Nov. 2, 2017
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
Arkansas's "big" deer season is approaching, but kids will get first shot.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Special Youth Modern Gun Deer Hunt is set for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4-5, across the state. The hunt is open in all private land zones and most wildlife management areas. The only areas not open on those days will be wildlife management areas where permits are required for deer hunting.
The rules are simple. Anyone aged 6 to 15 can hunt. He or she can take either a buck or a doe, and no antler restrictions on bucks are in effect.
Each youngster must be accompanied by an adult mentor, not necessarily a parent. If the young hunter has completed a hunter education course, he or she can be accompanied by (within sight and sound of) a mentor 18 or older. If the young hunter does not have hunter education certification, he or she must be under direct supervision (within arm’s reach) of an adult 21 or older. Mentors may not carry a weapon of their own during the hunt.
Brad Carner, chief of wildlife management for the AGFC, says that the restriction to mentors not carrying a weapon was added this year.
“Before this year, it really was not stated whether a mentor could or could not carry a weapon of their own, so it was allowed by default,” Carner said. “But the spirit of this hunt is to focus on making the youth’s experience as good as possible, and the mentor being able to shoot takes away from the attention being on the youth the hunt is intended for.”
Carner says deer hunting remains open for archery and crossbow hunters across the state who are not mentoring youths, but archery hunters must wear hunter orange during this two-day hunt.
Youths must still tag or check their deer before moving it. If cell service is available, the mentor may use the AGFC app, go to agfc.com, or call 877-731-5627 to check the deer. Mentors can use their Customer ID number with the youth’s name to check the deer. This deer will not count against the mentor’s seasonal limit. If the mentor does not have a Customer ID number, they may use the youth’s name and date of birth in place of the CID. If checking in the field is not an option, hunters may tag the deer using tags provided on Page 53 of the 2017-18 Arkansas Hunting Guidebook, or they may create their own tag with any material, listing the hunter’s name and the date, time and zone of the harvest. Hunters have 24 hours to check the deer. Once a deer is checked, it does not require a tag as long as it is in immediate possession of the hunter.
Carner says that although adult hunters are allowed to hunt other species during the youth hunts, he really hopes many will take the spirit of the hunt to heart and use these two days as a way to introduce a young person to hunting.
“It doesn’t have to be a son or a daughter you take,” Carner said. “A niece, nephew or family friend may be dying to go but they don’t live in a hunting family or have someone who feels comfortable taking them. Offer to bring them along. Even better, offer to bring both them and their parent so they can both see how great it is to spend time together in the outdoors. Of all the time I’ve spent in the woods hunting, the hunts I cherish most are those I was able to share with someone special in my life.”