View Full Version : AR: Deer hunting could see drastic changes in Ark.

Bob S
02-23-2009, 08:39 PM
ARTICLE (http://www.thecabin.net/stories/022309/sty_0223090019.shtml)

Deer hunting in Arkansas will undergo a major overhaul next season if the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approves suggested changes by its wildlife management staff.

The proposals were given the commissioners Thursday by Doyle Shook, chief of wildlife management, at the AGFC's February meeting in Little Rock. The commissioners will vote on hunting seasons and negations for 2009-2010 at either their March or April meetings.

A snapshot of the proposed deer hunting changes:

Check stations would be eliminated, and a system of checking deer by telephone would be launched. The current practice of checking by Internet would be continued.

The 3-point rule for buck that has been in place since 1998 would be replaced by a 4-point rule, meaning a buck must have at least four pints on one side of its antlers to be taken legally by a hunter. In three zones, 16, 16A and 17, a buck with a main beam of at least 18 inches could be taken regardless of the number of antler points.

Deer zones would be revised with some boundary changes and with several new zones.
Zone quota doe permits would be eliminated. Two or more "doe days" would be designated for most deer zones for muzzle-loading and modern gun hunting.

Another youth deer hunt would be created, this one on Jan. 2-4. It would be for persons 15 and younger only and would not allow over-65 hunters who accompany a youth to take deer as is the case with the existing early November youth hunt.

The statewide season limit of four deer, two of which can be bucks, would continue, but in some deer-plentiful zones, a hunter could take up to four does.

A significant non-deer hunting change recommended is an increase from eight to 12 for the daily bag limit on squirrels, with a possession limit of 36.

Another suggestion is to move fall turkey hunting to a later date - from Oct. 10-16 to Oct. 26-Nov. 1.

The suggested elimination of check stations in favor of a new telephone checking system would apply to turkey hunting as well, Shook said.

Deer check stations have been a major segment of Arkansas deer hunting for decades. Numerous businesses, especially in rural areas, display the yellow and green Wildlife Check Station signs in front year-round. On opening day of modern gun deer season, people gather at some check stations "to see what comes in."

But the system is costly and inefficient in some aspects, Shook said.

"We have our people spending a lot of time going to check stations and picking up the check sheets. They do this five times during a season."

Shook said letters were sent to all 713 check stations about the proposed elimination and asking for comment. Ninety stations replied, he said, and only 13 of these said the elimination of deer checking would result in a loss of business.

The telephone checking system is now in use in Missouri, shook said. It uses a computer voice recognition operation. A hunter, within 24 hours of killing a deer, phones a toll-free number then replies to questions asked by the computerized operation - zone, name, license number, what kind of deer, what kind of weapon, number of antler points if it's a buck and other needed information.

If there is a problem with recording the hunter's answers or in clarity, the system automatically switches to a human operator, Shook said.

Organized clubs which participate in the AGFC's Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) will continue to do their own checking of deer, he said. Clubs not in the DMAP program would have individual members check deer by telephone. Deer would also be checked by AGFC employees who would carry check sheets.

In other matters, the commissioners approved creating an agreement with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to provide more inspectors for oil and gas drilling operations, with the AGFC contributing nearly $1 million from the money it received on gas leases on two wildlife management areas.

Purchase of a 40-acre in-holding on Shirey Bay-Rainey Brake Wildlife Management Area in Lawrence County was approved. Price is $105,000, which is the appraised value of the land owned by Clara Crews.