Arkansas: 2011 Whitetail Forecast

Arkansas: 2011 Whitetail Forecast
Arkansas: 2011 Whitetail Forecast

Like many states in the South, Arkansas has a lot of deer. A mild climate, agriculture, fertile soil and fewer people than other states in some respects make Arkansas a deer haven. One way to look at it: Dick Baxter, Arkansas' deer program coordinator, estimates there may be a million deer in the state, and less than 200,000 are checked annually.

He said deer densities are at or above carrying capacity "virtually everywhere in the state," making Arkansas a great place to hunt for more than just waterfowl.

Deer Population: 800,000 to 1 million. "That's just a guess," Baxter said.

Economic Impact of Deer Hunting: $600 million


Best Areas


Numbers


"For numbers it's south Arkansas, what we call the west Gulf Coastal Plain," Baxter said. "If you go from Little Rock to the southwest corner of the state and Little Rock to the southeast corner, it's that area there."

The reason: habitat. "It's mostly pine plantation with enough disturbance that you have different stages of forest [growth]. It's just a deer factory."

Quality


"I'd say eastern Arkansas is sort of a trophy area, what we call the Delta, the Mississippi alluvial valley. That's tied to our agricultural centers. Eastern Arkansas has a lot of agriculture with just enough deer habitat to support good deer densities."

Current Status of the Deer Population: > 1-5 scale with 1 being poor and 5 being optimal

"For numbers I'd give it a 4, and for trophy hunting I'd probably say a 3," Baxter said.


"From a numbers standpoint, we have densities at or above the carrying capacity so I can't give it a 5 – but in a few areas hunters think we should have more deer. They have to realize that some places that have low deer densities – like the Ozark National Forest – also have lower-quality habitat."

About the trophy number, he said, "I guess the main thing is there's only a limited area in Arkansas where you can expect to kill a three-and-a-half- to four-and-a-half-year-old deer."

Status 5 Years From Now

"I don't think anything will change in five years," he said.

Biggest Factors Over the Next 5 Years

A big factor in Arkansas is that hunters simply don't kill enough deer. "We have about 300,000 deer hunters with about 1.1 deer killed per successful hunter, so we're not killing enough deer," Baxter said. "The deer population definitely needs to be cut back."

Right now the season goes through February and next season archery will start in September, so the state is taking the appropriate steps. But so far "it seems like when hunters kill a deer or two, they're done," he said.

Arkansas also has been a mostly rural state, but that's changing. "Urban sprawl is really coming in Arkansas," Baxter said. "The human population is really growing, so we're seeing more human-deer conflicts. Dealing with that is going to be a challenge in the future."

Any Doom and Gloom?

Given the abundance of deer, relatively stable habitat and urban sprawl, it's no surprise Baxter doesn't see any areas of his state having a large deer decline or crash at some point in the future.

Recommended for You

Fishing How-To

Your Guide for the Best Catfish Baits

G&F Staff

If you've been catching catfish with the same method for years, it's time to change it up and...

Other Hunting

New Gear: MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag

G&F Staff

Perfect for competition or a day at the range.

Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa's Award Winning Waterwoman Sunglasses

Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about all of the great features that made the new Waterwoman frame a big winner at the 2019 ICAST show as well as out on the water.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Wild Game

10 Memorial Day Recipes for Your Outdoor BBQ

OutdoorChannel.com Staff

Celebrate the start of summer with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these...

Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...

Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper - April 02, 2015

We all have our "swear by" bait for catfish. For me, it is chicken liver, live shad or my...

See More Stories

More Stories

Stories

Game & Fish's Top 10 Stories of 2018

G&F Online Staff - December 24, 2018

From a world-record crappie to the best gear of the year, these hunting and fishing articles...

Stories

Call Our Complex Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 13, 2017

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are

Stories

3 Coyote Guns

Brad Fitzpatrick - September 28, 2017

A rimfire, old standard and new import top our list of favorite rifles for coyote hunting...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×