LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Game and Fish Commission) — Deer seasons may be winding down in Arkansas, but don’t put away the hunting gear just yet. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is hosting the second annual Big Squirrel Challenge statewide Jan. 13-14.
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.
“We just want to give people a little extra incentive to get out and enjoy small game hunting,” Maynard said. “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.”
This year, the event has expanded to include a few more weigh-in stations.
“We had some requests for more locations, so we added Magnolia, Hot Springs and Batesville,” Maynard said. “That brings us to 11 possible locations to weigh-in your squirrels.
Participants can 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.
- 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
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.
“Hunters can use squirrel dogs or they may stalk or still hunt,” Maynard said. “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.”
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.
“We’ll also have door prizes to hand out at the weigh-in locations,” Maynard said. “And AGFC staff will be available to talk hunting and swap some of their favorite recipes to cook squirrel and other wild game.”
Statewide Weigh-in Locations:
J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Nature Center
3400 N. 40th Street
Springdale, AR 72762
Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center
1400 Black Dog Road
Pine Bluff, AR 71601
Camp Robinson Firing Range
574 Clinton Road
Conway, AR 72032
Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center
600 E. Lawson Road
Jonesboro, AR 72404
Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
8300 Wells Lake Road
Fort Smith, AR 72916
Fred Berry Crooked Creek Nature Center
851 Conservation Lane
Yellville, AR 72687
Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Nature Center
1685 County Road 35 North
Columbus, AR 71831
Mike Freeze Wattensaw WMA Shop
1693 AR Highway 11
Hazen, AR 72064
Paul H. “Rocky” Wilmuth Shooting Sports Complex
3600 N. St. Louis Street
Batesville, AR 72501
SAU Laney Farm
833 Old McNeil Road
Magnolia, AR 71753
AGFC Hatchery/Regional Office
350 Fish Hatchery Road
Hot Springs, AR 71913