LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas youth deer hunters will enjoy two extra days for their modern gun hunt and a relaxed antler restriction during the upcoming deer season. Commissioners from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission formally approved the regulation changes as part of the 2009-10 hunting season-setting process at its monthly meeting.
Two additional days will be added to the youth modern gun deer hunt on Jan. 2-3 to go along with Nov. 7-8 youth hunt. The Jan. 2-3 days will be bucks only in zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 5B, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15. No hunters 65 years and older are allowed to harvest deer during the January youth hunt. The bag limit revision allows a youth to take any buck (no antler restrictions) during any season. Youths must comply with the zone or WMA seasonal bag limit.
One major change revised several of the current deer zones. The changes modify the existing boundaries for deer zones 1, 2, 3, 14 and 15; dividing deer zone 6 into three zones and splitting deer zone 8 into two zones. The changes were introduced to address goals of the Strategic Deer Management Plant. The new zones will be 1A, 6A and 8A.
Another change for deer season removed the zone doe quota permit requirements for zones 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 11 in order to manage the doe harvest utilizing doe days. The zone doe quota permits will be replaced with doe days to manage the doe deer herd in Arkansas.
A change in the antler restrictions from a 3-point rule to a 4-point rule in deer zones 16, 16A and 17 was also approved. The change allows for a buck with at least one main beam 18 inches or more in length, regardless of the number of antler points, to be harvested.
A proposal to add telephone checking also was approved by the commission. The proposed change would eliminate all county check stations as well as check sheet programs. Deer Management Assistance Program camps will continue to receive check sheets so biological data can be collected. The new checking option begins with the October archery season. Along with the phone checking, on-line checking will still be available as will the check sheets at DMAP camps. The change allows more real-time, accurate data for the AGFC biologists.
Season dates for the 2009-2010 deer hunting season:
Archery - All zones: Oct. 1 to Feb. 28.
Modern Gun - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 14-Dec. 6.
Zone 4: Nov. 14-15.
Zone 5: Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 21-22.
Zone 4A, 5A, 13, 14 and 15: Nov. 14-Dec. 13.
Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 14-22.
Zones 9 and 12: Nov. 14-Dec. 20.
Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 14-Dec. 25.
Muzzleloader - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15: Oct.17-25 and Dec. 19-21.
Zones 9, 12, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 17-25 and Dec. 29-31.
Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B: Closed.
The statewide Christmas holiday modern gun deer hunt is Dec. 26-28 with two special youth modern gun deer hunts.
During the special modern gun youth deer hunt, holders of 65+ licenses, who are accompanying a hunting youth, will be allowed to hunt deer and take the bag limit legal for the deer zone or WMA in which they are hunting.
The commission also announced the 2010 opening dates for deer season. Archery deer season will open on Oct. 1, 2010 followed by muzzleloader season on Oct. 16, 2010 and modern gun season on Nov. 13, 2010. The 2009-2010 public meeting dates for various wildlife were also announced. The 2009 waterfowl meetings will be held June 2 from 7-9 p.m., spring turkey on Aug. 25 from 7-9 p.m. and the 2009-2010 general hunting public meetings on Jan. 5, 2010 from 7-9 p.m.
Fall turkey season was also set by the commission:
Fall Wild Turkey Archery/Crossbow Seasons:
Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 9A, 10 and 17: Oct. 1, 2009-Feb. 28, 2010. Zone 1A: Closed.
Fall Wild Turkey Firearms Season:
Zones 3, 5B, 6, and 17: Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2009. Zones 1, 1A, 2, 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 9A and 10: Closed.
In other business, the commission:
*Tabled a request by Bill Shepherd, representing the Audubon Society of Central Arkansas, asking the AGFC to issue an emergency rule directing the agency to immediately ban the commercial harvest of wild turtles in Arkansas. The request came from several conservation groups that said they were trying to prevent population depletions in the wild and prevent the consumption of contaminated turtle meat. Commissioners said they would take up the request during the normal fishing regulation-setting process that begins in April.
*Heard a proposal to close Coal Pile Lake to hunting. Fishing and non-hunting activities would be allowed.