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.”
Local Weigh-in Locations:
Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
8300 Wells Lake Road
Fort Smith, AR 72916
J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Nature Center
3400 N. 40th Street
Springdale, AR 72762