Regional Reports-East

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Hunters who want to get on ducks early should highlight Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge on their maps. Situated along the coast near Milton, Prime Hook covers more than 9,200 acres of wetlands that are intensively managed to provide habitat for waterfowl during the fall. A testament to the refuge's productivity is the sheer numbers of ducks that use the area. "We can get upward of 85,000 ducks here during the peak of the season in October and November," says Bill Jones, the refuge's outdoor recreation planner. Jones says October populations consist primarily of green-winged teal, with mallards and pintails arriving later. Because only 27 blinds are available, hunting pressure on this prolific tract is tightly controlled. Hunters must register for the blinds each morning, with lottery drawings for them taking place two hours prior to legal shooting time. Four hunters are assigned to each blind, and the daily hunt ends at 3 p.m. Additionally, hunting is permitted only on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and certain Fridays. Hunters who fail to draw a blind for the day can redirect their hunt to Milford Neck Wildlife Area, a fairly good public hunting unit just northwest of Prime Hook. Contact: Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (Route 3, Box 195, Milton, DE 19968; 302-684-8419; fw5rw_phnwr@fws.gov).