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Overview

Arkansas Wildlife Waterfowl Report

BY Jim Harris

ON 12-15-2021

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Dec. 15, 2021

Jim Harris

Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine

State’s December Mallard Survey County in Delta About Half the Long-term Average; Geese Top 1.2 Million

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s first aerial survey of the 2021-22 waterfowl season offered results that were expected by biologists, considering the dry conditions plaguing the state through the latter half of the fall. The good news was, it wasn’t the lowest December estimate of mallards since formal surveys began in 2009; it was the second lowest. However, it was almost 30 percent greater than the record low December mallard count last year.

Jason Carbaugh, Jason Jackson, Cameron Tatom and Alex Zachary of the AGFC staff conducted the aerial waterfowl surveys in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (Delta), Arkansas River Valley and southwest Arkansas. Biologists conducting transect-based surveys in the Delta estimated 566,456 total ducks, 326,064 of which were mallards, and 13,434 ducks in the Arkansas River Valley, including 6,719 mallards. Biologists performing cruise surveys in southwest Arkansas reported an estimated 54,031 ducks with 10,109 mallards.

Arctic goose population estimates totaled 902,848 light (lesser snow and Ross’s) geese and 381,067 greater white-fronted geese in the Delta. Luke Naylor, the AGFC’s waterfowl program coordinator, stresses that these aerial surveys are not as accurate for goose totals as they are for ducks.

The conditions hunters are experiencing over the Delta, though, seem to be more suitable for goose hunting, particularly greater white-fronted (specklebellies). Anecdotally, several parties of speck hunters were noted throughout Arkansas, Lonoke and Prairie counties on Saturday and Sunday. In fact, Hollywood actor and director Kevin Costner reportedly was among those hunting geese over the weekend in Arkansas County. Significant numbers of geese were noted just off the highways in fields and reservoirs from Humnoke to St. Charles and south and east of Stuttgart.

The Delta mallard population estimate was roughly half the 2009-2021 long-term December average of over 601,000 and the second-lowest December estimate since formal surveys began in 2009. Even so, this December’s mallard estimate is almost 30 percent greater than the record low December mallard count last year. Total duck population estimates also were about half the long-term average of over 1.13 million. On average, mallards account for about 53 percent of all ducks during December surveys; mallards accounted for 58 percent of all ducks in the Delta during this survey. The highest mallard and total duck estimates were in the Lower White and Cache survey zones, and duck density maps reflect these findings. Even so, mallard “hot spots” were rare.

Arkansas River Valley mallard and total duck estimates both were below average, with the highest mallard and total duck estimates being seen in the East Dardanelle Reservoir and West Dardanelle Reservoir survey zones. Concentration maps highlight some of these areas but generally show a lack of duck concentration areas. Common for this time of year in this region, concentration areas on maps should not be interpreted as having high absolute numbers of ducks. The southwest Arkansas cruise survey indicated slightly more ducks than usual for December but fewer than the typical number of mallards.

Much like December 2020, dry conditions continue to play a major role in duck distribution and abundance. Habitat availability remains low as a result of almost no runoff, limited overbank flooding and low amounts of flooded agricultural fields. Habitat is almost exclusively limited to actively managed sites. This typically is the case during November, but signs of improvement often appear by now, or at least the hope of rains and the additional habitat that comes with it. This does not appear to be the situation when evaluating current conditions and short- and long-range weather forecasts, according to Naylor.

Private- and public land managers providing managed habitat in areas with those capabilities are playing a major role in supporting current duck populations, Naylor said. Permanent water bodies, such as Lake Dardanelle Reservoir, appear to be supporting most of the ducks in the Arkansas River Valley. Continuing to provide staggered flooding to make new resources available throughout the wintering period will be critically important until major rains occur and unmanaged flooding increases on the landscape. Carefully managed hunting pressure also is especially important in years like this with expected high proportions of adult ducks and limited habitat.
“Rain brings mallards to Arkansas, so the best we can do at this point is hope for rain,” Naylor said.

