By Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator
On October 7, members of the Arkansas and Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucuses met at the Pajaro Gun Club in Fort Smith, Arkansas for the first annual joint Arkansas and Oklahoma Sporting Clays Challenge. The Sporting Clays Challenge saw Caucus members from each state compete against each other in a friendly round of sporting clays, with the winning state bringing home a championship plaque and bragging rights for the year.
Prior to the sporting clays competition, legislators and other attendees shared a barbeque lunch and a brief policy forum regarding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Dr. Jennifer Ballard, State Wildlife Veterinarian for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission provided a detailed background on CWD and its history in Arkansas. Following this introduction and update, Dallas Barber, Big Game Biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, spoke about CWD in Oklahoma. Unlike Arkansas, CWD has never been detected in a wild deer population in Oklahoma. However, there have been two cases of CWD in captive populations, with the most recent case occurring earlier this year. Legislators were then given time to ask questions and share ideas regarding CWD management and prevention.
Making the most of the home-field advantage, Senator Mark Allen of Oklahoma shot 41 out of a possible 50 to win the individual award. His score, combined with that of fellow Oklahoma Senator Joseph Silk, was also enough to give Oklahoma the overall championship.
In its first year, the Arkansas and Oklahoma Sporting Clays Challenge allowed members of neighboring caucuses to interact and share ideas in a friendly setting. The individual Caucuses, along with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, thank the event’s title sponsors: Ducks Unlimited; Pheasants Forever; and Reynolds American, as well as host sponsors: Allen Rathole Inc.; the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation; the Le Flore County (Oklahoma) Chapter of Ducks Unlimited; the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Rick’s Used Auto Parts and Sales, and Service Compression.
Oklahoma Senator Mark Allen standing ready as he leads Team Oklahoma to victory in the first annual Arkansas-Oklahoma Sporting Clays Challenge.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?