned permits will be re-issued by a leftover drawing held near the hunting area.  This allows additional opportunities for eligible local hunters to secure a quota permit.  For leftover drawings, permits will only be issued to participants who are present.  

FAQs

How do I apply for a quota hunt? 
Applications must be submitted through any TWRA license agent or at www.GoOutdoorsTennessee.com. No mail-in applications are accepted. When applying through the website, it is critical you include a current email address for your account.   The following notifications will arrive ONLY by email: your application has been submitted and accepted into the system, you have successfully made changes to your application (hunt locations, group members, etc.), you were/were not selected for hunts, and how to obtain permits. You can log into your account at www.GoOutdoorsTennessee.com at any time and see hunts you applied for, permits you were awarded, and your priority points balance.

What is “priority”?
TWRA has a priority point system in place for most quota hunts. Each quota drawing has unique and separate points.  An individual is awarded one point for each unsuccessful application in a drawing. When a person is drawn for a quota hunt, their priority points for that application period will be reset to zero (0). Priority points only apply to the individual drawing in which they were earned, i.e., WMA Big Game, Spring Turkey, and the new Early Waterfowl, Middle Waterfowl, Late Waterfowl drawings.  Applicants with the highest priority are always drawn first.  Points are not transferable from one drawing to another.

Priority points of parties will be averaged.  If a party application is drawn, all members are awarded a permit and removed from drawing.  If a party application is not drawn, all members receive one priority point

Existing Priority Points

Existing priority points will all be applied to the Mid-Season application period. Points may not be moved to another application period nor be used on a season-long permit application.

Waterfowl Application Information

Season-long permits (Tier 1 sites): The application period will be in July with, drawing results expected in early August.  No priority points will be issued for this drawing.

For Tier 2 and 3 hunt locations, there will be three (3) application periods (early, mid and late).  You will receive a priority point for each unsuccessful application. For example you apply for an Early Waterfowl Permit and are unsuccessful, you will receive a priority point for future Early Waterfowl drawings. . Points are not transferable from one drawing to another.

You will have the ability to apply for a priority point only if you wish not to hunt this year.  These applications can only be submitted by individuals (not parties) and must be completed during the allotted application period.

For   Early, Mid and Late waterfowl quota hunts, hunters awarded a permit must return to TWRA a “Notice of Intent” (NOI) which states they do or do not intend to hunt during their permitted hunt.  The NOI may be submitted online through your www.GoOutdoorsTennessee.com account, by U.S. mail or e-mail. Detailed information will be provided to successful applicants. If TWRA does not receive the NOI by the speci­fied deadline, the permit will be forfeited and become invalid. Any forfeited or invalid quota permits will be reallocated by a local drawing.

Customers wishing to sign up for vacancy drawings will need to sign up for the desired location using TWRA’s Event System and then attend the local drawing. You must be present to be awarded a vacancy permit.

To legally hunt, all permit holders, party members, or guests must possess all necessary licenses, permits and Federal stamp and the confirmation number issued by TWRA when the NOI is received.  Permits are nontransferable. Any person violating this rule and regulation is subject to having his/her permit and/or hunting privileges revoked and may be subject to prosecution.

How much does it cost to apply?

There is no cost to apply for holders of valid Sportsman (Type 004), Lifetime Licenses, or seniors possessing a Type 167.  For others, the cost is $12.00 non-refundable for each drawing. Example: The “Maximum Awarded Permits” for WMA Big Game is two, meaning two drawings are held for the same pool of applicants. You may choose to enter one drawing, you will only be eligible for one permit and the cost will be $12.00, plus any applicable fees. If you enter two drawings, you will be eligible for two permits and the cost will be $24.00, plus any fees. You must choose the number of drawings, party information and hunt choices on your application.

How does the drawing work?

Applicants select specific hunt choices by location (WMA and hunt site) and dates and arrange these choices by preference.  Please select only hunts you are interested in.  Applicants will not be awarded a hunt they did not select.

The computer draw process awards applicants with the highest number of priority points first. If the applicant’s first choice is available, it is awarded. The program then moves on to the next applicant’s first choice. If the applicant’s first choice is not available, the program moves to that applicant's second choice, either awarding that choice if available (and moving on to the next applicant), or if not available, the program moves to the third choice, etc.

Each eligible application is included in the drawing.  If you are in a party, each applicant in your party is entered into the drawing (so a party of 5 has 5 chances, etc). When a party application is selected, the drawing runs the location/date choices in the order they are entered on the party leader’s application. If successful, all members of the party are awarded a permit and removed from the drawing. If unsuccessful, all members of the party are unsuccessful and awarded one (1) priority point.

After the first attempt to award all permits is completed, the system repeats the drawing process, going through remaining choices until it has awarded all available permits. Applicants choose how many drawings they would like to participate in when applying. Each drawing entered creates the possibility of being awarded multiple permits per application.