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The application period for special deer hunting permits on many wildlife management areas in Arkansas is open until 11:59 p.m. July 1, and hunters will notice many new opportunities, thanks to regulations passed during the May Commission meeting.
Many WMAs managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are open during fall deer hunting seasons without additional restrictions beyond the season dates and bag limits in that portion of the state. However, access to some of the more popular WMAs during muzzleloading, modern gun and some archery hunts must be limited to maintain a high hunt quality and ensure safe, uncrowded hunting conditions in line with the area’s wildlife population. Wildlife biologists monitor hunting activity level as well as wildlife populations on these areas to determine the number of hunts available, the target number of hunters who can use the area at once and the number of permits issued needed to reach those target numbers.
Hunters may apply for WMA deer hunt permits at www.agfc.com by clicking the “Buy License/Check Game” button at the top of the page, then selecting Special Hunt Permits to find the hunt they wish to apply for.
WMA Deer Hunt Permit applications are available for $5 per application type. If successful, applicants receive their permit without additional fees. Each hunter may submit one application for each type of permit hunt: youth hunt, archery, muzzleloader and modern gun. Mobility-impaired individuals also may apply for special mobility-impaired hunts through the permit system. Hunters must be at least 6 years old by the beginning of the hunt, and hunters applying for youth hunts must be at least 6, but no older than 15, the day the hunt begins. To apply for a youth hunt, the youth hunter must be logged in under his or her own Customer ID in the licensing system. Youth hunts do not appear as an option to choose in the licensing system for any hunters older than 16.
Hunters applying for regular modern gun and muzzleloader hunts may do so as individuals or they may apply as a group of up to four, thanks to the AGFC’s party hunt system. To apply as a group, the party hunt leader applies as though he or she were applying as an individual. Once the permit application is completed and paid for, he or she will receive a party hunt code listed underneath the application line on their updated hunting license via email. They may then share that code with up to three other individuals. The rest of the party will then apply, and respond “yes” when asked if they are members of a party hunt. They may then enter the code and continue with their application and payment. Applying as a party does not increase the chances of each individual being drawn.
A few notable changes for the 2022-23 deer hunting season include:
- The archery permit requirement has been removed for Maumelle River WMA. Maumelle River WMA will now be open to hunting during archery season without the need for a specially drawn permit;
- Permit youth hunts have been added to Camp Robinson SUA and to Harold E. Alexander/Spring River WMA during the January youth hunt dates;
- A permit youth hunt has been added to Greers Ferry WMA for November and January youth hunt dates;
- A new 5-day muzzleloader permit hunt was added to Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms WMA;
- The special firearms restriction for the modern gun permit hunt at Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek WMA has been lifted, and
- A new 5-day muzzleloader permit hunt was added to Stone Prairie WMA.
The AGFC’s Deer Team also has compiled a list of drawing odds based upon the number of applicants for each hunt last year. While some of the hunts known for high hunting success may have long-shot odds to draw, there are many hunts available offering an excellent chance to draw that still hold good odds for an enjoyable hunting experience. Visit www.agfc.com/en/hunting/big-game/deer/special-hunt-permits for this list of odds and to apply for a WMA deer hunt.