AUGUSTA (AGFC) – The ducks may not have cooperated, but 17 Arkansas kids, ages
10 to 15, had a memorable experience with Muddy Bayou YoungGunz.
It was the youth hunt, the windup of the Arkansas season for 2011-12,
and the youngsters were participants in the third yearly event put
together by Cody Alberson of McCrory with the help of a slew of friends,
volunteers and commercial enterprises.
Some of the young enthusiasts hunted ducks for the first time. Some
were stepping into footsteps of fathers, uncles and grandparents. For a
few, they would never have had a chance to duck hunt if they were not
selected for this outing.
Allen Cain, 13 and from McCrory, said, "We didn't get to shoot, but we
saw some mallards and some green-winged teal this morning. There weren't
big numbers of them, maybe 10 in the biggest bunch."
Christian Little had a wide smile at the finish of the event. In a
drawing, he won a new 12-gauge autoloading shotgun, one of many
donations from sponsors of the youth hunt. Every one of the young
participants received clothing and hunting gear worth about $600. This
included face paint, and the youngsters used their imagination with
this, down to decking out the face of a yellow Labrador retriever.
For Dillon Reynolds of McCrory, the hunt was also special in that he
brought down a banded mallard drake, and the prize got him started on a
duck band necklace, that traditional ornament for Arkansas waterfowlers.
Kaelyn Mills, 12, of Hensley added another element to an exciting
hunting season. She got in a duck hunt just under two months after she
killed a trophy bull elk near the Buffalo River. She didn't get a shot
at a duck this time, but she downed her first duck in an earlier hunt.
And she has experienced deer hunting also.
Of the 17 youth hunters, six were girls. Several women participated as
mentors to the young hunters in the field and with other activities in
the event. Stephanie Daniel, a wildlife biologist with the Arkansas Game
and Fish Commission, gave a program on hunting, habitat and even
Alberson said, "The mission of the Muddy Bayou YoungGunz is to lessen
the challenges that hinder today's youth from experiencing hunting and
the outdoors by providing them with an adventure than can build on while
instilling in them a passion for nature."
Hunting clothing and boots for each kid was provided by Drake
Waterfowl. "They gave us about $6,000 in clothing for this event,"
Alberson said, "and we had $10,000 in donations from other companies and
people. One woman sent a thousand dollars and wanted to remain
anonymous. She said her son had leukemia and was unable to hunt."
Each of the young hunters took home a duck call provided by Echo Calls
of Beebe. Classic Fare Catering of Harding University provided meals,
and lodging was provided by some Woodruff County hunting clubs.
After receiving the clothing and other gear and enjoying a campfire
complete with the making of S'mores, one youth said, "This is just like
It is an experience for the adult helpers as well, and they came from
Mississippi and Tennessee as well as from Alberson's circle of duck
hunting friends in the McCrory area.
Alberson told writer Zach Hill of Greenhead magazine, "We want adults
that know the benefits of teaching a child early about the outdoors,
hunting and conservation. There are not only hunting lessons to be
learned, but life lessons also."