14 January

NRA vs Hunters

Hunting writer Bobb Robb recently ranked the NRA as "number one" on his list of "Top 10 Pro-Hunting organizations"?  Yes, even ahead DU, Safari Club, Boone & Crockett,  and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  

The NRA is the nation's premier gun lobby organization. They deserve a HELLUVA lot of credit where credit is due....but NOT as our nation's #1 Pro-Hunting group.  Over the years I've watched the NRA morph into something most hunters can't even recognize anymore.  Pro-gun they are, and I'm thankful for them, but they long ago stopped lobbying on behalf of hunters, wildlife conservation, and the public lands in which we pursue our sport.

In the South, we cherish our guns like family heirlooms. But the reality is, most guns(aside from your CCP pocket pistol), would likely just sit gathering dust without the wild places in which to hunt with them.  For that reason, we must also remember to support true pro-hunting/conservation groups that aggressively advocate for wildlife, conservation, and habitat in which that wildlife lives.

As the NRA has become more narrowly focused they no longer offer one-stop shopping for hunters wishing to donate money for their hunting related causes.   Sure, support the NRA.  But if you also care about wild places and want a place to hunt with your guns,  you can't call it "one and done" by donating to the NRA.     There are many fine hunting organizations battling for wildlife, habitat and conservation causes that need your help too.  Some well know groups I also support are Back Country Hunters & Anglers, DU, & Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.  Support em!

09 January

Arkansas' Top 25 Public Deer Lands

Wattensaw WMA- Number 15 on the list.
Can you name Arkansas' most productive public hunting area?  I analyzed AGFC's deer harvest data from all 131  wildlife management areas(WMA) and national wildlife refuges(NWR).   Rather than just looking at the total deer taken,  I compared each WMA's deer harvest numbers to the total land area within each WMA to arrive at a “harvest per square mile” ratio.   This enabled me to find the true producers among Arkansas'  public deer hunting lands.

Arkansas Public Land Deer 
First I focused on popular  WMA's and NWR's of at least 5,000  acres in size.  I then ranked/sorted them in order of the most productive deer producers in the chart below. This is a more reliable method of comparing deer hunting productivity of public lands than just looking at the total number of deer taken.  For example, a hunter might be initially impressed by the 807 whitetails harvested this season on  White River National Wildlife Refuge,  until you consider its vast expanse.   Its 250 square miles gives it a harvest ratio of 3.2,  which is slightly better than the state WMA average but puts the refuge in the bottom spot on our 2016 list of top 25 deer hunting lands in Arkansas.

Like it has for many of the previous seasons, the primitive weapons-only area of  Trusten Holder reigns supreme as Arkansas's most productive public land for deer hunting.   At 9.9 deer harvested per square mile,  Trusten Holder is 4.5 times more productive than the average 2.2 deer bagged per square mile on public hunting lands within the state. 

**Gene Rush WMA located near Jasper  was vaulted to the number 2 position due to more liberal rules imposed after the discovery of CWD in that area.  I dont look for it to last at this position.

Rank Management Areas Harvest YTD WMA in Acres Harvest Per Square Mile
1 Trusten Holder WMA 126 8,173 9.9
2 Gene Rush WMA 303 19,944 9.7
3 Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA (East &West units) 94 9,501 6.3
4 Moro Big Pine Natural Area WMA 158 16,000 6.3
5 Ed Gordon Point Remove WMA 85 8,694 6.3
6 Lafayette County WMA 139 16,739 5.3
7 Holla Bend NWR 58 7,057 5.3
8 U of A Pine Tree Experimental Station WDA 95 11,850 5.1
9 Fort Chaffee WMA 477 66,000 4.6
10 DeGray Lake WMA 100 14,000 4.6
11 Cache River NWR 482 68,000 4.5
12 Big Timber WMA 291 41,111 4.5
13 Pond Creek NWR 189 27,000 4.5
14 Rex Hancock Black Swamp WMA 49 7,221 4.3
15 Mike Freeze Wattensaw WMA 123 19,184 4.1
16 Petit Jean River WMA 99 15,502 4.1
17 Poison Springs WMA 138 22,162 4.0
18 Henry Gray Hurricane Lake WMA 108 17,524 3.9
19 Beaver Lake WMA 48 8,007 3.8
20 Harold E. Alexander Spring River WMA 81 13,939 3.7
21 W.E. Brewer Scatter Creek WMA 29 5,002 3.7
22 Norfork Lake WMA 56 10,000 3.6
23 Wedington WMA 83 16,000 3.3
24 Casey Jones WMA 277 54,066 3.3
25 Dale Bumpers White River NWR – North & South Units 807 160,000 3.2