LITTLE ROCK (AGFC)– It's a question that is asked over and over by Arkansas deer hunters: "What is the statewide seasonal deer limit this year."
Six is the correct answer – but with an asterisk. It is not really a trick question. But it's something that should make every deer hunter read the rules carefully and closely and not depend on what somebody says down at the corner store or coffee shop.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission rules for the 2011-2012 hunting season include a maximum of six deer that can be taken by a hunter, as long as he or she does not go over the limit for any zone. The limit on legal bucks is two.
And, yes, you can kill one zone's limit then go to another zone and kill more deer – up to that statewide maximum of six. Example: Zone 10 covers the southern half of Faulkner County. It has a season limit of three deer, with not over two bucks. Get your limit in southern Faulkner County then move to the northern part of the county, Zone 8, and kill three more deer.
You will be legal.
A wildlife management zone or a national wildlife refuge is a separate zone. A hunter can get a limit of deer on a WMA, go to nearby private land and take more deer – up to a total of six.
Each of these deer has to be checked within 24 hours after you get it. Again this year, checking deer will be done by a toll-free telephone call (866-305-0808) or on the Internet ( www.agfc.com). Write that phone number down or memorize it, or – best idea – keep a copy of the AGFC Hunting Guidebook with you.
This seasonal bag limit of six is liberal, and it's an indicator of the total deer we have in Arkansas. Deer are thriving but not equally and in all places. By the liberal season limit, the idea is to try to hold down the excess.
Realistically, however, very few people will kill six deer.
The zone with the highest populations of deer is Zone 12, a large triangular section of south Arkansas. Many hunting clubs are on land leased from timber companies in Zone 12.
The AGFC's limit rule for Zone 12: "Seasonal bag limit of six deer, no more than two legal bucks. No more than two legal bucks or up to six does may be taken with archery tackle. No more than two legal bucks or up to six does may be taken with firearms."
Archery means conventional bows, compound bows and crossbows. Firearms means muzzleloaders and modern guns.
Zone 12 and Zone 17 (inside the main Mississippi River levees) are the only zones with a six-deer seasonal limit. All the other zones have limits of four or three deer. The "no more than two legal bucks" is the rule in all zones combined.
In most zones, a legal buck must have both antlers shorter than two inches (button buck) or have three or more points on one side of his rack. Zones 16, 16A and 17 have antler restrictions that require bucks to have at least four points on one side or a main beam at least 18 inches long; also, several wildlife management areas have specific antler restrictions, so be sure to check the hunting guidebook. If both antlers are less than two inches long or if both are "nubbins" or "buttons," covered with skin, the deer is also a legal buck.
Again, the suggestion is to get a copy of that AGFC Hunting Guidebook and read the rules for yourself.