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Nov. 29, 2017

Jim Harris

Water Not in the Offing for Ducks Anytime Soon

LITTLE ROCK -- Record dry conditions have made duck hunting nearly impossible for much of Arkansas. If you're able to pump any water onto fields or into privately owned timber, there are some ducks available, but that number likely dropped off from opening weekend, according to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission waterfowl program director Luke Naylor.

"All I’ve heard is the typical opening nine-day scenario for the first split season," Naylor said. "It's been somewhat typical, that being typical for dry conditions compared to being very dry like it is. (The success for hunters) when it's dry just kind of dwindles from there after the first weekend. Without storms and rain water to attract the ducks, you end up with the same ducks hanging out in the same places and they learn pretty quickly to avoid the gun."

The major alerts from the National Weather Service the past week have focused on the high possibility of wildflires, rather than storms. "It's a record dry time for us, that's about the extent of it," Naylor said. "There's no new news on ducks. There's been no influx of birds and there is no reason for them to be here. If all that mattered was cold weather, it would be all right because we've had plenty of cold weather since the season started. But we need water, we need rain, we need runoff and we need surface water on the landscape to get them in."

The first rainfall won't be a cure-all either with ground not already saturated, Naylor noted. "It doesn't look like any major rain is in the forecast at all. It's setting up for a pretty dry fall, the second in a row for us."

The first split to Arkansas's 60-day season seems to have come at the right time, assuming maybe some rainfall is in the offing later in December. The duck season closed at sunset on Sunday and will reopen 30 minutes before sunrise Thursday, Dec. 7. Hunting for geese is underway but will close for one day this weekend, Dec. 2. Geese reports remain good, as geese can fend without as much water as the ducks require, Naylor said.

The first of two special statewide waterfowl hunts for youths is Saturday, Dec. 2.

Some anecdotal evidence indicates, however, that hunters with water are still taking good numbers of ducks. McSwain Sports Center on U.S. Highway 165 east of North Little Rock, for example, reported that they have seen more ducks brought in for processing than they had anticipated due to the conditions. Anglers at Harris Brake in Perry County report hearing quite a bit of shooting nearby on the weekends for ducks.

"I'm just hearing fairly low numbers of ducks overall," Naylor said. "You do hear a few odd reports here and there of good numbers of ducks, from areas where there is relatively a large amount of habitat where they can provide a wetland complex on their own property. By and large, though, it's pretty slim."

Naylor says that Mississippi has done an aerial survey recently that showed fairly high numbers of ducks for what they expect at this time of year. The AGFC will be conducting an aerial survey count of Arkansas next week, Naylor says.

Mallard Migration Map

 
 

Northeast Arkansas

Earl Buss Bayou DeView WMA

MapWater Gauge | Weather Report
Boaters should use caution while using the Thompson Tract boat run.

South Oliver GTR
Habitat: Mast production has been good.
Water Level: 0% flooded with a current gauge reading of 0.0 feet. There is a small amount of available water present within the natural slough on the north end of this GTR and south end of the North Oliver Tract. 

Thompson Tract GTR
Habitat: Mast production has been good.
Water Level: 0% flooded with a current gauge reading of 0.0 feet.

Lake Hogue WRA
Habitat: A small amount of beneficial wetland plants is located along the east side of the lake.
Water Level: Normal pool level.


Big Lake WMA

MapWater Gauge | Weather Report
When the Ditch 81 extension gauge near Manila (upstream of the Big Lake north-end control structure) reads 17.5 feet, water is beginning to come over the north levee degrade on Big Lake WMA. When the Ditch 81 Extension gauge reads 18.0 feet or higher, the water level on the WMA will rise quickly and hunters should exercise caution while on the area. Be aware of underwater logs in boat runs and hangers in trees.

North Woods GTR
Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: Bo Dock gauge currently reads 233.6 feet, Target level is 235.5 feet with 0% flooded.

South Woods GTR
Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: The 7-Mile gauge is currently at 232.4 feet. Target level is 234.5 feet with 20% flooded. There is a small amount of water available in the bar pits on the west side of the area between the 7 and 8 mile laterals.

Simmons Field
Habitat: A good amount of millet, smartweed and sedge is present. Seed production is very good.
Water Level: 10%


St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat: Mast production is considered above average within the timber and floodways.
Water Level: Water levels in the huntable areas are dependent on St. Francis River flows. The water level at Oak Donnick is 211.23 feet, and approximately 90% of the huntable area is flooded.

