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You Think Your Duck Spot is Crowded?

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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?

Comments (26)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Nic Meador wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

At Sooner lake you can't drop your blind permit till 3 a.m. You want to be there by at the latest 2 a.m. to get a blind, much less the blind you want.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bernie wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Incredible! I had no idea such a melee took place down there for duck hunting. Looks like a good way to get killed. It's too bad that this is what hunting has come to. I'd rather stay home.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from vtbluegrass wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Yeah I would never put up with that to hunt any amount of ducks. Also looks like a good way for someone to die in a boat. Looks more like an area in need of multiple ramps or limited entry permit hunts(as much as that pains me to say). The local area is nothing like that for duck hunting.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from HuntinWV wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

That is the craziest thing I have ever seen. Ive never been duck hunting and would love to but I think I would have to pass that oppurtunity up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

What, you mean this is not normal duck hunting protocol?
Unfortunately, on years like this where Jack Frost has not made his presence known in the upper midwest, hordes of hunters from less duck rich areas in the south converge on Bayou Meto, exacerbating the situation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wp wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

After seeing that, I will never again complain about the waters I hunt being too crowded. That was nuts.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

After opening week it is pretty slow in the fields around here, especially during the week. The hunting is fine though. Once big game season opens (first weekend in October) I usually have most of the valley to myself on weekdays and not much competition even on the weekends. Nevertheless, there are a couple of local game-hogs who can be a bloody pain in the arse. Yep, genuine hemrroids! And they're both big boys in the local DU chapter.

I have to say, if duck hunting comes to what it is at that place in Arkansas, I'll give it up. It's a good thing the state limits the horsepower. Otherwise those guys would kill themselves if they were allowed to convert their dragster competition bass boats for duck hunting. No one should drive a boat that fast in the dark. Especially not on a swamp undoubtedly filled with debris!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woods Walker wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Insane! I have seen crowded hunting areas for ducks but this takes the cake! I also would stay home rather than deal with this kind of experience.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

this is horrible.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mickey C. Graham wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Get your facts straight before you write a Nation wide article!! That video was NOT at Bayou Meto but at Hurricane Lake WMA!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mickey C. Graham wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

And....to my knowledge, no one has been hurt or injured in any of the races. This is something that is not mandatory to hunt in Bayou Meto. It is 34,000 acres of which 15 to 20 thousand floods annually for duck hunting. The races are for the ones that want a specific spot. Yes, those are some of the best spots but I never enter in the boat race and kill ducks consistently and have been doing so, in Bayou Meto for over 40 years. So, again, Chad, get your facts straight.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from arkfactman wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

this video is not from bayou meto. It is from Hurricane WMA. Mr Love check your facts. The ditches do not go dry when boats pass. the video doesnt do meto justice. alot faster boats than 25hps, they are modded out to 50 hp or more, and whole lots more boats and crowds, and one lane strips. its a wild ride and extremenly dangerous. if you arent a local then just stay home. DU spending money on Meto has actually made the arkansas state owned property worse. it now attracts white geese and not fat backed mallets. DU has screwed the Scatters up beyond belief. It was a muche better place before DU ever got involved. Dont fix what aint broke. Well DU you done messed up Meto for good, take your levys and moist soil units back to kansas or wherever they came from. stay away from METO you know nothing about the wmas you write about.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan_289 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Since when is a video from YouTube a reliable source? If you even halfway wanted to check facts you could read enough of the comments on the video to know that it was filmed at Hurricane and not Bayou Meto.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan_289 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

The water gets pushed out of the canal? Since when did Moses enter the boat race?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rjarkie wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Mr. Love,
Perhaps a solution to our overcrowding situation would be to limit the number of out of state hunters on OUR states WMA's. Other states in the hotbed such as SD, ND, and MO have already done so. What do you think?

We will be glad to petition the AGFC commission because frankly we are tired of it too.

