You've heard the old saying that if something's too good to be true, then it probably is. That's not the case with elk hunting in Arkansas. A free chance to hunt Arkansas' largest game animal is very real and it's coming up soon.
The month of May is application time for a chance to win one of the 26 permits to hunt elk in the Buffalo River country of Arkansas. The hunt dates this year are Sept. 22-26 and Dec. 8-12.
The applications are available on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Web site, www.agfc.com, at license dealers, AGFC offices and other outlets across the state. Applying doesn't cost anything, nor does winning one of the 24 available permits. Two other permits are issued through fundraising activities of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, with 85 percent of the money received returned to Arkansas for elk habitat work.
The drawing for the public land permits will be Saturday, June 28, on the Newton County Courthouse Square in Jasper, near the Buffalo River and center of Arkansas's elk country. Persons applying for permits don't have to be present, but many attend each year, joining in the festivities and activities.
There is an added attraction again this year. One permit will be issued to someone who makes application at the Elk Festival in Jasper. Sign up, stick around and you may win a permit. For this one, you have to be present. And like the other public land elk permits to be drawn, you have to be an Arkansas resident.
Applications for Arkansas' 2008 elk hunt permits can be submitted any time during the month of May. Applications will not be accepted if postmarked past June 2.
The 2008 elk hunting will be in Elk Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4 along the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas. These zones are mostly public lands of the Buffalo National River and the Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area.
The dates for the Zone A private land hunt is Sept. 22-26 and Dec. 8-12 for lands in Boone, Carroll and Newton counties. The Zone B hunt will be held Dec. 8-12 only for lands in Madison and Newton counties. In these areas some landowners view elk as nuisances. These permits are issued in a separate process. They cost $35, and hunters must have signed permission from a landowner in Zone A or Zone B in order to apply. The private land hunts will end at sundown when the quotas are reached. The application period for this permit must be postmarked by July 15 and are not available for online application.
For the free public land permits, duplicate applications will be thrown out. Persons who have accumulated 12 or more violation points in the AGFC point system for hunting and fishing violations are not eligible.
Two of the permits are earmarked for youths boys or girls under 16 years of age.
Improving elk habitat in the Buffalo River country is another benefit of the permit process. Many Arkansans who apply for the permits send along voluntary donations to the elk program, and this money is used for food plots, prescribed burning and other work in the elk area. A donation to the AGFC for the elk program is not a requirement for permit application, nor does a donation improve chances of being drawn for a permit.