Deer hunters using modern guns have one more chance to collect on their scouting time and tag a trophy. The statewide modern gun Holiday Deer Hunt is December 26-28.
Established during the 1999-2000 deer season, the Statewide Holiday Deer Hunt was created to enable hunters another opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors and harvest deer while home for the holidays.
“A lot of hunters will receive hunting equipment for Christmas, and they want to put those items to use right away,” said Ralph Meeker, Deer Program Coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “There also are a lot of families and friends who only see each other during the holidays and this hunt enables them to continue their hunting traditions.”
The holiday hunt is structured identically to the regular modern gun hunts with the exception that no dogs are allowed anywhere in the state. All deer taken during the hunt count toward a hunter’s seasonal bag limit for the zone where they are hunting. Some wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges are closed to modern gun hunting during the hunt, but many will be open.
Also ahead is the second Youth Hunt, January 4-5. This also is a statewide hunt with no dogs allowed.
“We don’t see as much interest in the second youth hunt as the first,” Meeker said. “But there are still plenty of deer out there for young hunters to pursue and it gives them one last shot to use those new rifles they may have gotten at Christmas.”
Hunters 6 to 15 years old can go after deer with modern guns, muzzleloaders or archery gear. Youths who have passed hunter education may hunt on their own. Youths who have not passed hunter education must be under the direct supervision of an adult who is 21 or older. The adult mentor may not carry a hunting weapon of their own during the hunt.
This year’s extremely good mast crop has kept many deer deeper in the woods more than usual, which has not played in favor of hunters who have stayed on the stand in front of food plots or feeders.
“When the woods are full of acorns, the deer will absolutely focus on that food source as long as it is available,” Meeker said. “However, some acorns have been on the ground for a while and have begun to rot, especially with all the wet weather we’ve had. This may cause deer to begin moving more during the late season and going back to food plots and feeders. You never know unless you’re out there hunting.”