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Dave Donaldson Black River WMA

Zone County
170 Clay, Greene, Randolph
2023-24 Closed Seasons
  • Alligator
  • Bear
  • Deer Modern Gun
2023-24 Crow
Sept. 1, 2023-Feb. 19, 2024. Open Thursdays through Mondays only. No limit.
2023-24 Deer
Deer Archery: Sept. 23, 2023-Feb. 29, 2024
Deer Muzzleloader (permit hunt): Oct. 21-25, 2023
Deer Modern Gun: Closed
Deer Modern Gun Youth Hunt (permit hunt): Nov. 4-5, 2023. 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:

  • 15-inch inside spread or 18-inch main beam rule.
  • No dogs.
  • This WMA is in the Black River Flood Prone Region. Click here for details.
2023-24 Dove
Sept. 2-Oct. 22, 2023 and Dec. 8, 2023-Jan. 15, 2024

Mourning Dove and White-Winged Dove 
Daily Limit – 15, possession Limit – 45

Eurasian Collared-Dove
No daily or possession limit
Eurasian Collared Doves must remain fully feathered in the field and while being transported from the field.

Dove Notes:

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission prepares a few fields each year for the opening weekend of dove season so the public has a place to enjoy this exciting form of wingshooting.

A WMA Dove Hunt Permit is required to hunt dove opening weekend on this Area. Afterwards, the area is available on a first-come, first-served basis. WMA acreage put into dove fields is relatively small because most hunters only pursue doves the first few days of the season. However, after opening weekend of dove season, many wildlife species feed in the fields, particularly those that were topsown with winter wheat.

2023-24 Quail
Nov. 1, 2023-Feb. 5, 2024. Daily limit – 6, possession limit -12.
2023-24 Rabbit
Sept. 1, 2023-Feb. 29, 2024. Daily limit – 8, possession limit – 16.
2024-25 Squirrel
May 15, 2024-Feb. 28, 2025. Dogs allowed. Daily limit – 12, possession limit – 48.
2023-24 Waterfowl

Waterfowl Notes:

  • Waterfowl hunters must be off water by noon.
  • Spinning-wing and mechanically operated decoys not allowed. See Page 43.
  • No boats allowed Nov. 11-17, Nov. 27-Dec. 8 and Dec. 24-26.
    Exception 1 – Boats allowed from 4 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2.
    Exception 2 – Boats allowed on the following waters:
    • Black River
    • Little River
    • Winchester Canal (designated by signs)
    • Reyno Canal (designated by signs)
  • Motors with factory exhaust systems only during waterfowl season.
  • Closed to all access (except in designated campsites, parking areas, boat launch ramps and boat staging areas) from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., Nov. 18-Jan. 31 and Feb. 3. Boats may only be launched in boat staging areas after 2 a.m. and must remain occupied between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
  • No boats allowed from noon to 4 a.m. Nov. 18-26, Dec. 9-23 and Dec. 27-Jan. 31.
    Exception 1 – Boats allowed within the Black River.
    Exception 2 – Boats allowed from Noon until 6:30 p.m., Dec. 2 and Jan. 31.
    Exception 3 – Boats allowed from Noon until 6:30 p.m. on the following waters:
    • Black River
    • Little River
    • Winchester Canal (designated by signs)
    • Reyno Canal (designated by signs)
  • Lake Ashbaugh is closed to all hunting except early teal season. Fishing and nonhunting activities are allowed.
  • Hubble Lake is closed to all hunting except early teal season. Fishing and nonhunting activities are allowed.
  • Winchester WRA and the Brookings moist-soil units are open to deer modern gun youth hunt permit holders only Nov. 4-5.
  • Decoys may be left overnight in slough boats. Slough boats may be left overnight at designated locations. Visit for more details.
2024 Turkey
Youth Hunt: April 6-7, 2024. One legal turkey.
Firearms Hunt: April 15-23, 2024. One legal turkey.
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.
Area Notes
  • A free annual General Use Permit (WMP) is required to hunt or trap on WMAs. Permits are available online by clicking “Buy Licenses” at or by calling 833-345-0325 or any regional office.
  • For all hunters except deer muzzleloader and modern gun youth hunt permit holders during deer permit hunts, the Winchester Waterfowl Rest Area (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 reopens to access Feb. 16.
  • Go to Lake Ashbaugh and Hubble Lake for hunting info on these lakes.
  • Modern guns are restricted to shotguns (0.410 and larger) with slugs (no buckshot allowed) and certain handguns during deer muzzleloader (permit hunt) and deer modern gun youth hunt (permit hunt).
  • Archery equipment and muzzleloader rifles may also be used.
  • Slough boats (25hp or less) may be left overnight at select locations during duck season.
  • For access restrictions that affect all users during waterfowl season, check the waterfowl guidebook.
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.
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.
WMA Master Plan
View the master plan on this AGFC-owned WMA.