The application period for Arkansas’ special urban bowhunts for the 2017-18 hunting season is now open and will run until 6:30 p.m., August 18. Hunters interested in participating in the Cherokee Village, Russellville, Fairfield Bay, Horseshoe Bend, Heber Springs and Hot Springs Village hunts should visit http://www.arkansasbowhunters.org/ to register online or contact J.D. Crawford at jd@arkansasbowhunters.org.
Hunters wishing to participate in the Bull Shoals or Lakeview hunts should contact the Bull Shoals Urban Bowhunters Association’s President Bill Craker at bsurbanbowhunt@yahoo.com.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission works with these two bowhunting groups in order to help administer needed hunts in urban areas.
“We’re fortunate to have these two partners step up and help administer these hunts, ensure the hunters are proficient and discreet and coordinate with the cities to prevent any conflicts,” said Ralph Meeker “Hunting is the most efficient means we have to control deer populations, and these hunts allow hunters to enjoy their sport while contributing to needy Arkansans throughout the state.”
As a stipulation of the hunt, all hunters must donate their first adult deer harvested to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Additionally, hunters who participate in the hunts must attend an orientation where they must pass a proficiency test with their archery equipment. A $50 orientation fee is collected by the bowhunting organizations, which helps offset some of the processing cost of the deer donated to AHFH through the program.
All urban hunts follow stringent guidelines to ensure that the safety of hunters and local landowners is maintained. In addition to the orientations and shooting proficiency tests, all hunters must have passed the International Bowhunters Education Program course to participate.
“Hunting is a very safe sport,” Meeker said. “But we make sure there is an extra level of safety involved in these hunts because of them being conducted in areas not normally associated with hunting.”
The exact regulations for each hunt may vary slightly, depending on the wishes of that community, but many rules, including mandatory shooting proficiency tests and maintaining a safe distance from homes and trails on common areas and obtaining landowner permission on private property, remain constant.
All deer harvested during urban hunts are considered bonus deer, and do not count toward a hunter’s seasonal limit. There are no limits to the number of deer that can be harvested in urban hunts and all antler restrictions are lifted. All deer harvested must still be checked to the appropriate urban deer zone online at www.agfc.com, by telephone at 844-5AR-HUNT, or by using the AGFC smartphone app.