Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program registration deadline looms

It’s the final week to sign up for the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and receive free supplies. The program offers free trapshooting instruction and competition for youngsters in grades 6-12, with more than 6,000 students participating annually. It’s the largest youth shooting program in the U.S.

To sign up, parents must complete and sign a release form found on the AGFC’s website. Find it easily by doing a Google search on “AYSSP” and follow the links to the page. Find and print the four-page form, fill it out and sign it, and get it to your local AYSSP coach. Check with your local wildlife officer or regional AGFC office for more details.

In Bradley County, forms can be delivered to Charles Bridwell by dropping them at the Arkansas State Police headquarters at 1237 North Myrtle Street in Warren. Call Bridwell at 870-820-2253 for more details.

In Drew County, forms can be dropped off at the Farm Bureau Insurance office, 656 Barkada Road in Monticello. For more information, contact either Terry Koone at 870-723-6428 or Matt Pelkki at 870-723-3779.

The statewide deadline for registration to receive free supplies is Sunday. Registration is allowed through February but supplies will not be furnished. Late-comers may have to provide their supplies.

For the Bradley County Skeet Busters team, a late fee of $50 will be charged to pay for supplies which would have been provided by the AGFC if the applicants had applied in a timely manner. For the Drew County 4-H Shooters, no such fee is planned, according to Koone.

<strong>Trap shoot raises Pink Tomato Festival funds</strong>

A fundraiser trap shoot was held Saturday at the Warren Shooting Complex to benefit the Pink Tomato Festival. Two-man teams competed for a $300 first-place prize and a trophy.

Winners were Chance and Jarred Martin of Hamburg with a score of 90 of 100 targets. They also tied for the high individual score with a 23/25. Second-place team was Mason Bigham and Weston Smith of Warren with a score of 79/100. The second-place individual high score went to Warren’s Dalton Bigham with a 22/25.

The event began with a grilled chicken dinner for participants. A shotgun was raffled off, and Jeff Adams held the lucky ticket. Despite the cold weather, there were 28 participants.

According to Mike Nichols, 2016 Pink Tomato Festival President, $8,500 was raised for the festival. “The turnout was well over 100 people, including spectators. It was an awesome opportunity for our youngsters to compete in this event, and for local folks to see the many benefits of competitive shooting,” he said.

Nichols added that a major shooting competition is being planned in conjunction with this year’s tomato festival.

<strong>Survival essentials</strong>

With all the modern tools, electronics and gadgets, it would be difficult to list the items essential for anyone’s survival gear. If we boil it down to the very basic essentials, however, there are only three things necessary for survival.

The number one essential is a will to live. Often, those in survival situations may be well equipped to endure the elements—and may even possess the knowledge to use what they have to survive—but simply lack the will to live. Sometimes they just give up, lie down and die. This will or determination to live cannot be taught, but it can be developed and undergirded with confidence gained from outdoor skills.

The second essential is knowledge. With a strong will to live and the knowledge of how to make tools, make fire, make shelter and stay warm and dry, anyone can survive for extended periods. They may escape bruised, hungry, thin and scarred, but they can survive.

With knowledge, they can make a stone knife from river rocks. With that knife, they can make fire. And with fire, they can survive.

The last essential is tools, which are actually a luxury. If you carry a knife you won’t have to make one. If you have fire making tools, you won’t have to make a bow drill. If you have a small kettle, you won’t have to search for, or make, a container for water.

There is a limit to how much gear a man can carry but there’s no limit on the skills he can learn in a lifetime and they don’t weigh a thing and can’t be lost or left behind. As for the will to live, we may never know we have it until our survival actually depends upon it.

<strong>Arkansas Hunter Ed now fully online</strong>

Having been a Hunter Education instructor in Arkansas since 1989, many changes in the program have been obvious. The rapid growth, the mandatory requirement and trying to get youngsters and adults into classes on short notice have been pleasant problems.

This year, the Hunter Education program is now fully an online affair. Oh, you can still take the course in a traditional classroom setting, but it’s also possible to take the course online, or even with a CD. These computerized courses require the student to review each chapter, take a test and then print a voucher proving they’ve completed the course. They can then take the voucher to a testing site and take the written test.

One problem has been finding classes for those who needed them. Most folks wait until the last minute and being able to find a class on short notice was difficult. Not anymore; all classes are now posted on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website well in advance. The same is true of Boating Safety and Bowhunter Education classes.

