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Kids wearing life jackets on boats at Greers Ferry lakeLITTLE ROCK – Wildlife officers throughout Arkansas will be looking to hand out some of the sweetest citations an angler could ask for this summer. Thanks to Sonic Drive In, AGFC wildlife officers will be armed with 10,000 special “ice cream citations” for youths on Arkansas waters when they’re caught wearing their life jackets.

According to AGFC Boating Law Administrator Stephanie Weatherington, these special tickets entitle youth who receive them to a small ice cream cone from their local Sonic restaurant.

“We’ve been able to offer this program for the last six years,” Weatherington said. “Some officers have a few already, and we’ll really ramp things up as we get closer to Independence Day weekend.”

Weatherington says adults with those kids may even get a special citation if the wildlife officer sees them leading by example.

“It’s important that everyone wears a life jacket,” Weatherington says. “Even people who think they can swim well can fall victim to drowning if they are tossed overboard far from shore or fall into the water unconscious.”

Many people drown because they fall out of a boat and are not wearing a fitted life jacket, Weatherington says.

“Some don’t believe they need one because they can swim. Others may wear one that has dry rot or is not the right size. The most important thing about riding in a boat is to wear a life jacket,” she said. “By law, anyone 12 or younger must wear a life jacket while in a boat. Also, all vessels must have at least one approved, wearable life jacket for every person on board. There must also be a throwable device on any vessel 16 feet or longer,” she explained. “We hope this will also encourage the parents to also wear their life jacket, so everyone can have great memories of a day on the water,” Weatherington added.

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06062018BOWLITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will open online enrollment in this year’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshop June 4-30. The workshop, which introduces women 18 and older to various outdoors activities, will be held Sept. 28-30 at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center in Ferndale.

Matt Burns, assistant chief of education for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says the workshop is a great way to learn about the outdoors and meet other women with the same interests.

“This weekend is about learning and building confidence in being outdoors,” Burns said. “Many women hunt and fish, but some have grown up in families that were not big in the outdoors and may struggle with where to start.”

BOW offers instruction in more than three dozen outdoor activities, including canoeing, fishing, hiking, fly-tying, archery, boating, birding, outdoor photography, Dutch-oven cooking and shooting sports. BOW instructors provide basic and advanced instruction tailored to each participant’s individual ability.

“The workshops are split equally between hunting, fishing and other outdoors pursuits, so ladies who are knowledgeable about one subject have many others to choose from and customize their experience,” Burns said. “We encourage everyone attending to sign up for a good mix of activities. Not only will they learn more, but they also will have more opportunities to meet different women and form friendships.”

Finding those outdoors companions and mentors can be the key to continuing a pursuit. Many participants go on to attend other workshops and outings offered by the AGFC together.

“We have Beyond BOW experiences scheduled throughout the year that get into more advanced aspects of hunting and fishing, and even planned birding, angling and hunting trips for women who want to keep learning but still want a little extra help getting started.,” Burns said. “We see many ladies we met at this introductory workshop sign up for the advanced events as a group.”

The BOW workshop is held at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center in Ferndale, 15 miles west of Little Rock. Classes begin at noon on Friday and end at noon on Sunday. Raffles, door prizes and evening programs are included in the event.

The $150 registration fee includes all food, lodging, equipment and supplies.

Click Here to Register

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Visit the BOW Arkansas Facebook Page

Deer HuntingLITTLE ROCK – If you want to hunt on some of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s most popular deer-hunting destinations this fall, you’ll want to apply for a special WMA deer hunt from June 1 until July 1.

Wildlife management areas developed and cultivated by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offer some of the best opportunities to bag your deer during hunting season, but popular hunting areas can become crowded or overhunted without special restrictions. The AGFC conducts special draw hunts on WMAs prone to overcrowding to maintain healthy deer herds and high-quality hunting experiences.
Applicants for WMA Deer Hunt Permits must provide a $5 nonrefundable processing fee at the time of their application. If successful, they will receive their permit without the need for any additional fees. If any hunts have more permits available than applicants, those will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in late July for the same $5 processing fee.

Each hunter may submit one application for each type of permit hunt: youth hunt, archery, muzzleloader and modern gun. Hunters who are not able to apply online may visit any AGFC regional office to apply in person.

Hunters must be at least 6 years old, and hunters applying for youth hunts must be at least 6, but no older than 15, the day the hunt begins.

Call 501-223-6440 or 501-223-6359 for more information on AGFC permit hunts.