Hope you enjoyed your hunt and the lottery for out of staters soon to come.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from brandon patrick wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

this is the most rediculous thing i have ever heard.... have you ever stepped foot on bayou meto? "boats having to wait for the water to run back into the ditch"..... you sir should be fired from whatever position it is that you hold at field and stream.... this is a youtube video that has been around for years and was taken at hurricane wma.... anyone that has been to bayou meto can assure you that this boat ramp in the video is nowhere on the bayou meto wma. i used to read your magazine and had a gread amount of respect for it but after reading this slanderous article i have lost all respect for the person or people responciple for this article. as M.G. said... GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!!! by the way, i am a regular at B.M....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shifty wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

this article is a little irresponsible and your facts are sketchy at best. as previously mentioned, the video you posted is not from bayou meto, you should have paid better attention on your tour. and you must have been wearing your "Hi, I'm a tourist" hat for someone to try to convince you that story about boats pushing the water out of the ditches story. a retraction or at least a clarification would be nice on your part. also if you guys ever need someone to fill a similiar position at f/s let me know. i am down for some guided trips and random youtube surfing.

shifty (in arkansas)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Well it has been a while since Ive hunted Bayou Meto. I have never seen anything like that. I think maybe the other guys are correct? Would definatly like some clarification. Chad I would really like some follow up. I will say the last time I hunted Bayou Meta was 1998.Havent been back because of some physical disabilities. That year was epic! Best duck hunting of my life! Our group kiled over 1400 ducks that year!!! Awesome!! I think we limited every time we went. No decoys at all. Found a good spot and stirred up the water and called also the first couple ducks killed got some feathers plucked and placed on the water. Of course a bright sunny day is best. A farmer friends Farm abuts Bayou meto. So on cloudy days we would hunt his fields. Had some awesome hunts on some willow breaks too. Please dont let this video dissuade anyone from wanting to hunt this area. Ive hunted ducks from Western Kentucky to the Gulf coast and have never experienced anthing even approaching this kind of duck hunting. I wil say it was a little strange shoting ducks where I should have been squirrel hunting! LOL

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Oh and Ill try to spell Bayou Meto Phoenetically? Byo Meta? I tried. LOL

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Perry wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Everyone in the nation please understand that not all Arkansans that hunt ducks are as stupid as this video represents.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Regardless of whether it's Bayou or Hurricane, it makes me grateful that my incredibly crowded public land is walk-in.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from billerooo wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

micneador, You can have sooner lake - I hunt on west of there a few miles and don't have to worry about someone else getting my spot. Overall I don't like hunting public at all so no boat races for me. Can't imagine the rat race that happens in Bayou Meto and I want no part of it. We do put in for the duck blind drawings on the river in the eastern part of the state but even that gets to be a bit much for my taste.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ruckweiler wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

With this kind of use there are ducks in this area? Talk about an intense anti-aircraft artillery (AAA or Triple A) environment. Don't think I'd be wanting to fly my light plane overhead.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I grew up hunting the "Wabbeseka Scatters" before it got real popular. AGFC has already restricted about as much as possible without entry limits( No guides, 3 mallards + 1 other species, 15 shells #2's only). As a native Arkansan I would hate to see restrictions on non-residents, would hurt local economy that depends on out of state spenders. I get to go back once or twice a year, always go in the middle of the week.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from duxnbux09 wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Yes this was filmed at Henry Gray/Hurricane Lake WMA in White County, Arkansas and I am the one who filmed it you can check it and more out on my YouTube page.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan Henderson wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

Don't risk your life in Bayou Meto's boat race. Come hunt on 6,000 acres of private family owned farm land that is located only a mile to the North of Bayou Meto. Our hunting is as good and even better at times and you can get a couple extra hours of sleep because you don't have to race anyone to get a good spot. Our ducks are not as pressured making for more productive hunting. Check out or website and give us a shout, we'd be glad to take you hunting.

