Conder claims triple trophy award at 6 years old
Aug. 16, 2023
Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — As hunters’ minds start focusing on the outdoors, many parents begin to ask what age is right to start their children off in the woods. In Arkansas, the minimum age to legally harvest and check a deer is 6 but it’s ultimately a decision each parent must make based on their own judgment. In the case of Arkansas hunter Shawn Conder, he was fortunate and dedicated enough to not only introduce his son and both of his daughters to hunting with successful seasons, but also lead his youngest, Callie Ann, to a Triple Trophy Award in her first year deer hunting. She is one of four 6-year-olds to claim a Triple Trophy Award last deer season, harvesting a deer with a modern gun, muzzleloader and archery tackle within the same deer season. According to AGFC records, Callie Ann may very well be the youngest female to accomplish the feat.
According to Shawn Conder, preparation for Callie Ann’s first deer season began last summer, when she expressed interest in wanting to harvest a deer at 6 years old like her sister had. They started with a .22 rimfire rifle, and worked their way up to her older brother’s deer rifle. By the opening day of the 2022 youth deer hunt, Callie Ann was enjoying making milk jugs full of water explode from distances up to 100 yards.
“We had deer in front of us that morning as well as that evening, but I knew there were a few different small bucks coming to that area, so I asked her to be patient and wait for a buck,” Conder said.
After reaching the deer stand well before daylight for the second day in a row, Callie Ann was able to connect with a buck within 20 yards of her shooting position.
“I whispered to her and reminded her to breathe out, hold her breath at the respiratory pause and squeeze the trigger and she had her first deer down,” Conder said.
The second deer came only a week later, when Callie joined her father on her first muzzleloader hunt. After another patient morning and evening, Callie Ann took her second deer, a doe, within 30 yards of the ground blind she and her father shared.
“Since she was so close to her very first Triple Trophy, I explained what it was and asked if she wanted to try for it,” Conder said. “She said yes.”
Callie Ann proved just as accurate with a crossbow within 30 yards, practicing from mid-November until her next hunt.
“By now she was a little reluctant to wake up so early to hunt, so I let her tell me when she was ready to go again,” Conder said.
He didn’t have to wait long. On Dec. 1, Callie agreed to join him on an afternoon hunt after he was able to get off work early. The pair found themselves in the same ground blind as when she harvested her deer during muzzleloader season, and once again she was able to make an excellent shot on a deer that came within 25 yards of her stand, wrapping up her Triple Trophy in her first year in the woods.
According to AGFC records, Conder is likely the youngest female to ever achieve the Triple Trophy Award since its creation in 1984. David Hamilton from Hope is the youngest Triple Trophy recipient on record, having completed his Triple Trophy in 2009 only 48 days after his sixth birthday.
The Arkansas Triple Trophy Award was created in 1984 to promote archery and muzzleloader seasons in the state and begin to shift public perception toward harvesting female deer. At one point, deer populations in the state had grown so thin that harvesting does was strictly prohibited. As deer populations recovered, managers recognized the need to shoot a balanced number of does and bucks to maintain healthy herds in line with the habitat.
Visit www.agfc.com/tripletrophy for more information about the Triple Trophy Award and how to apply this deer season.
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