Clouds over a long-time Arkansas hunting and fishing regulation have been listed.


For many years, “possession limit” meant how many fish, birds or game animals a person could have, and this was in the sections dealing with daily limits. But just what did “possession” mean, and where did it apply?


The changed regulation after Thursday’s Game and Fish Commission meeting spells it out much better.
According to AGFC, the regulation now states that any fish or wildlife, excluding migratory game birds, legally taken for personal consumption and stored in processed form within a residence of the possessor, will not count toward the Arkansas possession limit.


A residence is defined as a house, manufactured home or apartment that is permanently fixed in place and is owned, leased or rented by an individual who uses the dwelling to store the processed game. Tents, hotels, motels, resorts, commercial campgrounds, RVs, mobile travel trailers or motor vehicles are excluded from the definition of “residence.”


The proposed turkey hunting season for next spring would be conservative again but somewhat simpler, according to a proposal given the commissioners of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at their monthly meeting in Little Rock.


Mike Widner, AGFC’s turkey program coordinator, recommended an 18-day hunting season plus two days of youth-only hunting over much of the state with some zones having a shorter season.
Widner suggested continuing the traditional two-gobbler season limit for a hunter, but this could not include “jakes” or first-year male turkeys. Youth hunt rules would include two birds, but one could be a jake.


The simplifying Widner recommended was making Zone 17’s hunt the same as the rest of the state. Zone 17 is the land inside the main levees of the Mississippi River in eastern Arkansas and for a number of years had turkey hunting that opened a week before the rest of the state. Widner also suggested eliminating the small zone 17A and 17B, Arkansas land on the Tennessee and Mississippi sides of the river, incorporating these areas back into Zone 17.


Dates recommended by Widner were April 16-May 6 for most of the state, April 16-26 for Turkey Zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A, and Zone 1 closed.
The 2011 spring turkey season will be set by the commissioners at their October meeting.


Turkey hunting in Arkansas has tightened since a 2003 peak in terms of birds checked by hunters. Successful years or below-par reproduction is blamed for the decline. The season was shortened in 2005, again in 2007 and once more in 2009. A fall turkey season was eliminated last year, and there will be fall turkey season this year either.


In other action, the commissioners approved settling of four property encroachment issues on Harris Brake Lake where some houses and other private structures have unknowingly been built on AGFC land. Deeds will be corrected, with the property owners paying for surveys and other associated costs,


The commissioners approved replacing of four outmoded or damaged radio towers around the state at a total cost of $105,000. These are at Mount Magazine, Mountain View, Forrest City and Wilson.
Special awards were presented to three AGFC employees.


Wildlife Officer Michael K. Neal, a key figure in the West Memphis shootings last spring, received the Shikar Safari Arkansas Wildlife Officer of the Year honors.


Wildlife Officer Ross Spurlock received the Arkansas Boating Officer of the Year award.


Bill Posey, AGFC’s malacologist (aquatic mollusk specialist), received the Mike Freeze Excellence in fisheries conservation Award.