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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s statewide squirrel-hunting celebration is back for its third year. Get a buddy and get to the woods next Friday and Saturday to take your chance winning prizes and notoriety as the best bushytail hunter in your neck of the woods.
“AGFC Education Division staff started the Big Squirrel Challenge in May of 2021 at J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozarks Highland Nature Center,” Eric Maynard, interim chief of education for the AGFC, said. “It was so popular that we expanded it to a statewide event with 12 locations for people to weigh-in their squirrels and win a prize.”
The official rules are available at https://www.agfc.com/education/2024-big-squirrel-challenge, but here are the main details in a nutshell (or acorn, if you prefer). Teams hunt from noon, Jan. 12-noon, Jan. 13 during legal shooting hours to harvest the three largest squirrels they can find. Hunters are welcome to use squirrel dogs or still hunt for their bushytails.
“They’re welcome to go ahead and harvest their legal limit of 12 per person, but we only weigh the top three at the end of the event, and each squirrel can only be weighed once,” Maynard said. “After the weigh-in, all squirrels will be returned to the hunters to enjoy for supper.”
Squirrels are weighed (skin on and field-dressed) and winning teams are announced at 1:30 p.m. for each region. Each regional first- and second-place team will receive medals and bragging rights for their effort. The top teams in the state will be announced in a press release Jan. 15 and will receive additional prizes, including an Umarex air rifle.
“We have different categories for youth teams and adults,” Maynard said. “A youth team can consist of two youths or one youth and an adult mentor. We also have a category for fox squirrels (which typically weigh a little more) and a category for mixed bag and/or gray squirrels.”
If you can’t find a partner or a youth to take along, you can hunt as a single-person team, but everyone is encouraged to get out and hunt with a partner.
“We want everyone to get outdoors, and that’s always best enjoyed with friends and family,” Maynard said.
No registration or entry fees are required to participate in the contest. Participants just need to show up at one of the following weigh-in locations from noon-1 p.m., Jan. 13 to compete.
Ozark Highlands Nature Center
3400 N 40th St, Springdale, AR 72762
Delta Rivers Nature Center
1400 Black Dog Dr, Pine Bluff, AR 71601
Camp Robinson Shooting range
574 Clinton Rd, Conway, AR 72032
Crowley’s ridge nature Center
600 E Lawson Rd, Jonesboro, AR 72404
Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
8300 Wells Lake Rd, Fort Smith, AR 72916
Crooked Creek Nature Center
851 Conservation Ln, Yellville, AR 72687
Grandview Prairie Nature Center
1685 Hempstead 35 Rd N, Columbus, AR
Wattensaw WMA Shop
1693 Hwy 11 North, Hazen AR 72064
Paul H Willmuth Shooting Sports Complex
3600 N St Louis, Batesville, AR 72501
SAU Laney Farm
833 Old McNeil Rd Magnolia, AR 71753
AGFC West Central Regional Office
1266 Lock and Dam Road, Russellville, AR 72802
AGFC Southeast Regional Office
771 Jordan Dr, Monticello, AR 71655