Michigan drawing changes for managed waterfowl hunt areas

Waterfowl hunters at Michigan’s Wetland Wonders – the state’s seven premier managed waterfowl hunt areas, located across the southern Lower Peninsula – should expect significant changes to the daily drawing process at waterfowl check stations for the 2020 hunting season.

The changes have been implemented to maintain the health and safety of employees and waterfowl hunters in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan for managed waterfowl hunts this fall is linked to the MI Safe Start Plan. If southern Michigan remains in its current phase of the plan, hunters can expect managed hunts to occur as outlined below. Operations may be adjusted during the hunting season if southern Michigan is moved into a different phase of the MI Safe Start Plan.

Drawing days and times
At Fish Point, Nayanquing Point, Shiawassee River and Harsens Island, waterfowl drawings will occur in the morning only, six days a week instead of seven. Fish Point will be closed Mondays, Nayanquing Point Tuesdays, Harsens Island Wednesdays and Shiawassee River Thursdays. Morning drawings will occur at 5:30 at Fish Point, Nayanquing Point and Harsens Island, and at 5 at Shiawassee River. Hunting permits for successful parties will be valid all day until the close of shooting hours.

Except for opening weekend (Oct. 10-11), self-registration will be available independent of the drawings at Fish Point, Nayanquing Point and Shiawassee River for several zones that are not available during the drawing, such as marsh scramble areas. On closed days, there will be no hunting allowed in zones that require a permit to hunt, either through a drawing or through self-registration. Other zones that do not require a permit to hunt still will be open for hunting.

The opening weekend reserved hunts at Shiawassee River, Fish Point, Harsens Island and Nayanquing Point will have both a morning and afternoon draw to fulfill the successful reserved waterfowl hunt applications.

At Fennville Farm, Muskegon Wastewater and Pointe Mouillee, waterfowl drawings will be similar to previous years. Fennville Farm will hold drawings at 5:30 Saturday mornings for permits valid all day and at 11 a.m. Sundays for permits valid until the close of shooting hours. Self-registration will be available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Muskegon Wastewater will hold drawings at 5:30 Tuesday and Saturday mornings for permits valid all day and at 11 a.m. Thursdays for permits valid until the close of shooting hours.

Pointe Mouillee will hold drawings at 5:30 Tuesday and Sunday mornings, as well as the morning of Oct. 10 (opening day), for permits valid all day and at 11 a.m. Thursdays for permits valid until the close of shooting hours. The Brancheau Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge will not be included in the daily drawings this year. Pointe Mouillee will hold its drawings at its shop yard, located at 10998 U.S. Turnpike Road in South Rockwood, and not at the headquarters to help meet safety protocols.

On-site safety
Safety protocols will be in place for all drawings to reduce contact:

Drawings will be held outdoors.
Only the party leader for each hunting party will interact with check station staff to register and select hunting zones.
Hunters and staff are required to wear masks and follow 6-foot social distancing guidelines when participating in the drawing at the check station.
Hunting party members other than the party leader will be asked to remain in their vehicles.
Hunters are asked to follow physical distancing guidelines at boat launches and parking areas.
DNR staff will clean and sanitize surfaces at the registration and hunting zone selection area daily.
Some locations may not have restrooms or vault toilets open to the public.
Additionally, there are several important changes to drawing rules and managed hunt procedures to minimize contact:

Party leaders may register absentee hunters, but adding hunters after the draw will not be allowed.
There will be no standby drawings, no issuing permits after the drawing and no switching zones after the drawing.
Hunting licenses will not be available for sale at the check stations, and hunters are advised to have all necessary licenses before participating in the drawings.
Areas where drawings take place will close after the drawing and DNR staff will not be available. A phone contact will be given for questions during regular business hours.
Staff will clearly post information outdoors to assist hunters (e.g., field conditions, rules, zones as drawn).
Information about youth and veterans preference drawings and any date changes will be coming soon.

Additional safety guidelines, changes to managed hunt procedures and details about each area can be found at Michigan.gov/WetlandWonders.