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watching fishing cycling hiking festivals competitions travel gear geocaching conservation climbing hunting hiking

SU M M ER 2 0 1 3

New Marina

Central Set To Open Arkansas Water

Near Downtown Little Rock

pg. 24

Balances Health, Hunting pg. 32

Fishing A Top 100 Bass Lake Offers Much More pg. 16

Plus George Dunklin Takes Over As DU President pg. 8

Up Close With Black Bears pg. 40

Traveling State’s New Water Trails pg. 46


Gaston’s Conference Lodge

2 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


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Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 3


I’ve been lucky enough to have known George Dunklin as least since we both sat in those little tiny chairs in kindergarten at Trinity Episcopal Church’s parish hall in Pine Bluff a half-century ago. We no doubt knew each other and celebrated birthdays together even before that, but those memories from kindergarten were what first come to mind when we visited recently at the W.R. “Witt” Stephens Nature Center in the River Market District. George was just days away from becoming only the second person from Arkansas and the first in nearly 70 years to head up the national Ducks Unlimited organization as its president. On May 24, a large contingent of Arkansans made their way to Portland, Ore., for the national DU convention. Stuttgart native Shelby Free, a duck calling champion, showed off her skills on stage, and Arkansas became center stage with George’s inauguration as president — not that anybody with DU needed to be told how important Arkansas has been to ducks through the years. At Portland, George recounted some memories of his father, George Dunklin Sr., as he accepted the first of two one-year terms as DU president, and he shared some of those thoughts here as well. I hope you enjoy reading about some of the lessons George learned from his dad on the many trips they shared together heading to the “duck woods.” Also, we took a nice 90-minute trip over to Lake Ouachita recently to see a spectacular Arkansas resource, which is one of just three state lakes to crack the Bassmaster Magazine Top 100 Bass Lakes list. Longtime guide Jerry Bean is a fascinating man with a lot of history around Lake Ouachita, and he’s got me fired up to fish for walleye later this hot summer when the bass slow down. Some of our other stories in this issue include a look at the new marina about to open near downtown Little Rock, the only marina between Murray Lock and Dam and Pine Bluff; and we’re also excited about taking a look later this summer at the Game and Fish Commission’s water trails, located in various parts of Arkansas. I hope you enjoy this second issue of Arkansas Wild since I’ve taken over as editor. It’s been a blessing for me in that it’s brought me back in touch with nature in a way I haven’t experienced in many years, and I hope you’re enjoying the features as well. Let me know what you think, and feel free to submit your photos from the outdoors as well via my email: jimharris@arktimes.com. If you want to submit fish stories and other tales too, I’m all ears. We’re so lucky in Arkansas to have people like George Dunklin and such great attractions like Lake Ouachita. Enjoy the issue.

Table of CONTENTS 8 14 16 22 24

32

40 46 52 56 58

Like Father, Like Son

George Dunklin recalls lessons learned from his dad as he embarks on the first of two one-year terms as national president of Ducks Unlimited.

Gimme Shelter

The first of 12 new shelters on the Ouachita Trail opened earlier this year.

Lake Ouachita a Top 100 U.S. Bass Lake

The locals around Mount Ida, Joplin and Royal believe a 45th national ranking is a tad low for a massive lake full of bass, crappie, walleye and more.

Slithering Creatures

Summer brings out the snakes native to our outdoors in this pictorial.

Ahoy, All Boats

A new marina for long-term and transient boats on the Arkansas River is about to open near downtown Little Rock/North Little Rock.

Water Balancing Act

Central Arkansas Water maintains Lake Maumelle with the priority of clean drinking water but with public access to the many recreational opportunities, including good fishing in concentrated spots.

Unbearably Good Time

Game and Fish bear biologists bring the media up close to a mother and her cub in the mountains near the Piney River.

Canoeing Arkansas

A series of water trails created by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission makes checking out the wild woods of Arkansas fun.

Coming Up

Plenty of activities await for the next three months.

Out and About

Our readers take center stage.

Parting Shot

The editor enjoys “Mud.”

COVER PHOTO: Lake Ouachita has so much water, it’s easy to feel secluded even during a busy summer evening around the lake. Photo by Steve Barnett. Story begins on page 16.

Arkansas Wild is Interactive

Sincerely, Get everything Arkansas Wild has to offer every issue by reading the interactive edition on your computer or handheld device. Arkansas Wild is full of links to useful websites, apps, videos, documents, valuable hunting information, tutorials and more!

Jim Harris

4 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

Read the current issue for free at facebook.com/ArkansasWild or download the enhanced PDF to read any time on your iPad, laptop or other portable device!


Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 5


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Advertising Ellen Weiner Account Executive ellen@arktimes.com Erin HOlland Account Executive erin@arktimes.com Lesa Thomas Account Executive lesa@arktimes.com Rose Gladner Account Executive rose@arktimes.com

Photography Brian Chilson Jeff Williams Jim Simpson

Production Weldon Wilson Production Manager Roland Gladden Advertising Traffic Manager

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6 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


There’s always something springing up in Chenal Valley.

From natural landscapes to wonderful amenities, the neighborhoods of Chenal Valley bring to life everything you could dream of in a community. It makes coming home more like a walk in the park. To begin your search for a new lot or home in Chenal Valley, go to Chenal.com.

Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 7


A Father’s Lessons

George Dunklin Recalls His Dad’s Influence as He Takes Over as Head of Ducks Unlimited’s National Organization By Jim Harris

8 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


George Dunklin’s father was on the mind of the new national president of Ducks Unlimited when Dunklin spoke to more than 1,000 delegates and other representatives of DU at the organization’s national convention May 24 in Portland, Ore. In the crowd were many red-clad friends from Arkansas who had made the long trip to show their support. Thoughts about his late father and the lessons he passed along through the years are never far away from George Dunklin’s mind. When Father’s Day comes June 16, it will be like any other day. “Every day to me is Father’s Day,” Dunklin said. “I think of Dad every day. I was very fortunate. Dad and I played tennis together, we worked together, and we hunted together.” George Sr., who died in 2007 at age 89, was nearly two generations older when Junior arrived in 1956. He took him duck hunting at age 8; he finally let him shoot two years later. “Probably since the time I could talk, there’s probably not many days in my life I didn’t talk to my father,” said Dunklin, who spent a lot of his induction speech on his father’s inf luence. “I don’t mean we always agreed. There were times I’d get frustrated with him and I’m sure there were LOTS of times I disappointed my father. But that was something I never ever wanted to do was disappoint my father intentionally. “Really, every day is Father’s Day for me.” As the countdown continued in recent weeks toward his inauguration as the 42rd president of DU, Dunklin thought back many times to his father’s legacy. Becoming the Ducks Unlimited national president is a six-year process through various committees. Dunklin remembered recently that if not for his dad’s blessing, along with that of his wife and three daughters as well as then Arkansas Game and Fish Commission chairman Sheffield Nelson, Dunklin would not have taken on the load required to be part of the pool for eventual selection as DU president. “All of this just really brings back great moments and memories for me cause of Dad. My mother was a wonderful lady. My mother’s the one that owned the farm. She’s the one that gave me the opportunity to do what I do today, and I wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for her. “But Dad spent that time with me in the duck field or the tennis court. It was a unique situation. I don’t have a son. I have three daughters, but it was very unique.” Dunklin’s mother also died in 2007, within days of George Sr.’s passing. But Dunklin says he was glad his father got to know that his son had a chance to become just the second national president of DU

from Arkansas. Traditionally, the DU national president serves two one-year terms. Dunklin was vice president the past two years, and following his terms as president he will serve DU as its chairman. “I’m excited, I’m nervous and I’m scared as hell, but I’m ready to get going, I really am,” Dunklin said. “I’ve got all those emotions because I understand the responsibilities. He’ll oversee a $150 million organization with 600,000 members and 44,000 volunteers. Now in its 76th year, Ducks Unlimited has led the way in restoring habitat for ducks in North America and bringing back the populations of mallards and other waterfowl not seen since the 1950s. DU began in New York in the 1930s, moved to Chicago, and now is headquartered in Memphis, just a couple hours’ drive from Dunklin’s home between Stuttgart and DeWitt in Arkansas County. It’s territory he’s walked many times throughout his life. After graduating from Memphis State in 1980, the Pine Bluff native began farming in Arkansas County near where he and George Sr. hunted ducks all those years. In 1983, he purchased a hunting club on state Highway 152 that became the famed commercial club Five Oaks Lodge. In 2005, Dunklin was appointed by Gov. Mike Huckabee to the Game and Fish Commission, and he served as its chairman in 2011-2012. All the while he’s been a volunteer for Ducks Unlimited and has served on its national board since 2003. Duck hunters and hunting enthusiasts have long noted his conservation efforts not only at Five Oaks, but on his vast farmland. “George is the most knowledgeable and committed conservationist I know,” former Gov. Huckabee said via email recently. “He doesn’t just talk about responsible stewardship of our resources, but he lives it out in his personal life and management of the land entrusted to him. “He is planning and planting for the next 500

Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 9


George Dunklin Sr., pictured with two of his granddaughters on a duck hunt more than a decade ago.

Photo provided

“One of the biggest words I can use for George Dunklin is he is a very humble human being.” – Ford Overton

10 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

years — not just next duck season.” Huckabee wrote about Dunklin in his most recent book, “Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett.” “He also is a person of great personal integrity,” Huckabee said. “He is a man who is humble about what he has, what he has done and what he knows. He lets others get loud and boast. He goes about quietly making our natural resources more sustainable.” The most common description of Dunklin is “gentleman,” whether it’s in the duck blind or trying to broker an agreement between differing factions on a major board such as the Game and Fish Commission. Ford Overton, a current AGFC commissioner, is nine years younger than Dunklin but says he has grown close to him over the years, whether it was through hunting at their clubs or spending time on the commission, or in sharing the fact that both have three daughters and no boys. “I’ve seen him be a father, a friend, seen him be a boss, seen him be a great steward with the resources


and land that he has, and seen him in controversial times on the commission, when he takes a very patient approach. “One of the biggest words I can use for George Dunklin is he is a very humble human being. He knows where he came from, knows what is right and what is wrong, but is a true gentleman in everything where I, on the other hand, would get raging.” Another commissioner, Steve Cook, who is also a regional vice president for Ducks Unlimited and has been on the 60-person DU board of directors, said, “George and I met about 25 years ago through a mutual friend, Rollie Remmel, when I was starting my volunteer work with Ducks Unlimited and so was George. We’ve hunted together. He’s a great friend. He’s a gentleman’s gentleman. “He’s very passionate person about waterfowl habitat and conservation as a whole … I’ll be an understudy [at DU] and look forward to his tutelage and work with Ducks Unlimited. I think it’s a great, great, great thing to have the Ducks Unlimited president, especially since Stuttgart is considered the duck capital of the world and we’re so known worldwide for it.” No one with DU can seem to detail the reason why the organization has gone nearly 70 years without an Arkansas president, considering the state’s reputation as a duck haven and, now, its proximity to the headquarters in Memphis. One reason might be the time-consuming nature of a volunteer job, Cook said. It’s not for everyone. “You’re on the road a lot, you’re going to DU events and meeting people all over the U.S. and Canada,” he said. “When I was on the board of directors, there’s always a succession plan in place,” Cook said. “There have been great corporate people and leaders who do great development work for DU from other states. Luckily it’s been spread out over the entire United States. Our chairman is from Florida. Past presidents have been from Mississippi. [Arkansas] has kind of been hit all the way around and this is the first opportunity someone has had to take the position.” No doubt Dunklin’s passionate stance on conservation and his volunteerism caught the eye of the DU higher-ups over the years. Bruce Willis from Natchez, Miss., took over as president six years ago and tapped Dunklin for the conservation programs committee while also asking him if he’d take on other committee roles that could lead to an eventual DU presidency.

Habitat The Key

Dunklin said, “I think you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Ducks Unlimited and the awareness it brings to the public, to Washington, D.C., and the science we have where we can put our money where it really

makes a difference. Again, it’s all about habitat. Think about quail in our state. What happened to the quail? We lost our fence rows, we lost the habitat, we lost the birds. We didn’t shoot the quail out, we lost them because we lost the habitat. “I’m a firm believer, the last duck that leaves this world will not be shot by a shotgun. It will be eaten by a fox. It’s going to be because we didn’t have the habitat for that bird to survive.” As an AGFC commissioner, Dunklin put an emphasis on improving habitat conditions in the public hunting areas. “It’s all about how healthy we can make these birds, the better they are and they’ll continue to keep going back to where they know that they’re going to have good habitat, good food, good rest, those kinds of things.” As a farmer, Dunklin was well aware of the sudden technological and agronomic changes in rice farming just as he entered the business in the 1980s. In about 1985, the rice varieties changed dramatically — instead of harvesting rice after Labor Day and finishing in October, where food was left in the fields for the migrating ducks, the harvest was finished before Labor Day and any leftover was ruined by the start of duck season. The carbohydrates the ducks needed and had come to expect for decades was gone in November. Dunklin’s answer was to zero-grade his fields and put levees around them, making them simple to flood and in turn creating good duck habitat. He traces so many of the applications he knew to use as an adult to the little life lessons riding in the car with George Sr., heading to the “pit” in the rice field for a quick hunt. Father pointed out to son the difference in soil types, how rice and the ducks were connected, and even taught him to blow a duck call. “What those drives did, especially when it was just he and I, it gave us a chance for him — totally no distractions, we didn’t have a Walkman or iPod, put in earphones like the kids do now — it gave Dad a chance to have a great father-son oneon-one talk,” Dunklin said. “I remember he talked about the birds Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 11


and the bees to me. What I didn’t realize what he did until later on in life — because I’m trying to figure out how did I get this love for the outdoors and want to do this — he really planted those seeds in my brain back then about stewardship. “He kept saying, ‘We don’t own this land, we’re just tenants. We’re just here for a short period of time. Our responsibility is to make it better than we found it.’ I didn’t understand what that meant at 10, 11, 12 years old. I just wanted to get over there to hunt as quick as possible. But obviously those bits of information, they came out; they’re imbedded in my brain and came out later, because I really did understand.” Interestingly, George Sr. wasn’t a volunteer for DU, though he was a sponsor-level member for many years and supported its cause. He led his national trade organization of cotton seed mill owners and rose to the head of other organizations in Pine Bluff such as the Chamber of Commerce. And he was a whiz at tennis, winning the men’s state championship a record nine times and helping the sport take hold in Arkansas. George Sr. would eventually be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. His son competed at tennis too, but tennis friends say George Jr. was more likely to prefer duck hunting during the winter months or to “drag Cherry Street,” the main pastime for many Pine Bluff teens back in the day, instead of banging tennis balls for hours. Still, the desire to win at least one championship

burned inside Dunklin. “Dad did a great job of keeping positive role models for me to look up to,” he said. “He was never my coach in tennis because it was too hard … but he found me great people who coached me and taught me, and he knew that.” About to embark on a full-time farming career after college in 1980, George Jr. had one last chance at a state tennis title. “The year before, in 1979, I lost to Johnny Johnson 6-2, 6-0, one of the worst losses of my life. Johnny just blew me off the court …We went to go warm up for the [1980] finals that morning and he said, ‘I’m not going to go watch you today, son.’ I said, ‘Do what?’ He said, ‘No, I know I make you nervous. I know you want to win it for me. You’re going to have to go win it on your own today.’ ” Win it he did, taking a three-set victory over Fort Smith’s David Beacham and then “retiring” from competitive tennis. “I probably wouldn’t have won it if he had been there, and he knew that,” Dunklin said. “I got to tell that story at his eulogy. I think that described Dad more than anything, because he was such an incredible, giving man. He always thought about everybody else first.” The people who know George Dunklin Jr. well will tell you that the father passed along that attribute to the son as well.

After serving on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, George Dunklin goes national as the president of Ducks Unlimited.

Photo by Brian Chilson

12 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


TAG YOUR RIDE SHOW YOUR PRIDE

Show everyone your support for Ducks Unlimited 24/7, 365 days a year. Purchasing a Ducks Unlimited license plate for your vehicle benefits Ducks Unlimited’s habitat work in the breeding grounds and here in Arkansas and ultimately, Arkansas duck hunters. Pick one up at your local Arkansas Department of Finance today, or visit Arkansas Ducks Unlimited online at AR.Ducks.Org for more information. Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 13


First of Four Ouachita Trail Shelters Opens By Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

Photo by Bo Lea

The first of a series of shelters on the Ouachita Trail is now open.

Good news for hikers, hunters and wildlife watchers who use the Ouachita National Recreation Trail: The first of 12 shelters planned for the trail was dedicated March 26 near Foran Gap. That’s a mile east of the trail crossing at U.S. Highway 71 in Polk County (mile 69 on the trail). The trail crosses the highway about five miles north of the intersection of Highway 71 and U.S. Highway 270. Friends of the Ouachita Trail, based in Hot Springs, has organized the effort to build the shelters. Eight shelters will be on the trail in Arkansas; the other four will be in Oklahoma. This shelter was dedicated to Arthur Paul Cowley, known as the father of the Ouachita Trail. Cowley, who went by Art, was born in Jefferson City, Mo., in 1932 and died in California in 2010. 14 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

Cowley earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in education from the University of Arkansas. Cowley worked for the USDA Forest Service for 35 years, including a stint on the Ouachita National Forest when he was in charge of planning and construction of the Ouachita Trail. He became state coordinator of American Forests’ California Registry of Big Trees in 1995. His epitaph reads: “Now that I’m up high, I can see and find the biggest trees easier. I’ll let you know where they are. May the world grow like a beautiful tree.” Cowley was honored with a plaque and a bench at the Lake Sylvia trail head in 2011. For more information about Friends of the Ouachita Trail, visit http://friendsot.org.


Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 15


Lake Ouachita Feels

No Pressure

National ranking places it at 45 among a national Top 100, but the locals think it’s better By Jim Harris For the past two years, three Arkansas lakes have cracked the Top 100 Best Bass Lakes in Bassmaster Magazine’s annual ranking: Bull Shoals, Ouachita and DeGray. Bull Shoals in north Arkansas pushed its way into the Top 20 in 2013, ranking No. 18 after a 51st placing last year. DeGray went the other direction, falling from 49th in 2012 to No. 96 in the latest poll. Lake Ouachita led the Arkansas lakes in 2012 at No. 28, but when the 2013 rankings came out, the immense body of water had fallen to 45th. “I’m kind of partial to the lake, but I think it should be ranked higher than that,” says Jerry Bean, who owns his own guide service based out of Hot Springs and says he’s fished all over the world. Joe-D Belknap, general manager at Brady Mountain 16 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

Resort, says, “I think everybody is going to say their hometown lake is better than anybody else … I believe we should have made the Top 25 considering all the research they do, but if Forrest Wood does his $2 million tournament, the only one, for him to place a $2 million tournament at our lake, there has to be a reason.” For stripers and for the northern species of largemouth bass, Lake Ouachita can keep a fisherman busy throughout the spring, Bean said. Of course, crappie is an Arkansas favorite for going straight from the water into the frying pan, but that likely didn’t figure in a rating of bass lakes. A newer favorite, if you’re skilled enough to find them, is walleye, Bean added. Bean understands the politics behind such as ranking as the Bassmaster Best Bass Lakes. The poll was developed,


according to Bassmaster, by consulting state agencies on catch rates and the population studies and stocking schedules; then that list was forwarded to B.A.S.S. Nation presidents and conservation directors to rank each body of water based on the tournaments they held. Add in a panel of Elite Series pro fishermen, outdoors writers and industry professionals, plus 3,500 B.A.S.S. members with their opinions, and the final list was compiled. It’s heavy in eastern lakes, and of course the key lakes in Texas and Florida weren’t missed. Last year, Falcon Lake in Texas took top honors, but when 2013 arrived, Falcon had fallen to seventh. To say the least, it’s given plenty of fishermen from around the country something to argue about. Jerry Bean doesn’t seem to mind too much if Lake Ouachita stays where it is in terms of national popularity. Right now, there’s little pressure and the lake, with nearly 800 miles of shoreline and an additional 100-200 islands, depending on the water level, is as beautiful as any on the list. “What makes this lake so good? A lot of reasons,” Bean said. “The main one is, we have no industry on the headwaters of the lake. We’re ranked as one of the cleanest lakes in the nation. There are no houses; it’s all national forest of Corps of Engineers surrounding us … We have more artesian springs and spring-fed creeks than anywhere I know of. It’s just good, clean, pure water. “And we’ve had ample stockings through the years as far as the stripers, bass, walleye. So the lake gets stocked on a regular basis.” Bean grew up on Lake Ouachita. He was about 2 when the lake was formed from a dam on the Ouachita River in 1953. His dad, a timber man and log-hauler, helped cut some of the trees before the water filled in. Subsequently, Bean made a career out of fishing, spending the last 35 years guiding out of Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa near Joplin (the mailing address is Mount Ida, but that town is a good 10 miles west). He’s one of three guides — former pro angler Mike Wurm and Chris Darby are the other two — who are an exclusive team used by Mountain Harbor when the resort suggests a guide to a visitor. Bean also guides on many of the other waterways in the region. He seems to know every inlet and bass or crappie hideaway from Lake Greeson to Hamilton and points in between. “We guide for everything: bass, crappie, walleye,” he said. “Whatever that person wants to fish for, say it’s bass, it depends on the time of the year what we’re doing.” In May, when we caught up with Bean at Mountain Harbor Resort, the heaviest action was top-water. The unusually cool spring may slow the transition, but eventually when it gets hot those bass will move a little deeper. They’re already beginning to group back up after spawning, he said. When the heat arrives, Bean said, he’ll move

Walleye: Good Fishing, Good Eating Fishing guide Jerry Bean of Hot Jerry Bean Springs swears by walleye fishing in the hot summer months, and he says that anglers from the northern states are beginning to take note of the walleye concentration in Lake Ouachita. “The bass tends to slow down in the hot, hot, hot summertime, where you’re just catching them in the late evening or very early in the morning,” Bean said. “But that’s the time when our walleye fishing gets really hot — the months of June, July, August and into September.” Bean said walleye were an afterthought on the lake for years. They’re not easy to find. It takes an experienced guide like Bean, who has been around this lake most of his life. “I started my service in walleye and it has steadily built,” he said. “Now, people know there is somebody out there who will take them. But this lake is full of walleye, and trophy-size walleye. I’ve personally taken a 17-and-a-half-pound fish out of the lake, and 10-pound fish are not uncommon at all.” If a fisherman is looking for a fight, the walleye won’t match the striper, but they’ll be fun nonetheless, he said. The problem is finding them, because most run about 25-40 feet deep, and sometimes deeper. “A lot of [walleye] are caught accidentally by crappie and bass fishermen,” Bean said. “Once they know they’re here, they want to know how to catch them. The lake still has a lot of standing timber left in it … and if you don’t know the lake real well to go to the right spot, it’s virtually impossible to fish for them.” Bean said fishermen, guides and travel writers who have been visiting Bull Shoals for walleye are coming into the southern part of the state now on their regular schedule. Down the road, Lake Ouachita might attract a walleye tournament. “There are about four different series of walleye tournaments now. If we could get one, the others would come down here also. Walleye fishing is great on this lake.” A guide such as Bean, or Mike Wurm and Chris Darby, who also are part of the “team of three” at Mountain Harbor Resort, needs a minimum two-week advance in booking during the summer months. They’ll even take care of the kids on a special fishing trip while mom enjoys the other amenities of the resort, Bean said.

Arkansas’ Top Lakes

According to Bassmaster Magazine 2013 rankings U.S. Rank 18. Bull Shoals Lake (ranked 51 in 2012) 45. Lake Ouachita (ranked 28 in 2012) 96. DeGray Lake (ranked 49 in 2012) Missouri 31. Lake of the Ozarks 39. Table Rock Lake Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 17


to deep-diving crank bait, the Alabama rig, some Carolina rigging. “We’ll fish any way a person likes to fish, you just have to go a little deeper. The fish are grouping up again and getting on their summertime spots,” he said. Amateur fishermen we spoke with say that Ouachita, with its enormity and hidden forests below the surface, requires someone with some experience of the lake. “This is one of the few places where the guides will work together,” Bean said. “Most places the guides are so selfcentered they won’t work together. We’re not like that at all. The days we don’t have customers, normally we’re out there fishing with each other and we just all love it that much. It’s what we do, it’s a pretty good deal for all of us.”

Ouachita’s size is its attraction to people like Bean. “This lake is big enough that we can handle a lot of pressure. We have a great, great big lake here, and there are so many tributaries, you can always find places to fish … You can fish here for a week and not see the same water twice.”

Few Resorts on Lake

Lake Ouachita may have the fewest fishing resorts of any lake its size. Mountain Harbor, owned by the same family for half-a-century, is the biggest, with a large marina and

trotter toyota salutes

GEORGE DUNKLIN on being elected National President of Ducks Unlimited.

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overnight accommodations that vary from hotel-like to cabins. It also features a restaurant with a wide variety of offerings, or the fisherman can bring in his day’s catch and have it fileted and cooked up right there. Back up Highway 270 toward Hot Springs near Royal is Brady Mountain Resort, which is owned by an out-of-state corporation and managed by Joe-D Belknap, who has lived in the area since 1993 and been on site since 2003. The resort was built in 1957. “My honest opinion is, I believe it’s one of the better fishing lakes because it’s such a massive body of water. It’s so clear,” Belknap said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to fish because it’s so clear. It’s more difficult than your murkier waters.” Belknap leaves the fishing to such guides as David Cochran, son of top Arkansas native professional angler George Cochran, and Ben Sanders. The fish of choice out of Brady Mountain is the striper, he said. “They’ve had a pretty good year.” Lake Ouachita’s beauty attracted Belknap’s grandparents to settle in the area at Twin Creeks on the southwest side of the lake nearly 30 years ago. “We came down in the summers when I was a kid to see them,” he recalled. “They didn’t have running water. We learned really quick how warm Ouachita was. It was like a giant bathtub, really.” Belknap’s father was being relocated by his airline job to Atlanta, and the young Belknap said he asked his grandparents if he could stay there.

“When I first got here, my grandfather liked to fish a lot, mostly crappie fish, trolling around a lot,” he said. “I’m a crappie fisher-guy.” But Belknap echoes many of the amateur anglers around Ouachita when he says, “The most fun fish to catch is a striper. When you latch onto one, you’re going to be on that line for more than an hour.” Striper fishing will be slower during the hot summer months, giving way to crappie, bream and bass, he said. “Basically what we tell everybody is, fall and spring for striper,” he said. “When spring is rolling into summer, when the water gets to 60, 62 degrees, that’s when the bass and crappie start spawning. In the summer, I’ve seen the water as high as 92 degrees, though most of the time we get to mid-to-high 80s.” Other recreational use of the lake — water skiing and boating — takes over in the summer, but that doesn’t seem to throw off the fishing, Belknap said. “That’s what is so good about this lake,” he said. “It’s such

“My honest opinion is, I believe it’s one of the better fishing lakes...”

Don’t let it get away. It’s our time to Put litter in its place.

KAP 0513 009 Fishing_7x4.875_4C.indd 1

5/28/13 Wild 2:11 PM Summer 2013  Arkansas | 19


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“If they aren’t biting in one area, they’re going to be biting in another...” “It’s a wilderness lake. You don’t have to worry about fishing some guy’s front yard. You’re going to see the deer, foxes, eagles, a little bit of everything.” And, a visitor will see fish. “If they aren’t biting in one area, they’re going to be biting in another,” Belknap said. “Everything from shallow water to deep water, we’ve pretty much got all the bases covered.” Jerry Bean has come across some 200-foot depths and he said the average depth of the river channel is more than 100 feet. “We’ve got a diverse mixture of water here. We’ve got warm creeks and spring-fed creeks also. “I’ve always said, if you can learn how to fish this lake and be consistent on it, you can go anywhere in the nation and catch fish.” And that might explain why this region of the country may produce more professional anglers per capita than any other in the nation. “We’re very fortunate to have what we’ve got out here,” Bean said. “It’s sad to say but it’s the truth: The locals don’t know what they’ve got. They need to go to Texas, they need to go to Florida and see how much extra pressure there is, how big the crowds are. You can get away here. There are places out there I can take you fishing, you won’t see another boat all day long. Not many lakes are like that. We’re very fortunate.”


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When we take to the outdoors, so do our many species of snakes in Arkansas. All of them tend to scare the average Arkansan, but only a few are dangerous when encountered. Some are vital to the ecosystem and should be left alone — but tell that to a frightened youngster (or adult) around a barn or in the woods when he first encounters a rat snake. On these two pages are some of the snakes of Arkansas we will encounter in these warm months. Also, later this summer, on Aug. 3-4, the interpreters at Pinnacle Mountain State Park will offer a free weekend program to better educate Arkansans about these very misunderstood creatures. Through hikes, crafts, games and talks, learn more about Arkansas’ native reptiles and amphibians with the opportunity to meet some live ones up close. Call the park at (501) 868-5806 for details, a schedule and more. Photo by Ltshears

Copperhead (poisonous)

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

king snake (non-poisonous) 22 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


Rat Snake (Harmless, non-poisonous) Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 23

Photo courtesy of arkansas parks and tourism

Photo by Ltshears

Water Moccasin (poisonous)

Photo by Ryan E. Poplin

Eastern Diamond Back Rattlesnake (poisonous)

Photo by Jan Malik

Grass snake (Harmless, non-poisonous)


Photo provided

Jim Jackson (second from right), Lisa Ferrell (fourth from right) and a host of dignitaries including Second District Rep. Tim Griffin (far right) broke ground on the Rockwater Marina in February.

Rockwater Marina Set for Late June Opening Phase 1 Will Include 32 Transient Slips Among 66 Total on North Shore of Arkansas River

When Rockwater Marina opens in June on the north shore of the Arkansas River opposite downtown Little Rock, it will be the only marina on pool 6 of the Arkansas River — the portion of the waterway from Murray Lock and Dam at Little Rock to the Lock and Dam 3 at Pine Bluff. Late in June, 66 long-term and transient slips of an eventual 136 total slips will open to a grand flotilla on the river, according to owner and developer Jim Jackson. “It’s just hard to put into words, as we see it going in. When we go on the dock and see the views, it makes it all worthwhile,” Jackson said. Rockwater Marina will be able handle boats up to 90 feet in length, and will be situated on the river near downtown. Phase one includes the 66 slips. Of those, 32 24 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

transient slips would allow a boater to pay a small fee for an overnight stay and tie in to all the amenities. Transient slips are for boats docking for 10 days or less, rather than long-term moorings. The nearly $2 million project is the brainchild of Jackson and his wife, Lisa Ferrell, of Little Rock, along with Scott Fitzgerald, who has designed and built marinas at Table Rock Lake in Missouri and at other points on the Arkansas River. Also part of the partnerships is the city of North Little Rock, the North Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Arkansas Department of Health. About $1 million of the cost was covered by a boating infrastructure grant for the transient slips from the U.S. Department of the Interior through U.S. Fish and Wildlife, one of 10 grants given nationwide. The funding for the


boating infrastructure grant program came from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, formerly known as the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and boat fuel. “These competitive grants will help provide quality opportunities and access to America’s great outdoors for our nation’s boaters and anglers, while creating jobs by funding major construction projects to build docks, boat slips and facilities,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in announcing the grants. Near the marina is the North Little Rock Riverfront neighborhood dubbed Rockwater Village, with $41 million invested in the area. So far, Rockwater Village has more than 270 new residences, a roundabout entryway and a new boulevard. Jackson sold the land for that development to a Louisiana company, he said. The full-service marina will have fuel, water, electricity, connections for AT&T U-verse, a pump out and a ship’s store along with a large patio area. Plans call for concierge services as well. The marina is adjacent to the Arkansas river bike and pedestrian trail, offering a prime spot for those seeking a leisure and outdoor lifestyle. The concierge services will offer guests such extras as grocery shopping and stocking before arrival and departure, childcare services, personal chefs, catering, in-house massage, a round of golf, dining reservations or reservations for other local activities and other special requests.

Phase 2, which will complete the project with 70 more slips, is targeted over the next two years, Jackson said. The address is 1600 Rockwater Boulevard, upstream from the Broadway Bridge and across the river from Cajun’s Wharf (construction activity could be seen ongoing in May from Cajun’s deck). The location on the north shore keeps boats away from the river’s shipping channel on the Little Rock side of the river and also affords boaters an impressive view of downtown Little Rock skyline and bridges, Jackson said.

FIVE YEARS IN MAKING

Jackson and Ferrell said the project has been ongoing for five years as the partnership worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Little Rock Electric, the state Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Health and the city of North Little Rock, which is leasing the riverbank to the partnership. “The main delay was getting all the necessary paperwork from all the required entities to make the project go forward,” Jackson said. “They’ve all been very helpful, but we have to go along with everybody’s rules and regulations. All of them, especially the city of North Little Rock, are very excited about it … the Arkansas State Parks Department has also been very helpful.” The nearest marina on the river, the Little Rock Yacht Club, is upstream on the opposite side of Murray Lock and Dam. Where many boat owners who use the river require up to three hours from downtown to dock their boats, they’ll soon need just three minutes, Jackson said.

When Phase 2 of the project is completed over the next two years, the Rockwater Marina will have 136 slips for both long-term and transient vessels, along with all types of amenities for boaters at the only marina in Pool 6 of the Arkansas River.

Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 25


“We have family and friends in Dallas, and when I say we’re about to have a marina downtown, they say, “I wish we had something like that in Dallas like they’ll have in Little Rock and North Little Rock,” Jackson said. “It will be a destination point for people traveling to Central Arkansas.” So far, Jackson said, one-third of the Phase 1 slips are preleased. “There’s a lot of interest in the boating community. A lot of people are driving by, checking on its progress. We’re confident after construction is finished that we’ll be leased out,” Jackson said. The marina parts have been towed up river and docked at a staging area on the river near Verizon Arena for the past several weeks. Ground was broken on the project in February with a whole host of local dignitaries led by North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith. Second District Rep. Tim Griffin and Sen. Mark Pryor were also on hand. The groundbreaking signified a breakthrough for the area after a handful of near-misses on the marina front. Boaters, yacht owners and marine store owners all have indicated a demand for a marina near downtown Little Rock for years. No boat ramp is planned at the marina, and the parking lot location will mean that only foot traffic will cross the River Trail. North Little Rock, with the support of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, will build a new launch ramp slightly upstream from the marina, near the

26 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

skate park. “We think it’s going to be a big gem for Central Arkansas,” Jackson said. For more information, visit the marina’s website; www. rockwatermarina.com. The marina also has a Facebook page that is updated regularly with new photos.

The laying of pilings and dock work for Rockwater Marina started in the spring for a summer opening of the first 66 slips.


Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 27


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HOGS

ON THE MOVE

Central Arkansas Water Addresses a New Concern at Maumelle By Jim Harris

32 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


In mid-May, Randy Easley, the director of water quality for Central Arkansas Water, apprised the CAW board of a potential problem at Lake Maumelle: feral hogs and the possible contamination they could bring to a major drinking water source for nearly a half-million people. It’s not a situation that is out of control or one to be overly alarmed with now, Easley said in a recent interview a week after his appearance before the board. “My presentation to the board was informational, that these are some of the issues coming up. ‘I want you guys to be aware of it.’ They may or may not know and then you don’t want somebody saying, ‘Hey, why are you guys out there hunting hogs?’ ” “So there is a whole big reason behind why we need to manage that particular activity.” Feral hogs, Easley explained, are just one of many current issues facing Central Arkansas Water. The Pegasus pipeline, the Exxon-Mobil pipe that saw a 22-foot rupture at Mayflower near Lake Conway, runs 13.6 miles through the Lake Maumelle watershed. In late May, officials of Central Arkansas Water, Metroplan and Exxon-Mobil met about long-range plans for the pipeline through CAW’s watershed. The pipeline has existed long before the Big Maumelle River was dammed to create Lake Maumelle in the 1950s. In fact, maps indicate a jog where the pipeline had to be redirected when the lake was created. “That’s something we’re actively pursuing with Exxon is trying to develop a dialog with them,” Easley said. “We have in the past conducted some emergency response exercises, and obviously we continue to want to do that and increase the amount of collaboration between the two companies.” Water quality is always of paramount importance for Central Arkansas Water, as Lake Maumelle (as well as the much smaller Lake Winona further west) provides the drinking water to a sixth of the state’s population. But, while providing clean drinking water is the No. 1 priority, Lake Maumelle also serves as a recreational destination for fishermen and sailboat enthusiasts, to name two of the major activities that take place yearround on the 8,900 acres. Out in the surrounding watershed are considerable hunting opportunities. For Easley, the goal is striking the right balance between clean, drinkable water from a surface source and also offering recreation to Central Arkansans. Broken pipelines elsewhere and evidence of feral hogs on the shoreline are just some of the problems to keep Central Arkansas Water employees concerned. “Feral hogs are just one of those issues,” Easley said.

“We have lots of landbased issues that are a big concern. You probably have seen a lot about the zoning in Pulaski County. There’s another one of those concerns. You have land use going from more forest to agricultural to urban, and all those have their own type of effects that can affect water quality. “A surface water quality utility really has to be aware of what is going on in all those areas.”

“Hey, why are you guys out there hunting hogs?”

FISHING AND HUNTING Lake Maumelle is not a public lake, per se, but rather owned by the ratepayers of Central Arkansas Water. Yet the utility has long understood that, managed properly, the lake can provide much more to area citizens. “A long time ago,” Easley said, “the theory was a water utility should buy up a watershed and then don’t let anybody or anything do anything in there, which some places do. But in practicality that’s not the best use of that property because one of the things water utilities found over the years was that by not managing that property, some other adverse effects can happen. “So, what you really need is control of the land, but then you manage it in a way that will enhance water quality, and that’s what we’re doing a lot of now.” Central Arkansas Water works with the Game and Fish Commission on fishing and hunting regulations — it also works with the U.S. Forestry Service on other regulations — and also has its own rules around Lake Maumelle, which as a whole would not be viewed as a productive fishing lake. As a clean-water lake, there aren’t enough nutrients that might be found in a typical fishing lake to support widespread fishing. However, there are areas of the lake — helped by the AGFC in recent years with the introduction of artificial fish shelters — that produce good fishing by concentrating the fish in smaller areas of the massive lake. The AGFC has produced maps to illustrate where the structures are to help the novice. Crappie is a favorite on the lake, fishermen say. Easley reports that Kentucky bass (or spotted bass) is another, and largemouth bass are typically caught particularly during the fall and spring, though usually in smaller numbers than the spotted bass. Yet another species that produces excitement among the anglers is the white bass during its spawning season. Hunting is also available, and Central Arkansas Water and the AGFC signed a 99-year lease agreement in May for the Maumelle Wildlife Management Area in the watershed. “A lot of those decisions are going to be made in that as well,” Easley said. “We’re going to have the property Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 33


Shoreline has been updated in parts of Lake Maumelle for easier access by the public to the lake.

divided up into management units, and each one of those particular management units is going to have its own set of priorities of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. That will be developed over a period of time as well.” Central Arkansas Water divides the lake into what it terms Critical Area A, which is closer to the intake and water treatment center and has stricter control, and Critical Area B, the western two-thirds portion of the lake and where hunting and fishing and more is encouraged. Also, Central Arkansas Water has developed five trails and points for public access to the lake, with more in the planning stages as well as improving the additional sites with even better access. But Lake Maumelle will first be about serving Little

34 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

Rock and the surrounding area with water, up to 65 percent of the demand. CAW gets 35 percent of its drinking water from Lake Winona, which predates Maumelle by a generation. “[Lake] Maumelle has a lot more diverse use in the watershed. You have a lot more private land in there and a lot of commercial timber activities. You have roads, you have lots of other activities in there,” Easley said. “Lake Winona is more secluded. It’s more forested, and zoned by Forestry or Central Arkansas Water with little private land in there. They really are two dramatically different sources and of water quality as well.” Central Arkansas Water has spent in excess of $20 million on land acquisition in the watershed over the past six years. One recent purchase was the Winrock Grass Farm, and with a U.S. Forest Grant, Central Arkansas Water will be able to revert that land back to forested conditions. CAW also has a stream bank stabilization project underway, which will help cut down sediment pollution from the watershed runoff into the lake. Without those changes, undeterred sediment would bring nutrients into the lake, which would then drive some natural processes such as algae growth that would increase the cost to treat water. The fishermen might like it, but the water drinker in Little Rock would not.


