Archery Deer Season Opens Early

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Archery deer hunting season has always opened on Oct. 1. But this year, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is allowing hunters to start 15 days early.

Barney LaRue, who lives in Crawford County, said he's not sure why the Game and Fish Commission decided to move up opening day this year, but that he's excited it's time to get out and hunt.

"There's a lot more to hunting than just shooting a deer," LaRue said. "You've got to enjoy being in the woods. And you get to enjoy being in the woods a lot more when you're bow hunting."

For the first time in months, LaRue packed up his ATV and headed into the foggy woods Saturday morning, hoping to catch a deer.

"See him? See him behind those trees?" LaRue asked as he headed deeper into the woods.

Growing up, deer were much harder to come by, LaRue said.

"When I first started hunting at about 12 or 14 years old, if I saw five deer in a week - man that was a herd," explained LaRue. "Now you see 15 to 30 deer maybe in one morning."

Deer numbers in Arkansas were extremely low in the early 1900s, according to the Game and Fish Commission. By 1916, Arkansas began having to manage its deer population, after numbers dropped to 2,000 deer statewide.

"By the 1920s deer had been eliminated from many Arkansas counties, leaving an estimated 500 deer statewide," Arkansas Game and Fish explained on it's website.

Now, there are a million deer, maybe more within the state.

Howard Robinson, a hunter who has been teaching hunter education courses in Arkansas since 1983, said that might have something to do with why archery season was bumped up this year.

“I’m not sure what their reasoning was…maybe to harvest a few more does," said Robinson.

Whatever their reason, Robinson agreed with LaRue and said he's been waiting for the season to arrive for months.

"If you’re really a hunter, and you want to be out there doing it…you’ll be out there doing it," said Robinson who plans to hunt Saturday afternoon.

Even though the season opened early for the year, it will run as scheduled through the end of February.

For more information about hunting within the state of Arkansas, CLICK HERE.