AGFC hosting 2nd annual ‘Big Squirrel Challenge’

Deer seasons may be winding down in Arkansas, but the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) says it’s not time to put away the hunting gear just yet. AGFC is hosting the second annual Big Squirrel Challenge statewide Jan. 13 and 14.

Eric Maynard, assistant chief of education for the AGFC, says the event is a great way to keep the fun going after a morning in the woods chasing squirrels with a shotgun or .22 rifle.

Locally, the weigh-in station includes the Fred Berry Crooked Creek Nature Center located at 851 Conservation Lane in Yellville.

Participants may start hunting at noon Jan. 13 through 30 minutes after sunset, then hunt again 30 minutes before sunrise until weigh-in at noon Jan. 14. Each team of two individuals can bring their biggest three squirrels to be weighed (field-dressed with skin on). Squirrels will be weighed from noon until 1 p.m. Jan. 14, and prizes will be given out to the heaviest three-squirrel bag in four categories.

No registration is required to participate, and teams will get their squirrels back after the weigh-in, so they can enjoy a good supper, regardless of their results in the event.

Medals will be awarded to the top two teams in each division at each location, and Gamo air rifles will be awarded to the statewide overall top team in each division.

Youth teams may consist of two hunters under 16 years of age or one hunter under 16 years of age and a mentor 16 or older.

Adult team — Fox squirrels only
Adult team — Mixed bag or Gray Squirrels only
Youth team — Fox Squirrels only
Youth team — Mixed bag or Gray Squirrels only

Maynard says, “We just want to give people a little extra incentive to get out and enjoy small game hunting. I spoke to one man last year who said it was the first time he squirrel hunted all year, and that it was just because of the event. That let me know this is something that needs to keep going. Hunters can use squirrel dogs or they may stalk or still hunt. Any legal method of taking squirrels is allowed in the contest. Since only the three largest squirrels will be weighed per team, it helps level the playing field. We’ll also have door prizes to hand out at the weigh-in locations, and AGFC staff will be available to talk hunting and swap some of their favorite recipes to cook squirrel and other wild game.”

Other statewide weigh-in locations include:

Batesville: Paul H. “Rocky” Wilmuth Shooting Sports Complex, 3600 N. St. Louis Street, Batesville, AR 72501

Springdale: J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Nature Center, 3400 N. 40th Street, Springdale, AR 72762

Pine Bluff: Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, 1400 Black Dog Road, Pine Bluff, AR 71601

Mayflower: Camp Robinson Firing Range, 574 Clinton Road, Conway, AR 72032

Jonesboro: Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center, 600 E. Lawson Road, Jonesboro, AR 72404

Fort Smith: Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, 8300 Wells Lake Road, Fort Smith, AR 72916

Columbus: Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Nature Center, 1685 County Road 35 North, Columbus, AR 71831

Hazen: Mike Freeze Wattensaw WMA Shop, 1693 AR Highway 11, Hazen, AR 72064

Magnolia: SAU Laney Farm, 833 Old McNeil Road, Magnolia, AR 71753

Hot Springs: AGFC Hatchery/Regional Office, 350 Fish Hatchery Road, Hot Springs, AR 71913

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