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Deer numbers up for state


LITTLE RAGFC LogoOCK – Deer in Arkansas are on the increase in terms of numbers and hunter success, according to a national survey by Quality Deer Management Association.
Arkansas is moving up in comparison to other states, the survey also shows.
A significant shift in Arkansas deer hunting has been the achievement of a virtual 50-50 ratio between bucks and does checked by hunters. This has put the state among the top states in the nation in this regard.
The amount of antlerless deer, does and button bucks, killed in Arkansas rose during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 hunting seasons in contrast to a slight decline nationwide. In the 2013-14 season, state hunters checked 122,067 antlerless deer.
This was tops in the nation in percentage of increase over the last decade. Arkansas hunters checked 187 percent more antlerless deer than 10 years previously. The Arkansas increase was far ahead of any other state. Rhode Island was second with a 96 percent increase in antlerless harvest.
Arkansas ranks third in the nation in age of antlerless deer checked by hunters, according to the QDMA survey. In the 2013-2014 season, 48 percent of Arkansas’s antlerless deer harvested were 3 1/2 years or older, showing an overall trend toward more mature deer. Only Oklahoma and Texas ranked higher in age of antlerless deer.
Arkansas was second in the nation in age of bucks checked by hunters in 2013-14. Bucks 3 1/2 years or older accounted for 67 percent of the buck harvest. Only Louisiana was ahead of Arkansas in this statistic.
“Let the deer get some age on them” has been an objective of the Arkansas Game and Fish commission and many deer clubs and hunters since 1998. Since then, male deer had to have at least three points on one side of their antlers before being legal to take, and the age structure of the entire harvest began to shift.
Arkansas deer hunters continue to take nearly three-quarters of their deer with modern firearms – rifles and shotguns. These amounted to 74 percent of checked deer. Muzzleloaders took 14 percent of Arkansas deer, and archery (including crossbows) took 9 percent. “Other” or unknown methods accounted for 3 percent.
QDMA asked Arkansas to rank the impacts of disease, predation, bad legislation, high deer density, low deer density, too few deer-focused staff members and poaching on its management efforts. Disease, high deer density and too few deer-focused staff members were listed as problems in the state.
“Bad legislation” is not a problem since deer regulations are not under the authority of the state legislature as they are in most other states.
Poaching, meaning illegal hunting, was listed as a moderate problem in Arkansas. Predation and low density in some areas were listed as minor problems.
Arkansas ranks near the middle of states on the issue of minimum fines for poaching. The minimum in Arkansas ranges from $300 to $600, but jail time and restitution are not penalties as they are in a few other states.

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