Armed with the some of the highest estimates on record of duck population estimates, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission last week approved a 60-day hunting season for waterfowl. The vote was made during the Aug. 21 commission meeting.
The AGFC press release notes that this is the 18th consecutive year for a 60-day season.
AGFC Waterfowl Program Coordinator Luke Naylor presented the late migratory season proposals to the commission. "Habitat conditions were improved or similar to last year in many areas due to average or above-average annual precipitation," he said. "Continued wet conditions appear to be driving continued good habitat."
Naylor noted that total duck population estimates of breeding waterfowl in the U.S. and Canada were the highest on record. "The total duck population estimate is 49.2 million ducks. That’s an eight-percent increase from 2013 and 43 percent above the long-term average," Naylor said.
Arkansas had the third highest waterfowl harvest and highest mallard harvest in the nation last season with more than 422,900 mallards harvested. The second highest mallard harvest in the nation was 200,700 in Missouri. No other state in the Mississippi flyway reported more than 200,000 mallards harvested.
The 2014-15 duck season dates are: Nov. 22-30; Dec. 4-23; Dec. 26-Jan. 25.
Youth Hunt will be Jan. 31-Feb. 1.
Northwest Canada Goose Zone season is Sept. 20-29
Statewide Canada Goose season is Sept. 1-15 and Nov. 13-Jan. 25.
White-fronted, snow, blue and Ross’s goose seasons are Nov. 13-Jan. 25
Snow, blue and Ross’s goose conservation order is Oct. 11-Nov. 12, Jan. 26-30 and Feb. 2-April 25.
The 2014-15 duck bag limits are six ducks consisting of no more than: four mallards (two hens), three wood ducks, two pintails, two redheads, one black duck, one canvasback, one mottled duck or three scaup.
A regulation change for the upcoming waterfowl season calls for a restriction on the closing time of certain wildlife management areas and lakes during waterfowl season. The new regulation prohibits access on certain WMAs from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. each morning except in designated campsites, parking areas, boat launch ramps and designated boat staging areas.
Additionally, no boats are allowed from 1 p.m. to 4 a.m. each day.
The restrictions are in place from the first day of the first segment of the regular duck season until the last day of the last segment of regular duck season on specific WMAs. This does not apply to the last three days of the last regular duck season and the youth waterfowl hunt when access is allowed from 4 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. Exceptions allowing afternoon access, for times such as archery deer hunting, to specific waterbodies within WMAs are included in the new regulation.