Title:  White-tailed Deer in Chicot County, Arkansas: Had Them; Lost Them; but Getting Them Back
Author(s): Mike Staten - Anderson-Tully Company; Cory Gray - Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Bubba Groves - Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Year: 2015
Abstract: Chicot County is located in the far southeast corner of the State of Arkansas. Soils are primarily alluvium deposited by both the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers. A 1962 SCS Soil Survey showed that 59% of the county was cultivated, 17% pastured, and 24% forested. The ridge and swale topography normally resulted in the ridges being cultivated, while the swales were pastured or left in forest due to the wet nature of the soils. This created diverse habitats perfectly suited for white-tailed deer. Soon after WWII, Arkansans started a unique system of "Deer Camps" throughout south Arkansas where local citizens would annually invite their city friends to deer hunt. Leases were rare, but local landowners would often agree to these situations for protection of the deer resource as well as their property. This system also created financial opportunity for local businessmen and in turn, some very unusual and entertaining deer camp stories. By the 1970's, the soybean boom meant increased financial incentive for landowners and the forested swales were cleaned up for cultivation. Basically, only lands lying within the levee system of the Mississippi River remained forested. The deer population was not compatible with soybean agriculture and soon plummeted. The 1985 USDA Farm Bill included Wetland Reserve and Conservation Reserve Programs where easements put less productive farmlands back into forested habitats. New habitats are allowing the deer population to return throughout the county. This is another success story of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

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