Public Land Duck Hunt Arkansas
Experience and Advice
“Is it 4 yet”
“No it’s 3:59”
“Well let me know whe….”
“Punch it now”
Waking up right when the bars are about to close and heading to the launch ramp is how a person starts their morning on an Arkansas Public Land Duck hunt. Most NWR’s and WMA’s in the south do not allow a person to exit the main channel and enter the trees until 4am. It becomes essential to get to the front of the lineup and be ready for that 4am start. When the ducks are in this is how one’s day gets started on a backwater channel on an Arkansas public land duck hunt. Souped up engines with 25hp stickers slapped on them, and the old saying of “rubbins racin” comes into play in these situations. While the extravagant 50 boat races of the bayou are a thing of the past, they still exist on other bodies of water. When beating the rest of the pack to a hole can make the difference of 40 birds by 8am or 4 by noon it is essential that one’s boat wins that race. Ripping through the flooded timber around deadfalls, floating logjams, buck brush, and blow downs at full tilt can make for an adrenaline pumping morning. It’s a no holds barred situation where friends are enemies and enemies get treated even worse.
However when that sunrise comes up and the wind is blowing perfectly for the hole that your friends and you are residing in, a person begins realizing the reasoning for the heated and fast paced racing of the early morning. Birds begin to work and come in from the treetops just like leaves do during the fall. Keeping one’s face low and hugging a tree is your job until a caller yells, “kill em” in a strong southern accent. Then all of a sudden it is like the 4th of July with 7-10 guns shooting all three of their 3 1/2 magnum loads at greenheads before they exit the trees. Birds fall from the skies and it is utter pandemonium with dogs and people going every which way to pick up the birds before they float away. During this time one needs to be careful because hastily running through flooded timber is an excellent way to trip and fill one’s waders with water, which in turn makes for a cold morning. After the birds are collected and everyone it is back to the trees. The last volley of shots is discussed with every claiming to have shot 3 birds when only 7 total were shot. Its is all in good fun and everyone receives a good ribbing especially when someone yells at them to kill that single and they miss three times and no one
else shoots. This occurs like clockwork until limits are shot and the group heads back to the launch ramp to go get lunch. Then it’s off to bed by 8pm to start it all over again.
Since my friends have sworn me to secrecy I will provide a vague but informative advice section for someone looking to do a DIY trip to the timber.
If a person was looking to hunt in Arkansas the first thing a person has to do is research into where the birds tend to migrate in large numbers. If a group goes somewhere out of the flyway they would not get to shoot anything besides local educated birds and the experience would not be all that Arkansas has to offer. Once a spot is decided on figure out what paper work is needed to hunt that area. Arkansas is the state of signatures. Most areas require a few different permits so make sure all are signed and in possession. Secondly there are walk in only areas but these receive heavy pressure and just do not hold the numbers of mallards. A welded boat is the preferred method of travel. If a person were to bring their riveted Jon-boat out there it would look like a piece of modern art by the end of the trip. Patching all the holes in waders beforehand is essential and bringing wader patch is necessary because it will be used. Do not rely only on a GPS always bring a compass because one day a GPS will fail you. Arrive early and do some afternoon scouting to see where the birds are hanging out so the next morning is not a random chance. Lastly remember to check the depth of the water before you jump out of the boat in the morning because a friend may think it is funny when you go completely under at 4:30 in the morning but you will not.
Written by Cameron Nizdil