The AGFC staff will conduct the annual midwinter waterfowl survey the week of Jan. 3-7.

* * *
The reason the goose estimates during the AGFC’s aerial waterfowl surveys are not considered as reliable by Naylor and the biologists as with their duck counts is due to the basic nature of geese: Geese on the ground are more likely to flush before an approaching airplane flying at 500 feet than ducks will in the specific areas being counted, Naylor said.

“These surveys are best when a bird stays stationary,” he said. “Geese won’t do that. They won’t stay on the ground where they fall within a transect.” A transect is a 250-meter strip on the ground in which the surveyor is counting and estimating the birds. They apply the math to their transect totals in their flyovers to determine an estimate.
“There is more subjectivity in counting geese, whether they fall in the transect or not as you are flying over them. You never have to do that with ducks. They count on having birds within a transect below the airplane, and ducks wil hold tight,” Naylor said.
It’s a judgment call with geese. There is more uncertainty in it.”

Nevertheless, you will find little argument amoung waterfowlers and others in eastern and south-central Arkansas that geese are significantly outnumbering ducks right now. Specklebellies have been arriving in Arkansas in great numbers since October. The snows and blues starting moving in in late November. But, based on the survey counts, as subjective as they might be compared with duck counts, the AGFC has estimated numbers of greater white-fronted geese and midcontinent lesser geese (snows, Ross’s, blues) for more than a decade. Naylor provided graphs of both specks and the snows and Ross’s over the past 11 years that are revealing, the biggest fact being that goose numbers are good but far from the best seen.
While the current goose population in Arkansas may seem estremely high, it’s still well below totals from November 2014, when the midcontinent lesser geese topped 2 million, or the more than 1.5 million seen in January 2019. The 2021 numbers for December are comparable to last year’s for the same month, but below the previous three years in December.

Specks estimates were higher in December 2018 than in this month’s survey, topping 400,000 three years ago. An estimate in November 2015 counted almost 700,000 greater white-fronted geese, with almost 500,000 still around a month later. The staff has not made November aerial surveys the past two years.

* * *

Waterfowl hunters in the Delta and southeastern Arkansas are anxious for some rainfall to allow for some hunting in George H. Dunklin Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area. So far, they’ve been out of luck. The past weekend’s rain helped the coverage in the area rise 3 feet, but with mostly 176-feet readings across most impoundments, that leaves only some water in the lower sloughs. “We have a long way to go,” Mark Hooks, the AGFC’s Region 3 supervisor, reported.

The plan for this waterfowl season was to hold all intentional flooding in Bayou Meto WMA at 179 feet msl, an elevation that would relieve stress on many of the trees that are essential to duck habitat, such as red oaks and willow oaks. Bayou Meto was beginning to show some signs of stress that had also been seen in hundreds of vital acres of trees in Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA near Bald Knob. Rain and increased flow into Bayou Meto WMA will allow water to rise above that level periodically, but artificial flooding will be stopped at the 179 feet msl mark. Agency GTR plans are for that level to drop to 178.5 feet msl in the 2022-23 season. 

Bayou Meto generally needs 177-177.5 feet msl of water beginning to break out of sloughs and lower ditches. At 178 feet msl there is water in most sloughs and ditches and entering into lower elevations in woods. At 178.5 feet msl most ditches and sloughs are deep enough to boat and most boat ramps become serviceable. Good duck hunting water is seen at 179 feet msl or more.

Meanwhile, in southwestern Arkansas, “we’re gaining a little water in spots,” said Eley Talley, assistant regional supervisor in Hope.

Red Cut Slough in Cypress Bayou WMA near Beebe now has ample water, though not total coverage, in three units, plus a little water in a fourth of its six total units. Red Cut Slough is available to hunters participating in the weekly permit process on agfc.com, with permitted hunting available Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Hunting of Cypress Bayou WMA outside of Red Cut Slough is available without a permit daily.

