Deer Hunting Regulations 

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Antler-Point Restrictions

When counting the number of points, the end of the main beam constitutes one point. Points must be at least 1 inch long to count.

The distance from ear-tip to ear-tip on a buck with ears in the alert position is approximately 15 inches. Use this as a guide for determining a buck’s inside spread.

Estimating a buck’s main beam length can be a little more difficult and may require frontal and profile views. If the antler seen from the side projects forward beyond the midpoint between the eyes and the tip of the nose, beam length of the buck likely exceeds 18 inches.

Youth hunters: Youths 6 to 15 years of age may harvest any buck without regard to antler size or points.

Illustration of points, main beam and inside spread lengthsThree-point rule: A legal buck must have both antlers shorter than 2 inches (button buck) or have three or more points on one side of his rack. The three-point rule applies statewide unless mentioned below.

Four-point rule: A legal buck on Lafayette County WMA must have either:

  • both antlers under two inches, or
  • one antler with at least four points.

12-inch inside spread or 15-inch main beam rule: A legal buck on Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois D'Arc, Harold E. Alexander Spring River, Hope Upland, McIlroy Madison County, Mike Freeze Wattensaw, Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain, Shirey Bay Rainey Brake and Moro Big Pine Natural Area WMAs must have either:

  • both antlers under 2 inches, or
  • an inside spread of at least 12 inches, or 
  • at least one main beam 15 inches or longer.

15-inch inside spread or 18-inch main beam rule: A legal buck in deer zones 16, 16A and 17 and on Bayou Meto, Buck Island, Cut-Off Creek, Daver Donaldson Black River, Ed Gordon Point Remove, Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA Deer Research Area East Unit, Henry Gray Hurricane Lake, Rick Evans Grandview Prairie, St. Francis National Forest, Sheffield Nelson Dagmar and Trusten Holder WMAs must have either:

  • both antlers under 2 inches (button buck), or
  • an inside spread of at least 15 inches, or
  • at least one main beam 18 inches or longer.

Other legal definitions:

  • On Bald Knob, Big Lake, Cache River, Felsenthal, Holla Bend, Overflow, Pond Creek, Wapanocca and White River NWRs; Rex Hancock Black Swamp and U of A Pine Tree Experimental Station WMAs any buck deer may be legally harvested during all deer hunts.
  • On Greers Ferry Lake WMA any buck may be legally harvested during the deer muzzleloader Mobility Impaired permit hunt.
  • On Hobbs State Park Conservation Area, Nimrod Lloyd Millwood WMA and Johnson County WRA on Dardanelle WMA any buck may be legally harvested during the deer modern gun mobility impaired hunt.

Legal Hunting Equipment

  • Archery
    • Long, recurve and compound bows – Must have at least a 35-pound pull. Scopes, string locks and mechanical string releases may be used. Deer, turkey and bear hunters must use arrowheads at least 7/8-inches wide (mechanicals OK). Poison may not be used on arrows.
    • Crossbow – Crossbows must have at least a 125-pound pull and a mechanical safety. Deer, turkey and bear hunters must use arrowheads at least 7/8-inches wide (mechanicals OK). Poison may not be used on arrows. Scopes may be used.
  • Muzzleloader
    • Muzzleloading rifles must have a barrel at least 18 inches long and be at least .40 caliber. Magnifying sights may be used. The use of shot is not legal. Legal muzzleloaders are loaded through the muzzle and are not capable of firing a cartridge. Electronic pulse ignition muzzleloaders allowed.
    • Muzzleloading handguns must have a barrel at least 9 inches long and be at least .45 caliber if they shoot conical bullets (200 grains or heavier). If round balls are used, the minimum caliber is .530.
    • A hunter may carry a muzzleloading handgun of any caliber as backup to a muzzleloading rifle.
  • Modern Gun
    • All modern guns may be used during modern gun deer season with the following exceptions. You may not use:
      • buckshot in a .410 shotgun.
      • shot smaller than No. 4 buckshot in any shotgun.
      • rimfire cartridges, military or full-metal jacketed ammunition.
      • any centerfire rifle or pistol smaller than .22 caliber.
      • handguns with barrels shorter than 4 inches. 

In zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B, deer hunters may use only:

  • shotguns (.410 or larger) with slugs.
  • muzzleloading rifles.
  • pistols with barrels from 4-inches to 10-inches long and chambered for straight-walled centerfire cartridges .30-caliber or larger. Only lead, lead alloy, soft nose and/or hollow point bullets may be used.

Hunters may use modern guns, muzzleloaders or archery equipment during the modern gun season. They may use muzzleloaders or archery equipment during muzzleloader season.

Bowhunters must wear hunter orange during muzzleloader and modern gun seasons, but may harvest does according to archery regulations for that zone.


Baiting Deer

Baiting is the direct or indirect placing, exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of salt, grain or other feed that could serve to lure or attract wildlife to, on or over an area where hunters are attempting to take them. An area is considered baited for 10 days following complete removal of bait.

  • Hunters may bait deer on private land.
  • Baiting is not allowed on wildlife management areas.

Special Deer Regulations

  • Swimming deer may not be hunted.
  • Deer may not be driven or captured from a boat.
  • Deer may not be hunted from watercraft on public waters.