Deer Archery: Sept. 23, 2017-Feb. 28, 2018.
Deer Modern Gun: Nov. 11-12, 2017.
Deer Modern Gun Special Youth Hunt: Nov. 4-5, 2017 and Jan. 6-7, 2018.
WMA Deer Bag Limit: Three deer, no more than two bucks, which may include:
Sept. 1, 2017-Feb. 19, 2018. Open Thursdays through Mondays. No limit.
Nov. 1, 2017-Feb. 4, 2018. Daily limit - 6, possession limit -12. Bird dogs allowed.
Sept. 1, 2017-Feb. 28, 2018. Daily limit - 8, possession limit - 16. Dogs allowed except during firearms deer hunts.
May 15, 2017-Feb. 28, 2018. Dogs allowed except during firearms deer hunts. Daily limit - 12, possession limit - 48.
Youth permit hunt: April 8-9, 2017. One bearded turkey.
A WMA Turkey Hunt Permit is required to hunt turkeys on this WMA. Click here for details.
The area is named after Big Lake, a large natural lake formed by the New Madrid Earthquake in 1811.
Big Lake WMA can best be reached off Arkansas highways 181 and 18. The area is about 15 miles west of Blytheville in Mississippi County. The Arkansas-Missouri state line forms the northern border of the area and the western border lies along side the refuge. Manila is the closest sizable town and is 5 miles west of the refuge headquarters. The main access route to the waterfowl hunting area is by gravel road atop the west levee to the 7-mile lateral and from that point boats are required. Another access route is on the East Side of the area off Arkansas Highway 181 at Simmons Bridge and also at Bo Doc Landing. Hunters may walk in from Simmons Bridge, while access from Bo Doc Landing is mostly by boat. Walk-in hunting access is possible from Bo Doc Landing. A new boat ramp was completed in 1998 at the Highway 18 entrance near the work center building. This ramp allows boat launching into the State Line Outlet Ditch on the East Boundary of the Area. The entire eastern boundary, which is about 12 miles, can be accessed by boat.
A 7,000-acre tract next to Big Lake NWR was purchased in 1950. The adjoining 5,000+ acres were purchased in subsequent years through 1969.
Historically, there has been little interest in overnight camping on Big Lake, but camping is permitted around Mallard Lake Where there is adequate space, and at access areas on the east and west sides of the area. There are no improvements other than gravel parking areas at campsites. Mosquitoes and biting flies are a nuisance from early spring through fall.
This 12,320-acre WMA is the only sizable public hunting area in extreme northeastern Arkansas. The area contains a mixture of typical bottomland forest, such as tupelo, willow, buttonbush and cypress. The northern third of the area supports timber types such as oak, elm and hackberry.
While emphasis is placed on waterfowl management, the area supports huntable populations of deer, squirrels, rabbits and furbearers. Severe and sometimes prolonged periods of natural flooding have historically limited year around habitat availability for such species as deer and turkeys. Deer harvest numbers have historically been relatively low for an area of this size.
Big Lake WMA is adjacent to Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge 15 miles west of Blytheville.
About 300 acres are planted to small grain crops to provide supplemental food sources for resident wildlife species and migratory birds. Flooding the area for waterfowl hunting is accomplished entirely by gravity flow of water from Ditch 28, which separates the state area from the Federal area.
Big Lake provides critical wintering habitat for ducks as well as a variety of other non game migratory birds. While management practices are designed to consider all wildlife species that are indigenous to the area. Emphasis is placed on waterfowl habitat management for this reason.
Overnight lodging may be found in Blytheville, which also has many shops and stores where about any essentials can be found. Entertainment and dining can be found in Blytheville, Jonesboro or Paragould.
Boating safety is of importance due to the heavy boat traffic during waterfowl season. Crowded conditions sometimes exist at launching facilities during duck season. Observance of all boating laws and safety rules is a must. Adequate nighttime lighting on boats and legal flotation devices are especially important. Water depth varies from a few inches to over 10 feet. Hunters should be cautious of deep water when wading.