Heavy Rain, Likely Runoff Should Open Up Habitat for Ducks

Arkansas Duck Hunting
Arkansas Duck Hunting

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -(Ammoland.com)- The heavy rainfall that Arkansas waterfowl hunters have been waiting for all season finally arrived Tuesday, at least for the southern portion of the state, and with it comes hopes for better habitat conditions to spread out the duck migration into the state.

A large area in east-central Arkansas received up to 6 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period Tuesday-Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, and a large swath of the state from the southwestern tip to West Memphis appeared to receive anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of rainfall in that period. All but the northernmost reaches +of Arkansas received at least an inch.

Before Tuesday, the state was enduring record drought conditions in many areas, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's greentree reservoirs and other wildlife management areas were battling dry conditions and little chance finding ducks.

Aerial surveys conducted Dec. 4-7 showed that while the mallard numbers mirrored totals for the past six Decembers, nearly half the mallard population in Arkansas was in flooded ricefields, and the remainder were scrounging for the limited water available – much of that artificially flooded on private land – outside of the major tributaries in the state.

“It's raining, and that's good,” Luke Naylor, the AGFC's waterfowl program coordinator, said Tuesday afternoon. “Maybe we'll start getting a little runoff after this rain and that should help us for sure. We're still not sure it will be enough to make a whole lot more habitat available for ducks, but we'll start to get some runoff in some areas and then see what that ends up doing.

“There are ducks around. Our waterfowl count was about average for a December, and there are places that have a bunch of ducks in them. We just need more surface water. We have fairly typical mallard numbers, so with more water coming in, hopefully more habitat will be available to them. There have been fairly cold conditions to the north of here and we've seen some ducks move our way.”

Forecasts for the coming weeks show possible lower temperatures through the new year.

“That will move ducks in now that we have the habitat,” Naylor said. “After this system, at the end of the week, it's just shaky past that as far as more water. It's just kind of unknown. We could settle into a pattern where we're getting rain every week. It's just hard to know at this point. We had a little bit of rain last week so the grown should be fully saturated and with a lot of rain, that could become runoff and start filling up some places. Some of the bayous and sloughs are starting to stack water. Some places that would normally be flooded now that aren't, those might be stackng up some water after this week's system.”

NOTE: Water levels listed in the Waterfowl Report were taken on Monday, before the rain system that moved into Arkansas on Tuesday.

Mallard Migration Map:

  • Central Arkansas
  • East Central Arkansas
  • Northwest Arkansas
  • Northeast Arkansas
  • Southeast Arkansas
  • Southwest Arkansas

Northeast Arkansas

Earl Buss Bayou DeView WMA

Boaters should use caution while using the Thompson Tract boat run.

South Oliver GTR

  • Habitat: Mast production has been good.
  • Water Level: 0% flooded with a current gauge reading of 0.0 feet. There is a small amount of available water present within the natural slough on the north end of this GTR and south end of the North Oliver Tract.

Thompson Tract GTR

  • Habitat: Mast production has been good.
  • Water Level: 0% flooded with a current gauge reading of 0.0 feet.

Lake Hogue WRA

  • Habitat: A small amount of beneficial wetland plants is located along the east side of the lake.
  • Water Level: Normal pool level.

Big Lake WMA

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: Bo Dock gauge currently reads 234.2 feet, Target level is 235.5 feet with 0% flooded.

South Woods GTR

Habitat: Mast production is good.
Water Level: The 7-Mile gauge is currently at 233.2 feet. Target level is 234.5 feet with 20% flooded.

Simmons Field

Habitat: A good amount of millet, smartweed and sedge is present. Seed production is very good.
Water Level: 15%

St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA

Hunt Area

Habitat: Mast production is considered above average within the timber and floodways.
Water Level: Water levels in the huntable areas are dependent on St. Francis River flows. The water level at Oak Donnick is 211.22 feet, and approximately 85% of the huntable area is flooded.

Snowden WRA

Habitat: There is a small amount of beneficial wetland plants within the borrow areas.
Water Level: 0% flooded

Payneway WRA

Habitat: There are 70 acres of corn and millet planted throughout the WRA
Water Level: Pool A is at 0%. Pool B is at 0%. Pool C is at 0%. Pool D is at 0%.

Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMA

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: High abundance of mast crop within the GTR.
Water Level: Water level is 238.5 feet msl with a target level of 240.0 msl. 65% flooded.

Rainey Brake GTR

Habitat: High abundance of mast crop within the GTR.
Water Level: 90% flooded.

Eagle Pond GTR

Habitat: High abundance of mast crop within the GTR.
Water Level: 80% flooded.

Phase III Moist-Soil Unit

Habitat: Fair wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 20% flooded.

Charles Crisp Moist-Soil Unit

Habitat: Fair wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 70% flooded.

Ward Field Moist-Soil Unit

Habitat: Good wetland-type vegetation.
Water Level: 100% flooded.

River Field Moist-Soil Unit

Habitat: High abundance of native wetland vegetation..
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Dave Donaldson Black River WMA

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.

Upper Island GTR

Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 269.28 feet msl. Target level is 269.5 feet msl. 90% flooded.

Lower Island GTR

Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 268.25 feet msl. Target level is 268.0 feet msl. 100% flooded.

Upper Reyno GTR

Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 266.85 feet msl. Target level is 266.9 feet msl. 95% flooded.

Lower Reyno GTR

Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 265.85 feet msl. Target level is 266.3 feet msl. 75% flooded.

Winchester GTR

Habitat: Average abundance of mast crop within the GTRs.
Water Level: Water level is 263.42 feet msl. Target level is 263.7 feet msl. 90% flooded.

East Central Arkansas

Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA

The Conway George units are available by applying for online permits. Permit hunts are on Saturday and Sunday. 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.

Mud Slough GTR

Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%.

Apple Lake WRA

Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 90%.

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 wetland plants
Water Level: 100%

Conway George Waterfowl Unit C

Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA

Hunters should call the Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 for current road closures.

Main WMA

Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%

Wyeville Unit

Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 90%

Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA

*Due to low water conditions, no permit draw will be conducted this Saturday (the second split ends Dec. 23 at sunset, with season reopening Dec. 26). The Mobility Impaired and Youth Blind are available for the online draw only. The WMA is open for waterfowl hunting and hunters will need to pick up a permit from the kiosks located in the parking areas. Water levels should improve throughout the week with the forecasted rain and AGFC pumping efforts. ​​​​​​​

Unit A

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

Unit B

Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 55%

Unit C

Habitat: Good stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 5%

Unit D (Youth Area)

Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 50%

Unit E

Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 15%

Unit F

Habitat: Good stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 5%

Unit G

Habitat: Fair stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 20%

Unit H (Mobility-impaired blind)

Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Unit I

Habitat: Habitat conditions are poor.
Water Level: 30%

Unit J (Cypert Tract)

Habitat: Fair stand of native vegetation.
Water Level: 5%

Unit K (Cypert Tract)

Habitat: Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation.
Water Level: 5%

Unit L (Cypert Tract)

Habitat: Good stand of millet.
Water Level: 5%

Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA

Hunters should call the Wildlife Hotline at 800-440-1477 for current road closures.

North GTR

Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%

South GTR

Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%

Central Arkansas

Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir

Habitat and water levels are normal on both Pierce and Dix creeks.

Bell Slough WMA

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: Moderate mast crop.
Water Level: 25%.

Palarm Creek WRA

Habitat: Millet was planted as a cover crop this year following disking within the moist-soil units.
Water Level: 45%

Holland Bottoms WMA

Hunt Area

Habitat: Good mast crop.
Water Level: 0%

Lake Pickthorne WRA

Habitat: Excellent.
Water Level: East cell is 10%. West cell is 30%.

Harris Brake WMA

Harris Brake Upper Unit

Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Harris Brake Lower Unit

Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 100%

Northwest Arkansas

Dardanelle WMA

McKennon Bottoms (half-day hunting)

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

Potter's Pothole Hartman Waterfowl Unit (half-day hunting)

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

Ozark Pool

Dyer Lake Cells (half-day hunting)

Habitat: Native vegetation.
Water Level: Dry.

