LITTLE ROCK – To ensure high-quality hunting experiences, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission conducts special draw hunts on some popular wildlife management areas prone to overcrowding. As part of the agency’s efforts to get permits in the hands of hunters that will use them, the application process has undergone a bit of a change.
Beginning June 1, 2017, applicants for WMA Deer Hunt Permits must provide a $5 nonrefundable processing fee at the time of their application. If successful, they will receive their permit without the need for any additional fees.
Under the old WMA draw system, hunters would apply, and if successful, would have a set number of days to pay for their permit. All unclaimed permits would go back into another draw for those hunters who were unsuccessful. These permit winners also would have a set number of days to claim and pay for their permit. All permits left after that were available in an online sale on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We always had people call in asking why there could be a leftover permit when they had applied and didn’t draw,” said Brad Carner, AGFC chief of wildlife management. “In some cases, up to 35 percent of hunters who drew a permit didn’t pay during the first round.”
Carner says the only way an unclaimed permit sale will be necessary under the new system will be if there were more permits available for a hunt than hunters who apply.
“We want these permits to go to the hunters who will use them,” Carner said. “Our management goals for WMAs require certain amounts of harvest, and hunters are our partners in this effort. But every year, it seems like we spent more time sifting through unpaid permits than managing the hunts. The new method hopefully will ensure a higher percentage of avid hunters who will make use of the permit if they draw it.”
Another aspect of the permit system that is different this year is how party hunts are handled. Under the previous system, up to four people could apply together, with one person entering in all the data for the entire party. However, because payments must now be made up front, the system had to change to accommodate each person paying their own application fee if need be.
The party hunt leader will first enter their information in the permit system. A prompt will ask if they are applying as part of a party hunt. The party leader should enter “No,” then continue purchasing their permits as though they were hunting on their own. Once their purchase is complete, they will receive an email that confirms their purchase. This will have a unique party hunt code. All other members of the party hunt will then go online to apply, and when given the “Are you applying as part of a party hunt?” statement, they will choose “Yes.” They may then enter the party leader’s code to be added to the party hunt and pay their own application fee.
Applications are available online June 1-July 1. Each hunter may submit one application for each type of permit hunt: youth hunt, archery, muzzleloader and modern gun. Hunters who are not able to apply online may visit any AGFC regional office to apply in person.
Youth hunters must be at least 6 years old, but no older than 15, the day the hunt begins.
Permits will be drawn in mid-July, and an online sale for unclaimed permits will be in early September, if necessary.
Call 501-223-6440 or 501-223-6359 for more information on AGFC permit hunts.