Changes to duck hunting season leads to scheduling troubles for lodges

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 5:29 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 5:30 PM CDT
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OTWELL, Ark. (KAIT) - The sound of duck calls is a familiar sound in northeast Arkansas and one that people will hear a little earlier this year.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission unanimously approved a change to the 2023-2024 duck season dates, moving back to the traditional opener the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Many hunters are excited about duck hunting season being moved to around Thanksgiving, but the change does cause some headaches for lodges.

Zach Fahlberg is the co-owner of Duxmen Arkansas Hunting Lodge and Guides, he said he had a feeling the change was coming but that didn’t really prepare them, saying they are already fully booked for next year which means they had to change schedules.

“The headaches are really moving people that have already made plans several months ago to come to hunt with us that have already done deposits, so we have the task now of moving over 150 duck hunters the first 10 days of the season to earlier start dates,” Fahlberg said.

He said that is due to the large amount of out of state hunters they see. That being said, he understands why people want to jump on the opportunity to get out first, saying opening weekend is like Christmas morning for hunters.

“Everybody wants that opening weekend because there is no pressure,” Fahlberg said. “Opening weekend is usually a slam dunk when it comes to getting your harvest and getting back early.”

While the change creates scheduling issues, he does understand why it was made.

The lodge owner of 22 years said he thinks now it will stay here.

“From just a hunter standpoint, I think it makes pretty good sense,” Fahlberg added. “I think it’s probably where it needs to stay barring some changes in bird population or whatnot.”

The start of duck season is set for November 18, 2023.