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Youth hunters harvested nearly 9,500 during the two-day 2016 youth hunt.

Youth hunters harvested nearly 9,500 during the two-day 2016 youth hunt.

Cooler temperatures and the first good signs of rutting activity beckoned well for the first youth hunt of the 2016-17 deer season last weekend, and Arkansas’s young guns did not disappoint. Hunters harvested 9,429 deer during the two-day season.
According to Cory Gray, deer program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the harvest is lower than last year’s 12,000-deer youth hunt, but is very similar to the 2014 season, in which youth hunters took just over 9,700 deer.
Since the development of internet and telephone checking, biologists and the public can see the harvest in real time by visiting https://www.ark.org/agfc/gamecheck/reports.php. According to checked numbers, Arkansas’s deer harvest is at about 51,000 deer statewide. Again, this is below last year’s harvest of 64,000, but on track with the year before, which had 53,000 deer checked by this point in the season.
The slow start to this season has had a few hunters concerned. But Gray says things should balance out as cooler weather sets in and more hunters enter the woods.

Cooler weather had deer moving for the morning of the hunt.

Cooler weather had deer moving for the morning of the hunt.

“We often see hunting seasons start off slowly, but quickly catch-up as the season progresses,” Gray said. “The opening weekend of modern gun season and the week of Thanksgiving will be crucial periods for state harvest.”
The AGFC will be continuing to monitor for the spread of chronic wasting disease during opening weekend of modern gun season by manning 25 biological sampling sites within 10 counties in northern Arkansas. Biologists ask all hunters who wish to voluntarily submit their deer for sampling on Nov. 12-13 to bring any checked deer from Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy and Yell counties to one of the following sites:

Boone County

  • Alpena Community Building, 107 Highway 62 E., Alpena
  • Anderson’s Propane, 8563 Highway 7 N., Harrison
  • Anderson’s Store, 12181 Highway 62 E., Harrison

Carroll County

  • Carroll County Fairgrounds, 104 County Road 401, Berryville

Johnson County

  • Haggarville Grocery, 11925 SR 123, Lamar
  • McCormick’s One Stop, 7823 Highway 103, Clarksville
  • Oark General Store and Café, 10360 County Road 5440, Oark

Logan County

  • New Blaine Fire Dept., 9 Highway 197 Loop, New Blaine

Madison County

  • Combs Store and Café, 10342 Highway 16, Combs
  • McIlroy Madison County WMA headquarters, Highway 23

Marion County

  • Pyatt, Crooked Creek Access, Highway 62 W., Pyatt
  • Yellville City Park, Highway 14, Yellville

Newton County

  • Arkansas Forestry Commission Office, Route 1, Box 275, Western Grove
  • National Park Service Maintenance Shop, HCR 73 Box 176B, Marble Falls
  • Ponca Elk Education Center, Highway 43, Ponca
  • USFS Office, 18360 Highway 16 W., Deer

Pope County

  • Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Storage Facility, Sand Gap (1 mile south of Highway 7/16/123 intersection)
  • City of London Maintenance Shop, 3731 SR 333, London
  • Downtown Mini-Mart, 102 W. Main St. (Highway 64/105 intersection), Atkins
  • Fountain’s Grocery, 36386 Highway 27, Tilly
  • USFS Big Piney Ranger District Office, 12000 SR 27, Hector

Searcy County

  • Arkansas Forestry Commission, 602 Highway 65 N., Marshall
  • Misty’s Conoco, 6542 Highway 65 N., Leslie

Yell County

  • Ouachita Livestock Market, 12115 N. State Highway 7, Danville
  • Yell County Wildlife Federation, 10035 Wildlife Lane, Dardanelle

Hunters outside of these 10 counties may contact a veterinarian from the list provided at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/Documents/CWD/CWDVets.pdf if they wish to learn the CWD-status of deer they have harvested. However, the hunter will be responsible for the cost of these tests outside of the 10-county CWD Management Zone.

Hunters must be 6 years old to legally tag and check deer in Arkansas.

Hunters must be 6 years old to legally tag and check deer in Arkansas.

