By Ronnie Weston| May 2, 2012 at 9:39 PM CDT - Updated June 27 at 1:38 AM
LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – It is time to apply for the most desired ticket in the Arkansas outdoors – an elk hunting permit.
The application period is the month of May, and both the applications and the 25 elk permits are free.
There is a new requirement this year. Applicants who are 16 or older must have a current Arkansas hunting license. They also must be at least 6 years old to hunt big game in the state – elk, deer, bear and turkey.
One additional permit for the September hunt in compartment 4 is issued to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for fundraising purposes. Eighty-five percent of the proceeds from this granted permit is returned to Arkansas for wildlife habitat work. In addition, a youth permit for the December hunt in compartment 3 is granted to the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation for fundraising activities.
Three permits will be issued to Arkansas residents who complete applications during the Buffalo River Elk Festival at Jasper June 22-23. For these, the winners must be present.
This fall will mark 15 years of elk hunting in Arkansas. The highly successful elk program began in 1981 with the import and animals from Colorado plus a few from Nebraska. These were released along the Buffalo River, and the elk have become a major tourist attraction as well as a species for limited hunting.
Two hunts, five days each, are scheduled this year – Sept. 24-28 and Oct. 29-Nov. 2. The latter is a change from the previous early December hunts. Beginning in 2013, there will be one elk hunt.
Permit winners will be notified by phone or mail and will receive an information packet via mail. Advance scouting is needed for permit winners to become acquainted with the rugged country where Arkansas elk live. Hunters will be required to attend an elk hunting orientation and training session held the day before the opening of the September and the October hunts.
Improving elk habitat in the Buffalo River country is another benefit of the permit process. Many Arkansans who apply for the permits send donations to the elk program, and this money is used for food plots, prescribed burning and other work in the elk area. A donation to the AGFC for the elk program is not a requirement for permit application, and a donation does not improve chances of being drawn for a permit. Two permits will be reserved for a youth under 16 years of age. Youths under 16 (as of Sept. 24, 2012) applying for an elk hunt automatically will be entered into this drawing. Youths not selected for the special youth permit may be drawn for one of the other permits.
Applications for private land elk hunt permits can be made June 1-July 15, and applicants may be resident or nonresident hunters. Applicants must provide either a driver's license number or a Social Security number. Hunters under 16 must supply a valid hunter education number to apply for a permit. Applications must include a landowner name, signature, address, phone number, county, range, township and section; and a $35 application fee. Only one application per hunter for a private land permit will be accepted. Applicants may not apply for more than one private land elk permit.
Landowners will be contacted to verify an applicant's eligibility. Hunters will receive an information packet with the permit. Completed applications must be received by July 15, 2012.
Private land elk permit applications may be submitted only by mail June 1-July 15. Complete applications must be postmarked on or before July 15. Call 501-223-6440 to receive a paper application by mail.