Be aware of rules for duck hunting on the Missouri River

Be aware of rules for duck hunting on the Missouri River by Shon Eide, Conservation officer Once again duck season is just around the corner. One of the hotspots for hunting ducks in this area is the sandbars and islands on the Missouri River. Many people in the past have marked or staked sandbars and islands reserving them for duck hunting.

Many of these same people also built permanent blinds on the sandbars and islands that they staked. I have had several questions regarding this practice on the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam.

Here is what all hunters need to know about hunting on the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam.

1) The Missouri River is the border between South Dakota and Nebraska. Hunters licensed by either state may hunt anywhere in the flowing Missouri River as long as water separates the hunter from the mainland of the other state with the exception of deeded islands.

Deeded islands in the Missouri River require the license of the state in which they are deeded. Deeded South Dakota islands are James River Island, Gunderson Island and Jones Island. Deeded Nebraska islands are Mayfield Island and Elk/Rush Island.

Sandbars and islands not deeded and not attached to either state and Lake Yankton are open to hunting by licensed hunters from either state.

2) The South Dakota portion of the Missouri River below the ordinary high water mark is public property. Therefore staking or making a sandbar gains them nothing and does not reserve them a hunting spot or prohibit others from using the area.

I would compare this staking or marking of sandbars and islands to the staking of a Game Production Area for the opening of the pheasant season.

No one would think that that was OK because it is public property. The same goes for sandbars and islands on the South Dakota portion of the Missouri River.

3) In Nebraska, the riparian ownership laws are different. The adjacent landowner to the Missouri River owns out into the riverbed to the state line. Any sandbars or islands that form in the Missouri River in the state of Nebraska belong to the adjoining landowner. Therefore, Nebraska Game and Parks has taken the position that it is OK to stake or mark sandbars and islands that are in their state.

A person also needs landowner permission to stake or hunt these sandbars and islands.

4) Since sandbars and islands on the South Dakota portion of the Missouri River are public property it is first come first served. This means that if there is a duck blind on an island, anyone can use that blind.

Also, if a person tries to run another person out of a hunting spot who was there first, they could be charged with hunter harassment.

I also feel that people need to use patience and understanding.

There are lots of places to hunt on the Missouri River. If one island is taken, have the common courtesy to move on to the next island, or ask if they mind sharing the area.

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