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Doe-only hunt puts a new look on upcoming deer season

This article was published September 25, 2011 at 4:23 a.m.

— Arkansas deer hunters have an additional five-day opportunity to pursue their favorite activity this season.

A doe-only hunt by any method is scheduled for Oct. 31 through Nov. 4. Modern guns, muzzleloaders, bows and crossbows will be allowed, but the hunt is for designated zones, not statewide.

The new doe-only hunt is for Deer Zones 6A, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17. This basically is south Arkansas, some of central Arkansas and a bit of north-central Arkansas. Deer Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4, 4A, 4B, 5, 5A, 5B, 6, 7, 8 and 11 will be closed. The bag limit on this special doe hunt is the zone limit.

No wildlife management areas will be involved in the doe-only hunt.

Any doe taken by a hunter in this new season will counttoward his or her season bag limit, both zone and statewide. There is a generous six-deer statewide limit for next season. Most zone limits are less than six, but a hunter can take deer in more than one zone up to the statewide limit of six.

“The rationale behind the hunt is simple,” said Dick Baxter, deer program coordinator for the Arkansas Game andFish Commission. “In many areas of the state, we have very high deer densities, and we need to try to reduce deer numbers. By providing hunterswith doe-only days, hunters that participate will not have the option to wait on a buck, which is why many hunters pass up opportunities at doesduring the regular moderngun and muzzleloader hunts.”

One point for the thinking of the Game and Fish Commission people who set the hunting seasons is that it is best to go a little conservative when instituting hunts. This new hunt is labeled modern gun, but this means hunters can use lesser weapons - archery, crossbows and muzzleloaders - if they so choose.

The doe-only rule, along with one specifying taking a doe before taking a buck, has been used by many private hunting clubs in Arkansas with success where there is a need to reduce herd numbers.

“We have allowed DMAP(Deer Management Assistance Program) clubs to harvest does early in the season for years,” Baxter said.

“This is a sound management practice because we are able to lower the standing crop before hunting season, thereby providing remaining deer with better resources to keep them in better shape heading into the rut and post-rut periods.

“Additionally, removing doe early in the season can also help to reduce the amount of unnecessary energy expenditures that bucks may have. Less doe on the landscape will ensure that there is a more defined rut and that more doe are bred by older age-class bucks.”

Three Rivers, Pages 133 on 09/25/2011

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