LITTLE ROCK â€“ The 2019-20 Arkansas deer seasons are winding to a close, and only a few stalwart archers are still looking for a last-minute harvest before their Feb. 29 deadline. But thereâ€™s plenty of time for successful hunters to submit an application for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commissionâ€™s Triple Trophy Award.
Hunters who qualify for the Triple Trophy Award must, within a single annual deer season framework, take at least one deer by each of the three legal hunting methods â€“ modern firearms, muzzleloading rifle or pistol, and archery/crossbow tackle. Qualifying hunters receive a patch and a certificate suitable for framing.
The program was started in the mid-1980s to encourage the harvest of antlerless deer and to spread hunting pressure through the three seasons, reducing crowding.
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. The AGFC introduced deer from other states and relocated deer to game refuges, where deer were protected and allowed to grow without disturbance. 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.
Visit www.agfc.com/tripletrophy to learn more and apply.