Snowden WRA
Habitat: There is a small amount of beneficial wetland plants within the borrow areas.
Water Level: 0% flooded

Payneway WRA
Habitat: There are 70 acres of corn and millet planted throughout the WRA
Water Level: Pool A is at 0%. Pool B is at 0%. Pool C is at 0%. Pool D is at 0%.


Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Waterfowl hunters should be aware of hangers and submerged logs within the boat runs and GTRs. Please exercise caution when accessing the area. In addition, hunters should allow safe passage when parking vehicles along roadsides. Vehicles blocking access will be moved.

Adam Brake GTR
Habitat: High abundance of mast crop within the GTR.
Water Level: Water level is 238 feet msl with a target level of 240.0 msl. 40% flooded.

Rainey Brake GTR
Habitat: High abundance of mast crop within the GTR.
Water Level: 60% flooded.

Eagle Pond GTR
Habitat: High abundance of mast crop within the GTR.
Water Level: 20% flooded.

Phase III Moist-soil Unit
Habitat: Fair wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 20% flooded.

Charles Crisp Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: Fair wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Ward Field Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: Good wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 0% flooded.

River Field Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: High abundance of native wetland vegetation..
Water Level: 0% flooded.


Dave Donaldson Black River WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Waterfowl hunters should be aware of hangers and submerged logs within the boat runs and GTRs. Please exercise caution when accessing the area. Please remember to keep boats off the levees so AGFC personnel can access the area. Boats blocking access will be moved. Unattended trailers are not to be left overnight on parking areas.

Upper Island GTR
Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 269.6 feet msl. Target level is 269.5 feet msl. 100% flooded.

Lower Island GTR
Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is Below Readable Level. Target level is 268.0 feet msl. 20% flooded.

Upper Reyno GTR
Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 266.45 feet msl. Target level is 266.9 feet msl. 75% flooded.

Lower Reyno GTR
Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 265.3 feet msl. Target level is 266.3 feet msl. 50% flooded.

Winchester GTR
Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 262.8 feet msl. Target level is 263.7 feet msl. 60% flooded.

 

 

East Central Arkansas

Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
The Conway George units are available by applying for online permits. Permit hunts are on Saturday and Sunday. Please visit www.agfc.com for maps, special regulations, permit application and draw dates. Hunters should call the Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 for current road closures.

Mud Slough GTR
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%.

Apple Lake WRA
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 90%.

Conway George Waterfowl Unit A
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Conway George Waterfowl Unit B
Habitat: Natural slough area with beneficial wetland plants
Water Level: 100%

Conway George Waterfowl Unit C
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 40%


Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Hunters should call the Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 for current road closures.

Main WMA
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%

Wyeville Unit
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%


Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report

Unit A
Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 30%

Unit B
Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 50%

Unit C
Habitat: Good stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 10%

Unit D (Youth Area)
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 50%

Unit E
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 15%

Unit F
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 5%

Unit G
Habitat: Fair stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 20%

Unit H (Mobility-impaired blind)
Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Unit I
Habitat: Habitat conditions are poor.
Water Level: 30%

Unit J (Cypert Tract)
Habitat: Fair stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 50%

Unit K (Cypert Tract)
Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 30%

Unit L (Cypert Tract)
Habitat: Good stand of millet.
Water Level: 5%


Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Hunters should call the Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 for current road closures.

North GTR
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%

South GTR
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%

 

 

Central Arkansas

Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir

Map | Weather Report
Habitat and water levels are normal on both Pierce and Dix creeks.


Bell Slough WMA

Map | Weather Report
The Bell Slough GTR is primarily rainfall dependent with the exception of a limited amount of water that we can back in and catch from Palarm Creek.

Bell Slough GTR
Habitat: Moderate mast crop.
Water Level: 25%.

Palarm Creek WRA
Habitat: Millet was planted as a cover crop this year following disking within the moist-soil units.
Water Level: 35%


Holland Bottoms WMA

Map | Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%

Lake Pickthorne WRA
Habitat: Excellent.
Water Level: East cell is 10%. West cell is 30%.


Harris Brake WMA

Map | Weather Report

Harris Brake Upper Unit
Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 50%

Harris Brake Lower Unit
Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 35%

 

 

Northwest Arkansas

Dardanelle WMA

Map | Weather Report

McKennon Bottoms (half-day hunting)
Habitat: Good stand of native moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 100%.

