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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Rock Creek Ranch named Arkansas deer club of the year

Scott County True Value Hardware Guns Ammo

Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission named Rock Creek Ranch in Franklin County as the Deer Management Assistance Program Club of the year at the second annual Natural State Landowner Conservation Awards banquet held at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in downtown North Little Rock July 19.

The evening, which was sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, offered the AGFC the opportunity to recognize landowners in The Natural State who have gone the extra mile working with the agency to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitat for game and nongame wildlife.

Rock Creek Ranch is a 1,400-acre deer club that has been involved with DMAP since 2001. They have collected valuable biological data, observation data, CWD samples and winter herd health data and does an excellent job of maintaining and submitting annual herd age information to keep track of biodata trends.

“We have been in DMAP for many years,” Eugene Post, club representative, said. “This program has assisted us in maintaining a healthy, balanced deer herd. By collecting detailed biological data through time, we help increase our opportunity at harvesting does and mature bucks alike.”

Hunters at Rock Creek Ranch use antlerless deer tags in coordination with the management guidelines provided by the AGFC to keep their local deer population below the carrying capacity of their habitat to promote a productive deer herd and meet their goals of having opportunities to harvest mature bucks (3.5 years and older). They have consistently harvested at least two mature bucks each year and have had opportunities to harvest more. Youth and guests have been very pleased to observe and harvest does and bucks alike each year.

In addition to harvest management, the club has made a large push into habitat management to improve the health of the wildlife on their property, including deer and ground-nesting birds.

Eugene Post and other Rock Creek Ranch hunters enrolled their property in the AGFC’s Acres for Wildlife program as well as the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry’s Forest Stewardship Program to increase the amount of native grasses and low-lying vegetation on their property. These seed- and insect-rich plants provide excellent food and cover for white-tailed deer and other wildlife.

This DMAP club is working on a plan to complete timber stand improvement throughout their property with the assistance of the AGFC, Quail Forever, Partners for Fish and Wildlife and the Division of Forestry.

To date, the club already has completed 45 acres for mulching undesirable species to increase sunlight to the ground to boost food and cover for wildlife. They also completed about 400 acres of prescribed burning to promote highly desirable plants such as ragweed, partridge pea and asters. Nearly 180 acres of native warm-season grasses and forbs have been planted to increase the amount of fawn bedding cover and high-protein forage for deer. The plantings included 15 acres of food plots, including sunflowers, mixed clovers, chicory, alfalfa, brassicas and winter wheat, to offer supplemental food during summer and winter. These habitat manipulations have contributed to success in their secondary goal, seeing an increase in eastern wild turkeys on the property.

“By increasing native food and cover on the ground, we have witnessed an increase in the amount of does with fawns on the property,” club member Kody Rudolph said. “We are excited to see what the future holds as we continue habitat management.”

The Deer Management Assistance Program is a component of the AGFC’s Private Lands Habitat Division supported, in part, by the AGFC’s cultivating partner Greenway Equipment. The program assists landowners and hunting clubs manage their local deer herd through voluntary management plans, which are customized to each club’s habitat and goals. Participants may request free site visits to improve not only the harvest structure of the deer on their property, but also to learn how to improve the habitat on that property to increase its potential to meet the desires of club members. Visit www.agfc.com/DMAP to learn more.

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Tammy Teague
Tammy is the heart behind the brand. Her tenacity to curate authentic journalism, supported by a genuine heart is one her many wholesome qualities.
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