- Sulphur River Wildlife Management Area has secrets. One is it is a
throwback to the Arkansas early explorers and settlers found. The second
is its duck hunting.
And just for variety, visitors have chances at spotting alligators,
eagles and black bellied whistling ducks - the latter a new and growing
wildlife story for Arkansas.
Garrick Dugger, a wildlife biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish
Commission, said, “A boat trip on Sulphur River WMA will take you back a
The management area is the largest remaining tract of bottomland
hardwoods in the Red River valley of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and
Put a boat in at one of the ramps reached off Arkansas Highway 253 or at
the ramp downstream at U.S. Highway 71, motor a short distance, and you
are deep in a setting of bottomland hardwoods and swamps. The reality of
what you see and hear pushes aside any fantasizing or wild imagination
in recalling they made a movie about a fictional denizen of the region,
“The Fouke Monster.”
This is the extreme southwestern corner of Arkansas, with the management
area touching the Texas state line on the west and extending to about
nine miles north of the Louisiana state line on the other end.
Migrating ducks in late fall and winter make extensive use of Sulphur
River WMA. AGFC biologist Gregg Mathis said, “Waterfowl hunting here is
a hidden secret.”
But numerous duck hunters from Texarkana, from east Texas and northwest
Louisiana know about Sulphur River and come prepared with mobile blinds
built on flatbottom boats. If ducks have come to the area, the hunters
seldom go home empty handed. They may set up facing a bit of open water,
but with a huge cypress tree covering their backs.
As with many of Arkansas’s wildlife management areas in bottomlands and
swamps, the deer are surprising. They are large, there are good numbers
of them - but they are difficult to hunt. Deer and the other wild
animals know instinctively how to get around the water-dominated
surroundings. Humans have to learn.
Raccoon hunters make use of the management area, too, and there is a
plentiful and usually constant supply of their quarry in the region.
Squirrel hunting is popular, as is rabbit hunting, with the rabbits
often the big swamp rabbits as well as the more familiar cottontails.
In recent years, a few black bellied whistling ducks have taken up
residence on Sulphur River WMA and at other spots in southwest Arkansas,
expanding their range from South Texas. There’s not a hunting season on
them in Arkansas, but they draw curious stares when seen by hunters as
well as interest from birders. The black bellied whistling ducks are
cavity nesters, like wood ducks, and are easily distinguished by long
necks and long pink legs.
Turkey hunting is by permit on Sulphur River WMA.
Fishing can be extremely productive. Anglers work the main river and
also head into long and sprawling Mercer Bayou and into Days Creek. The
usual largemouth bass, bream of several species, crappie and catfish are
the attractions for fishermen.
Water levels in the management area are managed through a system of
water control structures, but overall, they depend on releases from Lake
Wright Patman flowing down Sulphur River. Mathis said, “In the winter,
most of the management area is flooded for a month or so.” The control
structures include dams, stoplog structures, gated pipes, levees and
The AGFC works 340 acres of wildlife openings on the area, with about
140 acres in wildlife food plots. About 900 acres are management as
moist soil units, devoted to plants adapted to this environment and used
extensively by a variety of wildlife.
500-acre waterfowl rest area is named for Henry Moore, a former AGFC
commissioner and Texarkana resident.
The management area is a site of survey work by biologists to monitor
and track nongame birds. They also trap and band some of the migrants
for research purposes.
information on Sulphur River WMA, phone the AGFC’s Hope Regional Office