The fee hunt unit of McNary Wildlife Refuge offers a lot of opportunity to hunters hoping to get a big day of birds, especially later in the season. On many days you can shoot a limit of divers in the first few hours. If you’re more selective you are usually rewarded with good numbers of mallards. More often, our group pulls a good mixed bag of birds. I’ve been able to hunt McNary 3-4 times a year for the past 5 years so I’ve been able to cull together some of my own thoughts about the blinds there and how to hunt them.
Start by opening the regulations and map.
1. Usually goes first in the lottery picks because it’s a short walk and gets first shot at any birds picking up off the non-hunting part of the refuge. There’s lots of great passing shot opportunities here, especially on birds passing behind the blind.
2. This is a handicapped blind accessible via car. I have not hunted it.
4. On a point. Consistent producer, but not a great pick on a sunny day. Soft bottom right off shore but better a few feet out. Blind 11 can steal birds. Easy walk to parking lot.
5. My buddy and his son have hunted this and liked it. It’s on a slight point and you can set up right off the point or to the North. Birds also slide into the cove between it and 6. When I’ve hunted 6 and birds were coming from the North, this blind would pull them off us.
6. Another top producer on the refuge. Blind 6 seems to be right in the center of the flyway and you can set up right off the point or to the sticky mud cove to the South. Birds from all directions can make an exciting day. You can also be prepared to set up behind the blind as ducks will shortcut over this point towards 8, giving you a good passing shot.
7. Blind faces Southeast so not great on a sunny day. You’re at the mercy of the hunters in blinds 6 and 9. If they are skybusters you’re in for a long day. A lot of water around the blind so try to get some motion with wind decoys or jerk rigs.
8. Handicapped blind accessible by car. Not Hunted.
9. A long walk but good hunting if you can pull birds away from 6. Birds would often come from behind us and surprise us. A big spread and hard calling seems to help here. Our best hunting here happened after guys in 6 pulled out for the day.
10. Island blind. Long walk with tough conditions for setting out decoys, including lots of submerged logs right off the northern point. West side of island is a deep channel. Lots of birds pass right through here so pass shooting can be good but try not to be a jerk and shoot birds working 4 or 11. Update (2021): The McNary website says there is a blind now on this island. Maybe the crews also tried to get rid of some of the submerged snags.
11. Have not hunted.
12. Have not hunted.
13. One of my favorite blinds. The blind faces West so good for on a sunny day. The point and cove give you a lot of options for set-up in almost any wind. Birds sweep in from the northern part of the refuge.
15. This blind is another favorite of mine but it has not been productive the past few years. Shallow water left and right but deeper out front. A lot of birds coming from the river. With winds from the South, do a J hook along the shore. Winds from the West, just clump them up tight near the shore and be ready to shoot all day. A wind duck helps all these blinds on the southern end of the refuge.
16. Similar to 15, with shallow water along the shores but getting deeper 20 yards out. The bottom starts to get spongy the farther south you go. Set up like 15. It feels like there’s a lot of competition all around but we still get our share here.
17. Spongy bottom can make for difficult retrieves, but it’s pretty shallow. It’s a long walk from either parking lot. If you choose to park in the farthest southern lot, be prepared for a longer drive and for a long walk.
18. Field blind, not hunted.
19. Not hunted.
19a. Not hunted. I think it’s new for 2018.
20. Not hunted.
21. Not hunted.
22. Not hunted.
24.-31. Field blinds that I’ve not hunted.
You can also see another guide here.