Hunting in the State of Arkansas

Ever wonder why or how the Southern U.S. state of Arkansas got tagged with the Natural State title? For starters, any state that has half of its land area covered by forestland should definitely have that title. To put things into perspective, that is about two-and-a-half million acres of national forests. If that does not get you packing hunting gear immediately to head to Arkansas, surely its 600,000 acres of lakes and 9,700 miles of streams and rivers will do.

However, before you head to Arkansas, we implore you to read the following concise information about hunting in the state. It is an easy and hassle-free read that lets you stay abreast with all the crucial things a hunter must know before hunting in Arkansas.

Arkansas Hunting License

Hunters 16 years and older are required to have an Arkansas hunting license before venturing off to hunt any wildlife animal in the State of Arkansas.  The exemptions to this rule are those who hunt on a licensed game-bird shooting resort.  Furthermore, hunters 16 years and older are required to acquire the hunter education certification (see below) before they can become eligible for an Arkansas Hunting license.

Regardless of the age, the hunters must, while hunting, possess a valid Arkansas Hunting License issued by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). The license can be displayed either in a printed format or an electronic format. The hunter must also secure other hunting permits and stamps (see below) in order to hunt some game species and animals in the state.

Resident and Nonresident Hunting License

Depending on the hunter’s residency status, the applicant can either be eligible for a resident hunting license or a non-residency hunting license in Arkansas.

By law, the State of Arkansas views people who have legally resided in the state for a minimum of 60 days prior to their hunting licenses application as residents. These people must have a valid resident hunting license in order to hunt in the state. Those who do not meet this minimum day requirement will be regarded as non-residents of the state. Exemptions to this rule are the following:

  • Active-duty members of the U.S. military (regardless of residency status) stationed in Arkansas automatically get residency privileges.
  • Members of the National Guard stationed in Arkansas
  • Students who have enrolled full-time in schools, colleges or universities in Arkansas are eligible to buy resident licenses. Similarly, Arkansan’s schooling outside the state qualifies to buy resident hunting licenses. In both cases, the applicant must come with enrollment proof.

Hunters can prove their residency status by furnishing the following: a valid Arkansas driver’s license and Social Security Number or say a tax return form and documentation.

Note: A resident of the State of Arkansas automatically loses his or her residency privileges the moment he or she claims hunting or trapping residency privileges from another U.S. state.

Hunter Education Requirements in Arkansas

Hunters born after 1968 must enroll in and complete the Hunter education program. However, minors under 16 can hunt and acquire the Arkansas hunting license without the hunter education, provided they are accompanied by a licensed adult 21 years or older.

Arkansas Hunter Education Certification is designed to pass on ethical and sustainable ways of hunting to upcoming hunters. There is no minimum age to enroll in the Arkansas Hunter Education course. Ideally, the course needs 6th-grade literacy and reading skills to pass the exams.

Note: Arkansas accepts education certifications from all states or provinces in the U.S. that meet IHEA-USA (the International Hunter Education Association) requirements. Likewise, all U.S. states and provinces Canada and Mexico that have compulsory hunter education requirements will accept the Arkansas Hunter Education Certificate.

The State of Arkansas has two main options for hunter education students. They are a “traditional” classroom format and an online-based format.

A traditional classroom option is an instructor-led approach that entails about 10 hours of work on on a host of ethical safety topics. There is no minimum age requirement for the traditional classroom course. However, students under the age of 12 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when attending the class. To find and register for an Arkansas traditional hunter course, please click on this link. 

The online session can be completed at your own discretionary pace. There is no minimum age requirement for the online hunter education course in Arkansas. There is a fee associated with this online course.  The online course can be completed by both residents and non-residents of the state. It requires about 4-6 hours in order to complete. For more details about the course fees, outline and topics, duration, and class schedule of the online Education certification course in Arkansas, please click on this link.

In-Person Exam

Upon completion of the online course, students have to attend the In-Person Exam. They must come along with a signed Online Course Completion Voucher. Students must obtain a passing grade (80% correct) on a 100 multiple-choice question. Click on this link to register for the In-person Exam.

The state has a free self-study course (also available on a CD) option that gives students the option to study and complete the various sections of the course. Subsequently, the student must print the completion voucher. This voucher must then be taken to an official testing site to complete the second part of the course. The CD can be obtained by calling 501-223-6377 or emailing a request to aimee.swaim@agfc.ar.gov.