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The AGFC youth camp at Lake Sylvia was an ideal setting for young hunters and their parents to learn the ropes of turkey hunting.

The AGFC youth camp at Lake Sylvia was an ideal setting for young hunters and their parents to learn the ropes of turkey hunting.

Seven lucky youth hunters were selected to participate in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Youth Turkey Camp April 15-16 at Lake Sylvia in Perry County.

The camp, now in its fourth year, was created to help introduce those youths with no outdoor mentor to the sport of turkey hunting.

AGFC Regional Education Coordinator Jason Hooks said many of the traditions historically handed down from parent-to-child or grandparent-to-child have been lost as people’s attentions has been devoted to other pursuits in urban settings.

“So many of these kids and even their parents have never been introduced to turkey hunting,” said Hooks. “Some have never been camping or stayed in a tent before. Hopefully this sparks their interest.”

Cade Johnson of Cabot harvested a nice 20year-old gobbler during teh 2016 youth turkey camp at Lake Sylvia.

Cade Johnson of Cabot harvested a nice 2-year-old gobbler during the 2016 youth turkey camp at Lake Sylvia.

Participants are required to complete Hunter Education before attending camp. A parent also is required to attend the camp with the youth hunter. Hunters must be 12 to 15 years old to participate.

“Kids can start hunting turkeys and other big game in Arkansas at age 6, and most kids whose parents are already turkey hunters likely will take them before they’re 12,” said Hooks. “But this camp is for those youths and parents who don’t know how or where to get started.”

Participants meet for dinner Friday afternoon before opening day of the youth hunt. They learn about turkey identification, different types of turkey calls and hunting techniques. They also learn about turkey biology, gun safety and other aspects of the hunt few people think about unless they’ve been taught by a mentor. The evening wraps up with dinner and hunting tales around a campfire.

“We’ll get up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. the next morning to put that knowledge to use and hunt some birds,” Hooks said.

AGFC staff and hunter education instructors volunteer to take the young hunters and a parent out to the woods for a hunt.

This year’s lucky hunter was Cade Johnson from Cabot. Johnson, who participates in the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, was able to take a 2-year-old gobbler the morning of the hunt.

Hooks says the event would not be possible without the help of many men and women who are concerned with the future of turkey hunting in Arkansas.

“Many of the volunteers are members of the National Wild Turkey Federation, which also helps sponsor the hunt,” Hooks said. “We also get help from Bass Pro Shops, Quaker Boy Game Calls, Lynch Traditions Turkey Calls Jim Pollard Elite Calls and Natural Gear Camouflage.”

Contact Jason Hooks at 501-251-7839 or email Jason.Hooks@agfc.ar.gov for more information about the AGFC Youth Turkey Camp at Lake Sylvia.

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Fishing Derbies will be held at each of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Hatcheries, Saturday, June 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you’ve ever wanted to wet a line but didn’t want to spend the money for a fishing license, this weekend is your time to give it a try. By special proclamation of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, anyone, resident or nonresident, may fish without a license or trout stamp from noon, Friday, June 12, to midnight, Sunday, June 14, 2015.

Chris Racey, chief of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Fisheries Division, said, “It’s an excellent opportunity for friends and family to get together and enjoy the great sport of fishing.”

All other fishing regulations, including daily limits, remain in effect during Free Fishing Weekend. Visit agfc.com for a free download of the 2015 Arkansas Fishing Guidebook

In addition to the license waiver, each AGFC hatchery has reserved special locations for free kids’ fishing derbies from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13. Children 12 and younger may bring their own tackle and bait to their local hatchery to catch and keep up to three fish per child.

“We host kids’ fishing derbies at all five of our state fish hatcheries each year to provide an opportunity for children to catch fish in a fun and safe environment,” Racey said. “We hope many children will catch their first fish at one of our hatchery derbies and go on to become lifelong anglers.”

