Deer management on private lands gets boost in Arkansas

The establishment of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1916 came as a result of the realization that deer were about to become extinct. At the time, estimates showed there were perhaps as few as 2,000 deer in the entire state.

(Courtesy photo)
The establishment of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1916 came as a result of the realization that deer were about to become extinct. At the time, estimates showed there were perhaps as few as 2,000 deer in the entire state. (Courtesy photo)


Deer clubs across Arkansas will have more resources to improve their deer herds thanks to a new agreement struck between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the National Deer Association.

Five biologists will be hired by the deer association under the agreement, but will aid the Game and Fish new Private Lands Habitat Division by working one-on-one with deer clubs enrolled in the Game and Fish Deer Management Assistance Program.

"We've been looking at a way to revitalize deer management assistance," said Jeremy Brown, the statewide deer management assistance program coordinator. "A few years back, Ralph Meeker, our deer program coordinator, and I surveyed all of our participating clubs and performed a bit of an audit on ourselves. We wanted to know how we could improve the program and what sorts of things our clubs wanted to make their deer hunting experience even better. The biggest limiting factor in making those things happen was manpower."

Brown explained until this partnership, managing the assistance program was one of many duties placed on the agency's private lands biologists.

"They are great biologists and really knowledgeable, but they were being pulled in so many directions they never could devote themselves to deer management assistance program to really be able to make meaningful changes," Brown said.

"I'm not slighting anyone, there just aren't enough hours in a day for them to cover all the bases these folks had been tasked with."

Director Austin Booth created the new Private Lands Habitat Division and wanted to increase capacity. Brown said then he knew it was time to really think about adding capacity, whether through commission staff or partnerships with other agencies.

Although Brown still hopes to bring on additional deer management assistance program biologists within the Game and Fish ranks, he said working with the National Deer Association was a no-brainer.

Brown said the partnership positions will be similar to others Game and Fish has fostered with Quail Forever and Ducks Unlimited, but the focus will be putting habitat on the ground for Arkansas' most popular game species, the white-tailed deer.


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