Hunting waterfowl in Arkansas is a bucket list item for hunters all over the world, and the Natural State offers visitors plenty of public places to hunt ducks, many of which offer guided hunts. Arkansas is unique because of the high quantity of water in the state, which is used to irrigate crops, create large rice fields—one of the favored homes of waterfowl.
Stuttgart, located on the Mississippi Flyway, is especially well known to duck hunters. Here, the rice fields and flooded timbers give ducks a perfect place to take a break as they make their journey across the state every year. The flooded timbers are why most hunters flock to Stuttgart, but they also come for the Wings Over the Prairie Festival and the World Championship Duck Calling Contest.
Stuttgart isn't the only place to find ducks—it's actually possible that the flyway may be moving north, and Northeast Arkansas is turning into an even better place to hunt ducks than Stuttgart. One of the most famously photographed private reservoirs, Claypools, is located in the Northeast. Still, there are ducks in Northwest Arkansas and pretty much any part of the state if you want to look hard enough.
Many of the best places to hunt in Stuttgart are private lands like that owned by the Stuttgart Hunting Club, but non-members can gain access to these through guided tours (or being friendly to fellow hunters).
However, George H. Dunklin Jr. Bayou Meto WMA is a public area where you can hunt on foot or by boat on this 33,700-acre wildlife management area, one of the largest in the nation.
Bayou Meto offers one of the largest public areas for flooded timber or green-timber duck hunting in North America, right in the heart of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Access is limited to walk-ins and boats, but you can reach this public hunting area off highways 79, 88, 152, 165, and 276.
This refuge sits in the Mississippi Delta region where the White River meets the Mississippi, creating 90 miles of flooded bottomland forests, which creates a great habitat for waterfowl.
The reserve has 40 boat ramps and is surrounded by rice fields, helping make the reserve the perfect place to hunt. Admission is free, but a refuge user permit is required for hunting.
Managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in the Department of the Interior, White River NWR is located at 57 South CC Camp Road in Saint Charles, Arkansas and offers visitors a variety of guided as well as private hunts.
Moving up a little North of Stuttgart, Bald Knob Wildlife Refuge was once a rice farm, and this refuge contains some cropland that is still farmed to provide food and shelter for wildlife—of the 14,800 acres of the refuge, 9,000 are cropland.
Parts of this refuge are closed to hunting, and a permit is required, but it also houses one of the largest winter populations of a species of waterfowl known as the pintail.
The Bald Knob NWR is located in White County, Arkansas and can be accessed just off highway 367 in Bald Knob by taking Hickory Street south to Coal Chute Road and continuing approximately four miles to the refuge headquarters.
However, many of the roads of this area often flood, especially during the wet season, so be sure to check the official website (linked above) to see if access by road is a viable option.
You might not be able to hunt at Claypools or the Chicago Hole, two of the legendary duck areas in North East Arkansas, but Bayou deView is in the same area and offers hunters excellent opportunities to hunt waterfowl.
The Wiener area is one of the principal rice-producing areas of the state, which makes it ideal for ducks. Located near the Arkansas town of Wiener, Earl Buss Bayou deView WMA offers visitors 4,500 acres of hunting, though some areas are off-limits except during certain seasons.
Additionally, nonresident hunters must get a Nonresident Wildlife Management Area Waterfowl Hunting Permit in order to hunt on this public land.
Located in northeastern Arkansas, near Pocahontas, the Black River is a tributary of the White River. Some parts of this reserve are closed to hunting, but others offer flooded green timber environments perfect for waterfowl hunting—though there are some hunting restrictions.
The Dave Donaldson Black River WMA is 10 miles south of Corning, 10 miles east of Pocahontas, 20 miles west of Paragould and 15 miles north of Walnut Ridge. The main point of entry is located 2 miles north of Delaplaine on Highway 90.
Bois D'Arc WMA is located in southwest Arkansas, in Hempstead County and offers 185 acres of Bottomland hardwoods with an engineered green-tree reservoir for waterfowl.
Ducks Unlimited assisted with this project, and much of this reservoir is accessible only by boat. Everyone 16 and older must have a free WMA General Use Permit to hunt in this Wildlife Management Area.
The lake is reached by taking Arkansas Highway 174 south from Hope to Spring Hill, then Arkansas Highway 355 south from Spring Hill to the lake.
The Ouachita River bottoms are a good place to see and hunt ducks when the Ouachita River floods, and the Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMA offers 7,020 acres of prime bottomland hardwoods most of the year.
However, in the wet season, the waters rise and the area becomes a flooded green timber area, perfect for a whole slew of waterfowl species.
Located near Felsenthal, access to the WMA is limited, especially because many of the roads within the area are routinely flooded during the wet winter months. Be sure to call ahead to the Camden Regional Office for up-to-date information on accessibility.