Spinning-wing decoys have been a hot topic on Arkansas Wildlife Management Areas in recent discussions.

Spinning-wing decoys have been a hot topic on Arkansas Wildlife Management Areas in recent discussions.

The duck hunters’ debate over spinning-wing decoys goes on.

A recent survey by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission attempted to provide a clear picture of the controversial issue. The result was a nearly even division between yes, maybe and no. There was nothing close to a consensus on the use of spinning-wing decoys.

The survey was intentionally aimed at hunters who had obtained Sweet 16 Wildlife Management Area permits for the 2014-15 season. These permits are required on 16 WMAs in an effort to determine hunter use of the areas.

In the survey, 1,774 hunted waterfowl on an Arkansas WMA during the 2014-15 season. Of that number 1,283 (72.3%) were Arkansas residents.

Among Arkansas residents who responded, 631 said spinning wing decoys should not be banned on WMAs, 144 had no opinion, 489 said they should be banned.

Question: In your experience, do spinning-wing decoys affect your hunt satisfaction while hunting on WMAs? Answer: Positive effect, 545. Negative effect, 536. Also, 363 hunters said the spinning-wing decoys had no effect, and 312 had no opinion.

But only half of the surveyed hunters replied to the waterfowl hunting questions. Presumably, the others did not hunt ducks or geese last season.

A decade ago, the AGFC outlawed the use of spinning-wing decoys after multiple requests by hunters, the first Mississippi Flyway state to do so. But other states did not follow Arkansas’s lead, and the ban was dropped.

But most hunters acknowledged they had used spinning-wing decoys. Question: Did you use a spinning-wing decoy while hunting on these WMAs during the 2014-15 season?
Answer: Always, 290 hunters, sometimes, 1,090 hunters and never, 373 hunters.

Check your WMA deer hunt permit status and pay for your permit by July 20.

Check your WMA deer hunt permit status and pay for your permit by August 6.


ALERT: First WMA Deer Hunt Draw Complete

The first drawing for the AGFC’s WMA deer hunts has been completed. Email notifications were sent out to all successful applicants on July 7. Successful applicants have until 11:59 p.m. August 6 to pay for their permits. All unclaimed permits will be forfeited and will be used for a second drawing for all applicants who were unsuccessful during the first draw. The second drawing will take place August 13. To check your permit status and pay for permits, visit the link below:

Check Status and Pay for WMA Deer Hunt Permit

See how the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission produces more than 1 million trout per year for stocking into state waterways at the AGFC’s Jim Hinkle Spring River Fish Hatchery at Mammoth Spring.
On the YouTube channel, you’ll also find everything from interviews with first time deer hunters, to tailwater trout fishing, to elk viewing in the Boxley Valley, to Mississippi River catfishing as well as the agency’s 100th anniversary tribute “A Century of Conservation.”
Be sure to subscribe to the channel, so you’ll be notified whenever a new video is posted.

Click here for details.

Fishing Derbies will be held at each of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Hatcheries, Saturday, June 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you’ve ever wanted to wet a line but didn’t want to spend the money for a fishing license, this weekend is your time to give it a try. By special proclamation of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, anyone, resident or nonresident, may fish without a license or trout stamp from noon, Friday, June 12, to midnight, Sunday, June 14, 2015.

Chris Racey, chief of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Fisheries Division, said, “It’s an excellent opportunity for friends and family to get together and enjoy the great sport of fishing.”

All other fishing regulations, including daily limits, remain in effect during Free Fishing Weekend. Visit agfc.com for a free download of the 2015 Arkansas Fishing Guidebook

In addition to the license waiver, each AGFC hatchery has reserved special locations for free kids’ fishing derbies from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13. Children 12 and younger may bring their own tackle and bait to their local hatchery to catch and keep up to three fish per child.

“We host kids’ fishing derbies at all five of our state fish hatcheries each year to provide an opportunity for children to catch fish in a fun and safe environment,” Racey said. “We hope many children will catch their first fish at one of our hatchery derbies and go on to become lifelong anglers.”

Click for Hatchery Locations for Free Fishing Weekend Derbies

Urban Deer Hunt regulations now may be different from city-to-city. Check with the hunt coordinator for each hunt's details.

Urban Deer Hunt regulations now may be different from city-to-city. Check with the hunt coordinator for each hunt’s details.

Important changes have been made to the urban deer hunt program this year. For the last few years, hunters who qualified under a standardized set of program guidelines were allowed to hunt in all participating cities. However, each city is now allowed to amend certain rules to the hunts to increase safety and effectiveness of this method of deer population control near urban settings.

Ralph Meeker, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s assistant deer program coordinator, said, “We felt that each city should have some flexibility with regards to implementing a safe deer hunt within their boundaries. Some rules will remain the same; however, rules that pertain to the use of crossbows, hunting stand requirements, season length and the minimum age of its participants will be left up to the city.”

The hunt coordinators for each city also have changed:

  • Hunters wishing to participate in the Bull Shoals or Lakeview hunts should contact the Bull Shoals Urban Bowhunters Association’s President Bill Craker at bsurbanbowhunt@yahoo.com.
  • Hunters wishing to participate in the Cherokee Village, Russellville, Fairfield Bay, Horseshoe Bend, Heber Springs or Hot Springs Village hunt should visit the Arkansas Bowhunters Association website at http://www.arkansasbowhunters.org/UrbanHunt in order to register online or contact the ABA’s urban deer hunt coordinator J.D. Crawford at jd@arkansasbowhunters.org.

The perks to participating in these urban deer hunts haven’t changed. There is no bag limit or antler restriction. Deer harvested in urban deer hunts are considered bonus deer and do not count toward the hunter’s seasonal bag limit. All deer harvested must still be checked to the appropriate urban deer zone either online at http://www.agfc.com, by telephone at 866-305-0808, or by using the AGFC smart phone app.

Meeker explained that the overall goal of the Urban Deer Hunt Program is to safely reduce deer-human conflicts within cities. “By providing some management flexibility for the cities and a liberalized set of harvest guidelines, we hope to be able to accomplish that. We will leave it up to the cities to ensure that the best and most ethical hunters are utilized,” he said.

To do so, all cities conducting an urban hunt will still require the hunter to pass a shooting proficiency test, participate in a pre-hunt orientation and have passed the International Bowhunters Education Program course. Hunters interested in participating in the 2015 urban deer hunts should contact the appropriate urban hunt coordinator listed above in order to get the date, time, and location of those tests and orientations.

Photo courtesy Dan Scheiman, Audubon Arkansas.

Photo courtesy Dan Scheiman, Audubon Arkansas.


A bird never before seen in Arkansas was found helpless near Oil Trough in Independence County. It was captured and taken to a rehabilitation center for treatment.

The crested caracara is a large raptor that lives in Mexico, southern Texas, Arizona, the southern tip of Florida, Cuba and South America. It is kind to vultures and feeds on carrion as well as some live small animals.

Dan Scheiman of the Arkansas Audubon Society said the bird found near Oil Trough is the first on record for Arkansas. It was on land of Craig Shirley.

Wildlife officer Roger Tate with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and volunteer birders were able to capture the crested caracara which appeared emaciated and with a possible eye injury. It was taken to Raptor Rehabilitation of Central Arkansas at El Paso for treatment.

crested caracara

Hunting traditions have historically been passed down through families, but as the modern family evolves, bridging the gap between veteran and beginning hunter has become a challenge for all conservation agencies. Through its youth turkey camp, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission introduces young people to turkey hunting at its annual youth turkey camp in the Ouachita National Forest.


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