Deer Hunting in Arkansas

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  • B
  • 1,000,000

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 350,000

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $10.50

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $55 - $350

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • 200 1/8"

    Taken by William L. Loyd in Lee County in 2018 and ranks 17th overall.

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • 170

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 238 3/8"

    Taken by William Dooley in Prairie County in 1999.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 85

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Check out the palmation on this Arkansas buck. (Photo courtesy of Clay Toms)

Season Dates (2021):

Arkansas has 20 deer hunting zones, and the season dates and bag limits vary greatly in each one. Some zones won't open as shown below. That said, for most hunters, the statewide opening dates are as follows: Archery season opens September 25. Muzzleloader season opens October 16. Modern firearm season opens November 13. Check the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission website for specific dates and bag limits for each zone.

The Grade: B

The Arkansas wildlife managers do it right in The Natural State. Diversity is key when it comes to deer management. Officials try to provide both quantity and quality. There are opportunities for those who are more concerned with filling a tag than putting a rack on the wall. They also manage specific sections and properties for better quality animals.

Plus, license fees are reasonable, and the trophy potential is above average. Harvest data shows the age structure is improving due to great management for older age-class animals.

"We saw a record harvest for the 2020-21 deer season of 216,835," said Ralph Meeker, deer program coordinator with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. "We suspect that harvest will drop back down closer to 200,000."

It isn’t all good, though. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been discovered in numerous counties in the northwestern region of the state. And once you get it, there is no getting rid of it. That lowers the grade to a B. 

Antler Nation Knowledge:

Want to kill a big Natural State buck? According to trophy records, the best counties to do that include Arkansas, Chicot, Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Lee, Mississippi, Phillips, Prairie, Sharp, and White.

In the Delta region in general, the genetics, habitat, and soil are better. Still, there are other areas of the state managed with antler point restrictions, spread restrictions or main beam restrictions to help grow older bucks.

This state has a great volume of public hunting access. It offers nearly 6.5 million acres available. There are more than 150 WMAs, plus national wildlife refuges, national forests and a variety of other programs. There are even 16 public lands with specific antler restrictions aimed at growing better bucks. These are known as “The Sweet 16.” And some cities even participate in the Urban Deer Hunt Program. Consider some of these.

“Because of our management approach, our public lands provide a wide array of hunting opportunities,” Meeker said. “Some areas manage for a larger percentage of older ages of bucks and very balanced buck-to-doe ratios, while some simply provide for maximum harvest opportunity. Since implementing the 3-point Rule in 1998, Arkansas consistently ranks in the top five in the nation with the percentage of bucks 3 ½ years and older harvested.”

 



Arkansas Harvests

  • Lawson Thomas

    Cross County, Arkansas

  • Gunner Jacobs

    St Francis County , Arkansas

From the Realtree Trophy Den