Apply for a WMA Deer Hunt Permit

vilonia fishing derby

Free fishing derbies will be available at all AGFC hatcheries on Saturday, June 9 for all youth 15 and younger.

LITTLE ROCK – From noon Friday, June 8, through midnight Sunday night, June 10, no angler will need a fishing license or trout permit to fish anywhere in Arkansas. 

An annual tradition sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and approved by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Free Fishing Days furnishes many people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing angling The Natural State has to offer.

“Recruiting the next generation of anglers is always at the front of our list,” said AGFC Director Pat Fitts. “Free Fishing Weekend is a great way for every Arkansan to help us in this effort by bringing along a friend of family member to give fishing a try.” 

Fitts says an annual fishing license is only $10.50, but the additional act of needing the license can be a barrier to trying out angling for the first time or for people who only want to go once or twice a year. 

“Sometimes just making the extra stop to a sporting goods store or purchasing a license (at http://www.agfc.com) may intimidate people from giving this great thing we call the outdoors a chance,” Fitts said. “Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to get everyone out and enjoy all the work we do for them throughout the state.”

Fitts says the weekend also is great for parents with kids who want to learn how to fish.

“People under 16 don’t need a license any time, but parents don’t want to pay the extra money for a license to find out if their kids will enjoy fishing,” Fitts said. “Make it a fun family outing and you may just find out that it will be the best $10.50 you’ve ever spent to increase family time.”

If you’re looking to get the kids on a near sure-thing fishing experience, Batten also suggests visiting one of the AGFC’s five fish hatcheries from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 9.

“Each hatchery puts on a fishing derby the Saturday during Free Fishing Weekend,” Fitts said. “What better place to try and catch some fish than where we grow them?”

This year, all hatchery derbies will be held for anglers 15 and under. Each child must be supervised by an adult. Kids may catch and keep up to three catfish (or three trout at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery). In addition to fishing fun, participants also will be able to compete in casting contests and win prizes for fish caught.

Contact the hatchery nearest you for details on its derby:

  • Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery, Hot Springs, 877-525-8606
  • Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Centerton, 877-795-2470
  • William Donham State Fish Hatchery, Corning, 877-857-3876
  • Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery, Lonoke, 877-676-6963
  • Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery, Mammoth Spring, 877-625-7521.

Visit https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EyRRaJ9VnUTkXsCAzPdacR1F1WaE7NUo/view for information on other fishing derbies around the state.

06062018_Bald Knob_SeniorsJACKSONVILLE – With no more misses to spare in the final round, at the end of a long day shooting in hot and humid conditions, Bald Knob High School’s top trap-shooting team ran off 52 straight hits to win its first Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program senior state championship here Saturday.

Bald Knob’s White squad had averaged 120 targets hit out of 125 attempts, with a high of 122 in the third round, during each of five victories in reaching the final against Corning Trap Team Black at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Shooting Sports Complex, and the White hit that number with its blazing finish to win, 120-119. Chase Martin, who has recently graduated, and rising high school senior Hunter Throckmorton were both a perfect 25-for-25 in the final for Bald Knob, which entered the 64-team bracket as one of four top seeds after winning regional competitions last month. Paige Hanna, Evan Martin and Parker Hepner made up the rest of the Bald Knob team.
The Corning squad shot first in the final, and though no official scoring had been announced when Corning was finished, several Bald Knob fans and parents following the shooting knew Corning had missed six of 125 targets. If Bald Knob also missed six, there would be a shoot-off to determine the team champion; seven misses and Bald Knob would miss out on a coveted state title after finishing fourth last year.

“There was a lot of pressure, definitely,” Throckmorton said afterward. “We had to come out with our minds focused and not worry about what they shot, just shoot our best.” After the team’s fifth miss, he said, “we knew we just had to finish it.” And Martin added the team stayed focused. “There was just a lot of positive stuff before we go out and shoot, just to keep your head down and break targets.”

“We’ve started this six, seven years ago and have been in it every year, and it gets better each year. This is the best we’ve done, personally between us two,” Bald Knob’s Throckmorton said of his and Martin’s shooting, adding that the two are both big duck and deer hunters. Martin said, “Duck hunting really helps out here. You don’t know where the traps are going, they just rotate back and forth.”

High school junior Paige Hanna, the only female on the White squad and daughter of one of the coaches, Russell Hanna, said the team didn’t feel much pressure at the start of the day, “but when it got to the top four that’s when I really started feeling it. That was probably the worst, was shooting top four. But I was real excited so I tried to put it aside and not think of it too much so it wouldn’t make me so nervous. We kind of knew what we needed to do (in the final), but not for sure. We just had to get our mindset and stay focused. We’re all about the same when it comes to doing that. If I miss one, I just forget about it move on to the next one.”

