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AGFC nature centers are full of great gifts for outdoors enthusiasts.

AGFC nature centers are full of great gifts for outdoors enthusiasts.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all behind us, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity to grab some gifts for your holiday shopping. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has some of the best gifts for that hard-to-buy outdoors enthusiast on your list, and you’ll be contributing to the state’s wildlife resources at the same time.

Sounds like a deal

Every 3-year subscription to Arkansas Wildlife between now and January 1, 2017, will include a free wireless bluetooth speaker.

Every 3-year subscription to Arkansas Wildlife between now and January 1, 2017, will include a free wireless bluetooth speaker.

What’s even better than a year’s worth of award-winning stories and photography delivered to your door? How about three years’ of entertainment with an added special gift to boot? From now until Jan. 1, every three-year subscription to Arkansas Wildlife magazine will come with a free Bluetooth-enabled wireless speaker sporting the magazine’s title on one side and the AGFC logo on the other. The speaker hooks up wirelessly to any phone or tablet with Bluetooth capability to provide excellent sound-quality to your favorite music and includes a microphone to be able to talk back through it when taking a phone call. One surface of the speaker has a special coating that allows it to cling to glass and other smooth surfaces while playing to keep it out of harm’s way. Just purchase a three-year subscription or three-year gift subscription to Arkansas Wildlife magazine and we’ll ship the speaker to the subscriber’s address.

Click here to order gift certificates for the AGFC's Conservation License Plate.

Click here to order gift certificates for the AGFC’s Conservation License Plate.

Plate up some conservation

It doesn’t matter if your secret Santa is a birdwatcher, bowhunter or both, a gift certificate for an AGFC conservation license plate is the perfect gift to show their love of the outdoors. License plates featuring northern cardinals, black crappie, deer, squirrels and a host of other wildlife species are available at Department of Finance and Administration offices all over the state. Just visit http://www.agfc.com/aboutagfc/Pages/AboutConservationLicensePlates.aspx to purchase as many gift certificates as you need to outfit your friends and family with plates of their choosing. The certificate costs $35, $25 of which is placed into the AGFC Conservation Scholarship Fund to help Arkansas students become the next generation of biologists and conservationists.

Two books for $10

Buy the AGFC's 180-page photo history book and cookbook together for an incredible savings.

Buy the AGFC’s 180-page photo history book and cookbook together for an incredible savings.

While supplies last, the AGFC will be offering it’s 180-page hardcover photo history book, “A Century of Conservation,” and it’s Centennial Cookbook, “A Celebration of Conservation,” together for $10 at AGFC nature centers and the Little Rock Headquarters. You can also cash in on a great deal if you order online at http://www.agfc.com, to get both great books delivered to your door for $13. Act quickly and we’ll throw a 100-year Anniversary Baseball Hat in your order for free.

“A Century of Conservation” is the story of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s first 100 years. Read along and discover how the state went from scarcely more than a few hundred deer to a booming population approaching the million-deer mark, not to mention the comeback of Arkansas black bears, turkeys and elk. Stunning photographs and a few stories you probably haven’t heard make this journal a must-have for anyone interested in the outdoors, hunting, fishing or Arkansas history.

“A Celebration of Conservation” includes some of the AGFC employees’ favorite concoctions of everything from wild game to fancy desserts. Mouth-watering recipes will have your taste buds working overtime and make this cookbook a weekly go-to for your kitchen reading. Visit http://www.agfc.com/store/Pages/Merchandise.aspx to order both books.

Bring the outdoors inside

In addition to the gifts above, the AGFC’s four nature centers throughout the state each have a gift shop full of outdoors-oriented items for the nature lover and die-hard outdoorsperson on your list. Shirts, hats, coffee mugs and a variety of smaller gifts are available at reasonable prices in each center, as well as books and other educational material on the outdoors. While you’re there, take in some of the sights and sounds of the center and ask the staff about some of their excellent programs available to the public throughout the year for free. Everything from photography to nighttime “owl prowls” are possible. Click http://www.agfc.com/education/Pages/EducationNatureCenters.aspx to get started finding a nature center near you.

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The Christmas Holiday Hunt will be open Dec. 26-28 in most regions of the state.

The Christmas Holiday Hunt will be open Dec. 26-28 in most regions of the state.

For most deer hunters using modern guns, the annual bonus is coming up — the Christmas Holiday Hunt on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Dec. 26, 27 and 28. But hunters in flood prone zones should double-check their areas before heading to the woods.

