First Arkansas Duck Derby scheduled for Jan. 10-11

Members of the Arkansas Duck Derby Committee: Kelley Erstine (front, from left), Jeff Standridge, Chip DeBoard, Jim Rankin Jr., Mike Armstrong, Dr. Lew McColgan; Jason Smith (back), Jon Ross Henderson, Reggie Rose, Josh Robinson, Dr. Thad Hardin and Dr. Andrew Cole. Not pictured: Bret Carroll, Kevin Carter and Jeff Morrison.

Registration is open for the inaugural Arkansas Duck Derby planned Thursday, Jan. 10, and Friday, Jan. 11.

The competitive one-day hunt features a team of four hunters and a landowner or designated host who will compete for an elaborate grand prize that can be equally divided among the team and landowner. Organizers have secured private land in Central Arkansas for the hunt.

The fundraiser will support the Conway Regional Health System, with proceeds used for the Conway Regional Men’s Health Initiative and the Lodging Assistance Program that provides short-term housing for patient families in need.

“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, Jon Ross Henderson, Jeff Morrison, Jim Rankin Jr., Josh Robinson, Reggie Rose, Jason Smith and Jeff Standridge.

“This event is important because of the level of awareness for men’s health that it is bringing to Faulkner County,” said Henderson. “This is not just a Conway focused event. The committee wants the surrounding area to benefit. We hope to establish an event that grows in upcoming years and provides a means of additional healthcare opportunities for many people in the future.”

Planning for the 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 next year.”

“This has really been a team effort from the beginning,” said Henderson. “We have all been involved with asking for sponsorships, both in cash and monetary, as well as asking landowners to donate a hunting opportunity on their property. Every member of the committee has their own area of expertise and contact list, but we have coordinated efforts that will result in a great event for Central Arkansas.”

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

The banquet, which is open to the community, is Thursday, Jan. 10, at The Spiritan Center at St. Joseph Church in Conway. There will be dinner, a gun raffle, silent and live auctions with big ticket raffle items. Teams will be randomly paired with landowners and hunting locations at the conclusion of the Thursday night banquet.

“We would like to invite everyone to attend the banquet,” said Henderson. “Even if you are a non-hunter, this event will have something for everyone. There will be lots of auction items for ladies as well. We ask that everyone come out to support the Duck Derby and support Conway Regional. This event will be a relaxed evening that everyone can enjoy.” 

Hardin has been talking to friends and hunters for years about the duck derby and it wasn’t hard to find like-minded hunters who love the community and love to hunt.

“I have been trying to get this event together for several years but never had the means to make it happen,” Hardin said. “I wanted to create an event that would be fun and unique for our community to participate in but also an event that would meet the needs of our community. After joining the Conway Regional board of directors, I gained access to the foundation and its army of volunteers with their experience and knowledge about making events happen.”

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. 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, visit or contact Marla Hambuchen at [email protected].