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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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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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Dove Season Opens Sept. 6

Dove season opens Sept. 6, 2014. Click the picture for details.

Dove season opens Sept. 6, 2014. Click the picture for details.

Arkansas’s Dove season opens Sept. 6 this year, kicking off the 2014-15 hunting season. As we get close to that grand day of shooting birds in the field and shooting the bull at the tailgate cookout, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has put together a few reminders to help you stay safe and stay legal while you’re knocking the rust off your shooting skills:

  1. Double-check the date: Federal frameworks will not allow states to open dove season before Sept. 1 each year. The AGFC chose to open Sept. 6 to let hunters enjoy a full opening weekend of dove hunting instead of opening on Labor Day, a Monday.
  2. Be sure your licenses are up-to-date: Migratory bird stamps are not required to hunt doves, but hunters must have a valid hunting license and a valid HIP registration before hunting. Visit www.agfc.com/licenses/Pages/LicensesBuy.aspx to learn the many ways to purchase an Arkansas hunting license.
  3. Check your shotgun to make sure it can hold no more than three shells (including the shell in the chamber).
  4. Make sure to check your dove fields for evidence of baiting and ask the operator or landowner if the area has been baited. A baited field may not be hunted until after 10 days following the complete removal of all bait. Visit www.agfc.com/hunting/Documents/DoveBrochure.pdf to download a brochure detailing all the regulations pertaining to baiting for dove fields.
  5. Try to meet with all hunters using the field before heading out, so that you will be aware of everyone’s location.
  6. Be sure to bring extra water to stay hydrated in the late summer heat that comes with dove season. If you plan to bring a dog to help retrieve downed birds, bring twice as much as you think you’ll need.
  7. Be sure to bring plenty of shells. Dove hunting offers some of the most challenging wing-shooting of the season.
  8. If you’re still looking for a place to hunt, the AGFC has a few managed dove fields throughout the state worth looking into. Visit www.agfc.com/hunting/Pages/PublicDoveFields.aspx to find a dove field near you.

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