We mentioned last week the new availability with rising water of Dark Corner’s three waterfowl units huntable in east-central Arkansas in the Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA. Those units are accessible on a first-come, first-served basis and are walk-in units.There is a good stand of millet and native vegetation in each unit. Also, the Conway George Waterfowl Unit C area is huntable now with 100% coverage. This unit is available to youths over the weekend and to all ages on Wednesdays. The other two Conway George units have been huntable since opening weekend. Pumping continues to bring Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA up to good levels in many areas.

Five of the six units on Frog Bayou WMA in western Arkansas now have 100% coverage, and the sixth unit is at 50%; a pump is being repaired there. Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA near Morrilton and the Arkansas River continues to show ample water, though not complete coverage, in several hunting units. Pumping is possible at Ed Gordon now as long as there is enough water in Point Remove Creek.

Big Lake WMA has water coverage that ranges 50% to 90%. Four units at Dave Donaldson Black River WMA have complete coverage of water, with the Winchester Unit sitting at 85% coverage. Shirey Bay Rainey Brake’s units keep inching up, with a range  from 45% coverage in Adams Brake to 100% in the Ward Field Moist-Soil Unit.

The Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA figures to have more huntable water later this week with the Cache River gauge at Patterson forecast to reach 8 feet on Thursday. The Gregory greentree reservoir had about 60% coverage on Monday.

*  *  *

Remember that to participate or land a permit for either the AGFC’s managed waterfowl areas that offer permit hunting or to enter the drawing for an Arkansas WRICE program field for Sunday, Dec. 26 (the season is closed on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 24-25), you’ll need to apply this week between Thursday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at midnight. This also includes permitted days on WMAs during the week of Dec. 27-31. Permit hunts are offered on Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA, the Red Cut Slough tract at Cypress Bayou WMA, the Conway George tract at Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA and Freddie Black Choctaw Island West Unit WMA. And AGFC has up to 45 privately owned flooded rice fields available to hunt by permit through its special duck hunting application process. Again, with the dry conditions around the state, some leased fields are still not available, though most owners are attempting to flood their fields this year and many have upgraded their blinds for a better hunting experience. Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/migratory-birds/waterfowl/special-waterfowl-permit-hunts to learn more about these special duck-hunting opportunities and to apply.


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Northeast Arkansas

Big Lake WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
When the Ditch 81 extension gauge near Manila (upstream of the Big Lake north-end control structure) reads 17.5 feet, water is beginning to come over the north levee degrade on Big Lake WMA. When the Ditch 81 Extension gauge reads 18.0 feet or higher, the water level on the WMA will rise quickly and hunters should exercise caution while on the area. Be aware of underwater logs in boat runs and hangers in trees. 

North Woods GTR
Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: Gauge reading at BoDoc on Monday was 235.2 feet msl; target level is 235.5 feet with 60% flooded.

South Woods GTR
Habitat: Mast production is fair.
Water Level: Reading at the 7-Mile gauge on Monday was 233.9 feet msl; target level is 234.5 feet with 90% now flooded.

Simmons Field
Habitat: Good production of millet and sedge. Native production is good in the north, middle and south fields.
Water Level: 50% coverage.

Reports of very few ducks moving across the area.


Dave Donaldson Black River WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Waterfowl hunters should be aware of hangers and submerged logs within the boat runs and GTRs. Please exercise caution when accessing the area. Please remember to keep boats off the levees so AGFC personnel can access the area. Boats blocking access will be moved. Unattended trailers are not to be left overnight on parking areas. River level is 4.72 feet and falling.

Upper Island GTR
Habitat: Mast crop is moderate within the GTRs.
Water Level: Current level is 269.7 feet msl. Target level is 269.5; 100% flooded.

Lower Island GTR
Habitat: Mast crop is moderate within the GTRs.
Water Level: Current level is 268.85 feet msl. Target level is 268.0; 100% flooded.

Upper Reyno GTR
Habitat: Mast crop is moderate within the GTRs.
Water Level: Current level is 267.0 feet msl. Target level is 266.9; 100% flooded.

Lower Reyno GTR
Habitat: Mast crop is moderate within the GTRs.
Water Level: Current level is 266.3 msl. Target level is 266.3; 100% flooded.

