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Even though duck season is on pause for most hunters, there’s still a great way to get some use out of your waders and calls during the Special Youth and Active Duty Military and Veteran Waterfowl hunts Dec. 3.
The special youth-only hunt, which has been in place for more than 20 years, was modified during the 2019-20 waterfowl hunting season to include veterans and active-duty military as a show of gratitude for their service to the citizens of the United States.
During the two special hunt days scheduled for the 2022-23 season (Dec. 3 and Feb. 4) only hunters 15 and younger, members of active-duty military or military veterans may harvest ducks, geese and other waterfowl. However, an additional person may come along on the hunt to serve as an observer or mentor. Mentors may video the hunt, call ducks and work dogs to retrieve ducks, but may not carry a firearm or assist with shooting.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Director Austin Booth, an avid duck hunter and veteran who served as Captain in the United States Marine Corps for eight years, including a deployment to Afghanistan, said he has seen a very positive response from many hunters who have access to private land use the youth and veteran hunts to introduce someone new to the outdoors.
“One of the many similarities between serving our nation and hunting is the importance of the next generation,” Booth said. “Just as our freedoms in America are ‘only one generation away from extinction,’ it’s our responsibility as Arkansas hunters to pass along our traditions to the next generation of conservationists. I hope Arkansans throughout the state, especially veterans, will use this weekend as an opportunity to reflect on not only our nation, but also on the landscape we treasure and the need for young boys and girls to one day shepherd it.”
Shooting hours and bag limits are the same as regular duck and goose seasons. Veteran hunters, as well as youth hunters may hunt on wildlife management areas from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset these two days and any shell restrictions on WMAs are lifted during these hunts.
The hunt is split into two days at different times of year to increase the chances of it coinciding with good weather conditions and duck abundance. In some years, early water and cold weather combine to create good duck hunting in December. During other years, the water and ducks do not seem to arrive in great numbers until later in the season. Two hunts offer two chances to catch the right combination of weather and birds.
Visit www.agfc.com/waterfowl to learn more about duck hunting seasons and duck-hunting opportunities in The Natural State.