Nov. 14, 2018
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK - Even with some light rain throughout most of the state Monday, hunters could not have asked for a more perfect setting to kick off modern gun season in Arkansas last weekend. Frosty temperatures put enough chill in the air to keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay, and conditions were perfect for some great fellowship by the campfire at deer camp.
According to harvest data and biological samples collected from Arkansas deer hunters in the last few decades, the best hunting action may still be on the way. Although the two days that typically have the highest harvest of the year have come and gone, a robust deer harvest throughout November is common. Even in December, weekend harvests regularly exceed 3,000 deer checked; and the Christmas Modern Gun Hunt, Dec. 26-28, can account for up to 10,000 or more deer being harvested in a three-day timespan.
Hunter activity may dwindle a bit as the season wears on, but veteran hunters know the best time to catch a trophy buck’s guard down is still right around the corner. Normally wary bucks may lose a bit of their edge as the peak of breeding season comes into play and they focus more on finding does than avoiding danger.
White-tailed deer breed in fall each year, with the most activity in Arkansas coming in a fairly brief window somewhere between October and December. While some females may be receptive to breeding earlier or later, the peak of this “rutting” activity occurs within mid- to late November in most of the state.
According to biological data taken during late winter, biologists have determined a date range in which most does in a given area are bred. By and large, the peak of rut occurs earlier in the western portion of the state, with most counties having peak conception dates between Oct. 28 and Nov. 21. However, in the east side of the state, it is much more common to see the peak of rut occur between Nov. 22 and Dec. 14, with the counties along the Mississippi River being the latest to show conception.
When it comes to consistently filling your tag once the added hunting pressure of modern gun deer season begins, AGFC Deer Program Coordinator Ralph Meeker suggests hunters should stay put throughout the day, especially on public land.
“I analyze thousands of deer hunter observation records each year,” Meeker said. “The resulting data clearly shows that most deer hunters will arrive at their stand before daybreak but leave around 9:30 to 10 in the morning. Evening hunters will arrive in their stands around 2:30 or 3 p.m. and leave after sunset. A good hunter can use this knowledge to their advantage. Locate escape corridors and cover and be there until after a morning’s mass exodus or be in the stand well before hunters begin to arrive and push deer around.”