The Arkansas Fish and Game Commission is launching a new event to celebrate small game and it is expected to become an annual celebration.
The inaugural Big Squirrel Challenge will take place at locations across Arkansas from January 7-8.
Participants can start hunting at noon on January 7th until 30 minutes after sunset, then hunt again 30 minutes before sunrise until around noon on January 8th. Three of each team will be weighed (dressed in field clothes and with their skins on).
Prizes and trophies will be awarded in three divisions:
• Youth (two hunters under the age of 16 with an adult mentor or an adult and a single hunter under the age of 16);
• Adult (two hunters 16 years or older without dogs); Y
• Open Class (Two adult or young hunters in any combination with dogs).
In addition to medals, the overall winners of each division will receive Gamo air rifles. There will also be raffles for all participants who turn in a squirrel after the event.
With all the focus on deer, duck and turkey in the modern hunting world, relatively few hunters take the time to appreciate a good day in the squirrel woods, says Eric Maynard, deputy chief of AGFC’s Education Division. Maynard says he hopes the event will spark renewed interest in small game hunting.
Says Maynard, “It’s hard to imagine with all the deer being taken now, but there was a time when squirrel hunting was one of the only game in town, especially on public land, it wasn’t until after some dedicated work by the AGFC and other conservation agencies that deer populations have recovered to the levels we see today.Meanwhile, if you were going to hunt, what you were looking for to put food on the table were small animals like squirrels and rabbits.
In addition to being plentiful just about anywhere in the state, squirrels offer plenty of shooting opportunities on most outings. Small .17 or .22 caliber rimfire rifles are comfortable for hunters of all ages to carry and shoot, and shotguns from tiny .410 to 12 caliber duck guns can be used with the n . 4 to no. 6 shots if hunters can stalk within range.
Says Maynard: “Squirrels are a great way to introduce someone to hunting, the focus is still on having a good time and less on bagging a trophy. This event is not looking to change that, just give people something extra to enjoy their day in the woods with a friend or family member.”
Maynard says that many of the facilities will also have fun activities for attendees from noon to 2 pm on the Saturday of the event, with each location offering something different.
No registration is required to participate, just show up with your top three squirrels from the day’s hunt and enjoy some small-game focused fun at The Natural State.
Arkansas squirrel season is from May 15 through the last day of February each year. The daily limit is 12 squirrels. Visit agfc.com for more information on squirrel hunting.
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