Winchester GTR
Habitat: Mast crop is moderate within the GTRs.
Water Level: Current level is 263.45 feet msl. Target level is 263.7; 85% flooded.

Earl Buss Bayou DeView WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Boaters should use caution while using the Thompson Tract boat run. 

South Oliver GTR
Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: 5% flooded. Most water is located within the natural slough on the north end of this GTR.

Thompson Tract GTR
Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: 0% flooded. The Thompson Tract GTR will be allowed to rise and fall naturally without the gates being operated beginning with this season. This action is an effort to help the next generation of forest.

Lake Hogue WRA
Habitat: Primarily deep open water habitat.
Water Level: Normal pool level.


Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Waterfowl hunters should be aware of hangers and submerged logs within the boat runs and GTRs. Please exercise caution when accessing the area. In addition, hunters should allow safe passage when parking vehicles along roadsides. Vehicles blocking access will be moved.

Adam Brake GTR
Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: Water level is 238.3 feet msl with a target level of  240.0 feet msl; 45% flooded.

Rainey Brake GTR
Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: 55% flooded.

Eagle Pond GTR
Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: 50% flooded.

Phase III Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: Good wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 50% flooded.

Charles Crisp Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: Good wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 95% flooded.

Ward Field Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: Good wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 100% flooded.

River Field Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: Good wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 60% flooded.


St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat: Good mast production within the hunt area.
Water Level: Water levels on St. Francis Sunken Lands for waterfowl season are dependent on flows from the St. Francis River. The target level for providing huntable timber is 212.0 feet msl at the Oak Donnick gauge. As of Dec. 13, the reading was 213.08 feet msl.

Snowden WRA
Habitat: Mixed grasses.
Water Level: 5% flooded, mostly in the low-lying areas due to rain.

Payneway WRA
Habitat: A, B, C and D pools have mixed smartweed and barnyard grasses. Moderate mast is available within pools A, B and C as well.
Water Level: Pool A is at 0% coverage. Pool B is at 0%. Pool C is at 0%. Pool D is at 0%.

 

East-Central Arkansas

Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Hunters should call the Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 for current road closures.

North Unit
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%. All structures on the North GTR will remain open during the 2021-22 season.

South Unit
Habitat: Fair mast crop.
Water Level: 0%. All structures on the South Unit are open.


Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Hunters should call the Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 for current road closures.

Gregory GTR
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 60% (Cache River at Patterson is forecast to reach 8 feet by Thursday, Dec. 16).

Wyeville Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 10% coverage.


Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
The Conway George units are currently available for hunting by applying for online permits. Youths may apply for Saturday and Sunday hunts, with one adult hunter allowed per one youth, up to four hunters in the blind. All ages may apply for Wednesday hunts. Please visit www.agfc.com for maps, special regulations, permit application and draw dates. Hunters should call the Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 for current road closures. The AGFC will not be putting boards in at Dagmar. Water coverage is dependent on river level.

Mud Slough GTR
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0% coverage.

Apple Lake WRA (no hunting)
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 30%.

Conway George Waterfowl Unit A
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Conway George Waterfowl Unit B
Habitat: Natural slough area with beneficial native wetland plants.
Water Level: 100%

Conway George Waterfowl Unit C
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Dark Corner Waterfowl Unit 1
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 50%

Dark Corner Waterfowl Unit 2
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 30%

Dark Corner Waterfowl Unit 3
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 90%


Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA

Hunting in Raft Creek Bottoms WMA requires participation on the online draw a week before the following weekend’s hunt. There is no online draw on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and permits are available at the boat accesses. Permits ARE required (via online application) on weekends, Tuesdays and Thursdays for the youth and mobility-impaired blinds and for the Magellan Tract. Visit agfc.com to apply for the online draw. There will be no designated holes this season.

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report

Unit A
Habitat: Excellent stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 90% coverage.

