The Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area is ready for the 2014-2015 season. Ducks have shown up in good numbers in the impoundments and hunters are excited about the season which begins this Saturday, Nov. 22 and runs through Nov.
30 before starting up again on Dec. 6. Butler Island is quota only and is open on Saturdays, Champney Island is open for walk in hunters Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays, while Rhetts Island is boat access only and is open Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays. Outside of the impoundments the rivers and swamps offer great hunting as well. Shooting hours are until noon. Please print out the late-season migratory bird seasons and regulations guide athttp://georgiawildlife.com/Hunting/Waterfowl for more information on the waterfowl season, and check out the information below for waterfowl hunting on Altamaha WMA.
There are three islands that are made up of impoundments on Altamaha WMA, Butler, Champney, and Rhetts Island. Butler Island is a quota hunt that is offered every Saturday during the waterfowl season until noon. There are 25 blind areas ranging from 4 to 16 acres in size that are randomly selected through a lottery style drawing. Each week, there are 25 blind areas reserved for the quota hunters. Stand-by hunters draw for the blinds open by quota hunters that do not show up at the hunt. These blind areas do not have physical duck blinds but are rather a mix of open water, potholes, emergent grasses, and trees. Hunters use the natural cover to hide themselves from approaching waterfowl.
Hunters on Butler Island should arrive at the check station, located one mile South of Darien, Georgia, between 4:30 and 4:45 a.m. Quota and stand by hunters will need to go inside the check station and sign in with Game Management personnel upon arrival. Drawing for blinds for the quota hunters will begin at 5 a.m. The stand-by hunters will then be given the opportunity to draw for the remaining blind areas. Once the blinds are selected, hunters and their gear are loaded onto trailers pulled behind pick up trucks and are taken out to the hunting area. Hunters are dropped off at their blinds, where they will find a small boat. This boat is designed exclusively to get hunters and gear across a narrow perimeter ditch. Once this ditch is crossed, hunters can get out of the boat in waders and wade through the blind area. Water levels are normally between 8 and 24 inches deep in the impoundment. Hunters can put out decoys and hide in the natural cover in the blind area. Large decoy spreads are not needed on Butler Island. 6 to 12 decoys is appropriate. Pack wisely to minimize extra gear and bulky decoy bags. Other hunters on the trailers will appreciate it and it will make the walk easier when packing gear in and out of the blind areas.
Hunting ends at noon. Game Management staff will drive around the dikes and pick up hunters at 9 a.m. and noon. Hunters can also walk to the cross dike. This is a central location in the center of the impoundment where the trailers are parked. Maps of this area are located in the check station. For those wishing to hunt until noon, DNR will pick those hunters up at their blinds where they were dropped off that morning.
Champney Island offers hunters a walk-in hunting opportunity on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays during waterfowl season until noon. This is a first come first serve area that can be very productive. Hunters will often try and draw a stand-by blind on Butler Island, but keep Champney Island as an option in case they are not drawn.
Champney Island is broken up into three huntable impoundments, New Snipe, Old Snipe, and West Champney. New Snipe and Old Snipe pools can be accessed from Champney Road or Massman Road, while West Champney can only be accessed by Massman Road. A canoe or small boat can be useful to get into the impoundments and to move around within the impoundments. Similar to Butler Island, hunters need to wear waders and can expect water levels to range between 8 – 24 inches across the impoundment.
Rhetts Island is boat accessible only and is open to hunting Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays during waterfowl season until noon. It is a large impoundment broken up into three pools. Pool 1 is the western most pool and Pool 3 is the eastern most pool. Pool 1 has two access points into it from the Champney and Butler Rivers. The pull over sites allow hunters to cross the perimeter dike with a small boat to access the impoundment. Because the Champney and Butler Rivers are tidally influenced, there can 6-9 feet of difference between high and low tide depending on moon phase and wind. This can create a large mud flat in front of the pull over sites, so be aware of the tide stage when planning your trip. A push pole is a great tool to help navigate through the soupy mud that leads up to the pull-over points.
Consistent with the other impoundments, Rhetts Island has a perimeter ditch around each pool and water depths in Rhetts Island range from 8 – 24 inches deep. Hunters can hunt out of waders or out of their boat using natural cover in the impoundment as camouflage. Hunters are strongly advised to scout Rhetts Island in the daylight prior to making a trip over in the dark the morning of the hunt. This will help increase your chances for a safe and successful hunt.
Check out this video for the 2014-2015 forecast: