Dec. 12, 2018
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
YELLVILLE – Seven youths were selected to participate in the fifth annual Fred Berry Conservation Education Center Youth Deer Hunt and Camp Nov. 30-Dec. 2.
Accompanied by a parent or adult chaperone, the young hunters ages 12-15 were able to learn the basics of hunting, field dressing and processing of the harvest, and gun cleaning, along with taking in a deer hunt where they could harvest up to two deer, bucks or antlerless, in an area teeming with deer.
Six of the seven youths harvested at least one deer, and a total of eight deer were harvested by the group.
Marilyn Doran, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission facility manager, said, “Beyond (the harvest), however, youth have enjoyed the camaraderie of hunting camp. It has been especially rewarding to watch the bonding that occurs between the child and his/her parent as they experience the camp together. Very often the parent learns as much as the young hunter.”
The youth hunt is a joint effort between the AGFC’s Wildlife Management and Education divisions to introduce new hunters to the sport and to manage the deer herd on the facility’s 421 acres where hunting isn’t normally allowed.
The camp first was held in 2014, and in 2015 the center held a two-hunt event dubbed “Wings and Whitetails” for hunting doves and deer.
Doran said a Conservation Leadership Program grant initially allowed the center to purchase rifles, blinds and other supplies required for the event. Each year, six or seven youths in the 12-15 age group are chosen. The center aims to attract youths whose families are supportive of hunting but not able – due to lack of expertise, physical disability or some other obstacle – to take the youth and teach him or her how to hunt deer. The youths must apply for a spot at the camp, and in the event of more than seven applications, a random drawing is held, Doran said.
In each of the last five years, the weekend starts after school on Friday during modern gun deer hunting season. The youths and their guardian stay at the center through Sunday. They are served venison while at the center and take home new recipes. When the event concludes, the youths take home their harvest and a wealth of knowledge and experience in hunting deer.
Doran said Cpl. Tim Davenport, an AGFC wildlife officer based at Calico Rock regional office, is a regular participant at the camp, providing the youths with an overview of deer hunting regulations and serving as a hunting mentor, which in turn provides the youngsters with a positive experience interacting with law enforcement officers.
Tabbi Kinion, the AGFC’s division chief of education, said, “This annual hunt is a great event that takes staff from multiple divisions to make happen.” And, Doran says it requires contributions from mentors as well as donors of venison, tent suppliers, firewood choppers and more to make the weekend the success it is.
Visit www.agfc.com/fbcec to learn more about the center.