Youths learn gun safety, outdoors appreciation in mentored hunt
BY Jim Harris
Jan. 19, 2022
Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
LITTLE ROCK – Randy Douglas treasures the memories of his first exposure to hunting and fishing, beginning around the age of 7, and he’s been determined to pay that back to today’s youths.
Douglas hosted 10 fledgling outdoors participants, during the weekend of the November Arkansas youth deer hunt. Two of whom had won spots for the hunt through The Big Catch, a community fishing event held twice a year in Little Rock. This year, Douglas followed that up on Jan. 1-2 by taking three more young hunters and families to learn about hunting and the outdoors.
In the November event, three Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officers, a K-9, and an Education Division employee helped educate the children on hand about deer hunting, the outdoors and firearm safety.
“It’s a blessing as to how I was exposed to nature and it’s been an amazing impact in my life growing up around the outdoors, and I can go full circle and return that to someone less fortunate who hasn’t had the chance to experience it,” Douglas, who owns Duglas1 Construction and Landscaping Co., said. “I see this as an educational opportunity.”
Douglas said he believes learning about safe handling of firearms in the outdoors and through the experience of hunting opportunities would help reduce the number of accidental shootings that occur. “My father taught me very well about firearms and hunting, and my mother knew how to handle guns and proper gun safety. When my parents would leave the house, I had already been around firearms and was familiar and wasn’t curious about finding them and handling them improperly.”
Douglas reached out to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and to Maurice Jackson, who is the AGFC’s Family and Community Fishing Program coordinator, about giving back. He also is friends with Gary Casey, who founded The Big Catch fishing and community event, and Casey mentioned at last September’s Big Catch at Boyle Park that he could use a couple more prizes to give away – hence the deer-hunting trips.
Jackson said, “I got (Hollie Sanders, the AGFC assistant chief of Education and R-3 leader) involved and she was able to provide staff and resources for Mr. Douglas and his volunteers. This was done at lighting speed. Keep in mind these kids won their trip at the end of September … Our new R-3 partner, Mr. Douglass, is the first African American to host such a large group of minorities.”
Douglas had already scheduled eight other youths and families to attend his camp on the youth deer hunt, and while at The Big Catch he said he “felt the spirit inside me” to donate two more spots to attend.
“The other kids were from different communities, some who needed mentors,” Douglas said. “You talk with them, take them out to the deer camp. Some of the kids come from single-family homes. You get to spend time with them fishing, hunting and just getting outdoors.”
Douglas owns the camp, and last spring he renovated it “to be more suitable for kids and guests.
“I added new beds, and expanded it to give us more space so we could bring more kids,” he said.
Other camp members and adults, as well as AGFC employees on hand during the youth deer hunt weekend, have helped out on the mentored hunts and trips. Parents and other people who Douglas hunts with also attend and volunteer to watch over the youths during the getaways.
“I’ve met a good person in Conway, a good person in Dallas and in Pine Bluff, and I’m blessed with knowing a lot of good people in Crossett,” Douglas said. “That area has grown on me, and the people there show a real Southern side of really being down-to-earth. I probably started hunting down there 20 years ago and kept going back.”
Douglas is planning other youth-mentored hunting events soon, including outings to hunt squirrel and raccoon. “We have camping, four-wheelers, horseback riding, and we’re teaching them about being outdoors with the different signs in the woods that they need to know.”
Douglas credits his father with getting him involved in outdoors activities and taking him hunting and fishing. “I probably started hunting with a deer rifle when I was 8 or 9 years old.” He grew up hunting in western Pulaski County, he said, around Roland and Arkansas Highway 10.
For parents and others interested in a mentored outdoors opportunity for their children, contact Douglas through his Facebook site at Duglas1 Hunting & More, call 501-993-9099 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, look for more opportunities to win a youth deer hunt at his camp through the next The Big Catch this spring.
“If Gary needs me to help out, I sure will,” the AGFC’s Jackson said, “Definitely, from the first big hunt that spun off from one of our community fishing events, I told Mr. Douglas there is a big need for more of what he is doing. He’s very interested in introducing folks to various styles of hunts. We will be offering more hunts as prizes during our large-scale community fishing events and tagged fish promotions.”
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