June 30, 2021
STUTTGART - Former AGFC Commissioner W.R. “Witt” Stephens Jr. and former AGFC Biologist and Assistant Director Carl Hunter will be added into the Arkansas Waterfowler Hall of Fame in an induction ceremony September 23 at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock. Members of the 2020 class also will be recognized as COVID-19 forced the cancellation of last year’s event.
This year's honorees include:
Witt Stephens, Jr. of Little Rock is a passionate land manager involved in countless conservation-related efforts that benefit Arkansas wildlife and sportsmen. Stephens was recently named President Emeritus of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation for which he has served various terms during 25 years. Stephens served a seven-year term on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from 1993 to 2000. While on the Commission, he played key roles in the 1996 campaign to pass a Conservation Sales Tax as well as major changes in deer management, trout and implementing the first elk season in Arkansas. Stephens also served on The Nature Conservancy board of directors and is a lifetime member of Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl.
Carl Hunter may have achieved as much renown during his retirement than as a long-time leader in wildlife biology and conservation. Hunter turned his hobbies of photography and wildflowers into a popular book worked as a guest speaker to garden clubs and other organizations. He was a leader in Arkansas’s deer restoration, joining the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1945, leaving to help industrialist Edgar Monsanto Queeny develop Wingmead in eastern Arkansas, then returning to AGFC and becoming assistant director until retirement in 1986.
Dr. Harold V. Glenn, Thad McCollum and Verne Tindall are recognized for creating the World's Championship Duck Calling Contest. The first contest was held in 1936 in conjunction with the annual Arkansas Rice Festival. The festival was the precursor to the popular Wings Over the Prairie Festival held each Thanksgiving weekend in Stuttgart. McCollum is credited with originating the contest, while Glenn sold the American Legion on sponsoring the event and Tindall was a chief organizer. The contest still is the pinnacle of competitive duck calling and, coupled with the festival, is a chief economic driver for the Stuttgart area.
Last year's honorees include Wallace Claypool, John Olin, Former AGFC Commissioner Pat Peacock, Former AGFC Biologist Scott Yaich and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation "Dedicated to Ducks" winner George Purvis, who led the AGFC’s communications efforts and brought national renown to the spectacle of waterfowl hunting in The Natural State.
The event is organized by committee members including Chairman Jim Ronquest, Brent Birch, Michelle Blasengame, Greg Churan, Jeff Churan, Anne Marie Doramus, George Dunklin, Garland Derden, Lee Ann Blackwell-Hoskyn, Jeff Lawrence, Mike Lewis and Gar Lile.
"The waterfowl industry in Arkansas is among the best in the nation largely due to the time and talents these individuals have invested," said committee Chairman Jim Ronquest. "The Waterfowler Hall of Fame is simply a small opportunity to highlight significant efforts and impact of inductees while honoring their legacies."
The September 23 "southern comfortable" induction ceremony will include a pre-dinner reception from 6 p.m.-7 p.m., live music, a live auction and a local flare spread.
Additional information and sponsorship opportunities are available by visiting waterfowlerhof.com.