Deer season is near, and like always, there are questions from hunters that come up over and over. Don’t these folks listen or read or pay attention to what somebody else asked?
Maybe, but the feeling from this corner is that the only dumb question is the one you do not ask.
"What is the limit for deer this year?"
There are zone limits which vary a good bit, and there is the statewide limit of six deer, of which no more than two can be bucks. This is the same as last year.
Some hunters are confused because the limit in the zone they hunt may be three deer or four deer, and they don’t comprehend how a state limit can be six. Simple. You have to hunt successfully in more than one zone to reach that six-deer limit unless you hunt in Zone 12 or Zone 17, the only two zones with a six-deer limit.
Every wildlife management area and every national wildlife refuge is a zone to itself, so someone could hunt private land adjoining a WMA and also the wildlife refuge, with a permit if so required, and take that six-deer state limit within a small area.
Six deer, no more than two bucks translates also to a buck and five does or no bucks and six does.
"Is it legal to hunt deer with a .223 rifle?"
Yes. The rule is .22 centerfire and larger ammunition for deer hunting in Arkansas. The .223 is used by many hunters, and it is a good caliber in the hands of a competent shooter. Some hunters feel its bullet is a little light for deer work, but it does kill deer.
"Can you hunt with a 20-round magazine on your rifle?"
Yes. There is no restriction in Arkansas on magazine capacity.
"If it rains, can I put a raincoat over my hunter orange vest?"
Nope. Put on the raincoat then put the orange vest over it.
"Can my girlfriend sit in the deer stand with me even if she does not have a hunting license?"
Yes. She must wear the orange garments and cap, and she cannot "participate," meaning handle a gun or blow a call. But you can get her to help drag the deer out of the woods after you kill it.
"I own property in Arkansas, but I live in Dallas. Can I use a resident hunting license?"
No. Resident means where you live. Property ownership has nothing to do with it. Wildlife officers look at driver’s licenses for residency proof.
"Dogs are not allowed for deer hunting in my zone, but if some dogs run a deer past me, can I shoot it?"
Yes, as long as the dogs are not yours or belong to somebody in your hunting group. Don’t even give those dogs some of your Viennas as a thank you, either.
"Where is the best place to go if I want a trophy buck?"
There is not a simple or short answer here. The biggest deer in Arkansas tend — repeat, tend — to come from eastern Arkansas. Land is more fertile there. The bottomlands of eastern Arkansas turn out some fine deer, but not large numbers of them. Beyond that, northern Arkansas deer tend to be a little larger than deer in the southern part of the state.
"Where can I find deer hunting answers that are reliable?"
Read the book. That means the 2012-2013 Hunting Guidebook of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. It is free any place that licenses are sold. You’ll find answers to 95 percent or more of your questions — but you’ll have to hunt around in the guidebook for some of them.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.