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Mena, Arkansas, News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Whitetail Deer Buck standing in the woods.

Arkansas’ second youth modern gun hunt is this weekend

So is the ABF Trail Marathon

By Patrick Massey & Ethan Nahté

The second of Arkansas’ two Special Youth Modern Gun Deer Hunts kicks off this weekend.

The special youth hunt will be open Jan. 6-7 in all Arkansas hunting zones. The first of the two special youth hunts was held in early November.

All youth hunters are reminded they must have a free customer ID number. Those numbers can be obtained by visiting

Only hunters 6 to 15-years-old may harvest deer during this weekend’s special youth modern gun deer hunt. Youths who have not completed hunter education must be under the direct supervision of an adult at least 21 years old. Mentors may not hunt any species during the hunt. All zone bag limits apply during the youth hunt and the use of dogs is prohibited.

Bowhunters may hunt during the youth hunt, but must wear hunter orage or chartreuse. Some WMAs and NWRs have permit-based youth seasons, or are otherwise closed to hunting during youth season, so make sure to check local regulations.

Arkansas’ deer season comes to an official close with the end of archery on Feb. 29.

ABF Trail Marathon

Asa reminder, the 25th Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon will also be held Saturday, Jan. 6, 5 a.m. through 5 p.m. As the previous year, the youth hunt is scheduled on the same weekend as the race.

In 2023, Stacey Shaver-Matson, ABF director and the president of the event organizers Arkansas Ultra Running (AURA), said, “The event has always been the first Saturday in January and has never overlapped with a scheduled hunt until now.”

For the 2024 race, Shaver-Matson said, “We do have a USDA Forest Service Permit for that date, have warned our runners, and are requiring all runners and volunteers to wear bright orange, red, or yellow. However, we want to take every precaution that we can in order to ensure runner safety.

“We also want the hunters to be aware so that they can find a location that will allow them to have a good time while hunting. If hunters are anywhere near the ABF Trail on Jan. 6, I think our 220 runners will keep them from that goal.”

Without a doubt, that many people running would make most wildlife sparse along or near the trail system.

The course for the free event utilizes the roads Highway 8, County Road 83, and Forest Road B15. Registered runners begin at the Big Fork Community Center, run to the Athens Big Fork Northern Trailhead, run the full length of the Athens Big Fork Trail to the southern end, turn right off the trail and traverse a half-mile on Forest Road B23F to the aid station.

All donations and proceeds that the race brings in goes back into the community that serves the organizations and runners.  Not to mention, the group helps with trail improvement and makes an effort to remain green with their efforts.

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