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Urban Archery Deer Hunts in Arkansas

When you think of hunting in Arkansas, waterfowl is likely the first thing to come to mind. The state has a long history of being one of the finest places to hunt ducks along the Mississippi flyway.

But the state is also creating some great opportunities for deer hunters as well. Particularly bowhunters that want to try to their hand at urban deer with archery gear this fall.

That’s right! Registration is now open for Arkansas’s 2024-25 Urban Archery Deer Hunts. It’s an incredible opportunity for bowhunters to enjoy a unique hunt, while helping control booming urban deer populations. Even better, the hunt helps feed those in need across the state. It’s a huge win for everyone involved.

The AGFC-endorsed urban archery hunts are held in towns across The Natural State. The hunts have proven to be a solid technique to manage deer populations where numbers have grown beyond healthy levels. 

Ralph Meeker, the deer program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says certain wildlife populations have flourished in the last five decades, but you can have too much of a good thing, especially when too many deer and people try to coexist in the same area.

“All wildlife have what is known as ‘biological carrying capacity.’ That’s the wildlife population level that the available habitat can sustain. Urban deer hunts are also helping to manage ‘social carrying capacity,’” Meeker said. “That’s the wildlife population level that people can peacefully coexist with.”

Opponents of this management style often ask, “Is there not a better way?” 

The truth is, no. There is no better, more cost effective way to properly manage deer populations than by hunting.

“Most deterrents devised for wild animals don’t work in the long term, and the few methods that do work can be very expensive to a community or landowner,” Meeker said. “We have hunters who want to help, and the harvest helps control the deer’s numbers.”

Meeker works with bowhunting organizations and city officials to coordinate hunts throughout the state. Hunters who participate in the hunts must attend an orientation where they must pass a proficiency test with the archery equipment they intend to use during the hunt. An orientation fee is collected, which covers the insurance policy for the hunt most cities require.

Not only do hunters have to attend an orientation and pass a shooting proficiency test, but they also must pass the International Bowhunters Education Program course to participate.

One of the best parts of this program is the stipulation that requires all hunters participating in urban archery hunts to donate their first adult deer to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

“We’ve been able to supply thousands of families over the years with fresh protein through these venison donations,” Meeker said. “And deer meat from the hunts has been used extensively in the Hunters Feeding the Hungry snack stick backpack program to specifically help school-aged children in underserved communities.”

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Urban Archery Deer Hunts in Arkansas