Each year, the Foundation hosts the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet, recognizing men and women from across the state who have been instrumental in expanding the use and enjoyment of Arkansas's outdoor resources and broadening conservation education. The proceeds from this event support the year-around work of the Foundation.
Approximately 1,600 people attend the annual banquet that is held at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock each August. The program includes auctions, dinner, Hall of Fame raffle, induction of Hall of Fame nominees, and the presentation of the Legacy Award, selected by the Foundation's Nominating Committee. The Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame began in 1992 and has inducted 109 members thus far.
We are excited to bring back an in-person event for the 2023 Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame banquet, which will be held on August 26th, 2023 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock! Doors open at 6:00 PM. Bid on items in our "Super Silent" auction that features the latest hunting and fishing gear, boats, ATVs, campers, hunting trips, experience packages, and more! Click the links below to purchase a table or a ticket, and to get a direct link to the Super Silent Auction! We look forward to seeing you there!
He recognized the essential role of clean water long before it became a conservation byword. He was also a leader in wetlands protection, deer management, wild turkey restoration, endangered species protection and predator control.
He successfully campaigned in 1944 for Amendment 35, creating the Game and Fish Commission in its present form. Other activities were with Ducks Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation and the Sport Fishing Institute.
A longtime leader of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation and a staff member of the National Wildlife Federation, he has promoted wise uses of natural resources since the 1950s.
Kay Kelley Arnold
Part of Bill Clinton's first gubernatorial team as a young law student, she spearheaded the creation of the Arkansas Nature Conservancy. Environmental and conservation activities continue in her work with a major utility corporation.
Bill Barnes of Mount Ida has served for many years on the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission, promoting outdoor recreation and tourism in Arkansas. He also devoted many hours of active support in the effort to pass Amendment 75, better known as the Conservation Amendment in 1996. Bill developed Mountain Harbor Resort on Lake Ouachita. It continues to be one of the State’s largest outdoor recreation destinations in Arkansas.
A Yellville school and college teacher, he used family banking connections to put a million dollars to use for conservation education. His gift of bank stock led to the Foundation's purchase of a key 421-acre tract on Crooked Creek.
Steve Bowman is an accomplished outdoor writer and editor, photographer, book author and television show producer. Originally from Jonesboro, Steve lives in Little Rock. In his work as the outdoor editor with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he was instrumental in the implementation of the 3-point rule in deer hunting, ending the channelization of the White River and passing Amendment 75, which is utilized by the AGFC to support conservation work across the state. He and his wife Barbara share three children.
A Greene County farmer who enjoyed fishing, he won the BASS Masters Classic in his first season as an angling professional. He developed an outdoors television program, with the teaching of fishing to young people a priority.
Bill Bridgforth has been involved in major developments in the Arkansas outdoors before, during and after his seven-year term as an Arkansas Game and Fish commissioner.
He said at the top of the list was the 1996 campaign for the conservational sales tax then with innovations funded by it.
Bridgforth was appointed to the commission in 1994, a time when money was short and conditions getting tighter. But there was hope with the quest for a fractional sales tax. This came about in November 1996 after a vigorous campaign in which Bridgforth, a Pine Bluff attorney, served as financial co-chairman.
When fresh funding began in July 1997, Bridgforth and his fellow commissioners focused on acquiring more land for public use and on education – priorities expressed by Arkansas people before the tax election along with more enforcement.
The land purchases were Grandview first, then Raft Creek and later Choctaw Island. All are now productive and popular wildlife management areas – Rick Evans Grandview WMA, Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek WMA and Freddie Black Choctaw Island WMA.
The need for outdoor education was met with the building of four nature centers -- Pine Bluff, Jonesboro, Fort Smith and Little Rock. The first one to be constructed, at Pine Bluff, was named Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center. Bridgforth said, “Gov. Huckabee’s (Arkansas) River trip in October 1996 was a pivotal pointing the sales tax campaign. It was very instrumental in the favorable vote for the tax.”