www.duckdownguideservice.com

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from vtbluegrass wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Yeah I would never put up with that to hunt any amount of ducks. Also looks like a good way for someone to die in a boat. Looks more like an area in need of multiple ramps or limited entry permit hunts(as much as that pains me to say). The local area is nothing like that for duck hunting.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mickey C. Graham wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Get your facts straight before you write a Nation wide article!! That video was NOT at Bayou Meto but at Hurricane Lake WMA!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mickey C. Graham wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

And....to my knowledge, no one has been hurt or injured in any of the races. This is something that is not mandatory to hunt in Bayou Meto. It is 34,000 acres of which 15 to 20 thousand floods annually for duck hunting. The races are for the ones that want a specific spot. Yes, those are some of the best spots but I never enter in the boat race and kill ducks consistently and have been doing so, in Bayou Meto for over 40 years. So, again, Chad, get your facts straight.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bernie wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Incredible! I had no idea such a melee took place down there for duck hunting. Looks like a good way to get killed. It's too bad that this is what hunting has come to. I'd rather stay home.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from HuntinWV wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

That is the craziest thing I have ever seen. Ive never been duck hunting and would love to but I think I would have to pass that oppurtunity up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wp wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

After seeing that, I will never again complain about the waters I hunt being too crowded. That was nuts.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

After opening week it is pretty slow in the fields around here, especially during the week. The hunting is fine though. Once big game season opens (first weekend in October) I usually have most of the valley to myself on weekdays and not much competition even on the weekends. Nevertheless, there are a couple of local game-hogs who can be a bloody pain in the arse. Yep, genuine hemrroids! And they're both big boys in the local DU chapter.

I have to say, if duck hunting comes to what it is at that place in Arkansas, I'll give it up. It's a good thing the state limits the horsepower. Otherwise those guys would kill themselves if they were allowed to convert their dragster competition bass boats for duck hunting. No one should drive a boat that fast in the dark. Especially not on a swamp undoubtedly filled with debris!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woods Walker wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Insane! I have seen crowded hunting areas for ducks but this takes the cake! I also would stay home rather than deal with this kind of experience.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from arkfactman wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

this video is not from bayou meto. It is from Hurricane WMA. Mr Love check your facts. The ditches do not go dry when boats pass. the video doesnt do meto justice. alot faster boats than 25hps, they are modded out to 50 hp or more, and whole lots more boats and crowds, and one lane strips. its a wild ride and extremenly dangerous. if you arent a local then just stay home. DU spending money on Meto has actually made the arkansas state owned property worse. it now attracts white geese and not fat backed mallets. DU has screwed the Scatters up beyond belief. It was a muche better place before DU ever got involved. Dont fix what aint broke. Well DU you done messed up Meto for good, take your levys and moist soil units back to kansas or wherever they came from. stay away from METO you know nothing about the wmas you write about.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shifty wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

this article is a little irresponsible and your facts are sketchy at best. as previously mentioned, the video you posted is not from bayou meto, you should have paid better attention on your tour. and you must have been wearing your "Hi, I'm a tourist" hat for someone to try to convince you that story about boats pushing the water out of the ditches story. a retraction or at least a clarification would be nice on your part. also if you guys ever need someone to fill a similiar position at f/s let me know. i am down for some guided trips and random youtube surfing.

shifty (in arkansas)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Perry wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Everyone in the nation please understand that not all Arkansans that hunt ducks are as stupid as this video represents.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nic Meador wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

At Sooner lake you can't drop your blind permit till 3 a.m. You want to be there by at the latest 2 a.m. to get a blind, much less the blind you want.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

What, you mean this is not normal duck hunting protocol?
Unfortunately, on years like this where Jack Frost has not made his presence known in the upper midwest, hordes of hunters from less duck rich areas in the south converge on Bayou Meto, exacerbating the situation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

this is horrible.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan_289 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Since when is a video from YouTube a reliable source? If you even halfway wanted to check facts you could read enough of the comments on the video to know that it was filmed at Hurricane and not Bayou Meto.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan_289 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

The water gets pushed out of the canal? Since when did Moses enter the boat race?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rjarkie wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Mr. Love,
Perhaps a solution to our overcrowding situation would be to limit the number of out of state hunters on OUR states WMA's. Other states in the hotbed such as SD, ND, and MO have already done so. What do you think?

