Commission hears hunting regulations proposals

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard two proposals for the 2024-25 duck season along with a slate of new hunting and fishing regulations proposals during its monthly meeting in Little Rock.

Duck season Option One contains three segments running Nov. 23-Dec. 1, Dec. 5-24 and Dec. 27-Jan. 26. The Special Youth Waterfowl Hunt was proposed for Feb. 1-2. The Veteran and Active Duty Military Hunt Feb. 2.

Option Two contains three segments running Nov. 23-Dec. 2, Dec. 10-23 and Dec. 27-Jan. 31. The Special Youth Waterfowl Hunt was proposed for Dec. 7 and Feb. 8, or Feb. 8-9. The Veteran and Active Duty Military Hunt was proposed for Feb. 8 or 9.

The commission's wildlife management division proposed other waterfowl hunting regulations, including:

Opening white-fronted goose season only when duck season is open.

Allowing non-residents to hunt ducks on wildlife management areas for 30 days of their choice by purchasing up to 10, three-day nonresident WMA waterfowl permits. Currently, nonresidents are limited to a set schedule of dates.

Prohibiting nonresident waterfowl hunters on WMAs while green tree reservoir infrastructure renovations are under construction.

Establishing a 25-shell limit for waterfowl hunters on all WMAs where Common Restriction A boating regulations are in place.

Allowing the take of Egyptian geese, an invasive species that is becoming more numerous in Northwest Arkansas.

The commission heard substantial deer hunting regulations proposals, including some that hunters have been requesting for years. They include:

Opening a three-day "velvet buck" archery deer hunt during the first full weekend of September.

Allowing straight-walled centerfire rifle cartridges during modern gun season in Deer Zones 4 and 5. These would include cartridges like .45-70 Government and 350 Legend.

Eliminating the Private Land Antlerless-Only Modern Gun Deer Hunt.

Restrict nonresidents to pursue deer with dogs during only the last nine days of modern gun season where deer dogs are allowed. They would be limited to one deer per hunter.

Require GPS tracking collars with capabilities for behavior correction on all dogs pursuing wildlife except for retrievers while in the act of retrieving birds.

The commission proposed two turkey hunting items, including:

Creating a free resident turkey permit that will be required to hunt turkeys in Arkansas. This permit will be separate from the voluntary Eastern Wild Turkey Conservation Stamp.

Allowing nonresidents to kill only one turkey per year and to create a nonresident turkey license. It will cost $325.

Also, the commission proposed several new fishing regulations. The most consequential proposal will prohibit the harvest of trout, other than rainbow trout, from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

Other proposals include:

Opening frog-gigging season on June 1 and reducing the daily limit to 10 bullfrogs. Frog gigging season currently opens on April 15.

Changing the 13- to 16-inch slot limit on largemouth bass at lakes Brewer and Barnett to a daily limit of 10, and allowing anglers to keep only one fish per day over 16 inches. The commission will offer regulations waivers for catch-and-release bass tournaments.

Increasing spearfishing daily limits to match hook-and-line limits where spearfishing is allowed.

Additionally, the Commission is taking public input on two subjects. It is seeking opinions on a potential regulation to prohibit all surface-drive motors, also known as mud motors, on WMAs. The commission also seeks opinions on the possibility of opening statewide muzzleloader season to straight-walled centerfire cartridges of .30 caliber or larger.

In all, the commission is deliberating on more than 155 regulations changes, including captive wildlife regulations changes and WMA-specific hunting changes. The full slate of proposals are available in an online public comment survey that will be available at until March 15.

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