SPRINGDALE — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host its inaugural Big Squirrel Classic squirrel-hunting derby May 15 at the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center in northwest Arkansas. The squirrel-hunting contest is a free celebration of the opening of squirrel season in The Natural State.

The contest will be judged by the total weight of squirrels (field dressed) turned in at the center from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Thanks to sponsors such as Daisy, Ozark Armory, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation and Benton County Quail, prizes will be awarded for first through third place in three divisions as well as a “big squirrel” award. Raffles throughout the weigh-in period also will give attendees an opportunity to win some hunting- and fishing-oriented prizes. Hunters must register in advance. Click here to register.

The following activities will be offered as part of the contest:

9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m — Air rifle shooting at the center’s Marksmanship Center

1 p.m. — Firearm safety and squirrel hunting presentation

2 p.m. — Wildlife management presentation

3 p.m. — Arkansas deer hunting presentation by AGFC Deer Program Coordinator Ralph Meeker

4 p.m. — Update on 2021 Arkansas turkey season by AGFC Turkey Program Coordinator Jeremy Wood

6:30 — Awards ceremony and prizes

Contact Steve Dunlap, AGFC education program coordinator at 4779-409-5243 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on the event.

Spring squirrel hunting has been an Arkansas tradition for decades. In 2013 the AGFC extended the season from May 15 until the end of February to give squirrel hunters one of the longest hunting seasons in the state. Hunting pressure has a very low impact on the number of squirrels in an area. If a particular patch of woods is hit hard

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