Duck hunting in Arkansas offers some of the finest opportunities for the sport found anyplace.
Opportunities for duck hunting in Arkansas abound in the state's hunting areas. Arkansas is known as the duck hunting capital of the world, and with good reason. Arkansas is flush with wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges, making the state a popular location for duck hunting.
The exact dates for duck hunting season are announced in mid-August. The season typically lasts from mid-November until mid- to late January. Typically, every weekend during the season is open, but there are short breaks during the week. In addition, Arkansas occasionally offers a youth hunt day, on which the season is closed to all older hunters. The season is open on Thanksgiving but closed on Christmas Day.
Usually, unless the weather is bad, the best time for duck hunting in Arkansas is from mid- to late December until the end of the hunting season in January. January, in particular, is a great time for duck hunting in Arkansas. By January, the majority of ducks and geese have made it to Arkansas and the animals are plentiful. However, if the weather gets too cold in January, hunters run the risk of losing the ducks to warmer climates. Ducks tend to move on if the temperature remains below freezing for 10 or more days.
In northeast Arkansas, early November is also a good time to hunt ducks. During Thanksgiving, hunters can visit the Wings Over the Prairie Festival in Stuttgart, Arkansas. According to the Stuttgart Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, the festival is a popular event among duck hunters and vendors and includes the World Duck Calling Contest, a duck gumbo cook-off and a sporting clay event.
Hunters must be at least 16 years old to hunt ducks legally in Arkansas, and they must carry a hunting license. Anyone who is a guide or assists another hunter must possess a guide license. Nonresidents of Arkansas must buy a nonresident hunting license.
Duck hunters may purchase a license over the phone by calling (501) 223-6349 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. They may also use another over-the-phone service that is available 24 hours a day: (800) 364-GAME. They may purchase licenses online at Arkansas Online License Sales. Hunters requesting a license will need a credit card and an identification (ID) number. The ID number can be a driver's license number, Social Security number, hunter education number, state ID or passport number. Small game and fishing privileges are available immediately after obtaining a license.
According to Game&Fish, the White River National Wildlife Refuge has the largest concentration of wintering mallards in the Mississippi Flyway. Created by the federal government in 1935, the wildlife refuge runs along the east and west sides of the lower White River in eastern Arkansas, providing more than 160,000 acres for duck hunting. Duck hunters can find opportunities in the refuge's flooded green timber areas, cypress and tupelo-lined sloughs and bayous and oxbow lakes.
The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) recommends the Bayou Meto for duck hunting in Arkansas. One of the most popular duck-hunting areas, the Bayou Meto is commonly referred to as "the Scatters," and it was recognized by Arkansas Duck Hunter's Almanac as the best public hunting ground in the United States. Its 34,000 acres of public duck-hunting land were purchased by the AGFC in 1948. The Bayou Meto's Halowell Reservoir and Wrape Plantation are popular rest areas for waterfowl, making the area perfect for hunters. The Bayou Meto is found between the major duck corridors of the Arkansas River and the White River.
The White River National Wildlife Refuge and the Bayou Meto are the most popular places for duck hunting in Arkansas. However, some hunters prefer less populated areas. Some prime areas off the beaten path include: