Like a decoy-shy mallard, the Arkansas Waterfowler Hall of Fame has spent more than two years keeping a wary eye on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on gatherings of any size.
In the spring, the hall landed its third attempt to induct its newest members with a ceremony and benefit recognizing 10 honorees at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock.
The event — which celebrated dual, five-member induction classes of 2020 and 2021 — was initially slated for September 2021 but was postponed twice because of prolonged interference from the pandemic.
Fara Foster, executive director of the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie, which houses the Waterfowler Hall of Fame, said the postponements did not hinder the festiveness of the event.
“There is a camaraderie that can only come from shared interests and mutual admiration,” Foster said. “Evidence of both were obvious throughout the evening as people greeted each other and celebrated the inductees. The excitement over being together for this event, especially after having to postpone several times, was contagious.”
The induction ceremonies benefitted the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie in Stuttgart, which in 2017 constructed a room to house the hall alongside exhibits featuring prairie life, agriculture and waterfowl.
Originally created to preserve Arkansas County’s heritage as a center for rice production and duck hunting, the museum has undergone multiple expansions, with future plans for the Waterfowler Hall of Fame to be included.
“Since history, technology and conservation research are ever evolving, plans for new materials and an immersive hunting experience are in the beginning phases,” Foster said. “We are just as excited to honor the Hall of Fame members as we are to share their passions for waterfowl with others.”
Class of 2020
Founder of famed duck habitat Claypool’s Reservoir, Wallace Claypool was an early winner of the World Duck Calling Championship and a later inductee into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. His conservation efforts helped preserve a thriving ecosystem for Arkansas waterfowl.
Holder of more than 20 ammunition patents and co-founder of the Olin Corporation manufacturing company, John Olin successfully trained his sights on achieving not only personal satisfaction through his love of waterfowl hunting, but professional success as well. Olin also founded the famed Greenbriar Duck Club in 1945.
The only woman to hold the title of Duck Calling World Champion and Champion of Champions, Peacock advocated for the sport of duck hunting all over the United States. She was the first woman on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Game and Fish Foundation boards.
Purvis, host of the beloved AETN television program “Arkansas Outdoors,” brought the sensations and sounds of the outdoor world to many who did not otherwise have access. He orchestrated the live television hunt and snapped the famous photo of 300,000 ducks in flight over Claypool Reservoir in 1956.
Scott Yaich Ph.D.
During his 30-year career in wetland and water conservation, Yaich has worked as a scientist for Ducks Unlimited (DU), the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He served as lead for DU’s work on the Clean Water Act, providing science-based testimony to Congress and support for the DU amicus brief in the Supreme Court’s Rapanos case challenging federal regulation jurisdiction under the act.
Class of 2021
After leading the way on deer population restoration in Arkansas through his work at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), Hunter left the AGFC to assist fellow hall of famer Edgar Monsanto Queeny in developing the celebrated Wingmead duck club in eastern Arkansas. After retiring from a second stint at AGFC, Hunter turned his nature photography hobby into the popular 1951 book “A Survey of Arkansas Game.”
W.R. “Witt” Stephens Jr.
A fixture on the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation for more than 25 years and now serving as its president emeritus, Stephens has been involved in multiple conservation and land management campaigns. During his term with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in the 1990s, Stephens played key roles in the passage of the Conservation Sales Tax and the creation of the first elk hunting season in Arkansas.
Dr. Harold (H.V.) Glenn (1900-1965)
Thad McCollum (1892-1969)
Verne Tindall (1894-1972)
Working together to bring the first World Duck Calling Championship to Stuttgart in 1936, Glenn, McCollum and Tindall permanently impacted the fortunes of the rice and duck capital of the world. With McCollum originating the idea for the contest, Glenn lobbying the American Legion to sponsor it and Tindall organizing its operations, this trio established the anchoring event of what is now called the Wings Over the Prairie Festival, which draws tens of thousands each Thanksgiving weekend.