2017 Arkansas Deer Forecast
September 20, 2017
Despite fears of chronic wasting disease, Arkansas hunters are still taking peak numbers of deer, with no drop in participation.
If you want venison for the freezer, you can almost bet on killing at least one deer in The Natural State. Ralph Meeker, the deer program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said that nearly 70 percent of the state's 313,000 licensed hunters killed a deer during the 2016-17 deer seasons, and that each hunter killed a statistical average of 1.2 deer.
We certainly don't lack for opportunities. The Arkansas archery season runs from the last weekend in September to Feb. 28, the longest continuous deer season in the nation. We have two muzzleloader seasons that offer 12 days of exclusive opportunities for smokepole hunters in October and December. Our modern gun seasons are generous, but if you live in south Arkansas, it runs uninterrupted for nearly 40 days. And that doesn't include a five-day private lands modern gun hunt that spans the end of October and the beginning of November, nor does it include a three-day Christmas holiday modern gun hunt.
On top of that, we also have two modern gun deer hunts for youngsters in November and January.
What do Arkansas hunters do with so much time? We kill a lot of deer, of course!
In 2016-17, Arkansas hunters killed 202,070 deer. That's the fifth straight year that we killed more than 200,000 deer. That's significantly less than 2012-13, when we killed a record 213,487. It hovered in that neighborhood until 2016-17, but 200,000 is still a big number in a state as small as Arkansas, and it demonstrates that we have a lot of deer to justify the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offering so much opportunity.