The current deer hunting season in Arkansas is a dandy, the best in the state’s history, and it is still going on.
Hunters this season have checked more than 196,000 deer, passing the record of 194,687 set in 1999-00. Favorable weather conditions along with increased season limits are factors in the new deer record.
Archery season continues through Feb. 28, and the three-day Holiday Hunt is coming up Dec. 26-28. In some deer zones, there will be a muzzleloader hunt Dec. 28-31, and a Youth Hunt is Jan. 5-6.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists estimate that the state has a million or more deer, many times the estimated 5,000 in the entire state just before World War II. Hunting totals for seasons have steadily increased since then. When wildlife managers, both public and private, promoted some taking of doe deer along with bucks to keep the populations in balance, the season totals climbed sharply.
After the former record year of 1999-00, the second highest number of deer checked by hunters was last season, 2011-12, when 192,512 were recorded.
Management of Arkansas’s deer has evolved over the years. Decades ago, two six-day seasons were statewide with no taking of doe. Then deer zones were established, allowing rules to be adjusted according to the number of deer in a region. Today, zone limits for the season range from three to six, and the statewide limit is six. This means a hunter can be successful in more than one zone in order to reach that limit of six.
Hunter numbers in Arkansas has remained fairly constant in recent years. Estimates are that about 300,000 people go deer hunting – some for a day or two and others for the entire allotted seasons.