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Dave Donaldson Black River WMA

2017-18 closed seasons
  • Deer modern gun
  • bear
  • alligator
2017-18 Deer

Deer Archery: Sept. 23, 2017-Feb. 28, 2018.
Deer Muzzleloader (permit hunt): Oct. 21-25, 2017.
Deer Modern Gun Youth Hunt (permit hunt): Nov. 4-5, 2017. This area has special firearms restrictions; see Area Notes.
WMA Deer Bag Limit: Three deer, no more than two bucks, which may include:

  • Two bucks with archery,
  • Three does with archery,
  • One buck and one doe with muzzleloader permit.
  • During youth hunt, youths may take two deer, one buck (no antler restrictions) and one doe with permit.

Deer Notes:

  • A WMA Deer Hunt Permit is required to hunt deer with firearms on this WMA. Click here for details.
  • This WMA is in the Black River Flood Prone Region. Click here for details.
  • 15-inch inside spread or 18-inch main beam rule.
  • No dogs.
2017 Crow

Sept. 1, 2017-Feb. 19, 2018. Open Thursdays through Mondays. No limit.

2017 Quail

Nov. 1, 2017-Feb. 4, 2018. Daily limit - 6, possession limit -12. Bird dogs allowed.

2017 Rabbit

Sept. 1, 2017-Feb. 28, 2018. Daily limit - 8, possession limit - 16. Dogs allowed except during firearms deer hunts.

2017 Squirrel

May 15, 2017-Feb. 28, 2018. Dogs allowed except during firearms deer hunts. Daily limit - 12, possession limit - 48.

2017 Turkey

Youth Hunt: April 8-9, 2017. One bearded turkey. Firearms Hunt: April 10-18, 2017. One bearded turkey, no jakes (youths may take one jake as part of their statewide seasonal limit).

2017 Waterfowl
  • It is unlawful to use any device that simulates wing movement or movement of any kind through electrical or mechanical means, except traditional jerk strings.
  • See Area Notes for Access Regulations
About the Name

The Black River WMA was originally named after the Black River that flows through the area. After his retirement in 1977, Dave Donaldson, an employee of the Game and Fish Commission for over 30 years was honored by the renaming of the area.


Main access points may be reached by going north on Highway 90 about 2 miles from Deleplaine. Turn left on Highway 280, then north about 4 miles to a stop sign, turn left and this will take you to the Brookings access on Black River. From Brookings, go east on highway 280 toward the town of Peach Orchard about 1 mile and turn left on a secondary blacktop road, go about 1 mile to the Hubble Bridge access on Little River. From Corning go south on Highway 67 to Reyno and watch for the Datto access. Lake Ashbaugh may be reached from highway 304.


Acquisition began in 1957.


Although there is little interest in overnight camping on Black River, camping is permitted in designated campsites. These are marked on area maps that are available at the area headquarters, or from commission employees and regional commission offices. These are primitive areas and no modern facilities are available. Mosquitoes, biting flies and poison ivy are extremely common and campers should be prepared for them.


Hardwood forests comprise several tree species. The dominant species are nuttall oak, overcup oak, pin oak and water oak. Bald cypress, tupelo and willow may be found along the sloughs that form a network of waterways on the area. The major streams are Black River and Little River.

Hunting Opportunities

Waterfowl hunting accounts for the vast majority of recreational use days on the WMA. Squirrel populations are highly cyclic, depending on the abundance of acorns. Hunter success is good in most seasons, although participation is primarily limited to the opening days of the fall season. The area supports a thriving deer population. Hunting is limited to archery and limited permit muzzleloader hunting. Trappers also find a good population of furbearers on the area. Beaver, muskrat, mink and raccoon are fairly plentiful.


The area is 10 miles south of Corning, 10 miles east of Pocahontas, 20 miles west of Paragould and 15 miles north of Walnut Ridge.

Management Practices

Specialized farming on about 200 acres of agricultural land and seasonal flooding of about 7,000 acres of green timber to attract waterfowl is done yearly. Selective thinning of trees is done to stimulate the growth of new timber, to provide a diverse habitat type and to remove unhealthy or unproductive trees from the forest. The Brookings Moist Soil Unit was developed in 1998 to provided wintering habitat for ducks and other migratory birds. This 200-acre site is managed to produce native vegetation and invertebrates, which are essential elements to the health of ducks. Furbearers, deer, wild turkeys and shorebirds also benefit from moist soil management practices.

  • Everyone 16 and older must have a free WMA General Use Permit to hunt, fish or camp on this WMA. 
  • Modern guns are restricted to shotguns with slugs and certain handguns. Archery equipment and muzzleloading rifles may also be used.
  • No boats allowed from noon to 4 a.m., Nov. 18-Jan. 28.
    • Exception 1 - Boats allowed within the Black River
    • Exception 2 - Boats allowed from noon until 6:30 p.m., Dec. 2, Jan. 26-28 and Feb. 3.
    • Exception 3 - Boats allowed from noon until 6:30 p.m. on the following waters:
      • Little River.
    • Decoys may be left overnight in slough boats. Slough boats (25 hp or less may be left overnight at select locations (see map).
  • Closed to all access (except in the Black River, designated campsites, parking areas, boat launch ramps and boat staging areas) from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., Nov. 18-Jan. 28 and Feb. 3.
  • Lake Ashbaugh is closed to hunting except teal hunting during the early teal season.
  • Hubble Lake is closed to hunting except teal hunting during the early teal season.
  • Nonresident waterfowl hunters need a Nonresident Wildlife Management Area Waterfowl Hunting Permit.
  • Winchester WRA (all of Section 21 and part of Section 16, Township 19N, Range 3E lying south of Black River) and Brookings moist-soil units are closed to access Nov. 1 and reopen to access Feb. 16, except for deer modern gun youth hunt permit holders and deer muzzleloader permit holders.

The AGFC owns about 25,000 acres in Clay, Randolph and Green counties.




The majority of the area was purchased to preserve bottomland habitat and provide top-quality waterfowl hunting. Black River represents a significant portion of the remaining bottomland hardwood habitat in eastern Arkansas and provides critical wintering habitat to thousands of migratory birds. The area also provides critical habitat to many species of Neotropical migrants. This area includes some of the finest greentree reservoir duck habitat in Arkansas.

Recreation Other Than Hunting

Along with Lake Ashbaugh there is excellent fishing on the Black and Little Rivers. The main species to fish for in the river are catfish, crappie and largemouth bass. Bald and golden eagles have wintered around Lake Ashbaugh since its completion in the late 1970s. Numerous eagles can usually be sighted on or around the lake on any given day from November through February.

Restaurants and Other Facilities

Overnight, lodging is available in Corning, Paragould, Pocahontas and Walnut Ridge.


The most significant hazards to area users are undoubtedly boating and water safety related. The fact that almost all waterfowl hunting access requires boating, results in heavy "rush hour traffic" prior to the opening of shooting hours daily.

Detailed Interactive Map Public Use Maps