A big fall in temperatures with accompanying snow locks up many areas for hunting at midweek, but the weather is expected to warm up by weekend, offering hunters a chance to get back into the public lands like George H. Dunklin Bayou Meto WMA (shown here) for the last two weekends of the duck season.
AGFC aeriel survey estimates recorded more than 1.2 million ducks in Arkansas in early January during frigid, icy conditions, with more than 900,000 mallards estimated. Warmer temperatures helped thaw the state from the deep freeze of a week ago, and with it more habitat became available for ducks.
Bitter cold has hampered some hunters, but where there is open water, ducks are beginning to show up in good numbers.
Last week's heavy rains through the southern and eastern portions of Arkansas delivered much-needed water to state's public hunting grounds. Now, extreme cold and snowfall in Missouri and Illinois should push new ducks into the state. The new influx of water into Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA will allow for the first permit hunt of the season this weekend, Dec. 30-31.
The rainfall that Arkansans have been waiting for, for what seems like months, finally arrived this week and should provide some necessary run-off, at least in the southern part of the state, to enhance duck habitat conditions.
AGFC biologists completed the first aerial survey for duck counts in Arkansas last week.
As the second portion of the state's 60-day duck season opens Thursday, Arkansas hunters await more rainfall as well as the eventual migration of a massive number of ducks, some of which currently sit in Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge in southernmost Illinois and part of Missouri. A record number of pintails for the refuge were part of that recent aerial survey.