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LITTLE ROCK – Commissioners unanimously approved a group of regulations today, effectively setting the season dates and bag limits for the 2018-19 hunting season for all species. The 2018-2019 Arkansas Season Dates are:

Deer

Archery:
Zones 1,1A, 2 3, 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 5B, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17 – Sept. 22, 2018-Feb. 28, 2019.

Muzzleloader:
Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11 – Oct. 20-28 and Dec. 8-10, 2018.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14, and 15 – Oct. 20-28 and Dec. 15-17, 2018.
Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17 – Oct. 20-28 and Dec. 29-31, 2018.

Modern Gun:
Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11 – Nov. 10-Dec. 2 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zone 4 – Nov. 10-11 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zone 5 – Nov. 10-11, Nov. 17-18 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15 – Nov. 10-Dec. 9 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 10-18 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zones 9, 12 and 13 – Nov. 10-Dec. 16 and Dec. 26-28, 2018.
Zones 16, 16A and 17 – Nov. 10-Dec. 28, 2018.

Private Land Antlerless Only Modern Gun Deer Hunt:
Statewide on all private land – Oct. 13-17, 2018.

Special Youth Modern Gun Deer Hunt:
Statewide – Nov. 3-4, 2018 and Jan. 5-6, 2019

Waterfowl

Early Teal Season:
Statewide – Sept. 15-30, 2018.

Early Canada Goose:
Statewide Sept. 1-30, 2018.

Duck, Coot and Merganser:
Nov. 17-25, Dec. 6-23 and Dec. 26, 2018-Jan. 27, 2019.

Canada, White-fronted, Snow, Blue and Ross’s Goose:
Oct. 27-29, Nov. 17-30, Dec. 2, 2018-Jan. 27, 2019.

Special Youth Waterfowl Hunt:
Dec. 1, 2018 and Feb. 2, 2019.

Bear

Archery:
Zones 1 and 2 – Sept. 22-Nov. 30, 2018.
Zones 3, 4, 5, 5A, 6 and 7 – closed

Muzzleloader:
Zones 1 and 2 – Oct. 20-28, 2018.
Zones 3, 4, 5, 5A, 6 and 7 – closed

Modern Gun:
Zones 1 and 2 – Nov. 10-30, 2018.
Zone 5 – Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2018.
Zone 5A – Nov. 17-Dec. 2, 2018.
Zones 3, 4, 6 and 7 – closed

Special Youth Modern Gun Bear Hunt:
Zones 1 and 2 – Nov. 3-4, 2018.
Zones 3, 4, 5, 5A, 6 and 7 – closed.

Mourning, White-Winged and Eurasian Collared Dove

Statewide – Sept. 1-Oct. 28 and Dec. 8, 2018-Jan. 15, 2019.

Wild Turkey

Zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10 and 17 – April 8-23, 2019.
Zones 1A, 4, 4A, 5A and 9A – April 8-16, 2019.

Special Youth Turkey Hunt:
Statewide (except WMAs): April 6-7, 2019.

In addition to season dates, many regulations were changed to offer more access and opportunity to hunters for 2018-19. Air rifles are now legal to hunt deer during modern gun deer season, as long as they fire a single, expandable projectile .40-caliber or larger, are powered by an external pump or tank and produce at least 400 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

“We have really worked hard to simplify and liberalize regulations as we can to make hunting less intimidating and allow people to focus on what’s important when they’re out in the woods,” said AGFC Director Pat Fitts.

Waterfowl hunters on wildlife management areas again will have an extra hour after shooting time ends at noon to be off inundated waters, in response to massive public support. Also the daily bag limits for all WMAs will match the statewide bag limit of six ducks.

Many changes also have liberalized seasons or limits on individual WMAs during deer season, and the process to apply for a private land elk permit has been simplified to run through the same online system as other drawn permits. The alligator hunt tagging and checking process also saw some major streamlining, and Alligator Zone 2, comprising south-central Arkansas, will be opened for the first time this year. A complete list of changes and justifications for those changes is available at https://www.agfc.com/en/resources/regulations/code.

