The NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation in Jonesboro guarantees this year’s Duck Classic to overflow with food, fun and hope.
A group of NEA Baptist physicians founded the NEA Charitable Foundation in 2001, and held the first Duck Classic in December 2003. Money raised annually funds five programs that benefit residents of Northeast Arkansas.
This year’s NEA Baptist ninth annual Duck Classic, sponsored by DNW Outfitters, is scheduled for the first week of December at the Craighead County Fairgrounds. Arkansas Game & Fish Commission rules on hunt limits and scheduling are followed during the event, which raised approximately $290,000 for five different health programs in Northeast Arkansas communities in 2010.
“Everybody looks forward to getting together and having fun,” fundraising coordinator Kim Provost said. “All of the people who attend know that they are making a difference just by being there.”
Teams of four hunters are put together by raffle during a pre-event banquet. Local landowners donate spots to hunt and provide guides. All land used is located within a 60-mile radius of Jonesboro, ensuring each team has a fair chance to win.
Although each year the event has brought in more and more people from out of state, a strong base for the fundraiser still rests within the Jonesboro community.
“We have a lot of farmers and guys who grew up around here who’ve known each other for years doing the event together,” Duck Classic board member Ronnie Norman said. “The landowners come back each year for the chance to compete. We have predetermined around 40 plots of land from various landowners around the area.”
The cost per team is $1,500, and each team is guaranteed a day’s hunt, starting in the early morning hours and ending at noon. Teams are capped at 30 to keep the event exclusive and the hunting top-quality.
Judges tally the scores after the hunt, crowning the winning teams. Each four-man team (not including the guide, who may not carry a gun) is allowed five boxes of shells and can kill the state-regulated limit on waterfowl. Scoring is relatively simple with three points awarded for a drake mallard and one point for a hen. Teams have until 1 p.m. to call a designated number to report their hunt.
In addition to the hunt itself, the pre-event banquet night also brings in participants. The banquet serves as the primary fundraiser, and anyone who attends can purchase a $100 raffle ticket. Winners can claim a variety of prizes, including shotguns, the chance to win a Labrador puppy or the use of DNW’s “Duck Truck,” a vehicle outfitted for handling the harsh elements that go hand-in-hand with duck hunting.
“The banquet is open to anybody who wants to come,” Provost said. “Part of what makes the event so special is the interaction it gives us with the community. It gives us an opportunity to reach out and make people aware of the purpose our different programs serve in their town.”
Interested businesses can find plenty of sponsorship possibilities, ranging from recognition in advertisements to a logo featured in the event program. The Duck Classic has grown from NEA Baptist’s annual fundraiser in 2002 to a nationally renowned duck hunting competition. ESPN Outdoors provided national media coverage in 2007 and 2008.
The NEA Baptist fundraising foundation depends on the donations received from the Duck Classic to continue its efforts to support the citizens of Northeast Arkansas’ communities.
Norman, who represents the Duck Classic board, said if not for the event, some programs available to help citizens of Northeast Arkansas would not exist. He cites the Center for Healthy Children as a program started because of the amount of money raised over the years by the event.
“I am blessed to have the opportunity to see some of the lives that the Duck Classic contributes to,” Norman said. “To see the programs benefiting the community like they do really gives me a sense of gratitude for helping with the event.”
Money raised by the Duck Classic supports these charities that benefit NEA residents:
Hope Circle: A support-based program for families dealing with catastrophic diseases such as cancer.
Center for Healthy Children: A health and nutrition program designed for children suffering from obesity.
Wellness Works: A medical- and health professional-monitored fitness program available for diabetic, cardiopulmonary and cancer patients.
Shared Hope: A support program for those whose lives are touched by the death of an infant.
Medicine Assistance Program: A program that helps patients receive pharmaceutical medication for free.
Rules & Regs
The guidelines for the competition are as follows: Four-man teams with a limit of five boxes of shells per team. The host/guide may not carry a gun. The limit is based on the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission duck limit, which has been six ducks the past several years. The scoring is relatively simple, with three points awarded for a drake mallard and one point for a hen. Once limit is reached (fair chase, all birds must be retrieved), the team calls a specific phone number to record its score. In the event of a tie, the team that called in earlier is the winner. All hunting must stop at noon with check-in remaining open until 1 p.m.
Additional information on the event can be found at DuckClassic.com or by phone at (870) 934-5101. Nov. 19 is the deadline for interested participants.
Do the Math
With a total cost of $1,500 per four-member team, each individual’s fee is a $375 tax-deductible donation. Not too shabby for a chance to hunt some of Arkansas’ premier waterfowl territory.
For the Non-Hunter
Additional auction and dinner tickets can be purchased for $45. A ticket offers access to the dinner, raffle, auction and other events the night before the hunt.
The biggest obstacle each year for the Duck Classic is dealing with the ducks’ flight patterns.
“Sometimes you’ll have a premier spot that just heats up and brings in a lot of opportunities to get some quality ducks. Then the next year that same spot might only produce two ducks. That’s not something we can control. We want to make sure that even if [participants] don’t have the best hunt of their lives, they come back next time.” — Duck Classic board member Ronnie Norman