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Arkansas Hunting Seasons

Mike Slinkard

January 18, 2023

The Natural State is well-known for its outdoor adventures, including some fantastic hunting opportunities. With over one million deer roaming the state, Arkansas is a popular deer hunting destination. Residents and nonresidents take over 200,000 deer annually with firearms and archery equipment. 

There are archery, muzzleloader, and modern gun deer seasons every year, as well as hunting seasons for bear, elk, turkey, and small game. Not only that, but Arkansas is one of the only states where you can hunt alligators. 

But you need to know when each Arkansas hunting season starts and how to obtain the required licenses or permits so you can plan ahead. Here’s what hunters should know before hunting game in the Natural State. 

Deer Hunting Season in Arkansas

The Arkansas deer season runs from late September and early October through most of February, depending on what type of hunting equipment you plan on using and where you expect to hunt.

If you’re ready to test your skills out in the field, here’s what you need to know about deer hunting opportunities in Arkansas, including dates, great places to hunt, and approved hunting equipment.

Deer Hunting Season Dates

Before you set out on the hunt, you’ll need to identify the deer zone you reside in. Arkansas has 20 different deer hunting zones, and each area has specific rules, hunting regulations, and season dates. 

Deer SeasonsDates
Archery SeasonSeptember 24th – February 28th
Muzzleloader Deer SeasonOctober 15th – 23rd December 10th – 12th (only available in specific zones)
Private Land Antlerless-Only Modern Gun HuntDecember 29th – December 31st
Special Youth Modern Gun HuntNovember 5th & 6th, January 7th & 8th
Modern Gun SeasonNovember 12th – December 28th

Depending upon your deer hunting zone, you’ll have specific bag limits to follow. These regulations are intended to manage populations and ensure there are plenty of bucks for everyone. Be sure to check the details for your deer hunting zone and start planning your next hunting trip!

Where to Hunt in Arkansas

From the Ozarks to the Ouachitas, Arkansas is a beautiful state for any outdoor adventure – especially hunting. Outdoorsmen can take in the breathtaking scenery while scoping out deer on private and public lands.  

There are more than 100 public wildlife management areas (WMAs) available for deer hunters to traverse. Here are some favored hunting spots for long-time Arkansas hunters: 

If that isn’t enough, you can purchase an annual leased land permit for $40. This permit gives hunters the right to hunt, trap, and camp on over one-quarter of a million acres of privately held timber company land.

Approved Hunting Equipment in Arkansas

Here’s a list of legal hunting equipment for Arkansas:

  • Long, recurve, and compound bows with a 35-pound pull at the minimum
  • Crossbows with at least a 125-pound pull and a mechanical safety
  • Muzzleloading rifles with a minimum barrel length of 18 inches
  • Muzzleloading handguns with a nine-inch barrel at the minimum
  • Modern guns with a four-inch barrel or longer

If you plan on participating in the modern gun deer season and reside in deer hunting zones 4 and 5, be sure to check the rules for legal hunting in that area. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website has more information on specific hunting equipment regulations in these zones. 

Cost of a Hunting License 

To participate in deer hunting in Arkansas, you’ll need to purchase a wildlife license. Individuals under 16 aren’t required to purchase a license, but they must complete a registration for Youth Customer ID (CID), which is free. 

If you’re interested in punching a tag during Arkansas hunting season, here are the costs for licenses: 

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Combination Sportsman’s License(all game + fishing)$35.50
Resident Sportsman’s License(all game)$25
Resident Wildlife Conservation License(small game and one deer)$10.50
Nonresident Annual All-Game License$350

You can purchase deer hunting licenses online or through local dealers and regional offices. Additional hunting licenses for residents with disabilities and mobility impairments are available at a reduced cost. 

Deer Hunting Rules

Arkansas does a fantastic job of managing the herd populations. But as part of that effort, the state implements rules for deer hunters. 

Throughout most of the state, hunters follow the three-point rule — for a buck, both antlers must be less than two inches or three points on one side of the deer’s antler rack.

Some zones will have exceptions to this rule, so always check the specific requirements for your hunting zone before setting off to hunt.

Baiting deer on wildlife management areas or private land within the CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) Management Zone is illegal. In addition, it’s unlawful to hunt deer while you’re on the water or while the animal is swimming. 

Other Arkansas Hunting Seasons 

While deer hunting is popular in Arkansas, this state is also known for duck hunting. Not only that, but Arkansas is the only state in the country where you can hunt elk and alligators! 

Before planning the perfect hunt, you’ll want to view the state’s Game and Fish Commission site for essential details, from the core elk management zone to youth hunt opportunities – you’ll find all the information you need here.

Here are the dates for Arkansas hunting seasons:

SpeciesHunting Season
ElkOctober 3rd – October 7thOctober 31st – November 4th
BearVaries by Zone – Season ends when the quota is reached
AlligatorSeptember 16th – September 19th September 23rd – September 26th
TurkeyYouth: April 8th – 9th Regular Season: April 17th – April 25th in Zone 1 April 17th – May 7 in Zone 2
RabbitSeptember 1st – February 28th
QuailNovember 1st – February 5th 

Waterfowl hunting is also popular in Arkansas. Depending on what type of bird you’re after, there might be time left in this year’s season for you to bring home a few ducks, coots, or other birds. The season dates for waterfowl vary, so be sure to check the details before planning your excursion.


Whether tagging a deer or searching for an alligator, Arkansas has excellent hunting opportunities for everyone. You can also hunt turkey, waterfowl, and more, so get ready for your hunting trip to Arkansas and experience the best that the Natural State offers!

**Arkansas hunting season dates may vary across the state and by zone. For specific dates in your part of Arkansas, visit the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website.

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About the Author : Mike Slinkard

A hunter displaying his bear on rocks near a lake

Mike Slinkard is a life long bow hunter, professional archer, successful entrepreneur, and self described science geek from the rural town of John Day Oregon. Mike has spent his life in close proximity to all types of animals. His grandfather was a well known cattle and horse rancher who first instilled Mike’s keen interest in animals and why they react the way they do in different situations. Mike’s insatiable curiosity in this realm led him to team with other professionals to make the HECS discovery in 2009. Mike has hunted all over the world and has taken over 30 species with archery gear including 48 elk to date. Mike currently hosts “Hunting with HECS TV” on the Pursuit Channel. He has also written many bow hunting and archery articles as well as being a guest on many different hunting podcasts.

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