What Hunting options the state of Arkansas has to Offer
The State of Arkansas is one of the most rural and hunter friendly states in the South. With only a few large metropolitan areas, most of the land in the state provides good habitat for game animals to thrive. Arkansas offers hunters long hunting seasons, liberal bag limits and access to over 120 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that provide public hunting access opportunities for a variety of game animals from doves to whitetail deer. In addition to state land, Arkansas also has a lot of National Forest land which is open to hunting. Whether a hunter lives in Arkansas or another state, Arkansas is an ideal hunting destination.
Arkansas’s Game and Fish Commission carefully manages game birds and game animals in the state to provide the best sustainable hunting opportunities possible. The state is divided into multiple zones that have separate seasons, bag limits and restrictions. Hunters need to know which zone they are hunting and make certain to observe the Arkansas hunting rules for that zone. One of the Game and Fish Commission’s most recent successes is the revival of the wild turkey populations in the state. Turkey populations in Arkansas have been growing in recent years due to efforts of the state’s Game and Fish Commission to reduce the number of young and immature gobblers or jakes, that are harvested each year. While turkey hunting can be productive throughout the state, the mountainous counties generally provide the best opportunity for wild turkey hunting success. Hunters can harvest two adult gobblers in Arkansas with proper licensing.The whitetail deer is the most popular big game animal in most of America, including Arkansas. From the state’s vast river bottoms and swamps to its dense Ozark Mountain forests, all of various types of topography in Arkansas can provide good deer hunting opportunities including most of the WMAs in the state. However, 16 of the WMAs are specifically managed to produce large bucks by restricting the size of the bucks that can be legally hunted. These 16 WMAs may provide some of the best opportunities to harvest a trophy whitetail deer on public land in the state. Arkansas provides hunting seasons for hunters using archery equipment, modern rifles and muzzleloading rifles. Hunters may use deer hunting dogs in some areas of the state during some seasons.
In decades past, there were not large populations of big game animals in Arkansas and many in the state relied on small game animals as a primary source of meat. For this reason, the state has a rich history of small game hunting. Today, the state provides large numbers of squirrel and rabbits with large daily bag limits of eight and twelve, respectively. Quail are also hunted throughout much of the state and hunters have a six bird daily limit.
In addition to common offerings such as whitetail deer, wild turkey and small game, Arkansas also offers hunting opportunities for some other species less commonly encountered in other states. Arkansas allows the hunting of Alligators in some areas of the state during two four day hunting seasons. Hunters have to enter into a drawing to be eligible to obtain an alligator permit. The state also offers hunters the chance to draw a permit to hunt elk. Some areas of the state have archery, rifle and muzzleloading bear hunting seasons, though only one bear is allowed per hunter. Baiting for bears is allowed on private property with some restrictions. Coyotes are becoming more common in the state and there are now open hunting seasons for coyote. As an invasive animal, wild boar can be hunted on private land and most WMAs with few restrictions.
Arkansas is home to an abundance of wetlands, including two National Wildlife Refuges, which draw migrating waterfowl to the state. Arkansas waterfowl, including ducks and geese, can be successfully hunted throughout the state, but the most productive areas are generally those areas on or near the Mississippi River. Arkansas is a particularly known as a productive duck hunting state. The state often has the largest mallard harvest in the nation. Geese, teal and woodcock are also successfully hunted in the state. Season dates and bag limits for waterfowl vary from year to year based on guidelines from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Arkansas offers many great public hunting opportunities, but many of the most productive hunting for trophy deer takes place on private land. Hunters wanting to hunt on private land hunting have the option to purchase or lease hunting land in the state of Arkansas or join a hunting club that owns or leases land. Many Arkansas hunting outfitters and guides also offer private land hunting trips for whitetail deer, game birds and other game animals..