With increased popularity of waterfowl hunting along with limited public lands and waters, the competition for available public hunting spots in the upper Lewis and Clark Lake area has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks are the three agencies that are responsible for managing this area including hunting regulation and the blind permit program. All three agencies are seeing an increase in disputes over hunting spots and conflict between hunters that have permits for duck blinds with those that don’t.
As administrators of the duck blind permit program, the Corps of Engineers is seeking public input about the permit program and are interested in your feedback, input, and ideas. There are multiple ways that you can provide input including email, written letter, or in person at the public meeting being held in Yankton. Information on these methods is included below.
Each hunting season there are a number of issues that arise, but one of the primary problems is with access in and around permanent duck blinds. Complaints about blind permit holders demanding or threatening other hunters to leave the area surrounding the blind have been on the increase. The blind permit program’s intent is not to provide private exclusive use of an area but to allow some conditional use of public property in as fair a manner as possible to give individuals benefit within a certain set of conditions. We are seeing continual violation of permit conditions and need to look at all users of the resource and balance fair and equitable policies that provide as many opportunities as possible for the most people.
Blind permit holders are obligated to follow conditions of the permit, which include:
- The permit holder must be on-site during blind construction and placement
- Spots cannot be “reserved” or “staked-out” prior to the 12:00 p.m. placement time
- Blind cannot be moved after construction
- Blind construction must be completed within seven (7) days of start of construction
- Decoys may not be left out and blinds and surrounding areas must be kept clean
- Blinds unoccupied one (1) hour before legal shooting time by the permit holder can be used by any hunter
- Blinds must be constructed out of “acceptable” materials
- Only one (1) application may be sent from any household
- Blinds must be at least 300 yards from other permitted blinds
Unfortunately, these conditions are frequently being violated. Examples of violations include:
- Staking or reserving areas prior to the noon construction time.
- People putting minimal blinds out, only to hold their spot and not actually hunt from their blinds.
- Groups of people working together applying for limited permits to increase odds of getting one or multiple blinds.
- Those same groups can “tie up” large areas with multiple blind placements.
- People are installing solar lights that are on a timer to turn on at the 60 minutes before shooting time mark to convince others that the blind is occupied so they don’t hunt the area.
- People showing up after the 1 hour limit to their blind and threatening the hunters that have set up close to the permited blind.
We would appreciate if you would please take time to offer your feedback on what is good and bad about the program, and any ideas you may have to make the program better. Whether you provide electronic comments, mail in, or in person comments, the comment deadline is March 31, 2019. Decisions on changes to the program, if any, will be made by April 30, 2019 and reported on the Gavins Point website, address: www.nwo.usace.army.mil/GavinsPoint.
Methods for providing comments are:
- Email: GavinsPoint.NWO@usace.army.mil
- Written Letter: Gavins Point Project
Attn: Duck Blind Program
P.O. Box 710
Yankton, SD 57078
- Public input meeting: March 12, 2019, from 6:30-8:30 pm, Yankton Fire Station located at 201 W. 23rd Street, Yankton, SD.
If it is decided that changes to the program are required and accepted, this process, including the public meeting, will be deemed sufficient to make those changes. Changes will be incorporated into our appropriate planning documents and publicized on our website.
Thank you for taking the time to participate in the process.
THOMAS J. CURRAN
Gavins Point Project