July 15, 2020
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
JONESBORO – Dove hunters will have more than 300 acres of privately owned farmland available via drawn permit for the early weeks of Arkansas’s 2020 dove season, which opens Saturday, Sept. 5. Several regions of the state have been represented by the private land permit hunts in the past three years since the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission initiated the program, but this year will mark the first time a northeast Arkansas field has been part of the roster.
James “Bo” Reid, an AGFC private lands biologist based in Jonesboro who heads up the private land dove fields, said he was able to encourage a landowner in Greene County to make some acreage available for dove hunting in what he termed a “win-win” for both hunters and the landowner.
“The field had been planted in the past with soybeans and we’ve had deer depredation issues in the past with the field,” Reid said. “This was deer depredation as in deer mowing down 60 acres of soybeans. We worked with the landowner and the man who farms for him to take it out of soybean production, plant sunflowers and lease to us for dove hunting. That field is a really good deal for everybody.
“We tried the last couple of years to get a field up here. We just could never find something that would work out the way we wanted it to. We’re glad to have the opportunity this year for hunters in the Jonesboro and Paragould area to have a dove field in the permit draw system.”
Prospective hunters can apply for permits from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15 at agfc.com (under “Buy Licenses”), then the computerized draw will assign hunters, who will be notified by email whether they were chosen for a permit. Maps to their field and other instructions will be emailed to the hunters. The cost to apply for a permit is $5.
The first field offered in the private lands permit hunts, a 30-acre sunflower tract in Lonoke County, will be made available for the fourth year in a row, and with its proximity to Little Rock the field has proven to be in high demand for hunters seeking permits.
A landowner near Slovak in Prairie County has again committed a field to the permit hunt this year, though the 60 acres is adjacent to last year's field, Reid said. That field, like the 60 acres hunted there last year, will be harvested corn and top-sewn wheat.
A Washington County landowner is providing a 57-acre field with harvested corn and top-sewn wheat, while a 99-acre spread with harvested corn and top-sewn wheat is set for Woodruff County, which Reid said was also a new field for the AGFC this season.
The Greene County sunflower field close to dove hunters from Jonesboro and Paragould is a 60-acre tract.
Reid says the aim has been to have all fields with sunflowers, a great dove attractor that tends to provide more food for doves over an extended period, but some landowners don’t have the means or the area to plant them, or may be planting corn already.
The two sunflower-planted tracts will be hunted the first three weekends of the season, Reid said, with the first two weekends planned for the three corn/top-sewn wheat fields.
Several fields also will be made available on some AGFC wildlife management areas throughout the state on a first-come, first-served basis. Those plans and hunting prospects will be announced soon.