GFC Considers 2006-2007 Hunting Proposals

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Commissioners for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today were presented with proposals for the 2006-2007 hunting seasons at the agency’s monthly meeting in Brinkley. The commission will study the proposals and make a decision at its March 16 meeting in Little Rock.

The biggest proposed change from last year was the increase in the statewide bag limit for deer. Biologists proposed the bag limit be raised from three deer to four deer statewide, with more restrictive bag limits in certain zones. The increase would allow two legal bucks and two does to be taken with a modern firearm and muzzleloader in deer zones 12, 13, 14, 15 and 17 or up to four does to be taken with archery tackle in the same zones.

Again this year, youth who have previously taken a buck, will be allowed to take any deer during the special youth modern gun deer hunt in all two buck bag limit zones.

Archery deer season would start on Oct.1 and continue through Feb. 28. Muzzleloader season would be split with the first season from Oct. 14 to 22 and a second season Dec. 16 to 18 or Dec. 29 to 31, depending on the deer zone. The proposed dates for modern gun season are: deer zones 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11-Nov. 11 to Nov. 30; deer zone 4-Nov. 11 to 12; deer zone 5-Nov. 11 to 12 and Nov. 18 to 19; deer zones 4A, 5A, 13, 14 and 15-Nov. 11 to Dec. 10; deer zones 9 and 12-Nov. 11 to Dec.17; deer zones 16, 16A and 17-Nov. 11 to Dec. 28. The Christmas holiday modern gun deer hunt will be Dec. 26 to 28 with the special modern gun youth deer hunt in all zones (excludes certain WMAs where a modern gun or muzzleloader permit is required to hunt) is scheduled for Nov. 4 to 5.

The commission also tentatively announced the 2007 opening dates for deer season. Archery deer season would open on Oct. 1, 2007 followed by muzzleloader season on Oct. 13, 2007 and modern gun season on Nov. 10, 2007.

A short list of the proposed hunting seasons is as follows:

Bear - (The quota has been lifted in zones 1 and 2) Archery: bear zones 1 and 2: Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 and bear zones 3, 4, 5, 5A, 6 and 7: closed. Muzzleloader: bear zones 1 and 2: Oct. 14 to 22 and bear zones 3, 4, 5, 5A, 6 and 7: closed. Modern gun: bear zones 1 and 2: Nov. 6 to 30; bear zone 5: Dec. 9 to 17 (closes earlier if quota is reached); bear zone 5A: Dec. 2 to 17 (closes earlier if quota is reached); bear zones 3, 4, 6 and 7: closed. Special modern gun youth bear hunt: bear zones 1 and 2: Nov. 4 to 5 (does not include WMAs requiring a deer permit to harvest a bear).

Turkey - Archery: statewide: Oct. 1 to Feb. 28. Firearms: turkey zones 2, 3, 6, 7 and 17: Oct. 23 to 29 and turkey zones 1, 1A, 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 5B, 7A, 8, 9, 9A and 10: closed.

Elk - Elk zones 1, 2, 3, 4 and A: Sept. 25 to 29 and elk zones 1, 2, 3, 4 and A: Dec. 4 to 8. Youth hunt: Elk zone 3: Dec. 4 to 8.

Quail - Statewide: Nov. 1 to Feb. 4.
Rabbit - Statewide: Sept. 2 to Feb. 28.
Squirrel - Statewide: Sept. 9 to Feb. 28 and May 12 to June 10.
Crow - Statewide: Sept. 2 to Feb. 22. (Thursday to Monday hunting only).
Furbearer trapping - (other than coyote, beaver, muskrat and nutria): Nov. 17 to Feb. 18.
Coyote trapping - Aug. 1 to Mar. 31.
Beaver, muskrat, nutria trapping - Nov. 17 to Mar. 31.
Gray fox, mink, opossum, red fox, striped skunk hunting season - Sept.1 to Feb. 28.
Raccoon day or night hunting season - Sept.1 to Mar. 31.
Raccoon night hunting season - July 1 to Aug. 31.
Bobcat and coyote hunting - Oct. 1 to Feb. 28.
River otter hunting - Nov. 17 to Feb. 28
Muskrat, nutria, beaver hunting - Sept. 1 to Mar. 31.
Spotted skunk and weasel hunting - Closed.

On another issue, Ricky Chastain, the AGFC's assistant chief of wildlife management, briefed the commission on negotiations with Green Bay Packaging on land the AGFC leases that involve the Cherokee and Jim Kress wildlife management areas in north central and west central Arkansas. Green Bay requested the AGFC address four issues of concern for the company beginning with prohibiting recreational ATV use on the land. The company also asked that the use of dogs for deer hunting and dog training be banned on the leased land. Green Bay also asked for improved control of trash dumping and littering and the prohibition of off road vehicles in closed areas. "We want to continue our cooperative relationship with Green Bay so that we can provide public hunting opportunities in those parts of the state," Chastain added.

AGFC director Scott Henderson reinforced the point that if these issues were not addressed, that the company would not lease the land to the AGFC. "They are graveyard serious we help manage this area and abide by their requirements. We need the cooperation of the public to help us address these issues. Hopefully the hunting public will understand we have to meet these concerns," Henderson added. Commissioner Sheffield Nelson indicated the agency may have to increase penalties in the area. "This is a last gasp sort of thing or we may lose it," Nelson said.