Tap the image to get a current list of flood prone closings.

Tap the image to get a current list of flood prone closings.

According to preset criteria, a few flood prone regions remain closed to protect deer from overharvest. During a statewide hunter survey in 2014, 79 percent of hunters who hunted in flood prone regions were in favor of flood-prone zone management.

Descriptions of all flood-prone regions and criteria for closures are available on pages 56-57 of the 2015-16 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook. Visit www.agfc.com or call the AGFC’s Wildlife Information Hotline at 800-440-1477 for the status of all flood-prone regions, updated each day at 3.p.m.

The Christmas Holiday Hunt is structured identically to the regular modern gun hunts with the exception that no dogs are allowed anywhere in the state. The statewide bag limit of six deer, of which only two can be bucks, is in effect along with the limits for individual private land and public land zones.

The Christmas Holiday Hunt is the last chance for most hunters to bag a deer with their modern gun.

The Christmas Holiday Hunt is the last chance for most hunters to bag a deer with their modern gun.

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Old Christmas trees are ideal cover for many species of game fish.

Old Christmas trees are ideal cover for many species of game fish.

Once the wrapping paper has been thrown away and the last drop of egg nog has been consumed, few people have a use for that evergreen tree that graced their home during the holiday season. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a new job for those leftover trees – as fish habitat.

The AGFC has drop-off locations across the state to let your old Christmas tree have a second life as underwater cover.

Jason Olive, AGFC assistant chief of fisheries, says the small spaces and dense cover offered by fresh Christmas trees make excellent nursery habitat for small fish.

Christmas trees at AGFC drop-off locations are available for any angler to sink.

Christmas trees at AGFC drop-off locations are available for any angler to sink.

“In ponds where we’ve sunk Christmas trees, we’ve seen increased growth in smaller fish,” said Olive. “Young bass, crappie and bream and baitfish all benefit from the cover, and larger gamefish will be attracted to the smaller fish.”

Anglers are welcome to remove trees from drop-off locations to create their own fish attractors. Olive suggests using parachute cord and cinder blocks to weigh trees down.

“Sink groups of Christmas trees together,” said Olive. “Within two to three years, you won’t have much left except the trunks, but when we drained Lower White Oak Lake in Ouachita County recently, we saw several nice piles of Christmas tree trunks that were still good fish habitat after 12 years of being in the water.”

Trees should be clean of all ornaments, lights and tinsel before they are dropped off. Artificial Christmas trees should not be used as fish habitat, either.

Trees can be dropped off at any of the following locations until the end of January:

Central Arkansas

  • Arkansas River – Alltel Access beneath the I-30 Bridge.
  • Greers Ferry Lake – Sandy Beach (Heber Springs), Devils Fork Recreation Area and Choctaw Recreation Area (Choctaw-Clinton).
  • Lake Conway – Lawrence Landing Access.
  • Harris Brake Lake – Chittman Hill Access.
  • Lake Overcup – Lake Overcup Landing.
  • Lake Barnett – Reed Access.
  • Lake Hamilton – Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery Access Area.

Northeast Arkansas

  • Jonesboro – Craighead Forest Park Lake boat ramp.
  • Lake Dunn – Boat Ramp Access.
  • Lake Poinsett – Dam Access Boat Ramp.

Northwest Arkansas

  • Beaver Lake – Highway 12 Access and AGFC Don Roufa Hwy 412 Access.
  • Lake Elmdale – Boat Ramp Access.
  • Bob Kidd Lake – Boat Ramp Access.
  • Crystal Lake – Boat Ramp Access.

Southeast Arkansas

  • Lake Chicot – Connerly Bayou Access Area.
  • Cox Creek Lake – Cox Creek Lake Access Area.

Southwest Arkansas

  • Bois d’Arc Lake – Kidd’s Landing or Hatfield Access.
  • Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point.
  • Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area.
  • DeQueen Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp.
  • Gillham Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp.
  • Lake Greeson – New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek Recreation Areas.
  • Camden – AGFC Regional Office on Ben Lane.
  • Upper White Oak Lake – Upper Jack’s Landing.
  • Magnolia – Columbia County Road Department Yard on Highway 371.
  • El Dorado – City recycling center drop-offs: one behind Arby’s and one on South Jackson.
  • Smackover – Recycling Drop-Off Center (these will be transported to El Dorado).
  • South Fork Lake – South Fork Lake Access.
  • Terre Noire Lake – Terre Noire Lake Access.

