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AGFC Wildlife Officers honor veterans and families at Squirrel-a-palooza 2023

BY agfc

ON 02-08-2023


Feb. 8, 2023

MT IDA — On the last weekend of January, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers joined Warrior Hunts for its annual “Squirrel-a-palooza” hunt for veterans and their families. This was the seventh year in a row that the AGFC helped put on this hunt honoring our nation’s armed forces.

Officers hosted 39 participants this year at Lake Ouachita, with a full slate of outdoors activities throughout the weekend.

hunter with youth
According to Sgt. Jeff Black from the AGFC’s Hot Springs Regional Office, the weekend began with a fish fry, where guests were welcomed and given a quick overview of the weekend’s events.

“Saturday morning, the 25 people who wished to hunt were split into seven groups, each with a squirrel dog handler and support staff to help,” Black said. “They all ate breakfast provided by the Joplin Store before hitting the woods for their morning hunt. They returned to Mountain Harbor Resort and again had a catered meal, thanks to the local Subway before touring a military museum and heading out for their afternoon hunt.”

Volunteers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined in the evening festivities, providing another meal.

“Absolutely no one left hungry,” Black said. “It was fantastic.” 

According to Black, eleven children under the age of 10 were able to join the adventures with their parents.

“Altogether, we harvested around 75 squirrels, and at least two of our younger hunters got their first squirrel ever,” Black said. 

11-year old Emma Sanoja, daughter of United States Air Force Veteran, Daniel Sanoja from El Paso, Texas, harvested her first squirrel on the first shot she took during the morning hunt with a .410 shotgun. Although she often accompanied her father at the shooting range, this was the first time she was able to take a squirrel of her own. But she didn’t stop at one; Emma harvested three additional squirrels during the morning hunt, and said she couldn’t wait to come back next year.

Hunters with squirrels
“We really appreciate all the great people who come together to make this event a success each year,” Black said. “Mountain Harbor Resort, Warrior Hunts, the Corps of Engineers and AGFC officers put on the hunt, but there are a lot of sponsors who make it possible. The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, Friends of Lake Ouachita and Southern Bancorp all contribute to make it a success. Rocket Ink Screen Printing and Embroidery pitches in each year to assist as well. And it’s all to help us show a little extra appreciation for our veterans and their families who often sacrifice a part of their lives for our country.” 

To learn more about Warrior Hunts and the many events they host for our nation’s service men and women visit their Facebook page at

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