To view and register for any other active Arkansas education programs such as Boater Education and Bowhunter Education programs, please visit this link.

Hunter Education Deferral Permit

The Hunter Education Deferral is the equivalent of an apprentice hunting license seen in other states in the U.S. This deferral is given once a year to hunters 16 years or older (or born after 31 December 1968) in a lifetime to defer the hunter education training. The applicant must not be hunter-education certified.  Also, the State forbids holders of this deferral from hunting alone.  They must at all times, while hunting, be in the company of a hunter-education certified hunter 21 years or older or who were born on or before 31 December 1968. The applicant must have a clean record, that is he or she must not be a former violator of any hunter education certification requirement. Persons who have had their hunting privileges revoked are eligible for this code. If you meet the above requirements, please visit this link to get your Deferred Hunter Education Permit.

How to get an Arkansas Hunting License

There are primarily four ways hunters can purchase a hunting license or permits in Arkansas.

  1. The most relaxed and fastest option is to make the purchase online using the AGFC’s online licensing system. This option allows the user to perform a host of transactions such as: harvest report submissions, AGFC donations, WMA hunt application, replacing lost or damaged licenses, game checking, and gift certificates. The applicant can make payments with VISA, MasterCard or Discover credit card.
  2. The second way is through any one of the numerous license vendors and retail outlets in the state. Hunters can click this link to search for the nearest vendor in their vicinity. Licenses can also be purchased at Wal-Marts.
  3. Alternatively, applicants can visit any one of the numerous regional AGFC officesNature Centers or the Little Rock Headquarters in Arkansas State.
  4. Finally, applicants can get their license by calling 1-800-364-4263 or 501-223-6349 or 800-364-GAME from Monday to Friday.

How much does an Arkansas Hunting License or Permit or Stamp Cost?

The fees for licenses and permits in Arkansas vary depending on the applicant’s residency status. Click on this link to view the various hunting licenses and permits along with their corresponding fees.

All annual hunting licenses in Arkansas are valid from the moment they are purchased to June 30. The non-annual licenses can have varying dates. Click on the fees link above to view further details and the varying license fee structure in the state.

Note: Upon the request of a wildlife officer or other law enforcement officer, hunters must produce their hunting license, or hunting gear, or vehicles for inspection. Failure to do so, or refusal to do so, will attract disciplinary sanctions.

Some notable Hunting Licenses and Stamps in the State of Arkansas

Here are some famous hunting licenses, stamps, and permits in the State of Arkansas:

  • Combination Sportman’s license gives the holder the opportunity to hunt and fish.
  • General WMA Hunt Use Permit holders are entitled to hunt, fish, trap or boat on all WMAs in open seasons.
  • Resident Hunting Guide License is the kind of license one will take when guiding, assisting or aiding another hunter for a fee or some form of payment in kind. The holders can only operate on land not owned or controlled by the state. Examples are WMAs and Wildlife Refuge areas.
  • Arkansas State has a three-year disability hunting license (combination licenses are also available) that lets people with disability enjoy the wildlife riches of the state. A 60-day residency proof is required for residents. Plus, a proof of 100 percent disability from the Social Security Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Railroad Retirement Board. These licenses are available only at the Little Rock AGFC Office. Holders must purchase of other permits and stamps that may be required of certain game animals.
  • Federal Duck Stamp is for all hunters 16 years or older that intend hunting migratory waterfowl. This Stamp is meant for resident and non-resident hunters who hunt birds such as duck, goose, snipe, woodcock, rails, and band-tailed pigeon. The federal stamps are available at any local U.S. Postal Office and online. These stamps are valid from the date of purchase to the 30th of June each fiscal year.
  • Harvest Information Program registration: All hunters, 16 years or older, must have an Arkansas Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration prior to hunting ducks, geese, doves, woodcocks, coots, rails, snipe, moorhens, and gallinules. This registration is free of charge.

For more information about numerous other stamps, please visit this link.

Note: Hunting Licenses are not transferable. It is also unlawful to use someone else’s license. Hunters must not alter or make any counterfeit license.