Andy Goodman, chief legislative aide for Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office, read a proclamation signed by Hutchinson declaring the time period from noon, June 8 until midnight June 10 as Free Fishing Weekend in Arkansas. During this time, all license and permit requirements to fish in the state are lifted, allowing anyone to get out and enjoy fishing without the purchase of a license or trout permit. All other fishing regulations, including bag limits and size requirements for certain bodies of water are still in effect during Free Fishing Weekend. Information on fishing regulations are available in a current Arkansas Fishing Guidebook.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Signed a memorandum of agreement with the Arkansas Department of Transportation to bring 640 acres of ARDOT wetland mitigation property into the AGFC’s system of wildlife management areas to open access to public hunting.
  • Accepted a land donation of 7 acres of waterfront property upstream from Rim Shoals from Hugh McClain of Mountain Home.
  • Approved the purchase of 0.68 acres near Winkley Shoals on the Little Red River for a future public fishing access.
  • Approved the removal of outdated and obsolete inventory with an original cost of $575,940 and a current net book value of $52,966.
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Turkey hunting      LITTLE ROCK – Turkey season may open at the beginning of April, but now is the time to begin your planning for a successful season. One of the best ways to be successful on public land is to apply for one of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s wildlife management area turkey hunt permits beginning Jan. 15. Applications are available through the AGFC’s online licensing system at https://ar-web.s3licensing.com.

Many good public turkey hunting opportunities exist, particularly on the large cooperative WMAs owned by the U.S. Forest Service. However, turkeys and turkey hunters need room to spread out, which can lead to conflicts between hunters on some smaller WMAs. To increase the quality of the hunt on some of the most popular public areas, the AGFC restricts the number of hunters allowed during turkey season through random drawings.

Only permit holders may hunt on the WMA during the permit hunt. However, a permit holder can have a friend alongside them to call for them to help them harvest a bird. Friends and family may camp with permit holders at designated campsites on the WMA.

“Spring is a great time to be out in the woods with family and friends, and we want to help keep that tradition going, even if only one person is hunting,” said Jason Honey, Turkey Program coordinator for the AGFC.

Applications are taken electronically through http://www.agfc.com, from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15, and winning applicants will be notified via email.

Applications require a $5 nonrefundable processing fee, but winning applicants are not required to pay any additional fees other than the purchase of their hunting license.

“The new system was put in place last year, and really streamlined the application and draw process,” said Brad Carner, chief of wildlife management for the AGFC. “Each year, many permits were left unclaimed because people applied who did not go through with purchasing the permit. With the up-front fee, only people who are serious about claiming and using a permit are likely to apply.”

Carner says the new system saw a decrease in the number of applicants to the AGFC’s permit draws for all species which was expected, but harvest numbers and participation in the hunts remained high.

“We received some reports from our staff of noticeable increases in participation for some hunts,” Carner said. “And with the streamlining of the process, unclaimed permits were minimal when it came time to sell them, which resulted in much less confusion.”

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The AGFC youth camp at Lake Sylvia was an ideal setting for young hunters and their parents to learn the ropes of turkey hunting.

The AGFC youth camp at Lake Sylvia was an ideal setting for young hunters and their parents to learn the ropes of turkey hunting.

Seven lucky youth hunters were selected to participate in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Youth Turkey Camp April 15-16 at Lake Sylvia in Perry County.

The camp, now in its fourth year, was created to help introduce those youths with no outdoor mentor to the sport of turkey hunting.

AGFC Regional Education Coordinator Jason Hooks said many of the traditions historically handed down from parent-to-child or grandparent-to-child have been lost as people’s attentions has been devoted to other pursuits in urban settings.

“So many of these kids and even their parents have never been introduced to turkey hunting,” said Hooks. “Some have never been camping or stayed in a tent before. Hopefully this sparks their interest.”

Cade Johnson of Cabot harvested a nice 20year-old gobbler during teh 2016 youth turkey camp at Lake Sylvia.

Cade Johnson of Cabot harvested a nice 2-year-old gobbler during the 2016 youth turkey camp at Lake Sylvia.

Participants are required to complete Hunter Education before attending camp. A parent also is required to attend the camp with the youth hunter. Hunters must be 12 to 15 years old to participate.

“Kids can start hunting turkeys and other big game in Arkansas at age 6, and most kids whose parents are already turkey hunters likely will take them before they’re 12,” said Hooks. “But this camp is for those youths and parents who don’t know how or where to get started.”

Participants meet for dinner Friday afternoon before opening day of the youth hunt. They learn about turkey identification, different types of turkey calls and hunting techniques. They also learn about turkey biology, gun safety and other aspects of the hunt few people think about unless they’ve been taught by a mentor. The evening wraps up with dinner and hunting tales around a campfire.

