The application period for special urban bowhunts for the 2022-23 deer hunting season is now open. Registration closes July 11, before the first orientation.
Hunts begin Sept. 1 and close Feb. 28, 2023. Urban hunts offer bowhunters an early opportunity to get into the woods, and are the most effective method for wildlife managers to assist cities in maintaining white-tailed deer populations and reduce conflicts with homeowners and drivers.
Areas will have urban hunts for the 2022-23 season include Bull Shoals, Cherokee Village, Fairfield Bay, Heber Springs, Helena/West Helena, Horseshoe Bend, Hot Springs Village, Lakeview and Russellville.
The Game and Fish Commission coordinates with the Arkansas Bowhunters Association and the Bull Shoals and Lakeview Urban Bowhunters group to administer urban bowhunting opportunities. The partnerships help ensure participating hunters are proficient, and guides hunters on how to be discreet and understand the nuances of hunting in an urban setting.
All hunters must pass a shooting proficiency test, pass the International Bowhunters Education Program (IBEP) course, and attend an orientation before receiving their urban hunt tags.
The proficiency test and IBEP course help coordinators maintain a safe hunting experience, while the mandatory orientations give participants a rundown of rules and tips to help make their hunt successful and avoid any possible conflicts with landowners who live near their hunting area.
While hunters may only hunt on private properties where they have gained permission, there are common areas that are open to hunting as well. Urban hunts also provide food for needy families. As a stipulation of the hunt, all hunters must donate their first harvested adult deer to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry.
Participating hunters must possess a valid Arkansas Sportsman’s Hunting License. Deer harvested during urban hunts do not count toward a hunter’s seasonal limit. There are no limits to the number of deer that can be harvested in urban hunts, and all antler restrictions are lifted. All deer harvested must still be checked to the appropriate urban deer zone.
The ABA manages all of the hunts except the Bull Shoals and Lakeview hunts. They charge a $50 orientation fee to offset the cost of equipment and cover insurance for the hunts with the participating cities.
Participants who do not register in advance may still sign up at an orientation but will be charged an additional $5. Maps and specific requirements for each city, as well as a list of orientation days, are available to hunters.
Click here to register online.
Hunters interested in the Lakeview and Bull Shoals hunts should contact Joey Gentry, president of the Bull Shoals and Lakeview Urban Bowhunters, by email at email@example.com.
These hunts also require a $50 club membership to offset the insurance the club pays to administer the hunt.
The mandatory orientation is held the first Saturday in August.