LITTLE ROCK — Five private rice fields that are part of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Waterfowl Rice Incentive Conservation Enhancement program are being made available to public hunters via draw for next weekend, Sept. 25-26, during the state’s special early teal season.
Four of the WRICE fields are in Monroe County, while the fifth is in Prairie County near Slovak. The fields are Greenlee A, C and D and Keevil B in Monroe County, and Prairie County’s Slovak C.
“The WRICE program has been popular among duck hunters in the past two years, especially last year when we were able to expand the program out to more than 40 privately owned fields. We thought, with rice harvest concluding in some of our WRICE fields, that we would offer an opportunity for public hunters to take in a teal hunt on private land,” said Luke Naylor, the AGFC’s waterfowl program coordinator.
Hunters can apply for a permit for next weekend’s hunts by signing on the AGFC’s website at www.agfc.com and clicking on the “Buy Licenses/Check Game” tab at the top. The permit application period will run through midnight Sunday, Sept. 19. There is a $5 application fee. Winners will be notified early next week with instructions to reach the field. Each winning applicant may bring an additional three hunters with them.
Arkansas’s special early teal season runs from Sept. 15-30 on public and private land. Daily limit of teal (blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal combined) is 6; the possession limit is 18. Shooting hours for early teal season are sunrise to sunset (regular waterfowl season is 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset).
Early Canada goose season is also underway in Arkansas through Sept. 30. Daily limit on Canadas is 5, with a possession limit of 15. Canada geese are legal to harvest on the early teal season fields, Naylor said.
For the past few years, private-land owners have been provided the opportunity to enroll acreage into the AGFC’s WRICE program. AGFC biologists developed the plan to help keep waste rice available for ducks, geese and other migrating birds when they pass through the state each fall and winter. The program was expanded in 2019 to allow permitted public waterfowl hunting opportunities on participating fields. Farmers may still operate and harvest their rice fields as normal, but can receive added income by leaving stubble and flooding fields during waterfowl migration and allowing permitted public hunting opportunities.
“Teal are here today, gone tomorrow in the area. They are even more unpredictable than a regular duck hunt. But teal have begun to migrate and we expect more to move if the expected cold front next week comes through. If the temps at night get 60 degrees and a little bit of a north breeze, as forecast, we usually see teal move through here in those conditions,” Naylor said.
For more information on the program, visit www.agfc.com/en/wildlife-management/private-lands-program/wrice.