We will be glad to petition the AGFC commission because frankly we are tired of it too.

Hope you enjoyed your hunt and the lottery for out of staters soon to come.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from brandon patrick wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

this is the most rediculous thing i have ever heard.... have you ever stepped foot on bayou meto? "boats having to wait for the water to run back into the ditch"..... you sir should be fired from whatever position it is that you hold at field and stream.... this is a youtube video that has been around for years and was taken at hurricane wma.... anyone that has been to bayou meto can assure you that this boat ramp in the video is nowhere on the bayou meto wma. i used to read your magazine and had a gread amount of respect for it but after reading this slanderous article i have lost all respect for the person or people responciple for this article. as M.G. said... GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!!! by the way, i am a regular at B.M....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Well it has been a while since Ive hunted Bayou Meto. I have never seen anything like that. I think maybe the other guys are correct? Would definatly like some clarification. Chad I would really like some follow up. I will say the last time I hunted Bayou Meta was 1998.Havent been back because of some physical disabilities. That year was epic! Best duck hunting of my life! Our group kiled over 1400 ducks that year!!! Awesome!! I think we limited every time we went. No decoys at all. Found a good spot and stirred up the water and called also the first couple ducks killed got some feathers plucked and placed on the water. Of course a bright sunny day is best. A farmer friends Farm abuts Bayou meto. So on cloudy days we would hunt his fields. Had some awesome hunts on some willow breaks too. Please dont let this video dissuade anyone from wanting to hunt this area. Ive hunted ducks from Western Kentucky to the Gulf coast and have never experienced anthing even approaching this kind of duck hunting. I wil say it was a little strange shoting ducks where I should have been squirrel hunting! LOL

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GERG wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Oh and Ill try to spell Bayou Meto Phoenetically? Byo Meta? I tried. LOL

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NorCal Cazadora wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Regardless of whether it's Bayou or Hurricane, it makes me grateful that my incredibly crowded public land is walk-in.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from billerooo wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

micneador, You can have sooner lake - I hunt on west of there a few miles and don't have to worry about someone else getting my spot. Overall I don't like hunting public at all so no boat races for me. Can't imagine the rat race that happens in Bayou Meto and I want no part of it. We do put in for the duck blind drawings on the river in the eastern part of the state but even that gets to be a bit much for my taste.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ruckweiler wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

With this kind of use there are ducks in this area? Talk about an intense anti-aircraft artillery (AAA or Triple A) environment. Don't think I'd be wanting to fly my light plane overhead.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I grew up hunting the "Wabbeseka Scatters" before it got real popular. AGFC has already restricted about as much as possible without entry limits( No guides, 3 mallards + 1 other species, 15 shells #2's only). As a native Arkansan I would hate to see restrictions on non-residents, would hurt local economy that depends on out of state spenders. I get to go back once or twice a year, always go in the middle of the week.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from duxnbux09 wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Yes this was filmed at Henry Gray/Hurricane Lake WMA in White County, Arkansas and I am the one who filmed it you can check it and more out on my YouTube page.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan Henderson wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

Don't risk your life in Bayou Meto's boat race. Come hunt on 6,000 acres of private family owned farm land that is located only a mile to the North of Bayou Meto. Our hunting is as good and even better at times and you can get a couple extra hours of sleep because you don't have to race anyone to get a good spot. Our ducks are not as pressured making for more productive hunting. Check out or website and give us a shout, we'd be glad to take you hunting.

www.duckdownguideservice.com

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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