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This weekend began a special tradition in the Natural State, and today I’d like to talk about what this means to me and our state.
Arkansas duck season began this Saturday, and hunters from around the world migrate to our flooded timber and farm fields for this annual event. The rich tradition of duck hunting has united Arkansas families for generations and creates memories that last a lifetime.
But duck season in Arkansas provides more than memories and food on the table. Duck hunting contributes to our state’s economy and provides jobs for Arkansans.
The Duck Capital of the World is located about an hour away from Little Rock in Stuttgart. Their local Chamber of Commerce estimates duck hunting brings in over $1 million per day of duck season every year. Hunters are coming to Arkansas to eat at our restaurants, shop at our stores, and stay in our hotels for the chance to hunt our legendary flooded green timber public land.
These hunters have plenty of reasons to visit Arkansas besides hunting our public land. Each year, the Wings Over the Prairie Festival is hosted in downtown Stuttgart. The week-long festival has something for everyone in the family. Pageants, a carnival, the duck gumbo cook-off, and of course, the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest are all part of this celebration of duck hunting in Arkansas.
As a native of the hills of Northwest Arkansas, duck hunting has not always been a part of my life like it has been for those raised in the Delta. But as I take my children and grandchildren to see the sun break over flooded timber, I’m reminded of how special and unique Arkansas is. I’ll never forget seeing the joy on his face when my grandson took his first banded duck a few years ago.
Part of being a responsible hunter is conserving the resources we hold dear for generations to come. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission works tirelessly to ensure the habitat in our state is not only ready to host the millions of migrating ducks heading south, but that it can sustain them for generations to come.
The memories created and lessons learned in a duck blind will often follow us throughout our life. Patience, discipline, and preparation all play a part in a successful hunt and a successful life. As we set our alarms for earlier than normal this weekend, I want to wish our duck hunters a safe and happy Opening Day. Hopefully you plan on having some jalapeno duck poppers with your Thanksgiving feast, because I know I will.