Click for Hatchery Locations for Free Fishing Weekend Derbies

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Hunting traditions have historically been passed down through families, but as the modern family evolves, bridging the gap between veteran and beginning hunter has become a challenge for all conservation agencies. Through its youth turkey camp, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission introduces young people to turkey hunting at its annual youth turkey camp in the Ouachita National Forest.

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gunlocks

The AGFC is teaming up with the National Shooting Sports Foundation this weekend to help keep curious kids safe. Each AGFC nature center around the state will be distributing free gun safety cables to visitors Saturday, March 22 and Sunday, March 23.
Visit http://www.agfc.com/Pages/eventsAll.aspx to learn more about events coming to each nature center this month.

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Eleven Arkansas high school students traveled the state to learn how they can contribute to tomorrow's conservation leadership.

Eleven Arkansas high school students traveled the state to learn how they can contribute to tomorrow’s conservation leadership.

 

High school seniors take week-long conservation journey

What do 35 counties, three state parks, one national park, three conservation education centers, two nature centers, four wildlife management areas, one commission meeting and 11 high school seniors have in common? All were elements of the first annual Youth Conservation Institute held July 11-18 all across the State of Arkansas.

YCI is a competitive, merit-based, week-long journey into Arkansas’s conservation story and serves as a springboard for conservation-minded teens who want to make an impact on the community in which they live. Participants were selected from a state-wide pool based on criteria including grade point average, letters of recommendation and proven interest in conservation and wildlife management.

Students participated in field activities that showcased the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s management of the state’s fisheries and wildlife. It also gave the participants a snapshot of possible career choices in the field of conservation. They studied Arkansas’s different ecosystems by visiting the Ozark Mountains, the Gulf Coastal Plains, Delta and Crowley’s Ridge.

The students went catfishing in the south and smallmouth fishing in the north. They hiked the flatlands of the plains and mountains in the Ozarks. With each experience, they learned the importance that each region plays in making Arkansas home to such a diverse population of wildlife and what must be done to maintain that population.

Personnel from the AGFC, Arkansas State Parks, Buffalo River National Park and other organizations were on hand to demonstrate on-going conservation efforts throughout the state.

Even after camping during the hot July heat, YCI students declared the experience to be the “best week of my life” and “one of the best learning experiences I have had.”

Their challenge after returning home is to develop and implement a project in their own communities which will have a lasting impact on local conservation efforts.

Youth Conservation Institute attendees:

  • Hunter Almond – Maumelle
  • Seth Bickford – Conway
  • Austen Evers – Harrison
  • Travis Gray – Oden
  • Bailey Hankins – Ward
  • Jared Hett – Pottsville
  • Jacob Jones – Humnoke
  • Joe McAlee – McRae
  • Brody Smith – Guy
  • Caty Jo Spivey – Horseshoe Bend
  • Kaleb Wornick – Mena

For more information about Youth Conservation Institute, visit http://www.agfc.com.

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Team Nitro from Lonoke took top honors in the senior division at the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program State Tournament for 2012.

The G-Force Trap Team from Greenwood and Team Nitro from Lonoke were the top shooters in the junior and senior divisions at the recently completed state finals of the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program. The tournament was held June 1-2 at the Remington range near Lonoke. Champion of Champions in the junior division was Dustin Robertson from Berryville Middle School. Jordan Harper of the Harrisburg Trap Club was the Champion of Champions in the senior division. In the junior division, Team No.1 from Berryville Middle School took second place and Salem 1-8 took third place. In the senior division, the Pigeon Poppers squad from Greenwood placed second and AAA from Harrisburg placed third. Each member of the top three senior division teams was awarded a college scholarship ($1,500 for first, $1,000 for second and $500 for third). Teams from across the state competed in four regional competitions to qualify for the championship. Each region was represented by 16 teams in the junior and senior divisions. In addition to team competition, shooters with perfect scores during regional tournaments were invited to compete individually in the Champion of Champions event at the state finals. The AYSSP is an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission program that encourages youth to learn to shoot shotguns safely while enjoying the outdoors. To learn more about the AYSSP or to become a coach, visit www.agfc.com to download a brochure or contact Chuck Woodson, 501-230-4738.

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