LITTLE ROCK – Hunters and anglers will be able to carry most of the necessary licensing paperwork on their mobile devices in 2017 if the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission goes through with the expected approval of its new computerized electronic licensing plan at its January Commission meeting.

Tony Davis, chief of the AGFC’s Internet Technology Division, said the plan is in the 30-day public comment phase and will be voted on by the seven-member Commission at the next monthly meeting. If approved, the electronic licensing program would be rolled out April 1.

It will allow hunters and anglers the opportunity to obtain licenses on mobile devices and carry PDFs of the licenses on mobile devices that will suffice as proof they are properly licensed. All necessary paperwork, with the exception of deer tags and turkey tags, can be carried electronically without having to have the actual paperwork on their person: Hunter Education card, Boating Education card, HIP registration, state duck stamp, Sweet 16 WMA hunting registration, and so forth. For duck, squirrel and other game hunting that doesn’t require the paper tags, everything needed for legal hunting can be accessed on your phone, Davis said.

“We’re trying to make it easier to sell licenses, that’s the reason for this change,” Davis said. “The more convenient it is to get more hunters into the woods and anglers on the water, then we’re doing our job. They can buy their license on a mobile phone easier than coming here (to the Little Rock headquarters) to buy it.”

Outside vendors such as Walmart stores will still be available for hunters and anglers to purchase licenses, where the information will be logged into the AGFC’s website and paperwork printed at the vendor location, while still available on a mobile device. Walmart, Davis said, currently sells 64 percent of the Arkansas hunting and fishing licenses. The AGFC will send out a new package of vendor applications and train the vendors in how to operate it after the new plan is approved.

Federal duck stamp purchases will still require a physical stamp. Purchasers can buy the federal stamp along with the state paperwork and still have 45 days before they must have the physical stamp on their person.

The change is part of an overhaul and rebranding of the entire website at the AGFC.

The licensing system in place now on the site allows for hunting license registration on the internet, and buyers receive a confirmation number that is good only until the paper copy arrives, including their deer tags. With the change, licenses and paperwork including deer tags can also be printed out on an 8-inch by 11-inch sheet of paper and carried by the hunter.

“It’s going to increase license sales,” Davis said. “It will give people an easier way to do it. We have seen the number of license sales drop over the past five years and our efforts are to help turn that around.”

Another interesting aspect of the new licensing program is an auto-renew feature that allows the buyer simply to check a box and automatically renew the license each year. Missouri and New Hampshire are among the states already using the system that will be part of the new AGFC website in April. The system was created by Sovereign Sportsman’s Solutions of Nashville, Tenn.

“On the site you’ll be able to buy merchandise, our publications, licenses, do game check. All that is part of one system, a one-stop shop where if you need something from the Game and Fish Commission, it’s right there. The new system will be responsive for mobile devices and tablets,” Davis said.