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WATERFOWL REPORT

January 13, 2022 at 2:18 a.m.

Mallard numbers picked up significantly in last week’s aerial waterfowl surveys of the Arkansas Delta region, the Arkansas River Valley and southwest Arkansas, according to the report released by Luke Naylor, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s waterfowl program coordinator.

AGFC staff flying for the annual January Midwinter Survey noted 961,247 total ducks in the Delta, 617,459 of which were mallards. The mallard estimates in the Delta were double the December estimate and about 160,000 more than last year’s midwinter survey.

AGFC biologists Jason Carbaugh, Buck Jackson, Cameron Tatom and Alex Zachary flew the surveying routes. Along with the Delta estimate, the latest count showed 18,653 ducks in the river valley (including 12,650 mallards) and 9,104 ducks estimated (4,597 mallards) via cruise surveys in the southwest portion of the state.

While the mallard numbers top December estimates and the 2020-21 midwinter count, the estimate is the fourth lowest midwinter estimate since formal surveys began in the 2009-10 wintering period and about 200,000 fewer than the 2010-2022 long-term midwinter survey average of about 810,000 mallards. The total duck population estimate was also slightly less than the long-term overage of about 1.2 million total ducks. Mallards accounted for the highest proportion (64%) of all ducks since 2018 (85%). From 2010-2022, mallards accounted for an average of 67 of all ducks during the midwinter survey, putting this year’s proportion close to average.

Although the transect-based surveys are more conducive to duck counts than for geese, which tend to spook easier and scatter as airplanes approach, the surveyors estimated 796771 light geese (lesser snow and Ross’s) and 335,849 greater white-fronted geese (speckle-bellies) in the Delta.

Arkansas River Valley duck population estimates, both for all ducks and for mallards, were about half the 2014-2022 average. That said, mallard numbers were nearly double those of the December survey. Mallards accounted for a higher-than-usual proportion (68%) of all ducks in the Arkansas River Valley this survey. Cruise surveys in southwest Arkansas suggested a decline in both total duck and mallard numbers.

NORTHEAST ARKANSAS

BIG LAKE WMA

North Woods GTR Mast production is good. The Bo Dock gauge is unreadable. Target level is 235.5 with 20% flooded.

South Woods GTR Mast production is fair. The 7-mile gauge is currently at 236.8 feet. Target level is 234.5 feet with 100% flooded.

Simmons Field A good amount of millet and sedge is present. Native production is very good in the North Unit, Middle and South fields. 100% flooded.

DAVE DONALDSON BLACK RIVER WMA

Upper Island GTR Moderate mast crop. Water level is inaccessible. Target level is 269.5. 100% flooded.

Lower Island GTR Moderate mast crop. Water level is inaccessible. Target level is 268.5. 100% flooded.

Upper Reyno GTR Moderate mast crop. Water level is 268.35. Target level is 266.9. 100% flooded.

Lower Reyno GTR Moderate mast crop. Water level is 268.2. Target level is 266.3. 100% flooded.

Winchester GTR Moderate mast crop. Target level is 265.4. 100% flooded.

EARL BUSS BAYOU DEVIEW WMA

South Oliver GTR Mast production is good. 100% flooded.

Thompson Tract GTR Mast production is good. 100% flooded. The Thompson Tract GTR will be allowed to rise and fall naturally without the gates being operated beginning with this season. This action is an effort to help the next generation of forest.

Lake Hogue WRA Primarily deep open water habitat. Normal pool level.

SHIREY BAY RAINEY BRAKE WMA

Adam Brake GTR Good mast crop. Water level is 240.8. 100% flooded.

Rainey Brake GTR Good mast crop. 100% flooded.

Eagle Pond GTR Good mast crop. 100% flooded.

Phase III Moist-Soil Unit Good wetland-type vegetation. 98% flooded.

Charles Crisp Moist-Soil Unit Good wetland-type vegetation. 100% flooded.

Ward Field Moist-Soil Unit Good wetland-type vegetation. 100% flooded.

