Urban hunt

The application period for Arkansas’s special urban bowhunts for the 2021-22 deer hunting season is now open.

The hunts, which begin Sept. 1, offer Arkansas bowhunters an early opportunity to get into the woods. It’s also the most effective method available for wildlife managers to assist cities in maintaining white-tailed deer populations at levels which reduce conflicts with homeowners and drivers.

The following areas will have urban hunts for the 2020-21 season:

Bull Shoals

Cherokee Village

Fairfield Bay

Heber Springs

Helena/West Helena

Horseshoe Bend

Hot Springs Village

Lakeview

Russellville

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission coordinates with the Arkansas Bowhunters Association and the Bull Shoals and Lakeview Urban Bowhunters Association to administer the nine urban bowhunting opportunities in The Natural State.

Ralph Meeker, Deer Program Coordinator for the AGFC, said the partnership with the two bowhunting associations helps ensure participating hunters are proficient and guides hunters on how to be discreet and understand the nuances of hunting in an urban setting.

“All hunters must pass a proficiency test, pass the International Bowhunters Education Program (IBEP) course, and attend an orientation before receiving their urban hunt tags,” Meeker said. “The training is not difficult, but it does ensure that participants are capable of making ethical choices and a clean harvest.”

“The orientation teaches hunters about some of the ground rules to follow while hunting and some suggestions to prevent any conflicts with landowners who live nearby,” Meeker said. “Hunting is the most efficient means we have to control deer populations, and we want to make sure this tool is still available in the toolbox for years to come.”

In addition to reducing deer populations and offering hunters increased hunting opportunities, urban hunts also provide food for needy families in Arkansas. As a stipulation of the hunt, all hunters must donate their first adult deer harvested to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

“Some hunters will donate every deer they harvest, but we only require the first adult deer to be donated,” Meeker said.

Meeker and Assistant Deer Program Coordinator Jeremy Brown have worked with AHFH and schools throughout Arkansas to provide snack sticks made from donated deer meat to needy children throughout the state.

“Growing kids need protein, but it’s always in short supply at food banks,” Meeker said. “This program enables our hunters to use their skills to the best benefit of the community as well as the wildlife population.”

Deer harvested during urban hunts do not count toward a hunter’s seasonal limit. There are no limits to the number of deer that can be harvested in urban hunts and all antler restrictions are lifted. All deer harvested must still be checked to the appropriate urban deer zone.

Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/big-game/deer/special-hunt-permits/urban-archery-hunt for more information on urban deer hunts in Arkansas.

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