LITTLE ROCK — With the annual white-tailed deer rut beginning to decline across most of the state, many hunters are beginning to trade in their deer rifles for duck guns, but there’s still plenty of time left to claim a spot in Arkansas’s deer hunting honor roll by completing the Triple Trophy Award.
Hunters who qualify for the Triple Trophy Award must, within a single annual deer season, take at least one deer by each of the three legal hunting methods: modern firearms, muzzleloader, and archery/crossbow tackle. Qualifying hunters receive certificates suitable for framing and a patch to place on their hunting vest or jacket.
The program began in 1984 as primitive weapons seasons began to find popularity. The goal was twofold — promote these new, expanded deer hunting opportunities available to Arkansas hunters, and begin to shift the AGFC’s management and public perception of harvesting female deer.
It may be hard to believe now, but at one point in the 1930s, only 500 deer were estimated to still exist in Arkansas. Unregulated market hunting and subsistence hunting nearly caused them to be completely wiped out. Game refuges, both federal- and state-owned, where deer were relocated and protected, enabled deer to become reestablished. During this period, harvest of female deer was strictly prohibited to enable the deer herds to expand.
By the 1980s, however, deer populations had grown to healthy enough numbers to allow some harvest of does to begin the change in management from growth to maintenance. But breaking the taboo of harvesting does was a difficult process. In fact, it is still frowned upon by some hunters, despite the need for more doe harvest to keep the herd balanced and healthy.
If does are protected from harvest, the ratio of does to bucks can be too far out of balance. This can lead to many does being bred later in the season than usual as well as too many deer competing for limited resources, which impacts the health of bucks and does alike.
Do your part to help manage Arkansas’s deer herd, top off the deep freeze with delicious meat and earn a commendation from the AGFC for being one of Arkansas’s elite deer hunters this season. Add in the extra time you’ll get to spend in the outdoors enjoying what nature has to offer and there’s really no downside to earning this year’s Triple Trophy Award. Visit www.agfc.com/tripletrophy to learn more and apply.