Natural flooding this past spring and summer at the Deep Fork/Eufaula Wetland Development Unit ironically will prevent all artificial flooding ahead of this year’s Zone 2 waterfowl hunting season, which will begin Nov. 2. The popular duck hunting area in Okmulgee and McIntosh counties will likely remain dry because of concerns over the health of the standing timber in the unit.
This WDU, part of the Eufaula Wildlife Management Area’s Deep Fork Arm, normally provides waterfowlers a chance to hunt ducks in flooded timber. Managers usually begin pumping water into some of the unit’s three timber areas in late October, said J.D. Ridge, Northeast Region senior biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. But that will not be the case this year.
“With the extreme spring flooding across the region, high water in the Deep Fork River and Eufaula Reservoir prevented draining water from the WDU. The timber was inundated well into the growing season, which is not a good situation for the health of the timber,” Ridge said.
“The health and preservation of this bottomland hardwood timber is of utmost importance at this specific WDU. When the trees are subjected to prolonged flooding through the growing season, it is imperative – from a management perspective – to give the trees a break from flooding to the extent possible.
“It is a necessary decision to not pump water into the timber units this season.”
Ridge said local rainfall or river flooding are always possible during the coming waterfowl season, which could provide some sporadic but short-term hunting opportunities at the unit.
The Deep Fork/Eufaula WDU is among 30 wetland development units across Oklahoma specifically managed to provide waterfowl hunting and habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Waterfowl hunting at WDUs closes at 1 p.m. on days open to hunting, and possession of lead shot is prohibited.
For more information on waterfowl hunting, WDUs and regulations, consult the current Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide found online at wildlifedepartment.com, on the Go Outdoors Oklahoma free mobile app for Apple or Android devices, or in print across the state wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.