Hunting Regulations in Arkansas

The following regulations below must be taken note of if you hunters are to engage in lawful hunting and trapping expedition in Arkansas:

  • Without permission, it is illegal to transport a game animal across state lines.
  • It is illegal to shoot firearm or archery equipment across, from or within 100 feet of the centerline of any city, county, state or federally maintain the road.
  • The use of artificial light from a public road, street or highway or within a WMA is forbidden.
  • It is illegal to use electronic tracking equipment in hunting wildlife
  • The state prohibits the use of drones or unmanned aircraft in any form to hunt.
  • Hunters who hunt wildlife fleeing from floods or fires will be prosecuted.
  • Hunting from the boat at night is unlawful.
  • Baiting is not allowed on WMAs.
  • The use of the bow and arrow from any moving or stationary vehicle is prohibited.
  • A harvested kill cannot be transported on behalf of the person who killed it outside the field without the appropriate tagging.
  • It is unlawful hunting, trapping, chasing or retrieving a game animal from private property without the approval of the owner.
  • The use of the motor-powered vehicle  to chase, hunt and take mammals and birds is forbidden (except for persons with disability hunting permits)
  • Hunters who hunt or accompany deer bear or elk hunts that use modern gun or muzzleloader must hunter orange.
  • Without permits, hunters cannot import native or exotic wildlife into the state. Visit this link for more details.
  • It is illegal to feed wildlife. Except for beers that are fed 30 days before the bear season. Also, bears cannot be fed or baited.
  • It is unlawful not to immediately report hunting or trapping related incident involving personal injury (above basic first-aid treatment). All reports must be directed to the AGFC or by phone 800-482-9262.
  • Dogs cannot be used to hunt feral hogs on WMAs.

Note: The above regulations were selected from the state’s various Hunting Regulations. Hunters are advised to read those regulation guides very carefully, especially the general WMA regulations, in order to avoid breaching any Arkansas State laws and regulations.

Hunting Seasons in Arkansas

The hunting seasons for the various game animals vary in terms of zones. For more information about the hunting seasons in Arkansas, we entreat hunters to read the various Arkansas Hunting Guidebooks or visit this link.

Small game animals Hunting Seasons

The small game animals in Arkansas are quail, rabbit, crow, and squirrel. The quail season is from mid-fall all through to winter. The bag limit is 6. The possession limit is 12. Rabbit seasons have similar hunting dates as that of quail. The bag limit for the rabbit is 8. And the possession limit is 16.

For the squirrel season, the dates are from mid-May to the end of February. The daily limit is 12, and the possession limit is 48.

All the above small game animals must not be hunted with rifles or handguns larger than .22 caliber rimfire or with muzzleloaders larger than .40 caliber.

Furbearers Hunting Seasons

Furbearers in Arkansas include badger, beaver, bobcat, coyote, grey fox, red fox, muskrat, mink, nutria, opossum, raccoon, spotted skunk, river otter, striped skunk, and weasel.

The hunting seasons for gray fox, red fox, mink and striped skunk, opossum, bobcat usually occurs from the beginning of fall to the end of winter. The bag limit is often two per day for all.

Coyote hunting season takes place from midsummer to the end of winter. Depending on the zone, hunters are forbidden to hunt coyotes at night. The River otter season occurs from November to February.  The bag limit is two per day. As for raccoon, the date is from July to August for night hunting only. There is no bag limit here. However, Raccoon hunting that occurs from fall to early spring can be done day or night. There is no bag limit.

Generally, the seasons for muskrat, nutria, and beaver occur from fall to early spring. Hunters can only hunt during the day in those seasons. There is no bag limit.

To view further details on furbearer hunting season dates and regulations, please visit this link.

Big Game Hunting Seasons

Big game animals in Arkansas are deer, elk, alligator, and bear.

Elk Hunting Season

Elk hunting season occurs within fall. The bag limit is one elk either sex. Hunters require the permit to hunt elk in Arkansas. They must also report their harvest by calling 870-204-0576 within 12 hours of harvesting. The reporting can also be done online.

Alligator Hunting Season

Hunters who want to hunt alligator must acquire a permit. Non-residents of the state and youths under 16 years may not hunt alligator. The season dates according to Zones 1, 2 and 3 often occur in mid-fall. To view the specific dates related to the hunting seasons and zone map for alligator, please visit this link.

Bear Hunting Season

The various bear hunting seasons are Muzzleloader, Special Youth modern gun, and Modern gun seasons. Season dates vary according to the Bear Zones 1, 2, 5, and 5A.

Archery Bear season is in fall. Muzzleloader Bear Season occurs in mid-fall. The Special Modern Gun Youth Bear Hunt occurs towards the end of fall. Finally, Modern Gun Bear Season takes place from mid-fall to early winter.

