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Youth hunters harvested nearly 9,500 during the two-day 2016 youth hunt.

Youth hunters harvested nearly 9,500 during the two-day 2016 youth hunt.

Cooler temperatures and the first good signs of rutting activity beckoned well for the first youth hunt of the 2016-17 deer season last weekend, and Arkansas’s young guns did not disappoint. Hunters harvested 9,429 deer during the two-day season.
According to Cory Gray, deer program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the harvest is lower than last year’s 12,000-deer youth hunt, but is very similar to the 2014 season, in which youth hunters took just over 9,700 deer.
Since the development of internet and telephone checking, biologists and the public can see the harvest in real time by visiting https://www.ark.org/agfc/gamecheck/reports.php. According to checked numbers, Arkansas’s deer harvest is at about 51,000 deer statewide. Again, this is below last year’s harvest of 64,000, but on track with the year before, which had 53,000 deer checked by this point in the season.
The slow start to this season has had a few hunters concerned. But Gray says things should balance out as cooler weather sets in and more hunters enter the woods.

Cooler weather had deer moving for the morning of the hunt.

Cooler weather had deer moving for the morning of the hunt.

“We often see hunting seasons start off slowly, but quickly catch-up as the season progresses,” Gray said. “The opening weekend of modern gun season and the week of Thanksgiving will be crucial periods for state harvest.”
The AGFC will be continuing to monitor for the spread of chronic wasting disease during opening weekend of modern gun season by manning 25 biological sampling sites within 10 counties in northern Arkansas. Biologists ask all hunters who wish to voluntarily submit their deer for sampling on Nov. 12-13 to bring any checked deer from Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy and Yell counties to one of the following sites:

Boone County

  • Alpena Community Building, 107 Highway 62 E., Alpena
  • Anderson’s Propane, 8563 Highway 7 N., Harrison
  • Anderson’s Store, 12181 Highway 62 E., Harrison

Carroll County

  • Carroll County Fairgrounds, 104 County Road 401, Berryville

Johnson County

  • Haggarville Grocery, 11925 SR 123, Lamar
  • McCormick’s One Stop, 7823 Highway 103, Clarksville
  • Oark General Store and Café, 10360 County Road 5440, Oark

Logan County

  • New Blaine Fire Dept., 9 Highway 197 Loop, New Blaine

Madison County

  • Combs Store and Café, 10342 Highway 16, Combs
  • McIlroy Madison County WMA headquarters, Highway 23

Marion County

  • Pyatt, Crooked Creek Access, Highway 62 W., Pyatt
  • Yellville City Park, Highway 14, Yellville

Newton County

  • Arkansas Forestry Commission Office, Route 1, Box 275, Western Grove
  • National Park Service Maintenance Shop, HCR 73 Box 176B, Marble Falls
  • Ponca Elk Education Center, Highway 43, Ponca
  • USFS Office, 18360 Highway 16 W., Deer

Pope County

  • Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Storage Facility, Sand Gap (1 mile south of Highway 7/16/123 intersection)
  • City of London Maintenance Shop, 3731 SR 333, London
  • Downtown Mini-Mart, 102 W. Main St. (Highway 64/105 intersection), Atkins
  • Fountain’s Grocery, 36386 Highway 27, Tilly
  • USFS Big Piney Ranger District Office, 12000 SR 27, Hector

Searcy County

  • Arkansas Forestry Commission, 602 Highway 65 N., Marshall
  • Misty’s Conoco, 6542 Highway 65 N., Leslie

Yell County

  • Ouachita Livestock Market, 12115 N. State Highway 7, Danville
  • Yell County Wildlife Federation, 10035 Wildlife Lane, Dardanelle

Hunters outside of these 10 counties may contact a veterinarian from the list provided at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/Documents/CWD/CWDVets.pdf if they wish to learn the CWD-status of deer they have harvested. However, the hunter will be responsible for the cost of these tests outside of the 10-county CWD Management Zone.

Hunters must be 6 years old to legally tag and check deer in Arkansas.

Hunters must be 6 years old to legally tag and check deer in Arkansas.

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Chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease found in deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family, was confirmed in a sample from Arkansas Feb. 23. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is ramping up awareness for the disease and its response to the finding through public meetings, press releases and many other avenues of communication. Visit to learn more about the disease in Arkansas.

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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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Flood-prone regions have preset criteria to close deer season during high-water events. AGFC photo.

High water on the White, Cache, St. Francis and Black rivers has forced the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to temporarily close deer season in portions of eastern Arkansas.

