Arkansas Duck Derby banquet, hunt Jan. 6-7

Sonja Keith
Last year’s winning team in the inaugural Arkansas Duck Derby with contest representatives: event committee chairman Dr. Thad Hardin (from left), Jacob Trammell holding his daughter (Lettie Jane), Cole McNeill, Stephen McNeill, Carson McNeill and Conway Regional President and CEO Matt Troup.

by Sonja J. Keith

Organizers have announced plans for the 501’s premier hunting event – the Second Annual Arkansas Duck Derby.

The event benefits the Conway Regional Men’s Health Initiative and the Lodging Assistance Program that provides short-term housing for patient families in need.

The competitive one-day hunt features a team of four hunters and a landowner or designated host who compete for a grand prize that can be equally divided. 

“Nothing pulls guys together like a great hunt and this also is an opportunity for us to focus on men taking care of their health, a topic that men rarely discuss,” said Thad Hardin, M.D., a family practice physician at Conway Regional and chairman of the organizing committee. “We are fortunate to provide comprehensive men’s health services to our community, but they do us no good if men don’t take a proactive role in taking care of themselves. So, our goals are two-fold with this event.”

Hardin joins fellow physicians Andrew Cole, M.D., and Lew McColgan, M.D., in planning the derby along with Mike Armstrong, Bret Carroll, Kevin Carter, Chip DeBoard, Kelley Erstine, Cora Gray, Jon Ross Henderson, Jim Rankin Jr., Josh Robinson, Reggie Rose, Jason Smith and Jeff Standridge.

Planning for the inaugural event began in 2016. “We’ve been having monthly meetings as a committee since that time,” Hardin said. “We knew that for it to turn out well it would take a lot of planning and hard work. We wanted to make sure that the event was a success and that people would want to come back.”

The event kicks off with a Pre-Hunt Community Banquet planned Monday, Jan. 6, at the University of Central Arkansas HPER Center. It will include dinner, drinks, a gun raffle, silent and live auctions, men’s and women’s raffles and big ticket raffle items. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 each.

The competitive hunt takes place Tuesday, Jan. 7, on multiple parcels of privately-owned land in Central Arkansas. Teams will be randomly paired with landowners and hunting locations at the conclusion of the banquet.

The entry fee for the four-person team is $1,200 and includes four tickets to the Pre-Hunt Community Banquet and four gift packages.

After the hunt concludes, point values will be assigned to the duck species. Teams will return to C2 Powersports in Conway for final check-in, scoring and an awards ceremony. The team with the most points will go home with some serious prizes – not to mention Derby bragging rights for a year! Prizes will also be awarded for the second and third place teams.

While there are other duck hunts in the state, the Arkansas Duck Derby is unique to Central Arkansas. “This is an event that will benefit our community tremendously. It will bring awareness to Central Arkansas through a great event,” said Hardin. “We all know that men’s health is sometimes out of sight/out of mind and men typically don’t go to the doctor until it’s too late. We are hoping that through this hunt we will be able to augment the men’s health Initiative to create more opportunities to make men healthier. The Arkansas Duck Derby is certainly an event you won’t want to miss.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasDuckDerby.com or contact Marla Hambuchen at [email protected].