Whitetail deer harvest breaks record

Updated: Jan. 2, 2021 at 2:25 PM CST
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ARKANSAS (KAIT) - Hunting license sales have gone up this year due to the pandemic which puts hunters outside, socially distancing, and working on marksmanship to driven up harvest amounts.

Arkansas whitetail deer harvest broke the third-largest record and it looks “promising” that hunters will surpass the largest harvest.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Statewide Whitetail Deer Program Coordinator Ralph Meeker said many factors play into large harvest seasons.

Acorn crops freeze spells which impact vegetation on trees, and flooding events impact deer hunting.

“This year, the stars seemed to kind of aligned where we didn’t have those prolonged flooding events. The mass crop was limited, good in some areas and it seemed like acorns disappeared rather quickly,” he said.

In 2019, Meeker said over 188,000 deer were harvested. This season, over 210,000 deer have been harvested and the season doesn’t end until February.

In the next two months, hunters usually bring in 2-3 percent of the total harvest. Arkansas is projected to harvest 214,000-215,000 deer.

The COVID-19 pandemic influenced the increase.

“Just looking at our license sales, from fishing to hunting license sales, it definitely looks like we have more folks out in the woods. We’ll have to look into it a little bit more on whether we were able to recruit new hunters. I suspect that most of the hunters that we have in the woods are those who reactivated.”

The weekend of Jan. 1 is the last weekend for modern gun youth hunting. AGFC reminds hunters to be vigilant and to keep gun safety in mind.

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