According to Cory Gray, deer program coordinator for the AGFC, many areas susceptible to wide-scale flooding offer excellent habitat and large deer populations. When water forces them to leave their normal range, they can become concentrated and vulnerable to overharvest.

“The primary intent of closing flood prone regions is to protect those deer displaced by floods,” said Gray. “These closed zones not only include land that is flooded, but also high ground that serves as sanctuaries from the rising water.”

Flood-prone regions not only include public hunting land, but also private land within those zones. The closure only applies to deer hunting.

“The AGFC conducted a statistically valid hunter survey in 2014 to gauge people’s opinions on flood-prone regions,” said Gray. “It showed 79 percent of hunters who hunted in these regions were in favor of flood-prone zone management.”

A description of all flood-prone regions and criteria for closures are available on pages 56-57 of the 2015-16 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook. Visit http://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.

 

Check the current list of flood-prone regions and closings

Deer concentrate on high ground during floods, making them susceptible to overharvest and poaching.

Deer concentrate on high ground during floods, making them susceptible to overharvest and poaching.

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Leftover WMA permits for sale online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Leftover WMA permits for sale online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Unclaimed WMA deer permits will be sold online beginning 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Each year, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission holds a drawing for the opportunity to hunt certain wildlife management areas to prevent overcrowding and manage the harvest on popular public hunting areas. Applications for the 2015-16 season were were accepted in June and winners are drawn and notified in mid-July. Once drawn, successful applicants had 4 weeks to pay a $10 processing fee for their permit. Then, all unsuccessful applicants were put back into a pool to redraw for unclaimed permits. Hunters who were successful during the second draw were given two weeks to pay $10 for their second-chance permits.

Even with two drawings, there are still a few unclaimed permits available for hunters who were not successful in either drawing and those who failed to apply in time. The AGFC will offer these unclaimed permits on a first-come, first-served basis though an online sale. Each permit costs $10 (the same cost as the original processing fee). There is no limit to the number of extra permits a person may purchase, but permits may only be purchased one-at-a-time. Purchases may only be completed using a credit card. Permits for the 2015-16 deer season will be available online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8, 2015.

Click here for a list of available permits

Click here to purchase a permit beginning 8 a.m., Sept. 8

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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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Urban Deer Hunt regulations now may be different from city-to-city. Check with the hunt coordinator for each hunt's details.

Urban Deer Hunt regulations now may be different from city-to-city. Check with the hunt coordinator for each hunt’s details.

Important changes have been made to the urban deer hunt program this year. For the last few years, hunters who qualified under a standardized set of program guidelines were allowed to hunt in all participating cities. However, each city is now allowed to amend certain rules to the hunts to increase safety and effectiveness of this method of deer population control near urban settings.

Ralph Meeker, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s assistant deer program coordinator, said, “We felt that each city should have some flexibility with regards to implementing a safe deer hunt within their boundaries. Some rules will remain the same; however, rules that pertain to the use of crossbows, hunting stand requirements, season length and the minimum age of its participants will be left up to the city.”

The hunt coordinators for each city also have changed:

  • Hunters wishing to participate in the Bull Shoals or Lakeview hunts should contact the Bull Shoals Urban Bowhunters Association’s President Bill Craker at bsurbanbowhunt@yahoo.com.
  • Hunters wishing to participate in the Cherokee Village, Russellville, Fairfield Bay, Horseshoe Bend, Heber Springs or Hot Springs Village hunt should visit the Arkansas Bowhunters Association website at http://www.arkansasbowhunters.org/UrbanHunt in order to register online or contact the ABA’s urban deer hunt coordinator J.D. Crawford at jd@arkansasbowhunters.org.

The perks to participating in these urban deer hunts haven’t changed. There is no bag limit or antler restriction. Deer harvested in urban deer hunts are considered bonus deer and do not count toward the hunter’s seasonal bag limit. All deer harvested must still be checked to the appropriate urban deer zone either online at http://www.agfc.com, by telephone at 866-305-0808, or by using the AGFC smart phone app.

Meeker explained that the overall goal of the Urban Deer Hunt Program is to safely reduce deer-human conflicts within cities. “By providing some management flexibility for the cities and a liberalized set of harvest guidelines, we hope to be able to accomplish that. We will leave it up to the cities to ensure that the best and most ethical hunters are utilized,” he said.

To do so, all cities conducting an urban hunt will still require the hunter to pass a shooting proficiency test, participate in a pre-hunt orientation and have passed the International Bowhunters Education Program course. Hunters interested in participating in the 2015 urban deer hunts should contact the appropriate urban hunt coordinator listed above in order to get the date, time, and location of those tests and orientations.

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