Yes, I support a later starting date. We don't get more than a few mallards until the 1st of December. Up until that point it's all spoonies, teal, gadwall and widgeon. Not that I'm against shooting those birds, but I go out there for the mallards. A strap of greenheads is one of the prettiest sights, IMO.
I'm not too sure about pushing the season back until mid-February. Everything I have read, and I can only assume that the biologists know a lot more than I do, is that mallards have already paired up. I already see this starting in mid-January. I would feel safe in betting a $100 bill that if I see a pair of mallards off in the distance around January 15th that the lead bird is a hen and a drake is following her. I've just seen it too much.
As for your comparison... We have GREAT success in the beginning of the season, but like I said above, it's mostly gaddies, teal, spoonies and widgeon with very few mallards thrown in. About mid-season the hunting just flat out sucks. It takes a lot of scouting time to find what remaining birds are left in the area. It then starts picking up for us again in the middle of December and then kind of dies that last week or so in January.
The youth season (as long as I've been taking a kid) has been two days. I admit to not paying attention or remembering the amount of days before that. The season before last it was after regular season and last season it was in December during the biggest split. Personally, I think it is a stupid idea to stick the youth hunt in December. The birds are very, very spooky at that time not to mention you're still shooting at the birds that should be resting during the split. The youth season after regular season is a much better idea, IMO. I have found that the birds have chilled out quite a bit and are a lot easier to work in close for the kids. The youth hunt is all about getting those kids on birds, letting them have your undivided attention and hammering the snot out of birds. One day like that and the kid will be hooked for life.
Now, with all that said here are the proposed 2005-2006 season dates the AGFC have decided on. The AGFC has selected the proposed dates the last 4 or 5 years I've been paying attention to them.
LITTLE ROCK - The mercury may be nearing the 100-degree mark in Arkansas, but today the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission was talking duck hunting. Specifically, the Commission announced the proposed the waterfowl season dates for the upcoming season.
The commission received the late season migratory bird selections from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week and decided to announce the proposed dates to give duck hunters an idea of the season parameters. Again this year, hunters will be allowed 60 days to hunt ducks in Arkansas. The proposed season dates include three splits and are projected to be:
Nov. 19 through Dec. 4
Dec. 16 to Dec. 24
Dec. 26 to Jan. 29, 2006
The proposed bag limits are six ducks consisting of:
four mallards (only one of which may be a hen)
two wood ducks
one black duck
three mottled ducks
The proposed canvasback season is 30 days with a one bird bag limit, Dec. 31 to Jan. 29. The popular youth waterfowl hunt is projected to be Dec. 10-11 with bag limits the same as the regular season.