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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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Spinning-wing decoys have been a hot topic on Arkansas Wildlife Management Areas in recent discussions.

Spinning-wing decoys have been a hot topic on Arkansas Wildlife Management Areas in recent discussions.

The duck hunters’ debate over spinning-wing decoys goes on.

A recent survey by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission attempted to provide a clear picture of the controversial issue. The result was a nearly even division between yes, maybe and no. There was nothing close to a consensus on the use of spinning-wing decoys.

The survey was intentionally aimed at hunters who had obtained Sweet 16 Wildlife Management Area permits for the 2014-15 season. These permits are required on 16 WMAs in an effort to determine hunter use of the areas.

In the survey, 1,774 hunted waterfowl on an Arkansas WMA during the 2014-15 season. Of that number 1,283 (72.3%) were Arkansas residents.

Among Arkansas residents who responded, 631 said spinning wing decoys should not be banned on WMAs, 144 had no opinion, 489 said they should be banned.

Question: In your experience, do spinning-wing decoys affect your hunt satisfaction while hunting on WMAs? Answer: Positive effect, 545. Negative effect, 536. Also, 363 hunters said the spinning-wing decoys had no effect, and 312 had no opinion.

But only half of the surveyed hunters replied to the waterfowl hunting questions. Presumably, the others did not hunt ducks or geese last season.

A decade ago, the AGFC outlawed the use of spinning-wing decoys after multiple requests by hunters, the first Mississippi Flyway state to do so. But other states did not follow Arkansas’s lead, and the ban was dropped.

But most hunters acknowledged they had used spinning-wing decoys. Question: Did you use a spinning-wing decoy while hunting on these WMAs during the 2014-15 season?
Answer: Always, 290 hunters, sometimes, 1,090 hunters and never, 373 hunters.

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Check your WMA deer hunt permit status and pay for your permit by July 20.

Check your WMA deer hunt permit status and pay for your permit by August 6.

 

ALERT: First WMA Deer Hunt Draw Complete

The first drawing for the AGFC’s WMA deer hunts has been completed. Email notifications were sent out to all successful applicants on July 7. Successful applicants have until 11:59 p.m. August 6 to pay for their permits. All unclaimed permits will be forfeited and will be used for a second drawing for all applicants who were unsuccessful during the first draw. The second drawing will take place August 13. To check your permit status and pay for permits, visit the link below:

Check Status and Pay for WMA Deer Hunt Permit

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Click to apply for Arkansas WMA Turkey Hunting Permit.

The first drawing of WMA turkey hunting permits is complete. Click here to check your status and pay by Feb. 9.

The first WMA turkey hunt permit draw is complete. Applicants can visit https://www.ark.org/agfc/permitting/status.php to check their draw status and pay for permits.

Anglers who drew have until February 9 to pay the $10 processing fee to obtain their permit. After that, all unclaimed permits will be placed back in the pool, and a second drawing will be held for those applicants who did not draw during the first round. Unclaimed permits from that round of drawings will be placed in a first-come, first-served online sale March 23.

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Apply for an elk hunt permit May 1.

Application period for the 2014 Arkansas Public Land Elk Hunt is May 1-June 1. Click here to apply.

Application period for the 2014 Arkansas Public Land Elk Hunt is May 1-June 1. Click here to apply.

 

If you want to have a chance to bag Arkansas’s largest game animal, then mark May 1 on your calendar. That’s the day the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission open’s up its public elk permit process.

Applications are free, but all applicants 16 or older must have a current Arkansas sportsman hunting license or an Arkansas lifetime hunting license. Applicants also must be at least 6 years old to hunt big game in the state – elk, deer, bear and turkey.

All applications must be made online on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s website.
Three permits will be issued to Arkansas residents who complete applications during the Buffalo River Elk Festival at Jasper in late June. For these, the winners must be present.

For more information and to apply, visit  http://www.agfc.com/licenses/Pages/PermitsSpecialElk.aspx

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AGFC begins potential land purchase process

LITTLE ROCK – During the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s February meeting, Commissioners approved the first step in the potential development of an education and recreation area near Jasper. Commissioners approved a budget increase of $10,000 for the real estate appraisal and other real estate costs involving the 42-acre site.
The AGFC will apply for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to help pay for the potential purchase of the land. The land was appraised for $277,000 in September 2007. The land is located on Arkansas Highway 7 north of Jasper.

The potential new facility would feature a diverse ecosystem of the area’s unique geography. Plans would include a paved trail, pavilion, fishing piers, wildlife observation blinds, canoe launch areas and other amenities.

During the Commission’s committee meeting reports, the Commission discussed the results of the 2013 AGFC employee morale survey performed by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Va. The survey included specific questions from the 2012 survey so that a direct assessment of trends in employee attitudes could be made. More than 400 employees provided feedback for the project.

Among the significant findings in the survey were:

  • 85% of employees either strongly agree or moderately agree that the overall direction of the agency is benefitting fish and wildlife resources in the state. This rating was 56% in 2012.
  • The percentage of overall satisfaction (very satisfied and somewhat satisfied responses combined) for “morale within the agency” climbed from 15% to 68%.
  • Since 2012, employees are less likely to think that personal and political interests influence the direction of the agency, and are more likely to think that scientific data and field information influence the direction of the agency.
  • The percentage of respondents who rated the agency’s job performance as “excellent” went from 17% in 2012 to 33% in 2013.

