December 20, 2011
You Think Your Duck Spot is Crowded?
By Chad Love
Here's one from the "So You Think Your Duck Spot Is Crowded?" files...
Last week I got the chance to spend a few days hunting the Stuttgart, Arkansas area (duck hunting and rice capital of the world) with the good folks of Ducks Unlimited. In addition to hunting, one of the most interesting parts of the trip was a tour of what is undoubtedly one of the biggest and most famous public duck hunting areas in the nation, Bayou Meto a huge, 33,000-acre WMA with some 13,000 acres of flooded green timber mallard Nirvana into which DU has invested a tremendous amount of habitat and conservation work.
With all that duck habitat, Bayou Meto is, understandably, a rather popular place with duck hunters. How popular? The DU biologists told me that, on average, there are anywhere from 1,200-1,500 duck hunters utilizing Bayou Meto every day.
It's so popular, in fact, there are some regulations unique to Bayou Meto. There's a reduced bag limit on mallards, a per-hunter shell limit, a 25-horsepower motor restriction, and a rule about when you can take off in the morning.
And it's that last rule that has given rise to one of the more, uh, interesting spectacles in all of duckdom, the "Bayou Meto Boat Race." To prevent midnight spot-hogging, you cannot legally take off from the boat ramp area until 4 a.m. on the dot. You can unload your boat, but you can't take off. And since Bayou Meto's boat launch areas are connected to the bayou itself by means of shallow canals that can only accommodate a few boats abreast, that 4 a.m. shotgun start is, well, just watch the video above...
The DU guys tell me so many boats roar down those canals that the wake actually pushes the water out of the canals and following boats have to wait until the water rushes back in before they can go. But here's the thing: the hunting is so good, the early-morning chaos is apparently worth it for those brave enough to run the Bayou Meto Boat Race gauntlet.
How does this compare to the crowds at your local public duck spot? Can they compare to this?