“Watching ducks land on a lake in Arkansas in the winter is about the closest to Heaven as you can find on this earth… and as someone who believes, according to my faith, I will go to Heaven when I die, I am pretty sure that there is duck hunting in Heaven!” – Mike Huckabee
Arkansas is one of the best states in the USA for duck hunting. People from all over the United States travel long distances to Arkansas during duck hunting season. This beautiful state is covered in lush forests and lakes with plentiful duck populations. So here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about duck hunting season in Arkansas — from dates to bag limits and more.
Types of Ducks in Arkansas
Arkansas has a wide variety of duck species. In fact, the state is home to more than 24 duck species. Some of the most common kinds of ducks that live and breed in Arkansas are mallards, scaups, wood ducks, northern pintails, redheads, canvasbacks, black ducks, and mottled ducks. Here are some identifying features of these duck species.
Male mallards have a bright green, round head laced with a thin white collar. Their chests are usually brown or maroon, and they have white-tipped tails. As for the females, they’re usually brown and orange. A general physical feature common to both sexes is that they both have purple-blue feathers under their wings, which can be seen when they fly or stand.
Wood ducks are usually found in the wetland areas across the state. Male wood ducks have bright red eyes and a greenish body color with brown, black, and white patches. The females are brown and have white borders around their eyes.
Northern pintails are commonly found in the Delta region of Arkansas. The males have red, round heads, a grey beak, and a white stripe extending from their necks down through their backs. In addition, both sexes of the northern pintail have an extended, pointy tail – a distinct feature that can easily be used to identify them.
A species of diving duck, the canvasback is almost the same size as a mallard and has a wedged head and long neck as its distinguishing characteristics. The males of the species have a red head and neck, while the females have a brown head. Their backs and bellies are white and have a distinct pattern on them.
Another bird found in the swampy areas of Arkansas, the American black duck is a dabbling duck (meaning it does not dive into the water but instead feeds from the surface). The male and female black ducks generally have the same appearance. They are dark in color with a mottled pattern on their bodies. The main difference between the sexes is the color of their bill. The bill of the males is yellow, while the females have a dark green bill. Their heads are brown, blending into their darker black bodies.
The mottled ducks are dabbling ducks that usually feed on vegetation above the ground. So you’re likely to find them in lakes and rivers. When flying, you can see that the underside of their wings is white. The male has a bright yellow bill, while the female has a less bright yellow bill with a black tip.
Hunting Season Dates in Arkansas
Hunting usually starts as early as September 1 for some ducks and lasts through the fall until snowfall in January or early February. The Arkansas duck hunting season dates for different types of ducks are as follows:
- Duck, Coot and Merganser — Nov. 19-27; Dec. 10-23; and Dec. 26-Jan. 31
- White-Fronted Goose — Oct. 29-Nov. 11; Nov. 19-27; Dec. 10-23; and Dec. 26-Jan. 31
- Youth, Military, and Veteran Waterfowl Hunt — Dec. 3 and Feb. 4
Daily Bag Limits
The daily bag limit for all duck species in Arkansas is six. This may not include more than four mallards (two hens), three scaups, three wood ducks, one pintail, two redheads, two canvasbacks, two black ducks, and one mottled duck. For any other ducks not mentioned, you can bag up to six a day.
The possession limit in Arkansas, like most U.S. states, is three times that of the daily bag limit, which is up to 18 ducks.
Best Hunting Ground For Ducks In Arkansas
While ducks are very abundant in Arkansas across lakes and rivers, certain areas trump others when it comes to the duck population. These are as follows:
Known as the duck capital of the world, Stuttgart is covered in wetlands inhabited by ducks. As a result, waterfowl tend to migrate to this area of the state during the fall. Considering the large duck population, the region also has designated hunting spots with expert guides that will teach you how to hunt ducks. So this would be a prime location if you’re planning a hunting trip as a beginner.
Bayou DeView Wildlife Management Area
A spot near Stuttgart, Bayou DeView Wildlife Management Area, has 33,700 acres of protected wetland and forests for duck hunting. The area is open to the public and also provides guided tours to show you how to hunt specific duck species.
For a complete list of boating restrictions and regulations, visit the Bayou DeView website.
White River National Wildlife Refuge
The White River in Arkansas has some of the best hunting grounds for ducks. Particularly in the floodplain between the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, there are over 90 miles inhabited by ducks. In addition, the area has more than 40 boat ramps. So if you’re planning to rent a boat for your duck hunting ventures, this is the best destination for you.
Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge
The Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge has the largest population of ducks in Arkansas during the winter season. So if you’re looking to hunt later in the season, this may be the prime duck hunting destination.
Hunting Gear Needed to Hunt Ducks
Here’s a little information on what you should take along when going on a hunting trip in Arkansas.
Since hunting usually happens in the fall and winter seasons, it’s often cold and wet in the Arkansas hunting grounds. So make sure to take a waterproof jacket and some warm layers, especially if you’ll be hunting from a boat.
A 12-gauge shotgun is the ideal gun to use when shooting ducks, but you can also use a 20-gauge, 10-gauge, or 410.
You should have about 50 #2 shells on hand when heading out for hunting trips. But make sure they’re non-toxic and not made of lead.
Gun slings are not a complete necessity, but they are super handy to help you carry the gun around when you trekking or need to use your hands.
Duck calls are an excellent tool for summoning ducks to your area. In most of the main hunting grounds in Arkansas, you’re likely to find hunting offices renting and selling duck calls. They will usually even give you some tips on how to use one effectively.
License Requirements for Duck Hunting in Arkansas
If you’re a resident of Arkansas, you’ll need a Resident Sportsman’s License for hunting. However, if you’re not from the state, you’d need a Non-Resident Game Hunting License. All hunters must also acquire a Federal Duck Stamp and an Arkansas Waterfowl Stamp. You will also need to have registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Once you have these, you’ll be ready to head out hunting.
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- Duck Hunting Season in Florida: Season Dates, Bag Limits and More
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jeffry Weymier/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Can you hunt ducks in Arkansas?
Yes, you can hunt ducks in Arkansas. In fact, Arkansas is a duck hunting mecca that should be on every duck hunter’s bucket list!
When does duck hunting season start in Arkansas?
The duck hunting season begins as early as September 1 in Arkansas.
What are the requirements to duck hunt in Arkansas?
Every duck hunter in Arkansas will need a hunting license. Residents of the state must have a Resident Sportsman’s License, while non-residents must have a Non-Resident Game Hunting License. Both resident and non-resident hunters must also have a Federal Duck Stamp and an Arkansas Waterfowl Stamp. You will also need to have registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Once you have these, you’ll be ready to head out hunting.
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- Arkansas Duck and Goose Hunts, Available here: https://www.arkansasduckandgoosehunts.com/
- Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Available here: https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/migratory-birds/waterfowl/
- Mallard Bay, Available here: https://mallardbay.com/arkansas-guided-duck-hunts