River Field Moist-Soil Unit Good wetland-type vegetation. 100% flooded.

ST. FRANCIS SUNKEN LANDS WMA

Hunt Area Mast production is good. Water levels in the huntable areas are dependent on the St. Francis River. The water level at Oak Donnick is 212.51. The level for huntable timber is 212.

Snowden WRA Mixed grasses. 20% flooded.

Payneway WRA Pools A,B, C, and D have mixed smartweed and barnyard grasses, Moderate mast in Pools A,B, and C. Pool A is at 20%. Pool B is at 30%. Pool C is at 50% and Pool D is at 80%.

EAST CENTRAL ARKANSAS

HENRY GRAY HURRICANE LAKE WMA

North GTR Good mast crop. The White River at Augusta on Tuesday, Jan. 11, was 30.39 feet and rising. All structures throughout the WMA will remain open during the 2021-22 season.

South GTR Fair mast crop. The White River at Augusta as of Tuesday, Jan. 11, was 30.39 feet and rising. All structures on the South Unit are open.

REX HANCOCK BLACK SWAMP WMA

Gregory GTR Good mast crop. 95% flooded.

Wyeville Unit Good stand of millet and native vegetation. 50% coverage.

SHEFFIELD NELSON DAGMAR WMA

Mud Slough GTR Good mast crop. 75% flooded.

Apple Lake WRA Good mast crop. 80% flooded.

Conway George Waterfowl Unit A Good millet and native vegetation. 100% flooded.

Conway George Waterfowl Unit B Natural slough area with beneficial wetland plants. 100% flooded.

Conway George Waterfowl Unit C Good stand of millet and native vegetation. 100% flooded.

Dark Corner Waterfowl Unit 1 Good stand of millet and native vegetation. 50% flooded.

Dark Corner Waterfowl Unit 2 Good stand of millet and native vegetation. 50% flooded.

Dark Corner Waterfowl Unit 3 Good stand of millet and native vegetation. 100% flooded.

STEVE N. WILSON RAFT CREEK BOTTOMS WMA

NOTE Hunting in Raft Creek Bottoms WMA requires participation on the online draw a week before the following weekend’s hunt. There is no online draw on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and permits are available at the boat accesses. Permits ARE required (via online application) on weekends, Tuesdays and Thursdays for the youth and mobility-impaired blinds and for the Magellan Tract. Visit agfc.com to apply for the online draw. There will be no designated holes this season.

Unit A Excellent stand of native vegetation. 100% flooded.

Unit B Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation. 100% flooded.

Unit C Good stand of native vegetation. 100% flooded.

Unit D Good stand of native vegetation. 95% flooded.

Unit E Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation. 95% flooded.

Unit F (Youth Area) Good stand of millet and native vegetation. 100% flooded.

Unit G Fair stand of millet and native vegetation. 0% flooded.

Unit H (Mobility-impaired blind) Excellent stand of native vegetation. 100% flooded.

Unit I Poor stand of native vegetation. 0% flooded.

Unit J (Cypert Tract) Excellent stand of native vegetation. 95% flooded.

Unit K (Cypert Tract) Excellent stand of native vegetation. 25% flooded.

Unit L (Cypert Tract) Fair stand of native vegetation. 0% flooded.

Unit M (Magellan Tract) Fair stand of native vegetation. 80% flooded.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS

CRAIG D. CAMPBELL LAKE CONWAY RESERVOIR

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

BELL SLOUGH WMA

Bell Slough GTR Poor to moderate mast crop. 100% flooded.

Palarm Creek WRA Fair stand of planted millet. 100% flooded.

CYPRESS BAYOU WMA

Hunt Area Good mast crop. 100% flooded.

Red Cut Slough Tract Unit 1 Poor conditions. 25%.

Unit 2 Excellent stand of millet and native vegetation. 25%.

Unit 3 Good stand of millet and native vegetation. Water level 100%.

Unit 4 Good stand of native vegetation. Water level 100%.

Unit 5 Good stand of native vegetation. Water level 100%.

