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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will hold special public meetings during March to introduce proposed changes to management practices on many popular wildlife management areas for waterfowl habitat.

The meetings are part of the AGFC’s ongoing effort to keep the public informed about habitat degradation in many wetland areas, particularly artificially flooded bottomland hardwood forests known as greentree reservoirs that produce the finest duck hunting experience in the United States.

“Hunting on greentree reservoirs draws duck hunters from all over the country to The Natural State,” said Luke Naylor, waterfowl program coordinator for the AGFC. “But over decades, those forests have slowly changed, and our management must change with them if we are to continue this great tradition of hunting flooded timber and providing waterfowl with the habitat they need.”

Many hunters have become accustomed to constant high water being available near the opening day of waterfowl season, but according to growing scientific research in Arkansas and other states with greentree reservoirs, the practice has damaged many of the trees that produce the acorns ducks need.

“Flooding before a tree is dormant, and doing so consistently, causes damage,” Naylor said. “And most hunters will tell you there often are plenty of green leaves on the trees during the opening weekend of duck season. We need to begin managing our greentree reservoirs to follow more natural flooding patterns, which typically occur later and fluctuate from year to year.”

The AGFC also has produced a mailing, which describes the situation in detail. It will be delivered to each Arkansas resident who has purchased a waterfowl stamp in the last three years and each non-resident who has purchased a non-resident waterfowl WMA permit in the last three years. A digital version of that mailing is available at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/Documents/GTR.pdf.

“There has been a lot of talk lately about many other aspects of duck hunting on Arkansas’s famous public WMAs,” Naylor said. “But this change is much more important. This is to protect and re-establish the habitat that originally drew ducks to these areas. Without that, Arkansas’s famous green timber duck hunting could very well become a thing of the past.”

Public meetings will be held at the following dates and locations:

Stuttgart
6-8 p.m., March 9
Grand Prairie Center, Salon B
2807 Highway 165 South
Stuttgart, AR 72160

Searcy
6-8p.m., March 14
Searcy High School Cafeteria
301 N Ella,
Searcy, AR 72143

Little Rock
6-8 p.m., March 16
AGFC Headquarters Auditorium
2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, AR 72205

Jonesboro
6-8 p.m., March 28
Nettleton High School Fine Arts Center
4201 Chieftan Lane
Jonesboro, AR 72401

Russellville
6-8 p.m., March 30
Doc Bryan Lecture Hall, Arkansas Tech University
1605 N. Coliseum Drive
Russellville, AR 72801

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New Boating Regulations are in effect at many wildlife management areas in response to unsafe boating practices.

New Boating Regulations are in effect at many wildlife management areas in response to unsafe boating practices.

Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission last month approved a regulation requiring all users to sign a permit and have it in their immediate possession while participating in any hunting-, fishing- or boating-related activity on Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area.

The permit is free and can be found in the AGFC’s 2015-16 Waterfowl Hunting Guidebook. It also is available for download using the following link :

Download General Use Permit

This regulation is one of many in response to concerns involving reckless operation of boats on the WMA.

With the exception of meeting oncoming boats, all boating traffic on the WMA must proceed in single-file with no passing allowed, except when boats have exited the current direction of travel or are no longer under power. All boating traffic on the WMA must maintain a minimum 50 feet (about three-boat lengths) between boats proceeding in the same direction of travel.

Hazardous and negligent boating activity is strictly prohibited and conviction can include points assessed toward revocation of a license and a one-year ban from the WMA where the violation occurred.

In addition to the new boating regulations, new regulations on spinning-wing decoys have been added to Bayou Meto WMA and Dave Donaldson Black River WMA. The regulation states:

It is illegal to attempt to take waterfowl with any electronic, mechanically operated, wind-powered or manually powered apparatus or device that simulates wing movement, including any device that spins one or more fixed- or stationary-winged decoys around a central axis.

Spinning-wing decoys have been banned on Bayou Meto WMA and Dave Donaldson Black River WMA for the 2015-16 waterfowl season.

Spinning-wing decoys have been banned on Bayou Meto WMA and Dave Donaldson Black River WMA for the 2015-16 waterfowl season.

 

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Proposed season dates are available for review and comments. Click here to view.

Proposed season dates are available for review and comments. Click here to view.

Although staff recommendations for this year’s waterfowl season dates were formally proposed during the July Commission meeting, public comments prompted the Commission to look into an alternative set of dates for public review.

