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Deer-specific Hunting Regulations

Tagging and Checking a Deer

Option 1:

Immediately upon harvest and before moving your deer, you can check your game via the internet, through the new AGFC mobile app or by phone at 833-289-2469.

Click here to download the new AGFC app for your Android device.

Click here to download the new AGFC app for your Apple device.

If you are using the AGFC mobile app to check game and are not connected to internet or cell service, you’ll receive a notice on your screen that your submission is pending upon validation. When your device returns to service or internet connection, you should sync your app by selecting the sync button. Once the submission goes through, you will receive your confirmation on the app screen, via email and in your app inbox.

Option 2:

  • Immediately upon taking a deer (before moving it), fill out the appropriate deer tag from your license and complete all information, except Check #, legibly and in ink. Fasten the tag to the ear or antler. The original tag must remain as attached to the deer until point of final storage.
    Duplicate harvest information reflecting the name, address, species, sex, date taken and check confirmation number must remain with all portions until point of final storage, including while in transit. Carcass ID Tag
  • For deer harvested on private lands, use this deer zone map for zone numbers.
  • For deer harvested on public lands, use this WMA deer zone map for zone numbers.
  • Call 833-289-2469, visit or use the AGFC mobile app to check your deer within 12 hours of harvest.
  • After checking game, record the check number on your tag.
  • Entrails may be removed, but evidence of the animal’s sex must remain until checked. Deer may be quartered in the field, but the head must be kept within arm’s reach of all four quarters of the animal until checked.
  • No deer/elk may be transported out of the CWD Management Zone without following these procedures.
  • No big game animal may be transported across state lines before being checked unless normal travel routes require a hunter to cross a state line to check the animal.
  • If you choose to give away all or a portion of your game after it has been checked, you must use a game transfer form.

Antler-point Restrictions

The end of the main beam and all points 1 inch long count as points in regard to antler-point restrictions.

For Youth Hunters

Hunters who are 6 to 15 years old may harvest any buck without regard to antler size or points.

Three-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.

12-inch inside spread or 15-inch main beam rule

On Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d’Arc, Harold E. Alexander Spring River, Hope Upland, Lafayette County, Mike Freeze Wattensaw and Moro Big Pine Natural Area, Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain, Shirey Bay Rainey Brake WMAs a buck must have:

  • Both antlers under 2 inches (button buck included); or
  • An inside spread of 12 inches or more in width; or
  • At least one main beam 15 inches or more in length.

15-inch inside spread or 18-inch main beam rule

A legal buck in deer zones 16, 16A and 17 and on Buck Island, Cut-Off Creek, Dave Donaldson Black River, Ed Gordon Point Remove, Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA Deer Research Area East Unit, George H. Dunklin Jr. Bayou Meto, Henry Gray Hurricane Lake, Rick Evans Grandview Prairie, St. Francis National Forest, Sheffield Nelson Dagmar, and Trusten Holder WMAs a buck must have:

  • Both antlers under 2 inches (button buck included); or
  • An inside spread of 15 inches or more in width; or
  • At least one main beam 18 inches or more in length.

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.

  • Long, recurve and compound bows: Must have at least a 35-pound pull. Scopes, string locks and mechanical string releases may be used. Big-game hunters must use arrowheads at least 7/8-inches wide (mechanicals OK). Arrows and arrowheads containing firearm ammunition or poison may not be used.
  • Crossbow: Crossbows must have at least a 125-pound pull and a mechanical safety. Scopes may be used. Big-game hunters must use arrowheads at least 7/8-inches wide (including mechanicals). Arrows and arrowheads containing firearm ammunition or poison may not be used.
  • Propelled Arrows: Arrows propelled from a compressed air system or by the action of an explosive or combustible propellant may not be used.

In addition to traditional muzzleoaders and inline muzzleloaders, the following firearms will be legal:

  • Non-semiautomatic firearms capable of firing a straight-walled centerfire rifle catridge of .30 caliber or larger
  • Lever-action rifles, single-shot rifles, pump-action rifles and bolt-action rifles (including semi-automatic rifles that have been converted to bolt-action)

Shotguns are not allowed.

Muzzleloading rifles must have a barrel 18 inches or longer and be .40 caliber or larger. Magnifying sights may be used. The use of shot is not legal. Legal muzzleloaders use flint, percussion cap, primer or electronic pulse, must have the bullet loaded through the muzzle and are not capable of firing a cartridge.

Hunters may use muzzleloading handguns with:

  • barrels 9 inches or longer
  • .45 caliber or larger if they shoot conical bullets (200 grains or heavier), or
  • .530 caliber or larger if they shoot round balls.

A hunter may carry a muzzleloading handgun of any caliber as backup to a muzzleloading rifle.

Examples of legal cartridges to use:

  • 350 Legend
  • 360 Buckhammer
  • .405 Winchester
  • .444 Marlin
  • 44 Rem Mag
  • 45/70 Government

Modern guns may be used for deer EXCEPT:

  • buckshot in a .410 shotgun.
  • shot smaller than No. 4 buckshot in any shotgun.
  • rimfire cartridges, military or full metal jacketed ammunition.
  • centerfire rifles or handguns smaller than .22 caliber.
  • handguns with barrels shorter than 4 inches. See illustration, right.

NOTE: The AGFC has approved for modern gun deer season the use of large-bore air rifles that meet certain standards. The large-bore air rifle must be at least .40-caliber, shoot a single, expandable slug, produce at least 400 feet/pounds of energy at the muzzle, and be charged from an external tank. Large-bore air rifles are not legal for harvesting bear or elk.

In zones 4, and 5 modern guns are restricted to:

  • shotguns .410 or larger with slugs,
  • handguns with barrels 4 to 10 inches long chambered specifically for straight-walled centerfire cartridges loaded with lead, lead alloy, soft nose and/or hollow point bullets .30 caliber or larger,
  • large bore air rifles (see above),
  • muzzleloaders.
  • Modern guns, alternative firearms or archery equipment may be used during modern gun seasons.
  • Hunters may carry only legal alternative firearms and archery equipment during alternative firearms deer or bear seasons.
  • Hunters may carry only archery equipment during archery deer and bear seasons.
  • Hunters may use air rifles on small game.
  • Unless otherwise posted, handguns not meeting legal hunting equipment definitions above may be carried on Commission-owned or -controlled property for personal protection, but may not be used for any hunting purposes.

Hunters and those accompanying hunters in areas where modern gun or muzzleloader deer, bear or elk seasons are open must wear at least 400 square inches of hunter orange, chartreuse or blaze camouflage above the waist and a head garment of those same safety colors. Safety colors are not required for migratory bird hunters in these areas. View hunter orange requirements on ground blinds on WMAs.

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 and feed deer on private land outside of the CWD Management Zone year-round.
  • Food plots may be used year-round.
  • Baiting is not allowed on wildlife management areas.

It is unlawful to feed wildlife within the CWD Management Zone except:

  • Bait may be used to hunt deer and elk on private land from Sept. 1-Dec. 31.
  • Baiting bears, see Bear-specific Hunting Regulations.
  • Hunting or trapping furbearers with the use of bait during open furbearer trapping seasons on private land.
  • Incidental feeding of wildlife from livestock operations.
  • Normal agricultural, gardening or soil stabilization practices are allowed.
  • Attracting or feeding birds and squirrels with birdfeeders, bird baths.

Deer Hunting Near Water

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