Inaugural Bear season in Arkansas is underway

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For the first time in modern history, Arkansas hunters will be able to legally harvest a black bear in the Gulf Coastal Plain and portions of the Delta in south Arkansas this weekend. 

While the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is excited about this milestone in conservation and opportunity for hunters, there are a few key points to remember to get the most out of the hunt and ensure it remains a fixture in Arkansas’s outdoors.

| RELATED: Missouri began a bear season in recent years. Harvesting is broken down into zones and hunters chosen by raffle.

Black bear season for Bear Zones 3 and 4 is Dec. 10-16, but may close earlier than Dec. 16 if the quota for the zone is reached.

“We’ve set the quota at 25 bears for Zone 4 and five bears for Zone 3,” Myron Means, AGFC Large Carnivore Program Coordinator, said. “Hunters need to call the wildlife hotline (800-440-1477) before their hunt to check the harvest number and make sure the quota hasn’t been reached. I’ll be updating that hotline every day at noon and every evening at 6 p.m. The season will end  in the respective zone if the quota is reached or Dec. 16, whichever comes first.”

Hunters may use modern guns, muzzleloaders or archery equipment, and the statewide limit is one bear per season.

Hunters successful in killing a bear must immediately check their bear through the AGFC’s mobile app, website or call 877-731-5627 to report their harvest. Just as with deer, once a bear has been checked it does not need to be tagged unless it leaves your possession (left at deer camp, taxidermist, processor, etc.). If a hunter cannot immediately check the bear, they must make their own tag with ink, including their name, date and bear zone of harvest. They may check the bear within 12 hours of harvest.

All successful hunters will also be required to submit a premolar from the bear. The AGFC’s bear team will mail them a packet including bags for the premolar and a hair sample with instructions on how to complete the process.

“The premolar submission is required, but the hair sample is optional; however, getting us a hair sample is very helpful in our research and continued monitoring of the population,” Means said.

Means says the warm weather may have more female bears out feeding instead of denning up, and hunters should avoid shooting any female bears with cubs.

“It’s legal to shoot one, but those cubs are the future of the population and they will den with their mother for an additional year,” Means said. “If you can tell that it’s a female, honestly it would be best to let her pass. We worked on a video to help hunters tell the difference between boars and sows, but obviously if a cub is with the bear, it’s a sow.”

Means also cautions that there are some research bears in south Arkansas that he’d prefer hunters pass on shooting. As part of the new season, biologists and staff have outfitted a few female bears with special satellite-tracking collars to give detailed information about their movements throughout the year, including hunting season. So far 13 of the dedicated 15 collars have been placed.

“Again, it’s legal to harvest a collared bear, but we really would prefer people give them a pass,” Means said. “These bears are giving us some very valuable information about the population and hunting season, and this is new territory that we really want to get some good data to help continue these hunts and keep our bear population healthy.” (SOURCE: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Follow them on social media).

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Trout Season is in full swing in Kansas as Ft. Scott restocks Gunn Park

FORT SCOTT, Kan. – More than 30 bodies of water are being stocked with rainbow trout across Kansas, providing anglers with winter fishing opportunities.

Tout season began on November 1st and it will run through April 15, 2023.

Conservationists in Fort Scott spent the day restocking the lake at Gunn Park.

While all fish stocked will be a catchable size, a few lunkers will also be added to give anglers the opportunity to catch a trophy.

Officials say anglers 16 and older who fish for trout must have a $14.50 trout permit and a fishing license, unless exempt.

Watch KOAM & Fox 14 to learn more or check back later for additional content.

Click here to learn more.

MDC releases preliminary numbers for firearm deer season

JEFFERSON, Mo. – Data from the Missouri Department of Conservation shows that hunters in Missouri harvested 93,355 deer during the opening weekend of firearms deer season.

Last year, hunters checked 89,939 were checked in the same weekend.

“After a mild start to the month of November, the weather sure turned colder just in time for opening weekend,” said MDC Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle. “Although Saturday was a bit blustery, we had some good conditions, overall, for opening weekend this year and the long-term forecast looks very good at this point as well.”

