Arkansas Game & Fish Commission sets dates for 2011-2012 hunting season

LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Commissioners from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today formally approved regulation changes as part of the 2011-12 hunting season-setting process. One major change increases the statewide deer bag limit from five deer to six deer with no more than two bucks.

Another change eliminates the use of preference points for 2013-14 deer hunting permits. A completely random drawing will be used to select applicants for deer permit hunts. Waiting two years will allow hunters, who currently have preference points, to utilize those points, AGFC wildlife chief David Goad said. "In the interim, no hunters will accrue new preference points," Goad said. "Additionally, all members of party hunt applications that are successfully drawn for a hunt will lose their accrued points even if the permit is not purchased. This will eliminate the problem of super groups attempting to monopolize the deer permit system," he added.

To simplify deer hunting regulations, the Commission voted to remove the prohibition on hunting deer over bait during February. Baiting is allowed in January with only one percent of the deer harvest occurring during that month. Less than one percent of the total deer harvest is recorded during February. Biologists don't believe that any substantial increase in the February deer harvest will result if baiting is allowed during that month.

This hunting season, deer hunters will be required to display blaze orange or chartreuse on all sides of the exterior of a portable, pop-up type blind. This will only be required on the state's public lands.

To see a summary of the 2011-12 hunting regulations, go to:

Season dates for the 2011-12 deer hunting season:

Archery – All zones:  Oct. 1-Feb. 29.

Modern Gun - Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11:  Nov. 12-Dec. 4.

Zone 4:  Nov. 12-13.

Zone 5:  Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 19-20.

Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15:  Nov. 12-Dec. 11.

Zones 4B and 5B:  Nov. 12-20.

Zones 9, 12 and 13:  Nov. 12-Dec. 18.

Zone 16, 16A and 17:  Nov. 12-Dec. 25.

A new doe only modern gun deer hunt will be held:

Zones 6A, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 31-Nov. 4.

Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 5B, 6, 7, 8 and 11: Closed.

Muzzleloader – Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 14 and 15:  Oct. 22-30 and Dec. 17-19.

Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 22-30 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. The first will be Nov. 5-6 with the second Jan. 7-8, 2012.

In other business, the commission:

*Approved a land swap near Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area. Two tracts totaling 160 acres owned by the AGFC will be traded for two tracts totaling 155.5 acres owned by Goose Lake Property, Inc. The AGFC land was appraised at $560,000 for the 160 acres. The Goose Lake 155.5 acres were appraised at $625,000. The land swap is contingent on two public meetings that will be held on May 17 and 18. The May 17 meeting will be held at the Phillips County Community College Community Room in DeWitt. The May 18 meeting will be held at the White Hall branch of the Pine Bluff National Bank. Both meetings will be held from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. If the land swap is accepted, public access to additional huntable acres will be enhanced. One of the AGFC tracts is land-locked with little access. Once marked, the new WMA boundaries will be easier to understand and more easily maintained by WMA staff.

*Reviewed the deer harvest from the 2010-11 season. Hunters harvested 186,165 total deer during the season. The total was less than a one-percent decrease from the previous season's harvest of 187,046.

*Approved a budget increase of just over $35,200 to purchase life jackets for the agency's wildlife officers.

*Approved non-drilling oil and gas leases on Lake Barnett, Cow Showls and Greers Ferry Nursery Pond.

*Approved an oil and gas lease amendment on Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The area is an additional 19.1 mineral acres to the current 3,950 net mineral acres on the WMA.

*Approved up to $100,000 to hire a consulting engineering firm with special expertise in the evaluation and rehabilitation of concrete gravity dams. The engineering firm will evaluate and make recommendations for the repair of Dam No. 3 at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery in Mammoth Spring.

*Approved the purchase of a new phone system in the agency's central office in Little Rock. The existing system is 17 years old. The new phone system will cost $571,000.

*Approved the donation of a 1988 model mobile home to the University of Arkansas Pine Tree Experimental Station Wildlife Demonstration Area in St. Francis County.