Again, it is a banner deer hunting season in Arkansas. Current statistics indicate the total should pass 200,000 for only the second time in history.
Last year, Arkansas hunters checked 213,487, well above the previous high mark.
More important, however, are the indications that (1) the state’s deer herd is healthy and thriving, and (2) the ratio of bucks to does is moving closer to ideal.
This year’s deer check total has passed 175,000. The numbers are slowing since modern gun season has closed in much of the state. But it remains open in deer-rich south Arkansas, and the three-day Holiday hunt is still to come.
Ralph Meeker is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s assistant deer program coordinator. He said that ultimately, he and Cory Gray, deer program coordinator, aren’t overly concerned about the number of deer killed each year. They are more interested in the biological data they collect from the deer that hunters kill.
“We’re really looking to see that people are successful and having a good time, that the deer population is successful and that we can keep it that way for generations to come for people to enjoy,” Meeker said. “We don’t get real excited about breaking records. We’re more excited that hunters are getting out there, participating and helping us keep the deer herd healthy.”
Why the recent increases in numbers of deer taken by hunters? Three basic reasons, according to the Game and Fish Commission.
One is deer are plentiful in the state, even over-abundant in places. Wildlife biologists estimate Arkansas has a million or more deer today.