Bridgforth as a commissioner was closely involved with the creation of the 3-point rule in deer hunting. He said, “There was a lot of opposition to the rule at first, but this changed soon after we passed it.” Now a lot of deer clubs have rules even more restrictive than the 3-point.” Arkansas deer hunters have largely accepted what wildlife managers had been advocating for years – buck deer needed to get more age on them and the ratio of bucks and does needed to be more balanced.
Trout fishing catch and release areas were established on the White and Little Red rivers during Bridgforth’s tenure. Limited permit elk hunting began in 1998, and the elk along the Buffalo River became a year-rout tourist attraction.
Paid duck hunting guides, many from out of state, were removed from public management areas, making these popular spots more available to Arkansas waterfowlers.
Fall turkey hunting was eliminated. It later was reinstated for several years then closed again.
Bridgforth aid, “When I was on the commission, we had two primary goals. One was to be conservative where the resource was concerned, and the other was to provide as much opportunity as possible for the men and women of Arkansas. I feel like we did that. We were unified in doing things first for the resource.”
Arkansas’s most famous furniture entrepreneur, Hank
Browne’s accomplishments in the world of business are
substantial. But the longtime hunter is equally respected
in support of the outdoors via the Outdoor Hall of Fame
and conservation initiatives of the Arkansas Game and Fish
Commission and Foundation. As a member of The Nature
Conservancy Arkansas’s Last Great Places Society along
with his wife Cathy, Browne has championed conservation
via financial support, land donations and gifts of time and
talents to advance the Conservancy’s work across the state.
A resurgence of Arkansas state parks was a legacy of his two terms as governor. Channeling vital lands into public ownership came with his years in the U.S. Senate, with national forests and national wildlife refuges getting major additions.
Jeff Lawrence & Bob Butler
Jeff Lawrence joined Arkansas Ducks Unlimited in 1996 leading DU’s fundraising and volunteer relations efforts. During his tenure with Duck Unlimited the funds raised for conservation equated to more than 300,000 acres impacted across North America.
During his 23 years with DU, Arkansas Senior Regional Director Bob Butler has helped produce nearly 800 events across Arkansas, raising millions for conservation efforts. For his efforts, Butler was recognized as a national DU Regional Director of the Year.
Lawrence and Butler have also been instrumental in the success of AGFF’s Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet through the years.
Greg Butts of Little Rock may be a native of upstate New York , but he found a home long ago in Arkansas with its state parks system. As director of state parks, he was a key figure in the successful 1996 campaign in which voters approved a conservation sales tax. The revenue from what is now Amendment 75 has given Butts the means to oversee the renovation and expansion of Arkansas parks and the use of them by growing numbers of residents and out-of-state visitors.
Joel Campora, AGFC Wildlife Officer First Class, alongside Sherriff Cody Carpenter responded to a 911 call during overnight flashfloods in 2013. Both officers lost their lives in the line of duty attempting to save two Y City victims trapped in their home by severe floodwaters. A wildlife officer since 2007, Joel considered a life as a game warden "a dream." Originally from Mena, he was a member of the AGFC Dive Team and the Disaster Response Team. Joel is survived by his wife Rebecca and their two daughters.
Sergeant Darrell Monty Carmikle
The late <strong>Sergeant Darrell Monty Carmikle</strong> of Heber Springs died in the line of duty as a wildlife officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Carmikle was killed in a helicopter crash the morning of Nov. 16, 2008, while investigating deer poachers in Cleburne County. A former Wildlife Officer of the Year, Carmikle created the Game and Fish search-and-rescue dive team and boated with former Governor Mike Huckabee down the Arkansas River to promote the state's natural resources in support of a "conservation amendment." It designated that one-eighth of a penny from the state's general sales tax go to the Game and Fish Commission, state parks and the Arkansas Heritage and Keep Arkansas Beautiful commissions. The amendment passed in 1996.
Build it and they will come.
Wallace Claypool used this plan successfully with ducks a half-century before the phrase was a key component in a popular baseball movie.
Claypool's Reservoir in east Arkansas launched the most reproduced wildlife photograph of all times in Arkansas, and it was the site of an early television milestone program. All along, from its construction in 1940 to today, the reservoir has been a proven and reliable hotspot for mallards and many other species when ducks come south for the winter.
