The Natural State Of Geese

Arkansas is well known as a waterfowl haven and geese are not exception. Here’s a few of the best places to hunt the honkers this year.

Goose hunting in the Natural state is coming of age. There are plenty of opportunities for Ross, Brant, Snows, Canadas and White-Fronted geese with somewhere between 300,000 and half a million birds expected this fall. “Goose hunting is something that’s only come on strong in Arkansas over the last 10 or 15 years,” said AGFC Regional Supervisor Roger Milligan. “There’s not a lot of interest in goose hunting but the opportunities are there with large numbers of birds, bag limits and areas to hunt. Years ago the AGFC began gearing up for duck hunting in the greentree areas and the goose hunting has more or less been a side bar.” But the word is out. In some areas of the state thousands of geese descend within days to create fast and furious shooting. According to Luke Naylor, the AGFC’s Waterfowl Program Coordinator, both goose numbers and hunting activity remained stable over the last several years. Here’s a look at public lands where you’ll see some of Arkansas’ best goose hunting this fall.

Dardanelle WMA

“The best place to hunt during the early residence Canada goose season is on the Arkansas River in the Clarksville area,” said Wildlife Biologist Virgil Gardner. “Canadas start out in the area nesting heavily on the islands and then stay most of the summer”, said Gardner. When the opening day rolls around the islands can offer up some spectacular hunting, but once the birds are pressured they’ll abandon those sections of the river where they’ve been shot at and settle in on the nearby farm ponds, pastures and other out-of-the-way spots.

A hunter has to be mobile if he’s to consistently harvest Canada geese. The birds have become skittish by now and can be up to 10 miles off the river in either direction during the daytime. Late-season Canadas have been exposed to all of the duck hunting and are very cautious. There aren’t a lot of light geese in November and most of the birds will stage for a few days and then move on to the Delta and the rice and wheat fields. The locals are more interested in duck hunting which leaves the snow goose hunting pretty much wide open. Snow goose hunting requires a lot of scouting, a large spread of decoys and it’s a lot of work to hunt them.

The Dardanelle WMA is one of the river’s open-water hunting spots that can pull in a lot of birds. The lake is 50 miles long and covers 34,000 acres, all of which is open to goose hunting. Lake Dardanelle lies in Franklin, Logan, Johnson, Pope and Yell counties. Floating or motoring is a real option but the water can be rough. Launch out in at least a 16-footer with a 25 hp motor, at a minimum. White caps develop and several boats have capsized over the years. For more information contact the AGFC office at (877)478-1043.