For most of us, the last hurrah of deer season comes up later this week. We get through Christmas Day with the presents, the feasting, the other activities — and the next morning we go after deer.
The event will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday statewide.
For Faulkner County, which is in three different deer zones, the only difference from the earlier modern gun season is that dogs will not be allowed.
Other rules are the same, including the limits. For each zone in our county, that is four deer, of which two can be bucks. But you can only take one doe by modern gun and muzzle-loader combined. If you took a doe in the earlier modern gun hunt, you can’t do it this time.
The success of this holiday hunt depends on the weather.
With decent weather, meaning no snow, no ice, nothing more than a drizzle of rain, a good many hunters should be successful. The deer are here. Getting them to come within our sights is something else.
Arkansas is headed to a new all-time deer record unless the weather really turns atrocious.
We chuckle a bit when someone tells us, “Deer hunting is not nearly as good as in the old days.” Or, “They need to stock more deer in my part of the county.” Or, “The coyotes are killing all our baby deer.”
Folks, the deer are with us in numbers we have never known before, according to the biologists at the Game and Fish Commission.
Last year, hunters checked 213,487 deer, and this was well above the previous record of 194,687. The current total is close to 200,000, and after this three-day holiday hunt, there will be the youth hunt of Jan. 4-5 along with bow hunting through the end of February.
Get a bunch of deer hunters in a conversation, and someone is apt to say he or she misses the old days when deer check stations were in operation. These were social centers in many instances. You dropped in at a check station to see what came in, to drink a soda or cup of coffee and to talk with other hunters.
Now, checking is done by phone or by computer. Sure, there is probably some cheating going on, some hunters slipping home with a deer in their vehicles and hoping a “game warden” doesn’t stop them. But this took place in the old check station days also.
The Game and Fish folks do not think such cheating is widespread.
The new checking system is much more efficient and requires much less time by employees, Game and Fish tells us.
When you consider how much development and construction and road building there has been in our county in recent times, the numbers of deer is even more remarkable. We have a good deal less room for deer than we used to.
Good old days? When they built Lake Conway in 1951, that took out 6,700 acres of habitat that was mostly suited for deer.
But nobody can ever get deer to come to all the places that give every hunter a shot at them. A major change through the years has been the stationary hunting most of us do these days. We sit or stand in one spot and wait for deer to show up instead of quietly slipping through the fields trying to find deer as was done in those good old days.
Have a good holiday hunt, folks.