Previously, students showed up, signed an enrollment sheet and were signed up. That has changed. Classes are now posted online; all students must register online for classes in advance. They must complete all their information online, and their Hunter Education card will be printed from the information they enter.

Anyone can search the AGFC website for classes anywhere in the state, see if classes are full and select the one they’d like to attend. Or, they can choose the online or CD option and then go to a testing site. Registration means instructors know in advance how many students they’ll have and can adequately plan seating, visual aids, snacks and other things with better accuracy.

The only downside to this technology is cost of replacement cards. For the past few years, students could access the AGFC website, enter their information and print a replacement card for free; or they could order a new “orange” card from the AGFC for a $5 fee.

Under the new, “improved” and technologically advanced system, replacement cards will cost $10. Students will receive two cards when they’re first certified, though. At a recent Hunter Ed meeting, one instructor said, “I tell my students to make two copies, then laminate all their cards and only carry one of them at a time. The others should be kept in a safe place.”

Not all instructors heartily embrace the new technology, either. Some of the “seasoned” instructors liked the simplicity of pen-and-paper enrollment forms. Some are just resistant to change. But the new process will shorten the time it takes to receive cards and make the classes easier to find for everyone involved.

To view the new system, visit the website, click on “Education” and “Hunter Education” then “Hunter Education Classes.”

Click on the “Link to Hunter Education Classes” and you’ll be directed to, a website that handles education programs for multiple states. Select Arkansas and you’ll instantly see all the classes available in the state.

Use the “View Event” to see details about the class, and the “Register Now” button to enter your registration information. Check your spelling carefully, as it is what will be on your card.

<strong>Eagles not rare anymore</strong>

Months ago an eagle was seen fairly often along U.S. Highway 63 North, near the Saline River. People would call a local wildlife officer and breathlessly describe their sighting. When reporting my sighting, the answer was, “Yes, they’re fairly common these days. It’s not really all that unusual anymore to see an eagle, even here in Bradley County.”

Just a few days ago an eagle was seen in front of my house, working a small pond in hopes of a meal of fish. What a joy it was to view this magnificent bird with a huge wingspan from the comfort of my easy chair.

This winter, you’re likely to see eagles almost anywhere there is water. They are, after all, merely fish hawks, and although they will eat carrion at times, their preferred diet is fresh fish. So, the best place to see one is along a river, or near a pond, lake, or reservoir.

Although the eagle population has recovered from the effects of DDT and lead poisoning, they are still federally protected. If you see one, or a nest, enjoy viewing them from a distance. It’s illegal to harass them in any way, or even to possess a feather. Give them your admiration, give them space and just be happy they’re back to stay.

<strong>Learn beekeeping at UAM</strong>

Interested in keeping bees for honey and pollinating crops? If so, you’ll want to attend the three-night course at the University of Arkansas at Monticello on Feb. 15, 22, and 29. Class times are 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Classes are free and open to the public. Registration is required.

The classes will cover all aspects of beekeeping, including hives and equipment, biology and behaviors, how and where to obtain bees, the first year with a colony, harvesting honey and beeswax, pests and disease management, and beekeeping laws and regulations.

Classes will meet at the UAM Agriculture Building, at Scogin Drive and Stadium Drive on the UAM campus. For more information, contact the Drew County Cooperative Extension Office at 870-460-6270. Similar classes are scheduled for Magnolia and Springdale. (Cooperative Extension Service Press Services)

<strong>Snow goose hunting seminar scheduled</strong>

PINE BLUFF—The Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff will host a special two-hour seminar beginning at 1 p.m. Feb. 6 to teach the basics of snow goose hunting.

Snow goose populations remain too large for their historic nesting grounds, which may cause changes in plant communities that could impact other animal species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Light Goose Conservation Order, where hunters are given additional days and liberal regulations to combat this overpopulation.

During this time, hunters may use electronic calls and shotguns that hold more than three shells to maximize their effectiveness. Hunters also do not need a state or federal waterfowl stamp, but do need a valid hunting license and a free conservation order number from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s licensing division.

Flocks measuring in the tens of thousands gather in the expansive agricultural fields of the Delta during their migration south. These massive flocks mean plenty of shooting opportunities for hunters, but also can be difficult to decoy. This workshop will give new hunters tips on how to fool all those eyes.

“Hunting snow geese can be difficult,” AGFC Waterfowl Program Coordinator Luke Naylor said. “It presents a set of challenges unique to waterfowling and much different than those familiar to many duck hunters.”

Registration is required for the free workshop. Call 870-534-0011 or email to register. (AGFC Press Services)

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