In the lineup of prime duck hunting spots to be had in Arkansas, Stuttgart has perhaps the most recognizable and certainly the best promoted hunting grounds in the state. But it is hardly the only draw for ducks. Positioned as the state is beneath the famed Mississippi Flyway, the primary route for waterfowl migrating from Canada to wintering habitat down south, there’s more than enough game for hunters along the eastern third of the state. Here’s a few reasons to check out areas outside the halo of the Duck Capital of the World
Roam Far Afield
There’s a reason the annual hordes of ducks flock to Arkansas’ Delta. The eastern slice of the state is prime farmland from which Arkansas produces more rice than any state in the nation, as well as ranking 10th in soybean production.*
Follow The Rivers
Ample timber and the confluence of east Arkansas rivers provide ideal waterfowl habitat including the Arkansas, White, Little Red, Black and St. Francis Rivers, and the many bayous and tributaries along these routes. Conditions are so good that of the estimated eight to 10 million mallards in North America a full 40 percent can be found wintering in the lower Mississippi Valley.**
Satisfy Your Taste
The spacing of waterways in the northeast corner of the state is key. The vicinity is striped by the roughly parallel Black, Cache, St. Francis and White Rivers, naturally spaced to provide room for more hunters to harvest ducks without over-saturating any one area. It also provides environments that cater to a range of hunting tastes be it treeline, field, lake or flooded timber.
Hit The Town
North delta hunting is also boosted by the presence of larger towns — Blytheville, Paragould, Forrest City and especially Jonesboro — which give non-hunting members of a family shopping and other diversions while the hunters are out in the pit, the blind or the boat. These duck-oriented mini-vacations draw visitors from the east coast and across the south.
Handle With Care
Duxmen Outfitters outside Jonesboro represents a new breed of duck lodge; combining a sharp business eye with serious hunting chops (a typical season harvests 2,300-2,500 birds). Owners Spencer Jeu and Zach Fahlberg boost the “hunter family” trade by offering more amenities, enforcing strict language and behavior policies and, unlike some operations, don’t co-mingle hunting parties in the lodge or the field. The partners also employ conservationist and game management practices, headlined by a complex daily rotation system that deploys hunters throughout their 7,000 acres of land in a way that avoids over-hunting in-season.
The south Delta has suffered decades of poverty, unemployment and population loss, but signs abound that the picture may be changing. Exhibit A is the luxury Delta Resort & Spa, consisting of a 130-room hotel, 7,000-SF conference center, fine dining restaurant and Olympic-caliber, clay shooting complex on 2,000 acres near Tillar and McGehee. The property’s duck hunting club and on-premises pro shop add to the range of amenities. Rivaling the finest duck clubs in the state at substantially more competitive rates, Delta Resort attracts weekenders and corporate hunting groups alike.
If hunting is a state of mind, Carter Duck Farm, a new lodge in Wilmot, about 35 miles southeast of Monticello and not far from the Louisiana State Line, is your place. Its 4,000 acres and colonial style plantation lodge is bracketed by Bayou Bartholomew, the Mississippi River and Overflow National Wildlife Refuge provides prime hunting grounds. Owner Mark Carter, 36, promotes “purpose driven hunts,” which focus on community and strengthening bonds through the great outdoors. Concentrating on the experience rather than the outcome makes Carter Duck Farm particularly appealing to hunting newcomers and families, for whom quality time is as important as bagging the daily limit.
* USDA/National Agricultural Statistics Service as reported by Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Arkansas Agricultural and Economic Profile, Sept. 2011
** Encyclopedia of Arkansas