AGFC Director Mike Knoedl said that the results were very good, but the agency still has unfinished business. “I have no doubt that 2014 will be a particularly busy year, and we still have an enormous amount of work to do. The Commission hired me to improve the morale of this agency and that is what I am duty bound to do. I want you to know that I never forget what a great honor it is to work for you and to be given this responsibility and I sincerely appreciate the diligent work each of you do every day,” Knoedl said.

Click here for Responsive Management’s news article on the survey: http://www.responsivemanagement.com/.

In other Commission business:

  • Myron Means, AGFC bear program coordinator, gave the Commission an overview of the 2013 bear harvest. During the 2013 bear hunting season, 184 males and 104 females were harvested. Archery hunters harvested 134 of that total, and 192 bears were taken on private land. Madison, Pope and Johnson counties lead the state in number of bears harvested. Means also pointed out that nuisance bear calls answered by the AGFC totaled 64 in 2013. The number of calls spiked at 314 in 2007.
  • Discussed a presentation from AGFC Elk Program Coordinator Wes Wright on the 2013 elk harvest. Wright told the commission that 18 elk were harvested on public land and 22 elk were harvested on private land. The harvest was down from a year ago when a record 44 elk were harvested during the 2012 hunting seasons.
  • The Commission also approved purchase of 98 vehicles at a cost of $2.4 million to replace aging vehicles in the fleet.
  • Approved the second $300,000 payment, of a total $800,000 grant, to The Nature Conservancy for the Cache River Restoration Project. The project is aimed at restoring a portion of the lower Cache in Monroe County to its natural channel.
  • Approved a budget increase of $300,000 to renovate the Central Office in Little Rock.
  • Approved a funding agreement for a new shooting sports facility with the City of Warren. The AGFC agrees to provide just over $312,000 for the construction of the facility.
  • Approved a budget increase of $433,500 from wildlife restoration federal grant funds and a budget transfer of $144,500 from state funds to purchase equipment for Frog Bayou and Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMAs, complete green-tree reservoir assessments on various wildlife management areas and construct a work center on Gene Rush WMA.
  • Honored three wildlife officers for their completion of continuing education at the Criminal Justice Institute. The three officers were James Montgomery, Frank Sigman and William Start.
  • Honored Kirsten Bartlow, of the AGFC Communications Division, for being named the 2013 Arkansas Trails Council Professional of the Year. Bartlow works with various local governments and agencies on construction of wildlife viewing and water trails.

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Don't have enough land to improve your local deer herd? Talk to neighbors and form a cooperative.

Don’t have enough land to improve your local deer herd? Talk to neighbors and form a cooperative.

Partnering to improve your deer herd

By Daniel Greenfield, AGFC Private Lands Biologist
Landowners or managers often encounter various limitations, such as the size of their property, limited resources or number of participants. Instead of trying to manage deer alone on a few acres, branch out to create a deer management cooperative.

Cooperatives can be composed of as little as 500 acres made up of a few landowners or consisting of several thousand acres with a larger group of landowners or members. Usually, larger cooperatives are more effective because of their ability to better manage deer over larger areas while sharing equipment, ideas and collecting needed data.

Many properties that are managed for deer are not large enough to cover the deer’s entire home range. A deer’s average home range covers around one square mile, so managing on less than 640 acres can be difficult. By working together, landowners with smaller acreage can control and manage the entire home range of a deer to see results in producing better quality deer.

Smaller property owners also may not have the equipment necessary to manage the habitat to improve it for wildlife, but they can share equipment, manpower and ideas to reach their management goals more successfully. Increasing the size of a property that is being managed for deer can also increase the amount of data being gathered such as observation data, antler measurements, weights and age structure. This data can then be interpreted by a biologist to form a management plan for the entire cooperative property.

The most enticing reason to partner with neighboring landowners is free management assistance from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The AGFC’s  Deer Management Assistance Program is a free program to assist deer clubs and landowners in managing their deer herd and habitat. But the minimum acreage to qualify for assistance is 500 acres in the Arkansas River Valley, Ozark, Ouachita and Crowley’s Ridge regions and 1,000 acres in the Gulf Coastal Plain and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. (The yearly deadline to enroll is July 1.)

Private Lands Biologists can conduct a site visit on your property, discuss your management goals, provide habitat recommendations and develop a custom plan to fit your deer management objectives. The PLB can educate members on how to collect deer data accurately. The data can then be used to manage the deer herd on a yearly basis. PLBs are very knowledgeable in all aspects of habitat management such as forest stand improvement, prescribed burning, food plots, native warm season grass habitat and other practices that benefit deer and a wide range of wildlife.

For more information on cooperatives and improving your land for wildlife, contact an AGFC Private Lands Biologist at: Fort Smith-877-478-1043, Harrison-870-741-8600-ext. 114, Hope-877-777-5580, Calico Rock-877-297-4331, Little Rock-877-470-3650, Brinkley-877-734-4581, Jonesboro-877-972-5438 and Monticello-877-367-3559.

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