Arkansas Wildlife Waterfowl Report Dec. 6, 2017 Jim Harris Duck Season's Second Split Opens Thursday LITTLE ROCK -- Duck hunters will be back at it beginning Thursday, as the second portion of Arkansas's 60-day season opens and runs through Dec. 23. Thanks to a cold front and a line of heavy storms that moved through Arkansas earlier this week, hunters are hopeful of a little less dry conditions, but from the looks of water levels around the state, Arkansas still not seen enough rainfall to flood areas for ducks. For the third weekend this season, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission personnel will not be conducting the weekend permit draw for Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms Wildlife Management Area. The extremely dry conditions this fall have left all hunt units of the WMA low of water, with the exception of Unit H, the Mobility Impaired Unit. The Mobility Impaired and the Youth Blind are available for the online draw only. The WMA is still open for waterfowl hunting Dec. 9-10 despite the low water issues, and hunters will need to pick up a permit from the kiosks located in the parking areas. Meanwhile, Arkansas hunters elsewhere who don't have enough water await a good drenching, while those that do are waiting on a big movement of ducks. Apparently, a large migration settled into an area in the southern tip of Illinois and in the area directly across the Mississippi River into Missouri in mid- to late November, in Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. Two RIvers is considered by waterfowl biologists to be an important stopover for hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese each fall. As of two weeks ago, more than 350,000 birds were using refuge habitat, according to an aerial survey. Established in 1958 to protect and enhance habitat for migratory birds, Two Rivers is situated between the Mississippi River and the Illinois River and encompasses 9,225 acres of riverine and floodplain habitat scattered around the confluence of the rivers. This is the third largest count there since the start of surveys in 1948 and is the largest count of northern pintail and ring-necked ducks ever recorded on the refuge. Waterfowl counts help define general trends in the number of birds resting and feeding at Two Rivers and other neighboring national wildlife refuges. Survey results are used by managers, hunters and birdwatchers to monitor the progress of migration. Counts also give biologists a sense of how healthy refuge habitats are and how restoration work is benefiting birds. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission waterfowl program director Luke Naylor and a team were scheduled to conduct their first duck survey of Arkansas this season this week. Look for those results here next week.