Weekly Waterfowl Report – Abundant Water & Cold Air Arrive

Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

LITTLE ROCK, AR –-(Ammoland.com)- More heavy rain fell across the state this week, swelling rivers and streams and filling agricultural fields and other low-lying areas with water.

The rain has been followed by the coldest air of the season. The favorable hunting conditions arrived just in time for Thursday’s opening day of the second segment of Arkansas’s duck season.

Hunters will find an increase in waterfowl habitat this week, with many bottomlands and agricultural fields being flooded. Also, most of the state’s wildlife management areas that are managed for waterfowl will have ample water.

Hunters also should experience the coldest temperatures of the season, with overnight lows in the mid to upper 20s and daytime highs in the 40s and lower 50s.

Biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission flew the state’s first aerial waterfowl survey Nov. 11-18 and counted an estimated 627,841 ducks, including roughly 132,000 mallards, throughout the Delta. But conditions have changed rapidly since the first survey, and AGFC waterfowl program coordinator Luke Naylor said he expects to see much different results from the season’s second survey, which will be conducted Dec. 12-16, weather permitting.

“Things have changed drastically since the first survey,” Naylor said. “I would expect to see the ducks respond to these favorable habitat conditions, and it’s probable that some migration events are taking place as a result of the colder weather.”

Results from the first survey may be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/AGFCaerialsurveys.

Hunters who use wildlife management areas in eastern Arkansas are likely to find rapidly changing conditions following this week’s heavy rainfall. In fact, AGFC staff have been forced to manipulate water and close access roads at several WMAs.

The measures are necessary to prevent damage or failure of infrastructure such as levees and water-control structures. AGFC staff are manipulating water levels at Dave Donaldson Black River WMA, Earl Buss Bayou DeView WMA, St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA, Big Lake WMA and Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA in northeastern Arkansas.

As much as five inches of rain fell on various parts of the state Sunday and Monday, causing a rapid rise in streams and rivers that feed the management areas. The surge of water potentially could cause blowouts in levees and water-control structures, causing additional water loss. Infrastructure on many of the affected WMAs was recently repaired following past flooding.

At Bayou Meto WMA in eastern Arkansas, AGFC staff have opened all Lower Vallier and Cannon Brake water-control structures. Levels are still rising in the lower impoundment and the Salt Ditch and Fish Lake Ditch have not crested.

The heavy rains have forced the AGFC to close several roads on other popular duck hunting areas. On Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA, the main road has been closed at the one-lane bridge just north of Interstate 40. The main road could be closed at the headquarters this week with fast-rising water coming down the Cache River, Robe Bayou and Bayou DeView. The road leading to Teal Pond also will be closed.

On Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA, the Railroad Dump Road to Gregory Access has been closed because of high water from the Cache River. The Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA main access road at Mitchell Corner is closed and will remain closed throughout the remaining waterfowl season. This is part of the AGFC’s water management plan for the WMA. Access to Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek WMA will be limited to Jones Island Road from Georgetown. All other accesses from county roads are under water.

While this waterfowl report seeks to provide information that is as timely as possible, hunters should keep in mind there’s often a lag of two or three days between the time field reports are received and this report is published. Thus, actual water levels and percentage of flooded habitat may differ from what’s reported here. The AGFC encourages hunters to check stream gauges (links are provided at the end of this report) and physically scout potential hunting areas to determine actual field conditions.

To assist waterfowl hunters with the latest information, the AGFC provides links to sources on waterfowl location and abundance in Arkansas and other states. The links are available at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/Pages/HuntingWaterfowlReport.aspx#1.

This waterfowl report provides capsule information from agency staff in all corners of Arkansas and is updated each Wednesday throughout waterfowl season. To receive the report each week on your computer, send an e-mail to [email protected] and type “Waterfowl Report” in the subject line.

  • Information on river levels can be found at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lmrfc/ or http://water.usgs.gov/realtime.html.
  • Sunrise/sunset tables are available at: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/data-services/rs-one-day-us and in the Arkansas Waterfowl Regulations Guide.
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