The current Arkansas deer season has several notable factors, and it could be headed to the best ever for the state.
For starters, there are the good weather conditions, and yes, we realize that not all deer hunters like the bright, sunshiny days with no moisture falling.
There are the plentiful acorns on the ground – in some areas – and not all deer hunters like this. A common opinion is that abundant acorns mean deer tend to stay in the woods and not venture out into open areas, like cutover soybean fields. Acorns are less plentiful in parts of north Arkansas, ravaged by an ice storm last winter.
The two-day youth hunt on Nov. 7-8 was a dandy in terms of deer taken by young people, and some were also checked by the seniors, who were allowed to hunt those two days if accompanied by a kid.
The new tool in this deer summary kit is the running total maintained on the website of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Online checking of deer by hunters in place for a few years, and the old system of check stations was scrapped this year in favor of Telechek. A hunter calls a toll-free number and gives the required information in response to automated questions. There have been a few glitches, but in general the system has worked well. Most complaints seem to be about failure to get a confirmation number after the checking process.
To date, the 2009 deer hunt has resulted in a total in the neighborhood of 120,000 deer statewide. The all-time record was set in 1999 when 194,687 deer were checked. Second best was last year with 184,991 checked. Third is 2000 with 182,132 deer checked.
At the current rate, the 2009 season which will include bow hunting through Feb. 28, should approach the top three years of the past and possibly, maybe, perhaps set a new record. Weather in the coming weeks will play a major role here.
Keep in mind that the running total, which can be found on the Game and Fish Commission website, www.agfc.com, does not include reports from hunting clubs which maintain their own checking systems. Clubs make three reports during the season, the first one Nov. 30, so these figures are not in that running tally yet.
That running tally of deer checked on the AGFC website is an information source for where the deer are coming from, meaning counties, too.
Predictably, there is a block of south Arkansas counties with the most deer. This has been the case for many years now, the counties of Union, Bradley, Cleveland, Clark, Dallas, Ouachita, Calhoun, Columbia, Nevada accounting for the largest numbers of deer. Four north Arkansas counties plus Pike in southwest Arkansas are in the running at this stage. Sharp County is running second to Union County for the most deer. Washington, Fulton and Madison counties are close to some of those south Arkansas hotspots too.
We mentioned deer clubs that maintain their own checking systems. Many of the clubs are in those south Arkansas counties, more so than in the four north Arkansas counties.
Hunters are reporting bringing in deer that are in good condition – good body weights, healthy appearing, nice antlers – but really big "racks" seem to be scarce this season, depending on someone’s definition of a big rack. For most deer observers, anything over 12 points falls into the "gee whiz" category.
Eight-pointers, those buck deer that generally mean a "good" or a "decent" deer, are by far the most numerous in reports to date.
Among the deer checked so far, roughly three of five have been bucks.
Modern gun deer season, when the most hunters are in action, runs through Dec. 6 in much of north and central Arkansas and through Dec. 13 or Dec. 20 in other parts of the state.
(Log Cabin outdoor writer Joe Mosby can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)