“We’ll get up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. the next morning to put that knowledge to use and hunt some birds,” Hooks said.

AGFC staff and hunter education instructors volunteer to take the young hunters and a parent out to the woods for a hunt.

This year’s lucky hunter was Cade Johnson from Cabot. Johnson, who participates in the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, was able to take a 2-year-old gobbler the morning of the hunt.

Hooks says the event would not be possible without the help of many men and women who are concerned with the future of turkey hunting in Arkansas.

“Many of the volunteers are members of the National Wild Turkey Federation, which also helps sponsor the hunt,” Hooks said. “We also get help from Bass Pro Shops, Quaker Boy Game Calls, Lynch Traditions Turkey Calls Jim Pollard Elite Calls and Natural Gear Camouflage.”

Contact Jason Hooks at 501-251-7839 or email Jason.Hooks@agfc.ar.gov for more information about the AGFC Youth Turkey Camp at Lake Sylvia.

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Click here to learn about WMA turkey hunts and how to purchase an unclaimed permit.

Click here to learn about WMA turkey hunts and how to purchase an unclaimed permit.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be offering all unclaimed wildlife management area turkey hunt permits through an online sale at http://www.agfc.com, beginning at 8 a.m., Feb. 16.
Each year, the AGFC conducts a lottery for special permit turkey hunts to increase the quality of the hunting experience on many popular wildlife management areas. Any hunter may apply, free of charge, from Dec. 15-Jan. 15, for a chance at one of these permits. Once drawn, hunters have a few weeks to pay a $10 processing fee to claim their permit.

“The processing fee helps offset the cost of using an unbiased third-party vendor for the draws,” said Brad Carner, chief of the AGFC’s Wildlife Management Division. “It also helps to make sure the person that gets the permit is serious enough about drawing it to invest a little money into the hunt.”

Unclaimed turkey permits are available for modern gun season as well as youth hunts.

Unclaimed turkey permits are available for modern gun season as well as youth hunts.

All permits are drawn for, but each year, a few will remain unclaimed by the deadline. The AGFC sells these permits on a first-come, first-served basis through its online license-purchasing site to give other hunters another chance at a hunt they were after.

“The online sale usually is over in a matter of minutes, and the most popular WMAs will be spoken for within seconds of the launch,” Carner said. “The website will have a banner on the front page to click, and you need to click it at 8 a.m. sharp if you want a chance at one of these unclaimed permits.”

More information on special WMA permit hunts.

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Many WMA's have different season dates than their surrounding zones. Click here to look at the available hunts and dates.

Many WMA’s have different season dates than their surrounding zones. Click here to look at the available hunts and dates.

The 2016 Arkansas turkey season begins April 16, but right now is the time to apply for a permit to hunt the best public land in the state. The deadline to apply for turkey hunting permits on many Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management areas is 11:59 p.m., January 15.
Many public hunting areas hold enough opportunities for any hunter willing to put in the miles, but some locations are too small or too popular to handle the hunting pressure. These WMAs are reserved for those who draw a permit through a random lottery-style drawing each January. Applying for a permit is free, but hunters lucky enough to draw their desired location must pay a $10 processing fee by February 2 to claim their permit. All unclaimed permits will be available at http://www.agfc.com on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m., February 16. Visit http://www.agfc.com/licenses/Pages/PermitsSpecialWMA.aspx for more information and to apply.

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Apply now for a turkey permit hunt.

Apply now for a turkey permit hunt.

Hunters may now apply for limited permits on several Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife management areas for the 2016 turkey season.

Many WMAs offer special permit youth hunts as well as standard permit hunts. Click here for a list of available permits.

Many WMAs offer special permit youth hunts as well as standard permit hunts. Click here for a list of available permits.

April may seem like an eternity for dyed-in-the-wool turkey hunters, but now is the time to start the process of bagging your bird on public land.

Jason Honey, turkey program coordinator for the AGFC, says access to many popular wildlife management areas must be restricted using a permit draw to prevent overcrowding.

Applications will only be processed from Dec. 15, 2015 until Jan. 15, 2016. Applicants will be notified of their application status in late February. Permit winners must pay a processing fee of $10.

Click here to apply

Many WMA's have different season dates than their surrounding zones. Click here to look at the available hunts and dates.

Many WMA’s have different season dates than their surrounding zones. Click here to look at the available hunts and dates.

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