Potter's Pothole Hartman Waterfowl Unit (half-day hunting)
Habitat: Good stand of native moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 100%


Ozark Pool

Weather Report

Dyer Lake Cells (half-day hunting)
Habitat: Native vegetation.
Water Level: Dry.


Nimrod Lloyd Millwood WMA

Map | Weather Report

Nimrod GTR
Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%


Frog Bayou WMA

Map | Weather Report

Unit 1
Habitat: Planted millet and native moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 95%

Unit 2
Habitat: Poor moist-soil response.
Water Level: 0% - rainfall dependent

Unit 3
Habitat: Primarily perennial vegetation.
Water Level: 95%

Unit 4
Habitat: Planted millet and native moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 95%

Unit 5
Habitat: Good moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 95%

Unit 6
Habitat: Good moist-soil response.
Water Level: 90%

Unit 7
Habitat: Some annual and perennial moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 90%


Petit Jean River WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report

Santa Fe GTR
Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Olin Cain Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: 25% native vegetation with 75% bare ground due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects.
Water Level: 0%

Black Lands Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: 25% native vegetation with 75% bare ground due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects.
Water Level: 0%

Slaty Crossing Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: 25% native vegetation with 75% bare ground due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects.
Water Level: 0%

Pullen Pond
Habitat: Native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Pond Creek GTR
Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Slaty Pond GTR
Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Black Lands Duck Area
Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 10%


Galla Creek WMA

Map | Weather Report

Galla Creek GTR
Habitat: Natural vegetation, including a mixture of barnyard and smartweed.
Water Level: 0% - Staged flooding of the impoundment is scheduled to begin the week of Nov. 27.


Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA

Map | Weather Report
Nearly all waterfowl impoundments on Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA still remain dry at this time. Due to inadequate rainfall, water levels in Point Remove Creek are too low to allow for pumping in most units. Limited pumping has begun in Remmel Marsh and Controversy Corner, and other impoundments will be flooded as water levels in the creek allow. Duck use on the WMA has been minimal, and hunter success h as been poor. 

Willow Island
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Little Hole
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Red Gate
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Pig Trough
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Cedar Ridge
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Duck Trap
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Salt Lick
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Bobby's Pond
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 10%

Race Track
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Controversy Corner
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 80%

Remmel Marsh
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 80%

Mud Pond
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Turkey Pond
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Teeny Pond
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

 

 

Southwest Arkansas

Sulphur River WMA

Map | Weather Report
The Henry Moore WRA is not flooded due to pump problems.

Mercer Bayou
Habitat: Fair.
Water Level: Drawn down for restoration project, boat ramps are closed.

Henry Moore WRA
Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: 0%.


Millwood Lake

MapWater Gauge | Weather Report

Habitat: Habitat conditions are good.
Water Level: 257.69 feet msl


Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d’Arc WMA

Map | Weather Report

Bois d'Arc Lake WRA
Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: Normal water level.

Red Slough WRA
Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: 0%

GTR
Habitat: Good mast production.
Water Level: 0%

Little Grassy
Habitat: Habitat is fair.
Water Level: 5%

 

 

Southeast Arkansas

Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMA

Map | Weather Report
The WMA has fair hard mast production. Currently the WMA's water is located in the sloughs and oxbow lakes. 


Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA Deer Research Area

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Habitat conditions are good. Flooding is river dependent. Click on the Water Gauge link above for current Mississippi River levels. Use extreme caution when boating in river.


Trusten Holder WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Habitat conditions are good. Flooding is river dependent. Click on the Water Gauge link above for current Arkansas River levels.


Seven Devils WMA

Map | Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat: Habitat conditions are good, with an excellent acorn crop.
Water Level: 0% flooded.


Cut-Off Creek WMA

Map | Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat: Habitat conditions are good, with an excellent acorn crop.
Water Level: 0% 

Pigeon Creek WRA
Habitat: Habitat conditions are good, excellent acorn crop.
Water Level: 0%


George H. Dunklin Jr. Bayou Meto WMA

Map | Weather Report

Upper Vallier GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Lower Vallier GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Government Cypress GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Buckingham Flats GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded 

Temple Island GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Canon Brake
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Halowell WRA
Habitat: Excellent
Water Level: Staggered flooding of units.

Wrape Plantation WRA
Habitat: Excellent
Water Level: Staggered flooding of units.