Here are the top three counties:

  • Franklin with 2,015
  • Texas with 1,724
  • Callaway with 1,692

The November portion of firearms deer season continues through Nov. 22.

Click here to read more.

Hunting safety for the season

JOPLIN, Mo – For many in the 4-States, the end of the year means it’s primetime hunting season.

The Missouri Office of Conservation is encouraging all hunters to have what they call “a hunting plan” to stay safe.

“The biggest thing we say is to make a hunting plan,” said Tim Smith, Administrative Assistant for the Missouri Department of Consercation. “List where you’re going, who your hunting with, what time you’re going to be back. Phone numbers of your phone number as well as phone numbers that everybody has with you. So in case something happens, they have a contact information for the people that’s in that hunting. They know the location of where you’ll be hunting at. So if for some reason somebody needs to come out and look for you, I don’t know where to start.”

In the event of an emergency, smith says to call 911. However, if you don’t have cell service use a standard s-o-s signal.

“International symbol of distress is three of anything, and that can be three shots, three blows of a whistle, three rifle shots, three of anything,” Smith added.

Click here to learn more about hunting & safety.

MDC announces harvest numbers for Fall’s Firearm Turkey Season

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation says a total of 1,846 turkeys were harvested during Missouri’s Fall firearm season.

The season lasted from Oct. 1-31.

The top harvest counties were as follows:

  • Franklin – 70 birds
  • Gasconade – 52 birds
  • Laclede – 50 birds

Last year, hunters harvested 1,836 birds during the 2021 fall firearms turkey season.

Click here for more information.


Hunting experts help locals stay safe during the 2022 Fall season

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Local experts shared tips on ways hunters can improve their safety this season.

Hunting Safety Trainers say accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. However, most accidents are easily avoidable.

“We learn gun handling by watching TV,” says Nick Trim, Law Enforcement Trainer. “As kids, we watch gun handling on TV and we watch basically how they do it is how people learn how they do it without having a professional instructor or someone like that to work with them to create bad habits on their own and then we have to overcome those bad habits as adults.”

Trim says those handling weapons should always have the safety on unless they are intended to shoot.

“I have to make the conscious decision to go from here to the safety to the trigger when I make the decision to shoot,” Trim explained.

An experienced bow hunter says that bullets are not the only thing to worry about.

“You can put yourself in danger fast if you are on a stand without a harness,” said Gavin Rainwater, Hunting expert. “You can slip, trip, fall, any of that kind of stuff; you owe that to yourself and your family to wear a harness anytime you get off the ground when hunting. I personally know a person that fell 20 feet and had a severe concussion.”

Rainwater explains further that hunters should always inspect their equipment and note anything that may be suspect of failure.

Click below for additional resources:

World Record-setting Shortnose Gar caught in Lake of the Ozarks

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) congratulates Rich Porter of Omaha, Nebraska for becoming the new state record holder under alternative methods for shortnose gar.

Officials say Porter was bow-fishing at Lake of the Ozarks on May 16 when he shot the 14-pound, 6-ounce fish.

The previous state record under alternative methods was a 13-pound, 1-ounce fish taken from Mark Twain Lake in 2006.

“I generally come two-to-three times each year to fish in Missouri,” said Porter. “I have a friend I fish with at the Lake of the Ozarks. We were out on his boat that day bow-fishing and he was playing guide for me.”

During their day fishing, Porter says he hooked the gar on their last stop before heading in.

“Shortnose gar usually only weigh three-to-four pounds,” noted Porter. “So, to catch one that big, we thought it was a longnose.”

After contacting MDC, genetic tests were completed to confirm the fish was a pure shortnose gar and not a hybrid with the larger longnose gar. Not only does the fish qualify as a Missouri state record, but it also beats the current shortnose gar bow-fishing world record.

Click here to read more about fishing records in Missouri.

Anglers last chance to win big prizes during 2022 Great Kansas Fishing Derby

PITTSBURG, Kan. – ‘Cast a Hook, Win a Prize’ – The Great Kansas Fishing Derby enters its final month of the 2022 season.

So far, anglers have claimed prizes across the state, with some of them being redeemed as locally as Carl Junction!