Unit B
Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 70%

Unit C
Habitat: Good stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 85%

Unit D 
Habitat: Good stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 85%

Unit E
Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 85%

Unit F (Youth Area)
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Unit G 
Habitat: Fair stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Unit H (Mobility-impaired blind)
Habitat: Excellent stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Unit I
Habitat: Habitat conditions are poor.
Water Level: 0%

Unit J (Cypert Tract)
Habitat: Excellent stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 90%

Unit K (Cypert Tract)
Habitat: Excellent stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 5%

Unit L (Cypert Tract)
Habitat: Fair stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Unit M (Magellan Tract)
Habitat: Fair stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 45%

 

Central Arkansas

Bell Slough WMA

Map | Weather Report
The Bell Slough GTR is primarily rainfall dependent with the exception of a limited amount of water that the AGFC can back in and catch from Palarm Creek.

Bell Slough GTR
Habitat: Poor mast crop.
Water Level: 40%.

Palarm Creek WRA 
Habitat: Fair stand of planted millet.
Water Level: 65%


Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir

Map | Weather Report
Habitat and water levels are normal on both Pierce and Dix creeks.


Cypress Bayou WMA

Map| Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat:

Good mast crop.
Water Level: 10% coverage.

Red Cut Slough Tract
Unit 1
Habitat:

Habitat conditions are poor.
Water Level: 0%

Unit 2
Habitat:

Excellent stand of millet and native vegatation
Water Level: 0%

Unit 3
Habitat:

Good stand of millet and native vegatation
Water Level: 85%

Unit 4
Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 10%

Unit 5
Habitat:

Good stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 85%

Unit 6
Habitat:

Good stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 75%


Harris Brake WMA

Map | Weather Report

Upper GTR
Habitat: Below average mast crop. 
Water Level: 100%.coverage,

Lower GTR
Habitat: Below average mast crop.
Water Level: 100% coverage. 
Water is over Steamboat Road.


Holland Bottoms WMA

Map | Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 5% coverage.

Lake Pickthorne WRA (no hunting)
Habitat: Excellent crop of native vegetation and millet.

Water Level: East cell is 90%, West cell is 100%. Staggered flooding began Nov. 9.

 

Northwest Arkansas

Dardanelle WMA

Map | Weather Report

McKennon Bottoms (half-day hunting)
Habitat: Good stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 100% coverage

Potter’s Pothole Hartman Waterfowl Unit (half-day hunting)
Habitat: West cell has a good stand of Japanese millet. East Cekk has a poor stand of Japanese millet.
Water Level: 100% coverage


Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA

Map | Weather Report

Due to lack of rainfall, conditions at Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA remain considerably dry. Pumping of waterfowl impoundments began on Oct. 27 and will continue as long as water levels in Point Remove Creek allow. 

Duck use and hunter success on the WMA have been generally poor due to dry conditions.

Little Hole (Unit 1)
Habitat: Japanese millet.
Water Level: 80% flooded.

Willow Island (Unit 2)
Habitat: Japanese millet and natural vegetation.
Water Level: 5%

Red Gate (Unit 3)
Habitat: Natural vegetation 
Water Level: 0%

Pig Trough (Units 4 and 5)
Habitat: Natural vegetation and Japanese millet.
Water Level: 40%

Cedar Ridge (Unit 6)
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 75%

Unit 7a
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 90%

Unit 7b
Habitat: Japanese millet and natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Duck Trap (Units 8a, 8b and 8c)
8a
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 60%

8b
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 90%

8c
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 70%

Unit 9
Habitat: Japanese millet and natural vegetation.
Water Level: 90%

Controversy Corner (Unit 10)
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 60%

Remmel Marsh
Habitat: Natural vegetation and Japanese millet.
Water Level: 50%

Mud Pond (Unit 12)
Habitat: Natural vegetation and Japanese millet.
Water Level: 90%

Turkey Pond (Units 13a, 13b and 13c)
13a
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 40%

13b
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

13c
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Teeny Pond (Unit 14)
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Salt Lick (Unit 15)
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 50%

Bobby’s Pond (Unit 16)
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 60%

Race Track (Unit 17)
Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 100%


Frog Bayou WMA (half-day hunting)

Map | Weather Report

Unit 1
Habitat: Good stand of moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 100% coverage

Unit 2
Habitat: Poor stand of moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Unit 3
Habitat: Good stand of moist-soil vegetation and planted millet.
Water Level: 100%

Unit 4
Habitat: Good stand of moistl-soil vegetation and planted millet
Water Level: 100%

Unit 5
Habitat: Good stand of moist-soil vegetation on the upper end, lower end has been fallow-disked.
Water Level: 100% 

Unit 6
Habitat: Good stand of moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 50%, and pumping will resume after repairs are made to the pump.

