Veterans, Their Families Enjoy Fifth Annual ‘Squirrel-a-Palooza’ Squirrel Hunt in Arkansas

by Emily Morgan

For the fifth year in a row, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife department hosted its annual “Squirrel-a-palooza.”

The hunt acts as a partnership that brings together local veterans with the Army Corps of Engineers, Mountain Harbor Resort, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

According to Sgt. Jeff Black, who works within the state’s wildlife department, the hunt typically garners about 45 veterans and their families, with 30 to 35 people actively squirrel hunting.

“Well over 200 people have enjoyed this event since 2016,” Black stated. “Hunting groups usually consist of three to four hunters with many volunteers helping out by bringing squirrel dogs to increase success. And every year, at least one participant harvests their very first squirrel and shares that moment with family and friends.”

While COVID-19 precautions prevented groups from gathering together, that didn’t keep the attendees from enjoying their hunt.

In all, 32 people participated in this year’s event, and 15 of those took off in hopes of bagging squirrels.

“Family members who didn’t want to hunt were not left out of the fun,” Black said. “They all were able to take advantage of the hospitality of Bill Barnes and Mountain Harbor Resort.”

Annual Squirrel Hunt Brings Together Vets & Their Families

Those who didn’t hunt still had plenty to do as they were treated to barge rides on Lake Ouachita and discount services at a local spa.

“After lunch on Saturday, Mr. Barnes even opened up his personal collection of military vehicles for the families to take on joyrides,” Black said.

“This event defines what outdoor recreation should be. Time spent together with family and close friends, allowing nature to provide an extra uplift of peace, comfort and happiness. It is a true honor to be a part of this event.”

Veteran John Nolan founded the nonprofit Warrior Hunts after seeing a need to provide opportunities for veterans to connect.

The group provides outdoor opportunities for veterans and their families who served on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

They also give the same opportunities to honorably discharged veterans, combat vets, special operators, or those who received a Purple Heart.