Yes, Virginia, there will be a deer season.
If your name is Virginia, excuse me. I was paraphrasing that old and wonderful newspaper editorial about Santa Claus.
Numerous questions have been raised about the federal shutdown interfering with or cancelling Arkansas’ deer season.
No way. Ain’t gonna happen. Some things take priority over the national mess that Congress has created, and deer hunting comes before senators and representatives.
Arkansas deer season is a state governed event — repeat, it is state, not federal. With very few local exceptions, deer hunting, especially the modern gun season that opens Saturday, Nov. 9, will go on as scheduled.
In Conway a few days ago, a fellow in a uniform shirt of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission walked into a big box store. Just inside the door, a man stopped in front of him and said, "My buddy says y’all are going to shut down deer season."
"Your buddy is wrong," the Game and Fish guy answered. "You sure?" "Sure I’m sure. Tell your buddy he can stay home if he thinks deer season will be closed, and you can have it by yourself."
Switchboard operators at Game and Fish offices all over the state have been hammered with similar questions before the government shutdown ended late Thursday.
But there would have been some issues in certain spots if the shutdown had not been over by Nov. 9.
The Buffalo National River, which operates as a 95,000-acre wildlife management area, is closed entirely to hunting. I wish someone would explain why one federal facility like this is closed while the national forests in Arkansas remain open to hunting.
On the national forests, facilities like campgrounds and restrooms were closed. These were gated and locked. But the woods themselves are open to deer and other hunting as they have been in the past.
Federal wildlife refuges are closed. Questions have been raised about logging continuing on the White River NWR. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says, "A shutdown generally does not apply to activities funded by obligations validly incurred in an earlier fiscal year or by multi-year or permanent appropriations. Accordingly, contracts that were previously funded by prior enacted appropriations may continue."
Cut and haul out trees but don’t shoot deer.
Considerable hunting takes place in the Ozark, Ouachita and St. Francis national forests in Arkansas. This will still be the case on and after Nov. 9 as it has been for early archery season and the current muzzle-loader season. But hunters who want to camp will have to do it outside the developed areas and without drinking water facilities and rest rooms.
Boat launching ramps on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes and on the Arkansas River are closed in some places, open in others. Where the ramps are within Corps recreation areas, they are closed. Where they are outside these recreation areas, they are generally open. It’s best to go see before heading out on opening morning. Phone calls may not help since federal offices are closed.
In our area, the boat ramp at Cadron Settlement Park is open. The park is operated by the city of Conway. Palarm Park’s ramp in southern Faulkner County is open. The park is operated by the city of Mayflower.