Get Started Hunting | Deer 

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Deer are the most popular game animal in Arkansas and the United States. More than 300,000 Natural State hunters participate. Here are a few things to get you on the right track and get started hunting.

Deer Species

Click on the photo for details about each species.

Where to Hunt

About 90 percent of Arkansas is private land, but there are plenty of public hunting opportunities throughout the state. Click the link below to learn about some of the AGFC’s wildlife management areas and the seasons and the regulations for each.

When to Hunt

Deer move most during the first few hours and the last few hours of the day, but persistent hunters can bag deer any time during the day. It’s best to scout where you’re going ahead of time and get to your hunting area about an hour before sunrise or three hours before sunset.

What to Look For

When scouting for deer, it’s always best to concentrate on food sources. Deer will eat many things, but will concentrate around the edges of fields and food plots during the early part of the season. Once the acorns begin falling from oak trees in late fall, deer will move to those areas and take advantage of the energy-rich food.

Look for tracks in soft ground at the edges of fields to see if there’s any activity. Also look just inside the treeline for any other evidence of deer.

  • Rubs – Bucks will rub their antlers on small saplings (especially cedar saplings), tearing the bark off the tree early in the fall. These rubs usually are about knee- to shin-high and are found on saplings about an inch or two in diameter. Some rubs can be much larger, but a large rub doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a larger buck.
  • Scrapes – Bucks will paw the ground, clearing a patch of bare dirt that they will mark with their scent. Does will mark these areas as well to let bucks know they are ready to breed. Scrapes are normally found in the woods, close to where deer feed or sleep. Often, a scrape will have a low-hanging branch just above it where the buck also puts his scent.  

Equipment Checklist

  • Hunter’s safety card
  • Hunting license (if you’re 16 or older)
  • Hunter orange vest and hat
  • Boots that match the terrain and temperature
  • Comfortable clothing to sit in for a few hours in the current temperature
  • Binoculars
  • A rifle, muzzleloader or bow
  • A knife for field-dressing downed deer
  • A GPS unit or compass and map to help you navigate the woods
  • Snacks and a drink
  • A camera to take pictures of your deer and take pictures of the woods around you on slow days 

Helpful Tips

  • Deer stands and blinds can be very helpful in concealing your movements from deer, so you can get a good shot. Be sure to practice with your stand or blind before deer season, so you can set it up and take it down quickly.
  • It’s best not to set up right on top of where deer are eating or bedding. Instead, try to pick a point between the two where the deer are crossing. Look for places where the terrain forces deer to “funnel” through as they move from place to place.
  • Deer hunting requires some patience. You may go a full day in the woods or many days in the woods before you see one. If you don’t see a deer in the first day or two of hunting, check for tracks and other sign to see if it’s old or has been “freshened up.”
  • Bring along something to occupy yourself while you’re hunting in case the deer aren’t moving. A small book or game can give you a rest from looking and let you enjoy your outing more. If you don’t have anything with you, look around at different types of trees and wildlife and enjoy the nature surrounding you. A good hunt doesn’t always have to end with a downed deer.