We have recently been informed that some rice fields could be considered baited for waterfowl hunting by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW). Arkansas rice growers have an abnormally high number of rice acres that produced a ratoon crop this season, whether it was intentional or not. The position of the USFW is that any rice field with ratoon growth that produced heads cannot be manipulated in any way or it will be considered a baited field for waterfowl hunting purposes.

You are allowed to hunt over a rice field that was rolled prior to the emergence of heads produced by a ratoon crop. However, if rice heads have emerged in a ratoon crop, you must leave it standing, without manipulation, in order to hunt waterfowl in that field. If the field had ratoon rice heads and was rolled, you cannot hunt over the field until it is no longer considered baited according to USFW guidelines.

For clarity: any act that results in the unnatural dispersal of grain is considered manipulation, including ATV traffic, rolling, discing, etc. An area manipulated in this fashion would be considered a baited area.

Please contact me with any additional questions: jhardke@uaex.edu