Out-of-state hunters flood Arkansas for Opening Day during pandemic

Out-of-state hunters flood Arkansas for Opening Day during pandemic

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - As the opening day of duck season quickly approaches, and thousands of hunters enter Arkansas, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission are discussing coronavirus threats.

Hunters are busily cleaning guns, organizing their boats, and getting out their waders on the eve of opening day.

Arkansas Game & Fish Commission spokesperson Keith Stephens said it’s been a good year in license sales.

“We’ll probably have about 45,000 [out-of-state licenses] when it’s all said and done. They’ll continue to buy them all the way through the season,” he said. “Usually, we have about 55,000 resident [licenses], between 100,000-110,000 waterfowl hunters in the state during duck season.”

AGFC made no changes to the out-of-state permit acceptances in Arkansas but do emphasize the importance of following CDC guidelines.

It mentions being patient at crowded access points, planning by taking separate vehicles and wearing a mask.

Social distancing in the blind and the boat is also suggested. They emphasize no sharing of coffee and breakfast.

Stephens said to think about others as duck season begins.

“Don’t only think about yourself,” he said. “Think of people who may be around you, family members, friends, people you may just made an acquaintance with. It doesn’t take much to wear a mask and stay 6′ away from them. I would encourage them to do that.”

Hunters cannot be written tickets by the wildlife officers for not following the CDC guidelines. Officials note that any citizen can’t be held by law to comply.

“Most of the hunting that we’re going to see this opening weekend is families so it’s going to be people who are around each other most of the time anyway,” he said. “We don’t see any kind of a big issue right now.”

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