23 January

Arkansas's Most Productive Public Deer Lands

                                                                                                                  by Jim Taylor

The Arkansas Arkansas Game and Fish commission has  reported that  210,000 deer have been harvested so far during the 2012/2013 deer hunting season.  This surpasses the record held since the 1999/2000 season when 194,192 deer were harvested.   These are combined numbers for all methods of deer hunting. 

So this season was good, but what was Arkansas's most productive public hunting area?  I analyzed the year-to-date deer harvest data from Arkansas's 132 wildlife management areas(WMA) and national wildlife refuges(NWR)  for the 2012 season.  Rather than  just looking  at the total number of deer taken,  I compared each wildlife management area's deer harvest numbers to the total area within the WMA to arrive at a “harvest per square mile” ratio. This enabled me to find the true producers among Arkansas's  public deer hunting lands.
To make the data more manageable, I focused on popular  WMA's and NWR's that had checked  at least 100 deer during the 2012/2013 season thus far.  (Through the first week of January 2013) I then ranked/sorted  them  in order of the most productive deer producers in the chart below.  This is a more accurate  method of comparing deer hunting  productivity  than just looking at the total number of deer taken.   For example, a hunter might be initially impressed with the 1,112 whitetails bagged on  White River National Wildlife Refuge, until you consider its vast expanse.   The 250 square miles within the boarders of  White River National Wildlife Refuge produced a deer harvested per square mile ratio of 4.4.   This harvest ratio places the refuge in the  number 8 ranking on our list of  top deer hunting lands in Arkansas.

Like it has for the previous two seasons, the primitive weapons only area of  Trusten Holder  reigns supreme again as Arkansas's most productive public land for deer hunting.  At 10.6 deer harvested per square mile Trusten Holder  is 56% more productive than the newly established Moro Big Pine Natural Area WMA, the number 2 spot on this years list, and a whopping 141% more productive than the popular White River NWR.    

Deer Harvest

2012/2013 Harvest Report Acres Harvest Harvest/sq mi.

Trusten Holder WMA 8173 136 10.6

Moro Big Pine Natural Area WMA 16000 169 6.8

Cache River NWR 54000 568 6.7

Mike Freeze Wattensaw WMA 19184 166 5.5

Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA 17524 146 5.3

Howard County WMA 26000 193 4.8

Fort Chaffee WMA 66000 462 4.5

White River NWR - South Unit+ NORTH 160000 1112 4.4

Felsenthal NWR 65000 445 4.4

Dave Donaldson Black River WMA 21150 141 4.3

Lafayette County WMA 16739 110 4.2

Poison Springs WMA 17604 115 4.2

Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain WMA 16739 105 4

Pond Creek NWR 27000 164 3.9

Big Timber WMA 37742 204 3.5

Lake Greeson WMA 38000 144 2.4

Bayou Meto WMA 33832 120 2.3

Casey Jones WMA 83832 297 2.3

Sylamore WMA 150000 496 2.1

Mount Magazine WMA 120000 318 1.7

Winona WMA 160000 326 1.3

Buffalo National River WMA 97730 186 1.2

Muddy Creek WMA 146206 214 0.9

Cherokee WMA 105313 144 0.9

Caney Creek WMA 85000 95 0.7

Piney Creeks WMA 180000 191 0.7

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