 

Sink Christmas trees in bundles, so the pile of trunks can attract fish long after the branches have rotted away.

Sink Christmas trees in bundles, so the pile of trunks can attract fish long after the branches have rotted away.

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Old Christmas trees are ideal cover for many species of game fish.

Old Christmas trees are ideal cover for many species of game fish.

Cover is a key component to any hot angling prospect. Unfortunately, as lakes and rivers age, the woody cover once left under the water decays and washes away. Smart anglers know that a little work in the winter “freshening up ” their favorite honey hole can pay huge dividends throughout the year, but finding and cutting down the trees can be a bit of a chore.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has special “Christmas Tree Donation Centers” where people can drop off their tree. Instead of going to a landfill, these trees can be used by local anglers to add some cover to their favorite fishing holes. All you need is some rope and a weight to sink the tree and you have a nice mat of cover that will last for a year or two in your favorite fishing location.

Trees can be dropped off or picked up to be used at the following locations:

  • Lake Hamilton – Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery Access Area.
  • Cox Creek Lake – Cox Creek Lake Access Area.
  • Lake Chicot – Connerly Bayou Access Area.
  • Camden – AGFC Regional Office on Ben Lane.
  • Upper White Oak Lake – Upper Jack’s Landing.
  • Magnolia – Columbia County Road Department Yard on Highway 371.
  • El Dorado – City recycling center drop-offs: one behind Arby’s and one on South Jackson.
  • Smackover – Recycling Drop-Off Center (these will be transported to El Dorado).
  • Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point.
  • Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area.
  • DeQueen Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp.
  • Gillham Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp.
  • Lake Greeson – New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek Recreation Areas.
  • Arkansas River – Alltel Access beneath the I-30 Bridge.
  • Lake Pickthorne – Near the boat ramp.
  • Greers Ferry Lake – Sandy Beach (Heber Springs), Devils Fork Recreation Area and Choctaw Recreation Area (Choctaw-Clinton).
  • Lake Conway – Lawrence Landing Access.
  • Harris Brake Lake – Chittman Hill Access.
  • Lake Overcup – Lake Overcup Landing.
  • Lake Barnett – Reed Access.
  • Jonesboro – Craighead Forest Park Lake boat ramp.
  • Lake Elmdale – Boat Ramp Access.
  • Bob Kidd Lake – Boat Ramp Access.
  • Crystal Lake – Boat Ramp Access.
  • Lake Willastein – Maumelle near the boat ramp access.
  • Bois d’Arc Lake – Kidd’s Landing or Hatfield Access.
  • Grandview Lake #1 – Grandview Lake #1 Access.
  • Grandview Lake #2 – Grandview Lake #2 Access.
  • Lake Dunn – Boat Ramp Access.

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Archery deer season begins Sept. 15, 2012.

Archery deer season begins Sept. 15, 2012.

The upcoming deer hunting seasons for the state have been set by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The seasons were approved at today’s meeting of the Commission.

Season dates for the 2012-13 deer hunting season:

Archery – All zones: Sept. 15-Feb. 28, 2013.

Modern Gun – Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 10-Dec. 2. Zone 4: Nov. 10-11. Zone 5: Nov. 10-11 and Nov. 17-18. Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Nov. 10-Dec. 9. Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 10-18. Zones 9, 12 and 13: Nov. 10-Dec. 16. Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 10-Dec. 25.

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

The statewide Christmas holiday modern gun deer hunt is Dec. 26-28. Two special youth modern gun deer hunts will be held. The first is Nov. 3-4 and the second Jan. 5-6, 2013. A proposed antlerless only modern gun deer hunt would be held in zones 1, 1A, 2, 6, 6A, 8, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17 Oct. 13-17.

A proposal also was made to modify Flood Prone Zone F. The opening and closing of the zone has been based on the level of the White River at St. Charles and the Arkansas River at Lock and Dam 1. The change would be to eliminate the use of the St. Charles gauge and incorporate the Graham Burke Outlet gauge. The closing reading would be 150 msl and the opening reading would be 148 msl. The Lock and Dam 1 closing would remain at 145 msl and opening at 143 msl.

Deer season opening dates for the 2013 seasons were set as well. Archery will open on Sept. 28, 2013; muzzleloader season will open Oct. 19, 2013 and modern gun season will open Nov. 9, 2013.

