Special Hunt Saturday for Youths, Veterans and Military
BY Jim Harris
LITTLE ROCK — The regular Arkansas waterfowl season ends at sunset Wednesday, Jan. 31, but more opportunity remains for hunters — including the second special youth waterfowl hunt, which coincides with the only veterans and active military hunt of the year, on Saturday, Feb. 3.
Waterfowl hunting on all the wildlife management areas managed for waterfowl, as well as private and other public land, is available to the youths age 15 and younger, veterans and active military from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset, and WMA General Use permits are required for veterans and active military. Youths who have not completed the Hunter Education course must be accompanied by a mentor 21 years of age or older who can help call ducks and geese and to retrieve the harvest, but cannot shoot. WMAs that typically require a weekend permit to hunt — Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA and the Red Cut Slough tracts of Cypress Bayou WMA — are open to hunting for youths, veterans and active military. Youth blinds in WMAs such as Raft Creek, Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA and Freddie Black Choctaw Island West Unit, were obtained via online draw and are not available to the rest of the public.
All hunters also are eligible to hunt for lesser geese (snows, blues and Ross’s) through the Light Goose Conservation Order, which begins 30 minutes before sunrise, Feb. 1. There is one day off from the order — the Feb. 3 special hunt — before it resumes and runs through April 25.
Feb. 4 also marks the 6th Annual World Championship Snow Goose Conservation Hunt, which is run by the Arkansas Waterfowl Association and Mack’s Prairie Wings in Stuttgart. Click here for full details of the hunt and to enter a team (which may be up to 10 hunters). Geese may be harvested anywhere in the state but must be harvested by 11 a.m. Sunday (and called in by the team’s appointed field judge at that time) and must arrive at Mack’s Prairie Wings by 1 p.m. Once a team’s count is confirmed, the harvest geese will be transferred to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry,
The estimated value of the team grand prize package is nearly $50,000, and include 10 Stoeger M3500 shotguns to each winning team member, along with 50 cases of Winchester ammo and many more prizes from the event sponsors.
The Light Goose Conservation Order allows hunters to use unplugged shotguns and electronic calls, and there is no limit on geese harvested. Be aware that greater white-fronted geese (specklebellies) and Canada geese are NOT part of the order. Visit the AGFC’s Light Goose Conservation Order website page for more information.
For the Feb. 3 special hunt, youths 15 and younger, veterans and active military may harvest ducks, geese, coots and mergansers. Shooting hours and bag limits are the same as the regular duck and goose seasons.
Active duty military includes members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty (other than for training). Veterans must have served in active military, naval, air service or Reserves and National Guard on Title 32 orders in a combat zone and must have been discharged or released under Honorable conditions. Hunters will need to have an active hunting license and stamps and one of the following or copy during the hunt: DD214, Veteran Benefit Card, Retired Military I.D., Veteran Hunting License (VLF, VLH, VLC or VLL) or Military I.D. card.
Youth waterfowl hunts provide a great opportunity for adult mentors to work with fledgling hunters, calling for them and helping retrieve harvested waterfowl.
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