Unit 7
Habitat: Good stand of moist-soil vegetation. 
Water Level: 100%

Galla Creek WMA

Map | Weather Report

Galla Creek GTR
Habitat: Good stands of native vegetation, including a mixture of barnyard grass, annual smartweeds and sprangletop.
Water Level: 40% flooded. Staged flooding of the impoundment began on Nov. 15.


Nimrod Lloyd Millwood WMA

Map | Weather Report

Nimrod GTR
Habitat:
 The red oak mast crop is poor this year but the desirable native vegetation growth is better than in previous years. Due to abnormally dry conditions, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The water-control structures were closed on Nov. 17.  This area is rainfall dependent to flood.
Water Level: 10% flooded


Ozark Lake WMA/Dyer Lake Water Unit

Weather Report

Dyer Lake Cells (half-day hunting)
Units 1 and 2
Habitat: Good stand of moist-soil vegetation and planted millet
Water Level: 100% coverage for both units

Unit 3 South Cell
Habitat: Good stand of moist-soil vegetation and volunteer millet
Water Level: 10% coverage

Unit 4 West Cell (rainfall dependent)
|Habitat: Poor stand of moist-soil vegetation
Dyer West Cell: Less than 25% coverage


Petit Jean River WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report

Sorehead Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: Due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects, this unit was not able to grow any food this year. Work is still ongoing as long as this area stays dry. The Kingfisher Lake water-control structure valve was opened on Nov. 17 to help flood this area.
Water Level: 5%

Blacklands Moist-Soil Unit
Habitat: This unit this year contains one of the best stands of desirable native vegetation in recent years. The wooded areas inside the unit produced a poor red oak mast crop this year. Due to abnormally dry conditions and low river levels, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The river level is still too low to properly pump.
Water Level: 0%. 

Slaty Crossing Moist-Soil Unit
HabitatDue to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects, this unit was not able to grow a desirable native vegetation crop this year. The area was seeded with millet after the project was completed. The area yielded a great stand of planted millet. Due to abnormally dry conditions and low river levels, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The pump was started on Nov. 17 but will not be run continuously this year due to the lack of adequate water in the river.
Water Level: 60%

Blacklands Duck Area
Habitat:
The wooded sections of this area produced a poor red oak mast crop this year. This area also contains a mix of moderate to great stands of desirable native vegetation mixed throughout. The Kingfisher Lake water-control structure valve was opened on Nov. 17 to help flood this area.
Water Level: 50%

Pullen Pond Marsh
Habitat: 
Due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects, parts of the central section of this area is bare ground. Most of the area has amazing stands of desirable native vegetation. The desirable native vegetation has started to become more and more prevalent with each year of ongoing management work. Work is still ongoing until the area becomes too wet to work. This area is rainfall dependent to flood.
Water Level: 0%.

Pond Creek GTR
Habitat:
This area produced a poor red oak mast crop this year with good stands of desirable native vegetation in the open lands within this area. Due to abnormally dry conditions, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The water-control structures were closed on Nov. 16. This area is rainfall dependent to flood.
Water Level: 0%. Flooding of this area is rainfall dependent.

Slaty GTR
Habitat: This area produced a poor red oak mast crop this year with good stands of desirable native vegetation in the open lands within this area. Due to abnormally dry conditions, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The water-control structure was closed on Nov. 16. 
Water Level: 0%. Flooding of this area is rainfall dependent.

