THE DORADO, Ark. (KNOE) – Hunters in Arkansas have a new weekend event you can take part in. It’s the inaugural Big Squirrel Challenge.
The challenge will take place on January 7th and 8th and will task small teams of hunters to bring back the three biggest squirrels they can find.
The following details are from the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission:
SPRINGDALE — The Arkansas Fish and Game Commission is launching a new event this January 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 on January 7-8, 2022.
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. from the following locations at 2 pm:
- JB and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center, Springdale
- Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff
- Forrest L. Wood Crowley Ridge Nature Center, Jonesboro
- Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, Fort Smith
- Fred Berry Crooked Creek Nature Center, Yellville
- Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Nature Center, Columbus
- Camp Robinson Shooting Range, Mayflower
- Mike Freeze Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area Headquarters
Prizes and trophies will be awarded in three divisions: Juniors (two hunters under the age of 16 with an adult mentor or one adult and a single hunter under the age of 16), Adults (two hunters over the age of 16 without dogs), and Open Class ( Two adult or junior 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, but Eric Maynard, deputy chief of the AGFC Education Division, hopes that the event sparks some renewed interest in small game.
“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 games in town, especially on public land,” Maynard said. “It wasn’t until after dedicated work by AGFC and other conservation agencies that deer populations 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 abundant virtually anywhere in the state, squirrels offer plenty of shooting opportunities at most outings. Small .17 or .22 caliber rimfire rifles are comfortable for hunters of all ages to carry and shoot, and .410 to 12 caliber shotguns can be used with the #. 4 to no. 6 shots if you are able to lurk within range.
“Squirrels are a great way to introduce someone to hunting,” Maynard said. “The focus is still on having a good time and less on pocketing 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 https://www.agfc.com/en/hunting/small-game/squirrel for more information on squirrel hunting. Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/education/calendar/public-event/arkansas-big-squirrel-challenge-2022 for more information on The Big Squirrel Challenge. There are more events available in the AGFC Outdoor Skills Network Calendar.
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