By Ronnie Weston| June 12, 2012 at 3:23 PM CDT - Updated June 27 at 7:17 AM
LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Unique deer hunting opportunities are increasing for Arkansas sportsmen. There is a catch, however. Hunters have to meet a somewhat stringent list of rules.
These opportunities are urban deer hunts, and more Arkansas communities are turning to them as a means to meet the problems of deer in town – nuisance deer that can be driving hazards as well as unwanted flower bed grazers.
Successes have already been noted in several communities with controlled deer hunts limited to the use of bows.
The procedures are administered by a partnership of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), the Arkansas Bowhunters Association (ABA), and the cities involved. This fall's participating communities will be Fairfield Bay, Heber Springs, Lakeview, Bull Shoals, Horseshoe Bend, Cherokee Village and Russellville.
The hunting is restricted to conventional (recurve or longbow) and compound bows. Crossbows are not allowed.
Urban deer hunters must:
* Pass the International Bowhunter Education Course.
* Attend an urban hunt orientation; after attending the orientation, hunters will be eligible to hunt all the urban deer hunts for that year.
* Pass a shooting proficiency test.
* Pay an annual confirmation fee, which includes membership in the ABA for liability insurance purposes.
* Possess a valid Arkansas (resident or nonresident) big game license. Hunters must be at least 16 years of age.
* Possess a valid Urban Bowhunting Permit (issued by AGFC). Permit will be valid for all the urban deer hunts for that year.
* Display a vehicle dashboard placard that must be signed by a representative from each municipality that he or she wishes to hunt.
* Carry the approved urban deer permit at all times while hunting.
* Use a longbow, recurve or compound with at least a 40-pound pull and broadheads at least 7/8-inch wide (mechanical releases are OK but string locks are not permitted.
* Hunt in designated areas, and if hunting on private property, hunters must possess written permission from the property owner.
* Hunt at least 50 yards from designated trails or parks.
* Hunt at least 50 yards from any occupied dwelling without written permission.
* Keep all bows cased to and from stands.
* Shoot from stands that are at least 10 feet above the ground (no walking, stalking or ground blinds).
* Cover harvested animals from sight before transporting or moving from the field.
* Remove harvested animals during daylight hours if at all possible.
* Special considerations will be made for disabled hunters in wheelchairs.
* Donate their first deer to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a 501C-3 charitable organization.
* Check deer online at www.agfc.com or by telephone toll-free at 866-305-0808.
There is no bag limit. The first deer taken must be a doe, and must be donated to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry; all subsequent deer harvested may be either-sex. Deer are considered bonus deer and do not count in the hunter's seasonal bag limit. There are no antler restrictions.
Officials of the AGFC, ABA and participating municipalities will attend and oversee each hunter orientation. Scheduled activities for each orientation will include shooting proficiency tests, payment of annual confirmation fee, review of hunt rules and distribution of permits and dash placards.
Dates for the International Bowhunter Education Course are:
July 14, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center (Conference Room).
July 15, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center (Conference Room).
July 21, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Fairfield Bay Senior Center (385 Dave Creek Parkway).
Dates for the orientations are:
July 28, Fairfield Bay Department. of Public Safety, 101 Little Rock Dr.
Aug.11, Lake Dardanelle State Park (Weigh-In Pavilion).
Aug.18, AGFC Regional Office, Calico Rock.
Each orientation will start at 8 a.m.
Participants will be able to attend any orientation even though it may not be the area they want to hunt. The urban deer hunt fee is $50 which will cover insurance, ABA membership and permit fees. Payment must be made by cash or check. No credit or debit cards will be accepted.
This will allow the participants to hunt one or more of the urban hunts. Applications will only be accepted June 1 to July 1 online at www.agfc.com.