The bag limit is one statewide.  Hunters must not bait bears with foodstuffs or use any kind of lure to attract them (except on private lands in bear zones 1, 2, 5, and 5A.). It is also illegal to take or attempt to take bear wearing a radio collar. Also, hunters must not take bear that is in its den. Neither is it lawful to them with a dog. For details about these regulations and bag limits, please visit this link.

 Deer Hunting Season

The hunting season and bag limits vary according to about 20 hunting zones (from Deer zone 1 to Deer zone 17). The major hunting seasons are Archery, Muzzleloader, Modern gun, Special Modern Gun Youth Deer Hunt, and Private land antlerless-only modern gun deer hunt. The Archery Season is from fall to winter. The Muzzleloader Season is from fall to early winter. Modern Gun Season is from fall to early winter. The Special modern gun youth deer hunt is from mid-fall and mid-winter. The Private land antlerless-only modern gun deer hunt occurs in mid-fall. For specific bag limits and season dates as well as the hunting equipment for the various Deer Zones, please visit this link. The link also includes deer-specific hunting regulations as well as extensive details about the Chronic Wasting Disease.

Turkey Hunting Season

The season and bag limits for turkey has been categorized into hunting zones. Please visit this link to view up-to-date information on the various hunting dates for the over 10 hunting zones. For example, the Special Youth Turkey Hunt allows hunters 6 to 15 years hunt turkey. Hunters interested in hunting turkey can visit this link to read up on turkey hunting regulations and apply for the WMA turkey hunt permit.

Where to Hunt or Trap in the State of Arkansas

AGFC manages and controls several Wildlife Management Areas, parks and national forest. Hunters will be spoilt for choice considering how vast the public lands are. With half of the state being forest lands, hunters can explore a number of lands categorizations such as:

Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)

The state has more than 100 Wildlife Management Areas across 75 counties. Together, these areas offer Arkansans and nonresidents a wide array of game animals such as big game, small game, migratory birds, turkey, furbearers, and feral hogs.

Notable WMAs include Bayou Des Arc WMACasey Jones WMADeGray Lake WMADardanelle WMABearcat Hollow WMABeaver Lake WMABeryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMAJim Kress WMAJones Point WMAWinona WMA, and White Rock WMA.

The Bayou Des Arc WMA, located in Prairie County, has about 953 acres. Deer are some of the known game animals hunted in this area. Depending on the zones, bear or alligator may be closed off to hunting.  Another famous WMA is the Dardanelle WMA. Located across Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Pope, and Yell counties, Dardanelle has about 42,500 acres of land. Zone 160 is most famous for deer hunting.

From top left to down right: Bayou Des Arc WMADardanelle WMADeGray Lake WMAWinona WMA

To view more of such WMAs, with their corresponding maps, in Arkansas, click on this link

National Wildlife Refuges (NWR)

The national wildlife refuges in Arkansas are mostly famous for deer, quail, rabbit, squirrel, coyote, beaver, muskrat, raccoon, opossum, armadillo and nutria. There are also a number of other furbearers scattered across these refugees. Here is some famous national wildlife Refuge that hunters can revel in:

  • Pond Creek NWR is located in Sevier County. Its size is about 27,000 acres. Deer, raccoon, opossum, squirrel, beaver, and nutria are the typical game animals that you can find in this refuge.
  • With about 72,000 acres spreading across Jackson, Monroe, Praire and Woodruff Counties, Cache River NWR will be a delight for many hunters and trappers interested in deer, rabbit, squirrel, quail, and armadillo.
  • Dale Bumper White River NWR is one of the largest refuges in the state. It has about 160,000 acres of land that spreads across Arkansas, Desha, Monroe, and Philips counties. Famous game animals include deer, rabbit, beaver, nutria, coyote, furbearers and deer.
  • The Felsenthal NWR spans from Ashley, Bradley, and Union counties. The total land area is about 67,000 acres.

National Forests in Arkansas

Hunters will be amazed by the vast sizes of some of the national forests in Arkansas. Those forests offer very rich hunting as well as trails for hiking to both residents and non-residents of the state. The two major national forests are Ozark National Forest and Ouachita National Forest.

From left to right, Ozark National Forest and Ouachita National Forest

The Ozark National Forest spans from Arkansas all the way to Oklahoma. Majority of its 1.8 million acres is located in Arkansas. It has an extensive trail system for easy access.

