Hunters in Arkansas often get the urge or desire to hunt at night. But not all kinds of hunting are permissible at night in Arkansas. There are several rules and regulations that any night hunter will need to follow, including when they can use tools like a thermal scope.
To ensure you're following protocol and only hunting safely and legally, we're covering everything you need to know about night hunting in Arkansas. First, we'll cover whether you can or can't go night hunting in Arkansas, then we'll get into the different Arkansas game and fish you can hunt at night, and conclude with some safety tips.
Can You Hunt at Night in Arkansas?
The short answer is yes — sometimes. You'll need to follow specific regulations around what animals you can catch when night hunting in Arkansas and what animals are only for daytime hunting. Coyotes, for example, are critters you can hunt in the daylight only. However, you can hunt animals such as bobcats or opossums in the dark with the proper precautions.
Regulations to Follow
The Arkansas hunting season allows for the hunting of many animals, including turkey, deer, elk, or bear. To participate in any sort of hunting, here are the regulations you need to know:
Permit and Licensing
A hunter must first register with the state and get a proper permit. You can get the permit online.
The cost of the permit varies. A basic resident's sportsman license is $25, while a non-residential annual all-game hunting license can run you upwards of $350. It's essential to closely look at each permit's details to ensure you get the right one.
You'll also need to hunt at the right time of year — Arkansas is the Natural State, so night hunting in Arkansas is not permissible in the springtime as this is when most animals breed.
Arkansas has restrictions on using aids like night vision or thermal scope. These aids are only permissible when hunting feral hogs at night. You also can use them for raccoons IF you also hunt with raccoon hunting dogs. They are not allowed in any other instances.
Suppose you plan on hunting any furbearers on your own private land outside city limits. In that case, this is predator hunting, and you will need to get a predator control permit.
This kind of permit allows for hunting these species day or night outside the regular hunting seasons. Examples of furbearers include opossums, raccoons, gray foxes, coyotes, bobcats, or striped skunks.
You can use artificial light for hunting these species, but there are still restrictions about shining lights from a road that you must follow.
Animals You're Allowed to Hunt
As mentioned before, there is a variety of game to hunt at night in Arkansas. These are the animals you can hunt, as set by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
- Opossum and Striped Skunk — You can hunt these animals at night when treed by dogs; you may use night vision for them.
- Raccoon — You can hunt raccoons when treed by dogs as well; tools such as night vision scopes are permissible.
- Bobcats — You can hunt bobcats when treed by dogs as well and use night vision as well.
- Alligators — You can hunt alligators as long as it is between 30 minutes past sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise; you can hunt them on both public or private land.
- Bullfrogs — You can catch bullfrogs in the dark between April 15th and December 31; however, you can take no more than 18 bullfrogs on one day.
- Feral Hogs — You can hunt feral hogs year-round.
Can I Hunt Deer On My Own Land without a License in Arkansas?
You cannot hunt for sport on your own private land without a license in Arkansas, meaning you cannot hunt deer on your land without a license in Arkansas.
However, you can legally shoot any nuisance animal, including a coyote, muskrat, raccoon, beaver, nutria, squirrel, opossum, or striped skunk, at any time of the year. You may also designate someone else to hunt these nuisance animals.
The state of Arkansas allows for private land hunting under several restricted circumstances. For example, you can hunt feral hogs on private land at any time of year with the landowner's express permission. You also can hunt alligators on private land as long as you have a permit and abide by the quota system.
Is Spotlighting Deer Illegal in Arkansas?
It is illegal to shine an artificial light (also known as spotlighting) from any public street, road, or highway. It is also illegal to shine it on a wildlife management area. The exception to spotlighting is when hunting furbearers or bullfrogs. Since deer are technically furbearers, you may use artificial light (known as spotlighting) when hunting in the dark.
Arkansas Coyote Hunting at Night
If you're looking to hunt coyotes in Arkansas, you'll need a valid Arkansas hunting license, whether you are a resident or non-resident. There is no bag limit for coyotes, and both electronic game calls and decoys are legal for use in Arkansas.
Is There a Coyote Season in Arkansas?
Coyote season is between July 1st and February 28th, but it must occur during the daytime, from 30 minutes before sunrise up until 30 minutes past sunset. You can't hunt any coyotes at night in Arkansas.
Hunting Safety at Night
Night hunting in Arkansas past dark poses different risks than day hunting does. If you plan to hunt at night in Arkansas, you'll want to follow these basic safety protocols to keep yourself, everyone in your group, and other night hunters safe.
- Use night vision when permitted. You shouldn't rely on your naked eyesight in the dark, as it is much less effective than in the daytime. When possible, use night vision or thermal scope to help you locate your target.
- Don't go by yourself. You should never go alone, especially if you're new to hunting in the dark. When predators attack, it's usually in packs, and you'll be much better off if you're with other people.
- Bring the right equipment. Ensure you bring everything you might need — GPS navigation, walkie-talkies, Wi-Fi hot spots, etc.
- Make a hunting plan. Before you go, know exactly what you're hunting, map out your path through the area, and figure out where you'll set up camp.
- Know your gun front and back. You should be incredibly familiar with your gun — enough to use it in the dark with accuracy.
- Set up a camp guard. Either have someone stand guard at your hunting camp or use equipment to alert you if any animal is getting close.
Preparing to Night Hunt in Arkansas
Night hunting in Arkansas is an entirely different kind of beast than daytime hunting is. If you've never done it before and are gearing up for your first trip, you'll need to familiarize yourself with all the necessary regulations and rules. Prepare ahead of time so that your first nighttime excursion goes precisely according to plan.