Deer hunters using modern guns have one more chance to collect on their scouting time and tag a trophy. The statewide modern gun Holiday Deer Hunt is Wednesday through Friday.
As Arkansas’s deer population has grown, the holiday hunt was added to help manage the deer herd and offer hunters another reason to get together during the holidays for some fellowship and fun.
Deer program coordinator Ralph Meeker says many of the deer processors he has talked to have been very busy, and many deer are being taken throughout the state. He expects that trend to remain strong during the upcoming hunt.
“Hunters typically harvest around 10,000 deer during those three days,” Meeker said. “Many of the hunters who have been chasing bucks during the rut will switch their attention and take a doe or two, which helps us from a herd management perspective.”
The large number of does that is typically taken during the holiday deer hunt helps balance the buck-to-doe ratio in the state, which helps maintain a healthy deer herd.
Aside from the opportunity to fill a freezer with venison, the hunt has become a tradition in many homes as one last celebration of the outdoors.
“It’s a great way for everyone to spend time together at deer camp,” Meeker said. “A lot of extended family is visiting during this time and many people who hunted together growing up take advantage of getting back out to enjoy the outdoors. The weather also is much more indicative of what people envision when they are thinking about great times deer hunting, so it really is a great opportunity for hunters.”
The holiday hunt is structured identically to the regular modern gun hunts with the exception that no dogs are allowed anywhere in the state. All deer taken during the hunt count toward a hunter’s seasonal bag limit for the zone where they are hunting. Some wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges are closed to modern gun hunting during the hunt, but many will be open.
“The areas that are closed are typically permit-only hunts where we manage the harvest a little closer because of the popularity of the area or its propensity to become crowded and impact the quality of the hunt,” Meeker said.
Also ahead is the second Youth Hunt, January 3-4. This is also statewide with no dogs allowed.
Hunters under 16 years old can go after deer with modern guns, muzzleloaders or archery gear. If youths have hunter education certificates, they may hunt on their own. If they do not have hunter education certificates, they must be accompanied by a person 21 or older. The adult mentor cannot carry a firearm.