Nov. 16, 2022
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — Duck hunters have been cleaning and painting decoys, scouting property, brushing blinds and cleaning shotguns in anticipation of the opening day of duck season on Nov. 19. Every year a handful of them forget their most important pieces of equipment: a valid hunting license, including federal and state duck stamps and Harvest Information Program registration.
All hunters who wish to pursue doves, ducks, geese and other migratory birds in Arkansas must register for their free Harvest Information Program either online at www.agfc.com, through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission smartphone app or at an AGFC regional office or nature center.
The nationwide Harvest Information Program was initiated by the USFWS in cooperation with states in 1999 to gather consistent information about how many birds of each species were being harvested across the country and how many hunters pursued them.
How HIP derives total harvest estimates by state goes far beyond the simple questionnaire you fill out during your registration. According to Luke Naylor AGFC chief of wildlife management, those questions are used to categorize all migratory bird hunters by the number of migratory birds they harvest so proper surveys can be distributed. The real surveys used in HIP are hunter diaries, submitted from a handful of hunters, and wing surveys, where certain hunters are asked to mail in a wing of each bird they harvest during a season for verification of species, age and sex.
“A few thousand hunters are chosen each year for those two surveys, and they decide who gets those surveys based on categories developed from responses to the registration questions,” Naylor said.
Unfortunately, because the HIP registration is free, many hunters who do not hunt migratory birds have still registered “just in case.” Naylor stresses that hunters who don’t plan to pursue migratory birds shouldn’t register, and hunters who do register be as honest as possible about the actual number of birds they harvested last season.
“That data is very important to harvest estimates used in harvest management, including determining regulations such as season structures and limits,” Naylor said. “If we’re not working with good data, we’re not able to manage the populations for the best benefit of the birds or the hunters.”
The easiest way to get all of your licenses purchased is through the AGFC’s website at www.agfc.com. Just click the “Buy Licenses|Check Game” button at the top of the page to get started.