Note: Keep it in mind that it is unlawful discharging on or across a forest service road.

 

Access Areas and Private Lands

In addition to the above public lands, AGFC has partnered with some private landowners. Care must be taken to get all the necessary documentation and permission from these landowners prior to hunting on their lands. Hunters must go in there with the appropriate licenses, permits, and tags. Hunters are advised to properly conduct themselves on these private properties. They should also vacate the premises whenever they are told to leave by the landowner.

Hunting Guides or Outfitters in Arkansas

Considering how vast the hunting area is in Arkansas, several private organizations have taken up the task of guiding and assisting both residents and nonresidents get the best hunting experience in the State. Here are some examples of well-known outfitters and guides in Arkansas:

 

**Offers lodging and accommodation to hunters.

Accommodations Available to Hunters in Arkansas

In addition to the lodges that the above outfitters offer, Arkansas has the enviable reputation of providing a very hospitable and welcoming place for all hunters (with valid hunting licenses and documentation of course).

The following are some hotels, lodges, and inns open to hunters:

The Blackwoods Lodge and Cabins
560 Polk Rd 78, Mena, AR 71953, USA
Telephone: 870-818-0892
Website: backwoodslodgemena.com

Park Hotel Hot Springs
211 Fountain St, Hot Springs, AR 71901, USA
Telephone: 800-895-7275
Website: parkhotelhotsprings.com

The River Rock Inn
1350 US-62 BUS, Mountain Home, AR 72653, USA
Telephone: 870-425-5101
Website: theriverrockinn.com

Capital Hotel
111 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201, USA
Telephone: 501-374-7474
Website: capitalhotel.com

Black River Lodge
135 Co Rd 109, Reyno, AR 72426, USA
Telephone: 501-253-0845
Website: brlodge.com

Tagging and reporting harvest in the State of Arkansas

The state requires that the game be tagged appropriately before moving the game. The tag must remain fastened to the game until it gets to the taxidermy and storage. Alternatively, and for deer, hunters can check immediately online or by calling 877-731-5627 then no tagging is required.

With regard to harvest reporting, all hunters must report big game harvests (within 24 hours of kill) such as deer and elk. Report all harvest online or by phone 877-731-5627.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Should I be concerned about the Chronic Waste Disease that is sweeping through the U.S.?

A. Chronic Waste Disease (CWD) often affects deer and elks. It cannot spread to humans or livestock. There is no evidence of it affecting humans or livestock. However, you can take some precautionary measures by not feeding domestic animals the meat of wildlife animals showing symptoms of CWD. The meat of infected animals should be disposed of properly because CWD gets passed through contact with feces, urine, saliva, CWD-infected carcasses or contaminated soil.

As a result of the above, the state prohibits the usage of deer scents, lures or any other substance that contain natural deer urine or other biofluids of deer to hunt. Visit the www.cdc.gov or the AFDC website for more information concerning CWD symptoms and other safety tips.

Q. I am an active-duty member of the U.S. military. I used to be an Arkansas resident; however, my time with the military has taken me across the country. What kind of license will I be eligible for?

A. A resident hunting license. The state honors people like you. All active-duty members who were once Arkansas residents get to have a resident hunting license.

Q. What are the key information and identification that I needs to be furnished when buying an Arkansas hunting license or permit?

A. They are: first and last name, address, date of birth,  driver’s license, and Social Security number or say a tax return form and documentation. Often times, the state asks for other demographic information such as gender, height, eye color, and race.  Once your details have been keyed in and stored, information such as your Social Security Number will not viewable by anyone else. You will not need to furnish this number again.

Q. I am a 66-year-old resident of Arkansas. I would like to hunt. What license will I be eligible for?

A. For people 65 and over, you could buy the Lifetime Hunting license. There is a 60-day residency requirement. Visit this link to view more details about the various hunting licenses.

Q. Are owners of real estate in Arkansas eligible to claim resident hunting license in Arkansas?

A. No.  Owners of real estate who do not reside in Arkansas do not qualify for residency status.

Conclusion

Over the years, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have keenly promoted sustainable wildlife and outdoor activities. Therefore, all prospective hunters in the state of Arkansas must strive to hunt ethically and respect the rights of hunters, non-hunters and private landowners. It is our wish that the above information lets you take advantage of the various hunting opportunities prevalent in this Natural State.

For more information about the above and changes to the season dates and contact details, please visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s (AGFC) website.



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