Arkansas Hunting at its Peak in Fall

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Duck hunting in Bayou Meet Wildlife Management Area
Duck hunting in Bayou Meet Wildlife Management Area

Hunting in Arkansas

Fall is one of the busiest seasons for camouflage-clad outdoors men and women hunting in Arkansas. The Natural State has opportunities for hunting small and large game in diverse habitats that include the delta in eastern Arkansas and the Ozarks and Ouachita mountains in northern and western Arkansas.

The hunting season kicks off with dove season, followed by archery deer season and then muzzleloading. Most popular is modern gun season on deer, which starts in November. Duck season starts right after that and it’s pretty much full bore hunting season until February. 

Arkansas also has an elk season, alligator hunting season, and bear season. It used to be called the Bear State.

The variety of hunting is what differentiates Arkansas from other states. Some areas of the United State are known for a certain type of hunting. For example, the west is known for elk. The beauty of Arkansas is that it pretty much has it all, plus it's the duck capital of the world. 

While a handful of animals are open season all year long, most game is only available to hunt in very specific and regulated seasons. Some seasons even vary by zone, so hunters should always review regulations before planning their hunts.

Arkansas sells about 300,000 to 350,000 hunting licenses every year, which a vast majority of those deer hunting. Kids under 16 don't require a hunting license, so it could be closer to half a million people in the woods on opening day.

To help with safety, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission mandated many years ago the wearing of hunter orange. It also strongly encourages hunters to use a full body safety harness when hunting from a tree stand.

Hunters are required to tag a deer as soon as they kill it and then call in and check it. AGFC expects more than 215,000 deer will be checked in Arkansas this year.

The state is blessed with a good deer population, estimated at about one million. It has a very liberal bag limit. In some zones, six deer is the bag limit.

Hunters should pick up a regulation guidebook for details on general hunting rules, season dates and tag limits, licenses, and where to hunt. AGFC prints 500,000 booklets a year. They can be picked up where licenses are sold, at regional AGFC offices and nature centers, or get them online at www.agfc.com .

Arkansas has a lot of public hunting land, lots of national forest, wildlife management areas, and federal wildlife refuges that provide some very good hunting opportunities for people. 

A lot of hunting takes place on private land as well. Many people are members of deer camps. Some people hunt for their food. Probably for a majority it’s a strong tradition and they hunt for the fun and the camaraderie of the deer camp.

Hunting and fishing is big business in The Natural State. 

Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry

AGFC works closely with Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. After hunters have killed all the deer they want for their freezer they can donate the rest. Hunters take the donated deer to participating processors to be made into deer burger. The processors call local food pantries, which often have a difficult time obtaining meat or protein, to distribute the donated meat. The deer burger is provided at “no cost” to the agencies but money does have to be raised to pay for processing costs.

Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry is a highly successful program that has provided approximately 3 million served meals to the state’s most needy citizens. The success of the program depends upon the generosity of hunters to donate venison and other wild game, cooperation from meat processors throughout the state, support from local food distribution organizations, and the financial contributions of businesses and other citizens.

The organization needs to raise about $100,000 to fund the program annually. It encourages individuals, hunting clubs, businesses, churches and other groups to donate funds.

For more information, visit Arkansashunters.org.