Nimrod Lloyd Millwood WMA

Nimrod GTR

Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Frog Bayou WMA

Unit 1

Habitat: Planted millet and native moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 95%

Unit 2

Habitat: Poor moist-soil response.
Water Level: 0% – rainfall dependent

Unit 3

Habitat: Primarily perennial vegetation.
Water Level: 95%

Unit 4

Habitat: Planted millet and native moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 95%

Unit 5

Habitat: Good moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 95%

Unit 6

Habitat: Good moist-soil response.
Water Level: 90%

Unit 7

Habitat: Some annual and perennial moist-soil vegetation.
Water Level: 90%

Petit Jean River WMA

Santa Fe GTR

Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Olin Cain Moist-Soil Unit

Habitat: 25% native vegetation with 75% bare ground due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects.
Water Level: 10%

Black Lands Moist-Soil Unit

Habitat: 25% native vegetation with 75% bare ground due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects.
Water Level: 0%

Slaty Crossing Moist-Soil Unit

Habitat: 25% native vegetation with 75% bare ground due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects.
Water Level: 0%

Pullen Pond

Habitat: Native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Pond Creek GTR

Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Slaty Pond GTR

Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Black Lands Duck Area

Habitat: Good mast crop mixed in with native vegetation.
Water Level: 40%

Galla Creek WMA

Galla Creek GTR

Habitat: Natural vegetation, including a mixture of barnyard and smartweed.
Water Level: 100% – Staged flooding of the impoundment began on Nov. 27 and the waterfowl impoundment is flooded to full pool at this time.

Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA

While water levels have improved slightly, most waterfowl impoundments on Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA still remain dry or have very little water at this time. Due to inadequate rainfall, water levels in Point Remove Creek are too low to allow for pumping in most units; however, limited pumping has been possible, and impoundments will continue to be flooded as water levels in the creek allow. Duck use on the WMA has been minimal and hunter success has been poor.

Willow Island

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Little Hole

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Red Gate

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 60%

Pig Trough

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Cedar Ridge

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 10%

Duck Trap

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 10%

Salt Lick

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Bobby's Pond

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 60%

Race Track

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 70%

Controversy Corner

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 80%

Remmel Marsh

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 90%

Mud Pond

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Turkey Pond

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Teeny Pond

Habitat: Natural vegetation.
Water Level: 0%

Southwest Arkansas

Sulphur River WMA

The Henry Moore WRA is not flooded due to pump problems.

Mercer Bayou

Habitat: Fair.
Water Level: Drawn down for restoration project, boat ramps are closed.

Henry Moore WRA

Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: 0%.

Millwood Lake

Habitat: Habitat conditions are good.
Water Level: 258.67 feet msl

Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d’Arc WMA

Bois d'Arc Lake WRA

Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: 10%

Red Slough WRA

Habitat: Closed to hunting.
Water Level: 5%

GTR

Habitat: Good mast production.
Water Level: 25%. Boat t ravel is possible from the boat launch to the cross levee. Water is currently running north over the cross levee. As of Dec. 18, boat travel is possible north of the cross levee but you will have to drag your boat over the cross levee to boatable water.. The sloughs within the GTR are swelling.

Little Grassy

Habitat: Habitat is fair.
Water Level: 10%

Ozan WMA

Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0%

Southeast Arkansas

Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMA

There has been fair hard mast production. The WMA's water is located in the sloughs and oxbow lakes.

Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA Deer Research Area

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.

Trusten Holder WMA

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

Seven Devils WMA

Hunt Area

Habitat: Habitat conditions are good, with an excellent acorn crop.
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Cut-Off Creek WMA

Hunt Area

Habitat: Habitat conditions are good, with an excellent acorn crop.
Water Level: 0%

Pigeon Creek WRA

Habitat: Habitat conditions are good, excellent acorn crop.
Water Level: 0%

George H. Dunklin Jr. Bayou Meto WMA

Upper Vallier GTR

Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Lower Vallier GTR

Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Government Cypress GTR

Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Buckingham Flats GTR

Habitat: Good
Water Level: 100% flooded

Temple Island GTR

Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0% flooded.

Canon Brake

Habitat: Good
Water Level: 0 percent flooded.

Halowell WRA

    • Habitat: Excellent
    Water Level: Staggered flooding of units.

Wrape Plantation WRA

    Habitat: Excellent
    Water Level: Staggered flooding of units.
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