LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) --Arkansas is having its best season ever, and it's not over, and the numbers confirm it.
According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, deer hunters have checked more than 212,000 deer so far this season. That number surpasses the old record of 194,192 set in the 1999-2000 season.
Steve "Wildman" Wilson, with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said the numbers are impressive.
"We're very blessed to have a huge deer herd here in Arkansas. Estimated around 750,000, maybe a million deer," he said.
Tom Murchison, who heads up the Big Buck Classic happening this weekend in Little Rock, said deer hunting is a tradition, and now hunters can remember this deer season as one of the best.
"Deer Hunting is a pastime in Arkansas. People look forward to it; the kids grow up with it," added Murchison. For his Big Buck Classic event, the better the season is, the bigger the turnout they have. "There's over 300,000 licensed deer hunters in Arkansas, so that tells you right there that deer hunting is a sport in Arkansas and it's here to stay."
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has worked hard for this record year.
Wilson said the commission began deer restoration projects in the state 90 years ago to improve deer habitat.
"Food, water and shelter and if all animals, deer especially, if you have the right type of habitat that means they're going to be healthy and they're going to reproduce more, and you have more for the hunters to hunt," he explained.
The AGFC said that has contributed to an abundance of deer in the state, and limits and season dates are more liberal in Arkansas than ever before; however, there is one downside to the season that game and fish officials hope will improve.
Donations to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry are down. The director of the non-profit organization said he hopes that will change if numbers continue to rise.
"We didn't gain like I thought we might, but maybe with the economic conditions, people wanted to keep their deer to feed their family. We're looking forward this next year and growing a lot more."
Though the modern firearms and muzzleloader seasons have ended, bow hunting will continue in Arkansas through the end of February.