Martin had a big day, being one of the last two competitors in the senior Champion of Champions shoot-off before his first miss in several hours. That gave the title to Cave City’s Dylan Kirk, who outlasted 13 other shooters and Martin after that group had hit 50 of 50 for their teams during regional competition. With the large number of qualifiers, the shoot-off started out requiring side-by-side fields, shooting one shot each until a miss beginning at 16 yards, and the competition reached the 27-yard spot (or back line) of the trap range before being decided.

Kirk, a graduated senior who was part of Cave City’s state championship team last year, has been involved in the AYSSP program for six years. His advice for anyone aiming to be a Champion of Champions: “I’ve shot a lot of shells. A lot of practice. That’s all it takes, a lot of practice and a lot of dedication in what you’re doing.” Kirk practices at the Paul H. “Rocky” Willmuth Shooting Sports Complex in Batesville, where he says he sees a lot of the same competitors he faced Saturday. This summer, he’ll compete in Amateur Trap Shooting Association events, before heading to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, where he plans to join the A-State shooting team.

Kirk credits his father, Richard Kirk, for coaching him, and says dove hunting helps his trap shooting.
Geyer Springs Student Ministries won the senior third-place matchup over Berryville.

On Friday, 64 junior teams squared off in the head-to-head bracket after qualifying in four weeks of regionals, and the Nashville Trap Team 1, the South Region titlist, came away with the state championship, defeating Jonesboro Westside Red in the final. Tanner Harris, who had qualified for the junior Champion of Champions shoot-off, led the Nashville team along with Landon Dyer, Braydon Smith, Wren Washburn and Hayden Goodson. Cabot Panthers Doyle’s Dust Donkeys, runner-up to Westside Red in the East Region, took third place in state.

Ethan Simmons took the Junior Champion of Champions title, besting five other shooters who scored perfect 25 for 25 rounds during regional competition.

LITTLE ROCK – The application period for Arkansas’s special urban bowhunts for the 2018-19 hunting season is now open. Hunters interested in participating in the Cherokee Village, Russellville, Fairfield Bay, Horseshoe Bend, Heber Springs and Hot Springs Village hunts should visit http://www.arkansasbowhunters.org/UrbanHunt to register online or contact J.D. Crawford at jd@arkansasbowhunters.org.Hunters wishing to participate in the Bull Shoals or Lakeview hunts should contact the Bull Shoals Urban Bowhunters Association. The two men to talk to there are Dale Forbus at daleforbus@yahoo.com (870-405-2369) and Bob Wyble at dhfarcheryrange@gmail.com (870-421-0587).The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission works with these two bowhunting groups in order to help administer needed hunts in urban areas.“We’re fortunate to have these two partners step up and help administer these hunts, ensure the hunters are proficient and discreet and coordinate with the cities to prevent any conflicts,” said Ralph Meeker “Hunting is the most efficient means we have to control deer populations, and these hunts allow hunters to enjoy their sport while contributing to needy Arkansans throughout the state.”As a stipulation of the hunt, all hunters must donate their first adult deer harvested to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Additionally, hunters who participate in the hunts must attend an orientation where they must pass a proficiency test with their archery equipment. An orientation fee is collected by the bowhunting organizations.All urban hunts follow stringent guidelines to ensure that the safety of hunters and local landowners is maintained. In addition to the orientations and shooting proficiency tests, all hunters must have passed the International Bowhunters Education Program course to participate.“Hunting is a very safe sport,” Meeker said. “But we make sure there is an extra level of safety involved in these hunts because of them being conducted in areas not normally associated with hunting.”The exact regulations for each hunt may vary slightly, depending on the wishes of that community, but many rules, including mandatory shooting proficiency tests and maintaining a safe distance from homes and trails on common areas and obtaining landowner permission on private property, remain constant.All deer harvested during urban hunts are considered bonus deer, and do not count toward a hunter’s seasonal limit. There are no limits to the number of deer that can be harvested in urban hunts and all antler restrictions are lifted. All deer harvested must still be checked to the appropriate urban deer zone.

AGFC WMALITTLE ROCK – The Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society currently is conducting an online survey of anglers who target manmade fish attractors and aquatic vegetation in southeastern reservoirs. The information collected will help state fisheries and wildlife agencies improve aquatic habitat enhancement programs. The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous.

Click here to take the survey

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