To see a summary of the 2012-13 hunting regulations, go to: http://www.agfc.com/enforcement/Pages/EnforcementRegulations.aspx. In other business, the commission:

  • Approved a budget increase of just over $91,000 to purchase equipment for the agency’s enforcement vehicles. The equipment includes blue lights, sirens, mounting kits and computer mounting brackets.
  • Approved a budget increase of $304,000 for repairing the dam and spillway on Lake Elmdale in Washington County. The dam was damaged during a flood in the spring of 2011.
  • Approved two projects that will improve access roads on two fishing areas in the state. A project to gravel an access road and parking area was approved for $5,160 at the Mansfield City Lake access. The city will provide an in-kind contribution of $1,530 toward the $6,690 project. A second project will repair the access road leading to Davis Lake in Franklin County. Cost of the project will be $5,000. Both projects are funded by Marine Fuel Taxes.
  • Approved a contract with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to conduct a fish production study of all AGFC-owned hatcheries, net pens and nursery ponds. Cost of the study will be $60,000 and take about 15 months to complete.
  • Authorized the director to accept a donation of 1,500 acres of land called Buck Island in Phillips County. The island is located along the Mississippi River. The AGFC has a Conservation Easement on the land, but the American Land Conservancy, which owns the land, has now indicated they would like to donate full title to the agency. The acquisition of the property will be complete once an environmental assessment, along with other real estate and legal issues, are completed.
  • Approved the demolition of two dilapidated structures on AGFC lands. One structure is located on Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA and the other is located on Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain WMA.
  • Reviewed the deer harvest from the 2011-12 season. Hunters harvested total 192,748 deer during the season. The total was a four percent increase from the previous season’s harvest of 186,165. Buck harvest increased from 82,973 to 85,284 deer while the doe harvest increased from 88,341 to 93,838 deer.

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Old Christmas trees are ideal cover for many species of gamefish. AGFC photo.

Ask any Arkansas fisherman and you’ll get a multitude of answers about how they feel when it comes to underwater structure. Anglers may curse those logs and branches that snag their brand new lures, but they know that structure is key to a successful outing.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is asking that those leftover Christmas trees be used to help improve the state’s fisheries by dropping the trees off at several sites around the state. AGFC community fisheries biologist Clifton Jackson says that studies have shown that fish utilize underwater structure for cover. “These trees are some of the best natural forms of underwater structure. Crappie, bass, bluegills and other fish will often use the tress to hide in and around,” Jackson said.

The Christmas trees provide cheap, but quality underwater structures. They are easy to place in ponds and lakes, and they last for several years, Jackson said. “More importantly, their limbs offer something to fish of all shapes and sizes,” he explained. The Christmas tree drop-off is underway and will run through Jan. 23. Retail stores may also recycle any unsold trees at these locations.

Trees can be dropped off at the following locations:

  • Lake Hamilton – Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery Access Area
  • Lake Chicot – Connerly Bayou Access Area
  • Camden – AGFC Regional Office on Ben Lane, Bragg Lake and Upper Jack’s Landing on Upper White Oak Lake
  • Bragg Lake – Boat ramp
  • Upper White Oak Lake – Upper Jack’s Landing
  • Magnolia – Columbia County Road Dept Yard on Highway 371
  • El Dorado – City recycling center drop-offs: one behind Arby’s and one on South Jackson
  • Smackover – recycling drop-off center (these will be transported to El Dorado)
  • Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point
  • Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area
  • DeQueen Lake – Any Corps of Engineers boat ramp
  • Gillham Lake – Any Corps of Engineers boat ramp
  • Lake Greeson – New Cowhide Cove and Self Creek recreation areas
  • Arkansas River – Alltel Access underneath the I-30 Bridge
  • Lake Pickthorne – Near the boat ramp
  • Greers Ferry Lake – Sandy Beach (Heber Springs), Devils Fork Recreation Area and Choctaw Recreation Area (Choctaw-Clinton)
  • Dardanelle Lake – Dwight Mission Access, Highway 64/Piney Access, Cabin Creek Slough Access
  • Jack Nolen Lake – Largest access ramp on rip-rap near ramp
  • Sugar Loaf Lake – Sugar Loaf Access Area near ramps
  • Lake Conway – Lawrence Landing Access
  • Harris Brake Lake – Chittman Hill Access
  • Lake Overcup – Lake Overcup Landing
  • Lake Barnett – Reed Access
  • Jonesboro – Craighead Forest Park Lake boat ramp
  • Lake Elmdale – Boat Ramp Access
  • Bob Kidd Lake – Boat Ramp Access
  • Crystal Lake – Boat Ramp Access

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