Arkansas’s urban bowhunts begin Sept. 1, giving some bowhunters an almost one-month head start before regular archery season begins.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission created urban bowhunts for deer in cooperation with cities and bowhunting groups to help control growing deer populations near residential areas. Deer present in large quantities can create a strain on the environment by diminishing the natural food supply. They also cause damage to property, particularly when they choose to browse in people’s gardens and flowerbeds. They also can create hazardous situations for themselves and humans when crowded into close conditions.
Carrie Crawford is an AGFC employee and former secretary of the Arkansas Bowhunters Association. She has helped organize hunter orientations at urban bowhunts and has participated in the hunts for the last few years.
“Deer are not a threat to humans, but the biggest problem they cause are accidents with vehicles which can be fatal,” Crawford said. Allowing proficient archers to ethically harvest deer is a beneficial way to decrease the amount of deer inhabiting these neighborhoods.
Urban hunts also benefit many families in need. Sportsmen involved in urban bowhunts must donate their first deer to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, which distributes the meat to food pantries in the counties where the deer was harvested. In the 2015-2016 season, hunters donated 436 deer, providing more than 52,600 meals to families in need.
Hunting near populated areas requires organizers to ensure the utmost precautions are met to produce a safe, ethical hunt that will not offend homeowners in the towns where the hunts occur. To participate in the Urban Hunt a person must be at least 16 years old and have a valid Arkansas Sportsman Hunting License. They must also complete the following tasks provided by the Arkansas Bowhunters Association website:
- Complete the International Bowhunter Education Course and Field Day
- Partake in an urban hunt orientation.
- Pass a proficiency test by shooting three consecutive arrows in the kill zone.
Many towns also require hunters to be in an elevated stand, so that any errant shot is contained within a few feet of its intended target.
Shooting a bow is also more discrete than firing a gun and will not disturb the surrounding homes. Most people within the involved cities are accepting of hunters and rarely notice their presence. Crawford says, “You know the Urban Hunt has been a success when the community asks when it is going to start and it opened three months ago.”
The appeal of this unconventional hunt is the access to areas where deer have never been pressured. A sportsman must be skillful in using a bow to qualify for the opportunity to participate in the hunt. This is a serious task to control the deer population in urban areas to decrease deer-related car accidents and nuisance in neighborhoods. Visit the Arkansas Bowhunters Association’s website http://www.arkansasbowhunters.org/UrbanHunt to learn more about urban bowhunts and how you can participate.