Santa Fe GTR
Habitat: This area produced a lpoor red oak mast crop this year with good stands of desirable native vegetation in the open lands within this area. Due to abnormally dry conditions, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The water-control structures were closed on Nov. 16.
Water Level: 0%. Flooding of this area is rainfall dependent.

 

Southwest Arkansas

Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d’Arc WMA

Map | Weather Report

Bois d’Arc Lake WRA
Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: Normal

Red Slough WRA
Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: 50% coverage.

GTR
Habitat: Good mast production.
Water Level: 40%. Water control structures were closed Dec. 1.

Little Grassy
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 45%


Millwood Lake

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report

Habitat: Habitat conditions are good.
Water Level: Millwood is at 258.9 feet msl as of Dec. 7 


Ozan WMA

Map | Weather Report

Flooding of all units is rainfall dependent.

Unit 1
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0%

Unit 2
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0%

Unit 3
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0%

Unit 4
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0%

Unit 5
Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0%


Sulphur River WMA

Map | Weather Report

Mercer Bayou
Habitat: Fair
Water Level: 0%

Henry Moore WRA
Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: 50%

 

Southeast Arkansas

Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMA

Map | Weather Report
Water Level: No duck-hunting water. Water is available in the oxbow lakes located in the WMA.


Cut-Off Creek WMA

Map | Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat: Habitat conditions are good.
Water Level: Some water in low areas only. 

Pigeon Creek WRA
Habitat: Habitat conditions are good.
Water Level: Pumping as water conditions allow.

Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA Deer Research Area

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Habitat conditions are good. Flooding is river dependent. Click on the Water Gauge link above for current Mississippi River levels. Use extreme caution when boating in river.

The Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA West Unit allows weekend permit hunting for youths (one adult per youth hunter); on Wednesdays, all ages may apply for a permit to hunt the blinds in the West Unit. Currently, the area is dry and there have been no online draws for the West Unit.


George H. Dunklin Jr. Bayou Meto WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report

The UGSG is reporting real-time water gauge readings at the headwater at each GTR within the George H. Dunklin Bayou Meto WMA. Click the Water Gauge link above for the WMA, and search for the particular GTR as noted. 

During the 2021-22 wintering period, all intentional flooding will be held at 179 feet msl, an elevation that will relieve stress on many of trees such as red oaks that are showing signs of distressed. Rain and increased flow into the WMA will allow water to rise above that level periodically, but artificial flooding will be stopped at the 179 feet msl mark. A good rule of thumb for comparing water levels to access into Bayou Meto: 176 feet msl  water breaking into sloughs and lower ditches; 177-177.5 feet msl  water beginning to break out of sloughs and lower ditches; 178 feet msl  water in most sloughs and ditches and entering into lower elevations in woods; 178.5 feet msl  most ditches and sloughs deep enough to boat and most boat ramps become serviceable; 179 feet msl or above  good duck hunting waters.

Water came up about 3 feet in Bayou Meto this past week but still has a long way to go. Water is around 176 feet msl across most impoundments.

Upper Vallier GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: See Gauge Link (Upper Vallier Headwater)

Lower Vallier GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: See Gauge Link (Lower Vallier Headwater).

Government Cypress GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: See Gauge Link (Government Cypress Headwater)

Buckingham Flats GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: Pumping as water conditions allow. See Gauge Link (Buckingham Flats Headwater). NOTE: Water is too low for pumping at this time.

Temple Island GTR
Habitat: Good
Water Level: Pumping as water conditions allow. See Gauge Link (Temple Island Headwater). NOTE: Water is too low for pumping at this time.

Canon Brake
Habitat: Good
Water Level: See Gauge Link (Canon Brake Headwater).

Halowell WRA
Habitat: Excellent
Water Level: Staggered flooding of units.

Wrape Plantation WRA
Habitat: Excellent
Water Level: Staggered flooding of units.


Seven Devils WMA

Map | Weather Report

Hunt Area
Habitat: Habitat conditions are good.
Water Level: Some water in lower areas.

Trusten Holder WMA

Map | Water Gauge | Weather Report
Habitat conditions are good. Flooding is river dependent. Click on the Water Gauge link above for current Arkansas River levels.


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