More than 60,000 acres of wetland habitat are available for waterfowl hunters through Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management areas, nearly all of which is open on a first-come, first-served basis. However, a few select locations are reserved through drawn permit hunts to increase hunter satisfaction and prevent conflicts from hunters setting up too close to one another.
Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA, Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA and the west unit of Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA all reserve special opportunities through online drawings.
Permit hunts are nothing new for Raft Creek WMA near Georgetown. It has been managed through lottery-style drawings on weekends for years to reduce crowding and provide a higher quality hunting experience. In addition to dozens of hunting locations available to the public via on-site drawings on Saturdays and Sundays during duck season, some locations are reserved for online drawings conducted a week before each hunting period the area is open. A special mobility-impaired blind and youth blind also are available only through these online drawings. The first application period for these hunts is Nov. 8-11 for hunts on Nov. 17, 18, 20 and 21. Only certain locations are drawn online, and only for Saturdays and Sundays. If a permit holder does not claim their location before that day’s on-site draw is conducted (2 hours before shooting light), the location is offered in the on-site draw. Hunting on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is open on a first-come, first-served basis and hunters may set up throughout the WMA.
The AGFC also has improved waterfowl opportunities for youths on the Conway George Tract of Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA near Brinkley. Hunting blinds were installed for concealment and added comfort, and the habitat was manipulated to increase the likelihood of close shots. These blinds are the only permit-style hunting available on Dagmar WMA. Only youths and their mentors may use them. No more than four participants may hunt a blind per party, and only one mentor is allowed per youth hunter. However, one mentor may accompany more than one youth at the blind. These blinds are available by online draw beginning Nov. 8-11.
Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA West Unit offers an excellent opportunity for youth waterfowl hunters in southeastern Arkansas. The waterfowl area on this WMA is divided into seven units around open water and marsh habitat. AGFC staff has constructed above-ground blinds on each of the seven units. These blinds are available by permit only, with the first application period being Dec. 6-9, after deer permit hunts have concluded.
Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/migratory-birds/waterfowl/wma-waterfowl-permit-hunts/ to learn more about each hunt and apply.