View proposed season dates and make comments

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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.

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Click here for our weekly waterfowl reports.

Click here for our weekly waterfowl reports.

AGFC.com has everything you need to anticipate the next wave of ducks heading for The Natural State. Everything from aerial survey data to predictions of waterfowl movements throughout the country is right at your fingertips. We even give habitat conditions for all AGFC wildlife management areas popular with duck hunters, to give you an idea of the water levels and food avaialble for ducks before you drive out there. Just click http://www.agfc.com/hunting/Pages/HuntingWaterfowlReport.aspx to get started.

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Duck season dates set

Arkansas's 2013-14 waterfowl season dates have been set. hunters will enjoy a 60-day season again.

Arkansas’s 2013-14 waterfowl season dates have been set. hunters will enjoy a 60-day season again.

Arkansas hunters will enjoy a 60-day waterfowl season for the 17th consecutive year. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission set the dates for late migratory waterfowl seasons at the August Commission meeting, Aug. 15,

AGFC Waterfowl Program Coordinator Luke Naylor presented the Commission with the late migratory season proposals.

“Habitat conditions were improved or similar to last year in many areas due to average or above-average annual precipitation, with the exceptions of southeastern Canada, the northeast U.S., and portions of Montana and the Dakotas,” Naylor said.

With more than 529,500 mallards harvested, Arkansas had the third highest waterfowl harvest and highest mallard harvest in the nation last season. The second highest mallard harvest in the nation was 243,467 in California. No other state’s hunters, in the Mississippi flyway, harvested over 200,000 mallards.

2013-14 duck, coot and merganser
Nov. 23-Dec. 1
Dec. 5-Dec. 23
Dec. 26-Jan. 26
Youth Hunt: Feb. 1-2
Daily bag limits:

  • Ducks – Six ducks consisting of no more than: four mallards (two hens), three wood ducks, two pintails, Two redheads, one black duck, two canvasbacks, one mottled duck or three scaup.
  • Mergansers – five
  • Coots – 15

Federal regulations now allow for a possession limit of three times the daily bag limit.

2013-14 white-fronted goose

Nov. 14-Jan. 26
Daily bag limit: Two, Possession limit: Six

2013-14 snow, blue and Ross’ goose 

Nov. 14-Jan. 26
Daily bag limit:50, No possession limit

2013-14 Canada goose

Early Canada Goose Statewide Season: Sept.1-15, 2013.
Northwest Canada Goose Zone Season: Sept. 21-30, 2013.
Late Canada Goose Statewide Season: Nov. 14, 2013-Jan. 26, 2014.
Daily bag limit: Two, Possession limit: Six. (The daily limit is five Canada geese from Sept. 1-15, 2013, possession limit 15.)

 2013-14 snow, blue and Ross’ goose conservation order

Oct. 12-Nov. 13, Jan. 27-31 and Feb. 3-April 25, 2014
No bag or possession limit.

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Arkansas waterfowl season dates have been proposed. Click here to comment.

Arkansas waterfowl season dates have been proposed. Click here to comment.

Duck season dates proposed, dove dates set The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission discussed duck hunting during last week’s monthly meeting and proposed the dates for this year’s waterfowl seasons. These dates will be voted on at the August 15 commission meeting, but the AGFC is seeking comments through an online survey until August 14. Click here to take the survey.  Proposed duck season dates: Nov. 23-Dec. 1 Dec. 5-Dec. 23 Dec. 26-Jan. 26 Youth Hunt: Feb. 1-2 Proposed white-fronted, snow, blue, Ross’ and late Canada goose season dates: Nov. 14-Jan. 26. Federal regulations now allow for a possession limit of three times the daily bag limit. The Commission also finalized the dates for early migratory birds during the July meeting. Mourning Dove and Eurasian Collared Dove Sept. 1-Oct. 20 and Dec. 21-Jan. 9 Teal Season Sept. 7-22 Rail Season Sept. 7-Nov. 15 Woodcock Season Nov. 2-Dec. 16 Common Snipe Season Nov. 1-Feb. 15 Gallinule Season Sept. 1-Nov. 9 Early Canada Goose Season Sept. 1-15 Northwest Canada Goose Zone Season Sept. 21-30 The teal daily bag limit will be raised to six and the possession limit to 18.

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