AGFC hosts the Big Squirrel Challenge in January

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is launching a new event to celebrate small game hunting, and it is hoped that it will become an annual celebration.

The first Big Squirrel Challenge will take place in locations across Arkansas from January 7-8.

Participants can start hunting at noon on January 7 until 30 minutes after sunset, then hunt again 30 minutes before sunrise until around noon on January 8. Locally, the squirrels can be taken to the Fred Berry Crooked Creek Nature Center in Yellville where the tallest three from each team will be weighed (in field gear with the skin on).

Prizes and trophies will be awarded in three categories:

• Youth (two hunters under 16 with an adult mentor or an adult single hunter under 16);

• Adult (two hunters aged 16 or over without a dog); and

• Open class (Two adult or youth hunters in any combination with dogs).

In addition to the medals, the big winners of each division will receive Gamo air rifles. There will also be raffles for all participants who return a squirrel after the event.

With all the emphasis on deer, ducks and turkeys in the modern hunting world, relatively few hunters take the time to enjoy a good day in the squirrel woods, says Eric Maynard, deputy chief of the education division of the AGFC. Maynard says he hopes the event will spark renewed interest in small game.

Maynard says, “It’s hard to imagine with all the deer that are harvested now, but there was a time when squirrel hunting was one of the only games in town, especially on public lands, this n It’s only after dedicated work by the AGFC and other conservation agencies that deer populations have rebounded to the levels we see today. In the meantime, if you went hunting, you were looking for small game like squirrels and rabbits to put food on the table.

In addition to being abundant almost everywhere in the state, squirrels provide multiple opportunities to shoot on most outings. The small .17 or .22 caliber rimfire rifles are comfortable for hunters of all ages to carry and shoot, and the tiny .410 through 12 caliber cannon shotguns can be used without. 4 to no. 6 shots if hunters are able to stalk within range.

Maynard says, “Squirrels are just a great way to introduce someone to hunting, the emphasis is always on having a good time and less on getting a trophy. This event doesn’t seek to change that, just to give people that little extra something to enjoy their day in the woods with a friend or family member.

Maynard says many facilities will also have fun activities for attendees from noon to 2 p.m. on the Saturday of the event, with each location offering a little something different.

Registration is not required to participate, just show up with your three best squirrels of the hunt day and have fun with the small game in The Natural State.

Arkansas squirrel season runs from May 15 to the last day of February each year. The daily limit is 12 squirrels. Visit for more information on squirrel hunting.

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