So strong was the reservoir's appeal to ducks that some waterfowlers and commercial duck operations shook fists in Wallace Claypool's direction when his reservoir had ducks and theirs did not. "Claypool's got a half-million ducks on his place, and we don't have any."
Claypool's Reservoir covers 1,350 acres on the Wild Acres tract, 3,500 total acres a few miles east of Weiner in Poinsett County, that Claypool bought in 1941. He built the reservoir next to L'Anguille River for the express purpose of enticing ducks. The reservoir is shallow and timber filled. It has been a duck magnet from its inception in the style of the east Arkansas bottomland hardwood duck hunting made internationally famous over the years.
Wallace Claypool was born in 1886 and died in 1973 at the age of 87. He successfully managed a Memphis automobile dealership beginning in 1915 then partnered with Hugh Jetton in launching Bluff City Buick Co., in 1922. Times were booming in Memphis then, and Buicks were in demand. Claypool soon became a leader in a major Memphis bank and with the city's Chamber of Commerce.
Claypool, personally strong on physical fitness, was a competitive amateur golfer then got into duck hunting in 1925. He had memberships in several east Arkansas duck clubs, including Wapanocca and Hatchie Coon, and developed the related skills as well as intense interest in habitat for wintering ducks.
In 1940, he won the World Duck Calling Championship at Stuttgart, and the next year was steered to land for sale by Fritz Rosenwald, who had declined Claypool's offer to buy Rosenthal's nearby land.
Claypool planted millet and other duck foods, but the hundreds of thousands of ducks that used the reservoir roamed widely in daytime to find food, disproving the allegation that "Claypool is hoarding the ducks."
In 1956, Claypool's Reservoir hit national television with a bang.
The most popular program of the time was Dave Garroway's Wide Wide World. It had done a segment on catfishng in Arkansas, and Tom Mull, communications official with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, pitched the idea of a live duck hunt for Garroway's program. It was accepted, and Mull assigned George Purvis, his assistant, to make arrangements. Purvis had taken an iconic black and white photo of hundreds of thousands of ducks in the water and in the air at Claypool's Reservoir.
The challenges were immense for the program to air on Dec. 23. Access to the reservoir was by muddy roads. Two miles of power cables had to be strung for the operation of the large, bulky cameras along with six telephone lines.
But would the ducks be there?
Yes. And at 3:14 p.m. with Garroway's program rolling, crews directed by Purvis fired a rocket, and an estimated 350,000 ducks sprang into the air with some cameras focused on two hunters, renowned shotgunner Herb Parsons and his 12-year-old son. So enthralled were the New York producers of the Garroway show that they kept the Arkansas images rolling and cut back other scheduled programs. Garroway closed out the live duck hunt by saying, "Now if you will brush the duck feathers off your sofa, we'll go on with the rest of our program."
Claypool had strict duck hunting concepts for his reservoir. It was hunted only in mornings and only three days a week - Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
He retired and sold Claypool's Reservoir in 1966 to four Memphis friends, all enthusiastic duck hunters -Bayard Boyle, Snowden Boyle, Toof Brown and Norfleet Turner. But Claypool and wife Sally continued to live on Wild Acres until shortly before his death.
A railroad worker who liked to fish, he worked his way up from local bass tournaments to twice capture the prestigious BASS Masters Classic. Duck hunting is a passion, too, but a strong suit is the teaching outdoor pursuits to young people.
He loved the untamed Buffalo River even more than his vocation of treating the sick and bringing babies into the world. As founder and first president of the Ozark Society, he was in the forefront of the long and eventually successful fight to prevent building of dams on the Buffalo.
He grew up at a fishing resort, learning the need for more and better equipment and especially the knowledge of using it. His first lures were assembled at a kitchen table, then his company became a major lure manufacturer.
During the Depression, he led a campaign for small donations that bought the land for the Game and Fish Commission's Centerton Hatchery. More recently, he was a strong supporter of the drive for the Conservation Sales Tax.