Unit 6 Good stand of native vegetation. Water level 85%.

HARRIS BRAKE WMA

Harris Brake Upper Unit Below average mast crop. 100% flooded.

Harris Brake Lower Unit Below average mast crop. 100% flooded.

HOLLAND BOTTOMS WMA

Hunt Area Good mast crop. 80% flooded.

Lake Pickthorne WRA (No hunting). East cell 100% flooded. West Cell is 100% flooded.

SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS

DR. LESTER SITZES III BOIS D’ ARC WMA

Bois d’Arc Lake WRA Closed to hunting. Normal.

Red Slough WRA Closed to hunting. Water level 70%.

GTR Good mast production. Water level 90%.

Little Grassy Habitat is good. Water level 80%.

MILLWOOD LAKE Habitat is good. Water level 259.5.

OZAN WMA

Unit 1 Habitat good. 5% flooded.

Unit 2 Habitat good. 0% flooded.

Unit 3 Habitat good. 0% flooded.

Unit 4 Habitat good. 0% flooded.

Unit 5 Habitat good. 0% flooded.

SULPHUR RIVER WMA

Mercer Bayou Habitat conditions are fair. 40% flooded.

Henry Moore WRA Closed to hunting. 75% flooded.

SOUTHEAST ARKANSAS

BERYL ANTHONY LOWER OUACHITA WMA

The WMA has good hard mast production. Some water in low areas.

FREDDIE BLACK CHOCTAW ISL. WMA

DEER RESEARCH AREA Habitat conditions are good. There is variable flooding associated with the Mississippi River. Use extreme caution when boating on the river.

TRUSTEN HOLDER Habitat conditions good. Flooding is river dependent.

SEVEN DEVILS SWAMP WMA

Habitat conditions good. Water is running over east side spillway.

CUT-OFF CREEK WMA

Hunt Area Habitat conditions are good. Water in low-lying areas.

Pigeon Creek WRA Habitat conditions are good. Pumping water as conditions allow.

BAYOU METO WMA

Upper Vallier GTR Good habitat. Water level 179.55 feet, full pool at 180 feet.

Lower Vallier GTR Good habitat. Water level 179.68 feet, full pool at 179 feet.

Government Cypress GTR Good habitat. Water level 179.97 feet, full pool at 179 feet.

Buckingham Flats GTR Good habitat. Water level 177.77. Full pool.

Temple Island GTR Good habitat. Water level 184.40. Full pool.

Canon Brake Good habitat. 177.10 msl. Full pool at 177 msl.

Halowell WRA Excellent habitat. Staggered flooding of units.

Wrape Plantation WRA Excellent habitat. Staggered flooding of units.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS

DARDANELLE WMA

McKennon Bottoms (Half-day hunting) Good stand of native vegetation. 100% flooded.

Potter’s Pothole Hartman Waterfowl Unit (Half-day hunting) West cell has a good stand of Japanese millet. East Cell has a poor stand of Japanese millet. 100%.

OZARK POOL

Dyer Lake Cells Good stand of moist-soil vegetation and planted millet. Units 1 and 2 are 100% flooded. Unit 3 south cell is 10% flooded. West cell Less than 25%.

NIMROD LLOYD MILLWOOD WMA

Nimrod GTR The red oak mast crop is poor this year but the desirable native vegetation growth is better than in previous years. Due to abnormally dry conditions, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The water-control structures were closed on Nov. 17. This area is rainfall dependent to flood. 40% flooded.

ED GORDON POINT REMOVE WMA

Little Hole (Unit 1) Japanese millet. 80% flooded.

Willow Island Japanese millet and natural vegetation. 25% flooded.

Red Gate Native vegetation. 60% flooded.

Pig Trough (Units 4 and 5) Native vegetation and Japanese millet. 40% flooded.

Cedar Ridge (Unit 6) Natural vegetation. 80% flooded.

Unit 7A Japanese millet. 90% flooded.

Unit 7B Natural vegetation and Japanese millet. 0% flooded.

Unit 8A Natural vegetation. 90% flooded.

