Deer Tagging and Checking Procedures

Option 1: Immediate Electronic Checking

Upon harvesting a deer, instantly ensure compliance by checking your deer through one of the following electronic methods before even moving the animal:

  • Online: Access the official checking website to report your harvest.
  • Mobile App: Utilize the AGFC mobile app to conveniently check your deer from the field.
  • Telephone: Dial toll-free to 877-731-5627 for a direct phone check of your harvest.


Option 2: Traditional Tagging and Checking Steps

Step 1: Tag Attachment and Record Keeping

  • Firstly, secure the provided deer tag to the deer's ear or antler immediately upon harvest, and prior to any relocation of the animal.
  • Record all the required information legibly in ink but leave the Check # section blank for now.
  • For deer hunted on private lands, determine the zone numbers using the provided private land deer zone map.
  • For public land harvests, reference the WMA deer zone map for accurate zone numbers.
  • If you're transporting deer parts, ensure a duplicate harvest tag accompanies each portion, detailing the necessary information and the check confirmation number, up until final storage.


Step 2: Harvest Checking and Final Steps

  • Within 12 hours post-harvest, call 877-731-5627, visit AGFC's official website, or use the mobile app to log your deer's details.
  • Once you've checked your game, scribe the given check number onto your previously attached tag.
  • Removal of the deer's entrails is permissible; however, you must maintain evidence of sex through to the checking process.
  • Hunters may opt to field quarter their harvest, but they must keep the head in immediate proximity to the four quarters until the check-in is completed.
  • Be aware that there are strict transportation regulations regarding deer or elk from within the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone.
  • Also, interstate transportation of any big game prior to check-in is prohibited unless travel routes necessitate crossing state boundaries for check-in purposes.
  • When gifting game meat after the check-in process, remember to complete a game transfer form to accompany the game.


Understanding Antler-Point Restrictions for Deer Hunting

General Antler-Point Criteria

Antler-point restrictions play a critical role in deer management. A point is defined as any projection on the antler that is at least 1 inch in length, with the main beam count included.

Specific Regulations for Youth Hunters

Youth hunters, aged 6 to 15, enjoy the privilege of harvesting any buck without considering antler size or the number of points, encouraging young sportsmen and sportswomen to participate in hunting.

The Statewide Three-Point Rule

For standard legal buck designation:

  • Button bucks (with both antlers under 2 inches) are permissible.
  • Alternatively, a buck with at least three points on one side of its antlers qualifies. These regulations are applicable across the state, except for specific areas with tailored rules.

Exceptions: 12-Inch Inside Spread or 15-Inch Main Beam Rule

In certain Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) like Dr. Lester Sitzes III Bois d’Arc, Harold E. Alexander Spring River, and several others mentioned, a legal buck must meet one of the following:

  • It's a button buck.
  • The antlers show an inside spread of 12 inches or more.
  • Any main beam must be at least 15 inches long.

Enhanced Restrictions: 15-Inch Inside Spread or 18-Inch Main Beam Rule

In deer zones 16, 16A, 17, and on specified WMAs like Buck Island, Cut-Off Creek, and additional areas outlined above, the criteria for a legal buck are as follows:

  • It qualifies as a button buck.
  • The antlers have an inside spread of at least 15 inches.
  • At least one of the main beams is 18 inches or longer.

Other Legal Buck Definitions

Certain refuges and WMAs have their unique sets of rules where any buck deer can be legally harvested during all deer hunts. Notable examples include Bald Knob and Cache River NWRs, among others. Affected WMAs where any buck may be legally taken during specific hunts include Greers Ferry Lake during the muzzleloader Mobility Impaired permit hunt and Nimrod Lloyd Millwood WMA during the modern gun mobility impaired hunt. These allowances provide opportunities for various hunter groups to participate under the specified conditions.

Legal Hunting Equipment Specifications

Archery Regulations

Archery hunters must utilize bows with a minimum of 35-pound draw weight, which may include:

  • Types of Bows: Longbows, recurve bows, or compound bows are permitted.
  • Accessories: Use of scopes, string locks, and mechanical string releases are authorized.
  • Arrowheads: For big game, hunters are obligated to employ arrowheads that span at least 7/8-inches in width, including mechanical broadheads.
  • Prohibitions: Arrows or arrowheads that embody firearm ammunition or poison are strictly forbidden.

