Get Started Hunting | Waterfowl 

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Arkansas is known throughout the country for its fantastic duck hunting. More mallards are taken in Arkansas than in any other state. Getting started can seem complicated, but here are a few things to help you get your feet wet in the waterfowling world.

Identifying Ducks

Many types of ducks fly through Arkansas on their migration south. Click on the link below to learn more about each species and how to tell it apart from the others.

Where to Hunt

About 90 percent of Arkansas is private land, but there are plenty of public hunting opportunities throughout the state. Click the link below to learn about some of the AGFC’s wildlife management areas and the seasons and the regulations for each. Pay particular attention to waterfowl season dates information. Those that have dates listed are among some of Arkansas’s best public land for duck hunting.

When to Hunt

Duck hunting can be good throughout the day, but typically is best in the early morning or evening, when ducks are flying back and forth between feeding areas and resting areas. Duck hunting on public land ends at noon, so it’s best to concentrate on early morning hunts and be in position before the sun comes up.

What to Look For

There are three main ways to duck hunt – field hunting, flooded timber hunting, and jump hunting:
Field Hunting – Flooded rice fields and flatlands with abundant seed-producing vegetation attract ducks as they make their flight south. There are strict laws against intentionally baiting these areas to attract ducks, but grain left over after normal agricultural operations is often enough to get their attention. Natural vegetation can’t be chopped or beaten down to knock the grain loose, either.
Flooded Timber Hunting – Look for areas of flooded hardwood trees close to fields the birds are feeding in. Ducks will eat during the night and morning in the fields, then fly to these sheltered areas to rest during the day.
Jump Hunting – Find small, winding streams near flooded timber or fields the ducks are using. Walk the edges of these streams and be ready to shoot ducks you flush along the way. 

Equipment Checklist

  • Hunter’s safety card
  • Hunting license (if you’re 16 or older)
  • State and Federal Duck Stamps (if you’re 16 or older)
  • Harvest Information Program (HIP) verification
  • Waders to keep you dry in swampy areas
  • A shotgun, preferably a 12-gauge or 20-gauge, that can hold no more than three shells
  • Steel shot for your shotgun
  • Warm, waterproof clothing
  • A duck call
  • Decoys (you rarely need more than a dozen)
  • A game strap or bag to carry ducks out
  • A GPS unit or compass and map to help you navigate

Helpful Tips

  • When hunting in fields, a blind is almost always the best way to hunt. Blinds can be as simple as a piece of burlap strung across two low-hanging branches or a steel box that’s been placed in the ground to hunt from. On public land, lay-down blinds are the best way to hunt fields.
  • Get a duck call and learn how to blow it. It takes time and effort, so get your duck call a few months before the season and practice.
  • It’s important to know how to call, but it’s just as important to know when not to call. If you can, find an experienced caller and watch how and when they call and how the birds react.
  • A small johnboat can help you get where the ducks are, but most of the AGFC’s waterfowl areas have walk-in access to decent hunting areas.