Unit 8B Native vegetation. 90% flooded.

Unit 8C Native vegetation. 90% flooded.

Unit 9 Japanese millet and natural vegetation. 100% flooded.

Controversy Corner (Unit 10) Natural vegetation. 100% flooded.

Remmel Marsh Native vegetation Japanese millet. 90% flooded.

Mud Pond (Unit 12) Natural vegetation and Japanese millet. 100% flooded.

Turkey Pond (Unit 13A) Natural vegetation. 100% flooded.

Turkey Pond (Unit 13B) Natural vegetation. 90% flooded.

Turkey Pond (Unit 13C) Natural vegetation. 100% flooded.

Teeny Pond (Unit 14) Natural vegetation. 100% flooded.

Salt Lick (Unit 15) Natural vegetation. Water level 100%.

Bobby’s Pond (Unit 16) Natural vegetation. 100% flooded.

Race Track (Unit 17) Natural vegetation. 100% flooded.

FROG BAYOU WMA

Unit 1 Good stand of moist-soil vegetation. 100% flooded.

Unit 2 Poor stand of moist-soil vegetation. Less than 100% flooded.

Unit 3 Good stand of moist-soil vegetation and planted millet. 100% flooded.

Unit 4 Good stand of moist-soil vegetation and planted millet. 100% flooded.

Unit 5 Good stand of moist-soil vegetation on the upper end, lower end has been fallow-disked. 100% flooded.

Unit 6 Good stand of moist-soil vegetation. 80% flooded and pumping.

Unit 7 Good stand of moist-soil vegetation. 100% flooded.

GALLA CREEK WMA

Galla Creek GTR Good stands of native vegetation and millet, including a mixture of barnyard grass and sprangle top. 100% flooded.

PETIT JEAN RIVER WMA

Santa Fe GTR This area produced a poor red oak mast crop this year with good stands of desirable native vegetation in the open lands within this area. Due to abnormally dry conditions, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The water-control structures were closed on Nov. 16. 100% flooded.

Sore-Head Moist Soil Unit Due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects, this unit was not able to grow any food this year. Work is still ongoing as long as this area stays dry. The Kingfisher Lake water-control structure valve was opened on Nov. 17 to help flood this area. 90% flooded.

Slaty Crossing Moist-Soil Unit Due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects, this unit was not able to grow a desirable native vegetation crop this year. The area was seeded with millet after the project was completed. The area yielded a great stand of planted millet. Due to abnormally dry conditions and low river levels, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The pump was started on Nov. 17 but will not be run continuously this year due to the lack of adequate water in the river. 100% flooded.

Black Lands Moist-Soil Unit This unit this year contains one of the best stands of desirable native vegetation in recent years. The wooded areas inside the unit produced a poor red oak mast crop this year. Due to abnormally dry conditions and low river levels, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The river level is still too low to properly pump. 100% flooded.

Black Lands Duck Area The wooded sections of this area produced a poor red oak mast crop this year. This area also contains a mix of moderate to great stands of desirable native vegetation mixed throughout. The Kingfisher Lake water-control structure valve was opened on Nov. 17 to help flood this area. 90% flooded.

Pullen Pond Due to ongoing waterfowl habitat enhancement projects, parts of the central section of this area is bare ground. Most of the area has amazing stands of desirable native vegetation. The desirable native vegetation has started to become more and more prevalent with each year of ongoing management work. Work is still ongoing until the area becomes too wet to work. This area is rainfall dependent to flood. Water level 70%.

Pond Creek GTR This area produced a poor red oak mast crop this year with good stands of desirable native vegetation in the open lands within this area. Due to abnormally dry conditions, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The water-control structures were closed on Nov. 16. This area is rainfall dependent to flood. 10% flooded.

Slaty GTR This area produced a poor red oak mast crop this year with good stands of desirable native vegetation in the open lands within this area. Due to abnormally dry conditions, this area is not expected to fill up as fast as in previous years. The water-control structure was closed on Nov. 16. 10% flooded.

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