Crossbow Standards

Crossbow users have specific requirements for ethically and legally hunting big game:

  • Minimum Specifications: The crossbow must exert a draw weight of no less than 125 pounds and be equipped with a mechanical safety.
  • Scopes: Scopes can be mounted on crossbows for enhanced accuracy.
  • Arrowheads: The same width regulations for arrowheads apply to crossbow hunters, set at a minimum of 7/8-inches, inclusive of mechanical types.
  • Arrows Restrictions: The use of firearm ammunition or poison in the arrows is prohibited.
  • Air-Propelled Arrows: It's illegal to hunt with arrows propelled using a compressed air system or explosive/combustible propellant.

Muzzleloader Criteria

Muzzleloader firearms must comply with the following criteria to be suitable for deer hunting:

  • Barrel and Caliber: The muzzleloading rifle's barrel must be at least 18 inches, with the muzzleloader being .40 caliber or larger.
  • Sights: The use of magnifying sights is permitted.
  • Ammunition Constraint: The use of shot is impermissible; bullets must be loaded through the muzzle.
  • Ignition Systems: Acceptable ignition systems include flint, percussion cap, primer, or electronic pulse.
  • Handgun Variants: Muzzleloading handguns with barrels of 9 inches or longer, and a minimum .45 caliber for conical bullets, or .530 caliber for round balls.
    • A backup handgun of any caliber is allowed alongside a muzzleloading rifle.

Modern Gun Usage

Modern firearms are acceptable, with noted exclusions:

  • Prohibited Ammunition and Firearms:
    • Buckshot in a .410 shotgun.
    • Shotgun shot smaller than No. 4 buckshot.
    • Rimfire cartridges, military or full metal jacketed ammunition.
    • Centerfire rifles or handguns under .22 caliber.
    • Handguns with barrels below 4 inches in length.
Arkansas Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations

Despite approval for modern gun deer season, it's important to note that large-bore air rifles are not legal instruments for the harvest of bear or elk.

  • Approved Air Rifles:
    • Specifications: .40-caliber or larger, single slug firing, at least 400 feet/pounds of muzzle energy, and charged externally.
    • Restrictions: Not for bear or elk hunting.

Zone-Specific Firearm Restrictions

In zones 4, and 5, the following are the only permissible firearms:

  • Shotguns .410 or larger with slug shots.
  • Handguns with 4 to 10-inch barrels for straight-walled cartridges, .30 caliber and above.
  • Large bore air rifles as specified above.
  • Muzzleloaders.

Seasonal Equipment Legality

Depending on the season, different weapon types may be used:

  • During modern gun seasons, hunters can use modern guns, muzzleloaders, or archery equipment.
  • Muzzleloader or archery gear is exclusively allowed during muzzleloader seasons.
  • Only archery equipment is permitted during archery deer and bear seasons.
  • Air rifles are sanctioned for small game hunting.
  • Turkey hunting is restricted to shotguns no larger than 10 gauge and archery gear, with no shot larger than No.2 allowed.

Sidearm and Hunter Orange Rules

  • For personal protection on Commission lands, carry of non-qualifying hunting handguns is allowed but cannot be used for hunting.
  • Hunter Orange apparel is mandated for hunters in areas open to modern gun or muzzleloader deer, bear, or elk seasons, with at least 400 square inches of hunter orange or equivalent chartreuse/blaze camouflage above the waist, plus a headwear of the same safety colors. Migratory bird hunters are exempt from this requirement.

Regulations on Baiting Deer

Baiting Definition and Restrictions

Baiting comprises any actions such as placing, exposing, or scattering materials like salt or grain to entice wildlife into regions where hunting is taking place. An area remains classified as baited for ten days even after the complete removal of all bait.

Baiting on Private Land

  • Private landowners outside the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone have the liberty to bait and feed deer throughout the year.
  • The establishment of food plots for hunting purposes is permissible all year.

WMAs and CWD Zone Limitations

  • The practice of baiting is prohibited on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
  • Within the CWD Management Zone, the following regulations apply:
    • Bait is authorized for hunting deer and elk on private lands from September 1st through December 31st.
    • Bear baiting follows its own specific hunting regulations.
    • Bait usage is allowed for hunting or trapping furbearers during open seasons on private grounds.
    • Wildlife feeding incidental to livestock operations is not considered illegal.
    • Traditional farming, gardening, or soil stabilization efforts are not restricted by baiting laws.
    • The use of bird feeders and bird baths to attract or feed birds and squirrels is permitted.

Hunting Deer Near Water

Certain water-related hunting activities are strictly regulated to ensure fair chase and ethical standards:

  • Deer cannot be legally hunted while they are swimming.
  • Hunting deer from a boat with the intent to drive or capture them is illegal.
  • It is unlawful to hunt deer from any watercraft on public waterways.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.