Nathan from Carl Junction caught a Bluegill and Gregory from Arma, Kan. caught a Channel Catfish, both at Crawford State Fishing Lake.

Huge prizes sit just beneath the water – Anglers have until September 15 to participate.

After catching a tagged fish, anglers should redeem the code online, if unable to do so, contact The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Sportfishing Education Coordinator, David Breth, at 620-672-5911.

Click learn more.

Participating lakes

  • Meade State Fishing Lake
  • Horsethief Reservoir
  • Wichita – KDOT East
  • Wichita – KDOT West
  • Sedgwick County Lake Afton
  • Lyon State Fishing Lake
  • Critzer Reservoir
  • Lake Fort Scott
  • Chase State Fishing Lake
  • Butler State Fishing Lake
  • Wellington City Lake
  • Lake Lenexa
  • Lake Olathe
  • Paola – Lake Miola
  • Holton – Banner Creek
  • Leavenworth State Fishing Lake
  • Montgomery State Fishing Lake
  • Barber State Fishing Lake
  • Harvey County East
  • Harvey County West
  • Pratt County Lake
  • Topeka – Lake Shawnee
  • Osage State Fishing Lake
  • Douglas State Fishing Lake
  • Geary State Fishing Lake
  • Herington Reservoir (New)
  • Council Grove City Lake
  • Yates Center Reservoir
  • Gridley City Lake
  • Garnett – North Lake
  • Crawford State Fishing Lake
  • Chanute – Sante Fe Lake
  • Salina – Lakewood
  • Great Bend – Veteran’s Memorial Park
  • Jewell State Fishing Lake
  • Sebelius Reservoir
  • Scott State Fishing Lake
  • Cedar Bluff Reservoir
  • Pottawatomie State Fishing Lake #2
  • Shawnee State Fishing Lake

Missouri legislators recognize archery as official state sport

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Legislators met yesterday at the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield to recognize Archery as Missouri’s official state sport.

Officials say Missouri has a significant connection to bowhunting and the archery industry. One of Missouri’s most tremendous ties to archery is the compound bow.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Parson and the Missouri General Assembly’s support for recognizing archery as the Official Sport of Missouri,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “A sincere thank you to Representative Tim Taylor for introducing the bill and for his support and interest in conservation and archery.”

Another highlight of Missouri’s archery tradition is the Hoyt Archery Company started in 1931 in St. Louis. 

The business earned a reputation for building high-quality cedar arrows and remarkably straight-shooting stick bows.

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Bear population is growing, what to do if you hit a bear?

TEXAS COUNTY, Mo. — With the Missouri bear population continuing to grow more are crossing roadways.

Troop G of the Missouri State Highway Patrol state, “this cub was struck on State Route PP, north of Cabool. As Missouri bear populations grow, drivers must remain vigilant for bear crossings.”

As with deer experts say to never swerve to miss an animal. You could be hurt worse by overturning or crashing head-on with an oncoming vehicle.

| MORE BEARS >> ‘Bear in the Air’ over Joplin; Police agencies work an aggressive vehicle enforcement event

If you do swerve and crash your vehicle? Most insurance won’t cover your damages since it would appear as a single vehicle crash.

What to do if you hit a bear?

Lauren Copple, Naturalist, tells us, “Stop and call the conservation department. Do not try to poke or move the animal it could be wounded and confused/scared if it comes to.”

If your car is disabled wait for police to arrive and they can handle the situation.

Missouri Dept of Conservation will want to measure, evaluate and take samples and try to learn everything they can from the bear,” Copple says finally, “Do not try to load it up and take it home.”

Just as deer there are certain parameters to taking home animals struck by a vehicle.

| DO NOT SWERVE TO MISS ANIMALS >> Young man killed in ATV crash, Missouri State Highway Patrol state he swerved to miss a dog

If you strike an animal and your car is not disabled. Call 911 and they will contact conservation agents on your behalf where you are located.

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Wildlife crossing the roadway and being struck unfortunately happens far too often, but rarely the victim is a black bear cub. This cub was struck on State Route PP, north of Cabool, Texas county. As Missouri bear populations grow, drivers must remain vigilant for bear crossings.