As the minutes tick away to opening day of waterfowl season, every duck hunter starts focusing on frigid conditions and starts to get geared up for the main event in Arkansas’s hunting season lineup. Coffee shops across the Grand Prairie will be showing just as much Weather Channel as they will college football as hunters keep an eye on cold fronts and rain bringing the next wave of "new ducks" to fields and flooded timber. Thanks to the work of dedicated biologists, avid duck hunters have another resource to plan for their hunts – the AGFC’s Weekly Waterfowl Report.
"We collect the information from biologists and field staff around the state, so hunters can get some details about how the area is looking for upcoming hunting trips," said Luke Naylor, waterfowl program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. "Coupled with weather forecasts and river gauge readings, many duck hunters can put together a plan to make their outing more successful and focus on the areas that have the most potential for attracting ducks."
With recent changes in management on the greentree reservoirs the AGFC manages, flood conditions likely will be later than usual to ensure the beneficial oak species in these flooded forests are dormant before being inundated. That will place more emphasis on moist-soil units and more open habitat available on public land for the first portion of waterfowl season.
"Moist soil units provide vast amounts of seeds from the plants that grow there, but hunting them means more than leaning against a tree in a promising hole," Naylor said. "Laydown blinds with waterproof bottoms are very beneficial in blending into the flat surroundings, and setting up on the levees in other sorts of low-lying blinds can really help in landing birds in more open environments."
Naylor says as rains continue and the water-control structures are closed on greentree reservoirs, slowly expanding floodwater should provide more small acorns for ducks when they need it most and benefit the trees that provide that food. And hunters tuned into the waterfowl report will be able to know what the habitat looks like as it develops.
Visit www.arkansaswildlife.com and click on the newsletters link to see all of the AGFC’s newsletters or sign up to receive them via email each week.