Congratulations George Dunklin Your 30 years of volunteer work dedicated to the conservation of our natural resources and wetlands is greatly appreciated by all who share in your commitment to the protection of our environment and these valuable resources.

Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 35


HOG HUNTING The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has made the public more aware of the rise and spread of feral hogs throughout the state. Reportedly, every county in Arkansas now has evidence of feral hogs. The AGFC allows hunting of feral hogs year-round. The hogs can be a nuisance to private landowners, but they also can contaminate a water supply. Easley recently wrote an article for a trade publication, Southwest Water Works Journal, that examined the problem and how it can spiral out of control. Throughout Oklahoma and Louisiana, the feral hog population has reportedly soared in recent years. On a map that shows density of the animal in the southsouthwest region, Texas is covered up completely with feral hogs. The real problem with feral hogs, Easley said, is that they can’t be completely eliminated, only contained. The appearance of feral hogs is still in the early stages at the lake. “Once you’re aware of it that’s when you need to start management of it,” he said. “ Feral hogs in a water utility, for instance, it’s more of a density issue. What you’ll have is that population is rather cyclical. If you can knock the population down for two or three years, then you probably won’t have to do anything for another two or three years. But, if you do nothing, you’re going to have a big problem fast.” Feral hogs can be eaten if proper precautions are taken in the cleaning process, Easley and AGFC biologists both say. In Arkansas, a diet of acorns or corn for the feral hogs actually results in a pleasant tasting hog; not so much in the more arid climes of Texas and parts of Oklahoma. The indicators are that some hogs have taken up

resident in the watershed. “Basically what you see, the wallow areas, and then they’ll have ,,, it’s not really a scrape but they’ll get up against trees and start rubbing. Then you’ll see rooting areas. If it’s not super dense, with the untrained eye you might miss it. But folks used to seeing hog signs, they definitely know what it is,” Easley said. The first step for Central Arkansas Water as well as game biologists is determining the density of hogs in the watershed. “Then you determine what is an acceptable density,” Easley said. “You can spend a lot of time and effort and not get rid of them. A lot of places talk about eradication but it you don’t have a well-coordinated effort by a lot of different agencies, you’re probably not going to be able to get rid of them all. But you can be very successful in knocking the numbers way down.” So, hunters are invited to take aim on the feral hog and help keep Lake Maumelle clean. A feral hog.

Water Utility, AGFC Approve 99-year Lease for WMA During the May meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, commissioners approved a long-term lease agreement with Central Arkansas Water on the Maumelle River Wildlife Management Area. The AGFC has had informal discussions with CAW for several years to explore ways in which the two entities could form a partnership. Cost of the 99-year lease agreement is $1 million and includes 18,761 acres in the management area. The management area would include, at the initiation of the lease, 9,861 acres in terrestrial habitat and the 8,900-acre Lake Maumelle. Beginning this year, the lease will be paid in three annual payments. The money will come from $250,000 in federal aid and $83,333 in state matching funds. The WMA is known for its hunting, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing. “It should enhance our management efforts,” said Randy Easley, director of water quality for Central Arkansas 36 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

Water. “That’s part of what we wanted to do, was increase our management of those properties, and working in conjunction with Game and Fish should allow better public use of those properties and then provide us with a better opportunity to manage it for water quality.” CAW has long acknowledged the great need for public access at Lake Maumelle but in a way that best works with producing clean water (e.g., there is no camping allowed around the lake). More hunters, and therefore more eyes in and around the Lake Maumelle area, can help keep down activities that CAW would not want, Easley said. “If you protect your lake, then you’re going to have that source water there for a much longer period of time and it’s going to be cheaper to make water,” he said Randy Easley of Central Arkansas Water


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KATV, Channel 7 news anchor Erin Hawley fawns over baby cub.

Cuddly Today, A Bear Tomorrow

Radio Collaring Helps AGFC Biologists Track Bear, Manage Species, As Visitors Learn Photo by Jim Harris

One of the first things you will realize when Arkansas Game and Fish biologists take you on a bear cub viewing is that you were exposed to a lot of bear hooey as a child. This idyllic image taught via children’s books of papa bear, mama bear and baby bear hanging out together in daily happy frolic — let’s not even venture the Berenstain Bear route in this fantasy — is completely opposite of the natural world of the Arkansas black bear. In fact, we learned through the AGFC bear experts that mama bear needs papa bear around for one thing, and one thing only — and that’s it. Then he’s out of the picture. Mama will make sure of it. Then, when cub finally arrives, mama does all the heavy lifting on the home front, from protection to gathering food and raising her cub or cubs (typically 3 per litter rather than 1, but on average 2 cubs per litter). As for papa bear, he’s long been an afterthought and better not even show his hide in the neighborhood, much less try to join the family he doesn’t know he has in a crevice of a natural boulder high up the side of a large wooded hill now serving as home to mama and offspring. We’ve known a male human or two who might have preferred the arrangement, frankly. But, back to our bear story. In their case, the adult males might very well dine on a cub during a hard winter, and 40 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

By Jim Harris

mama wouldn’t like that. So, the males are out of the picture in the summer months, pretty much just past conception, and off to fend for themselves in a wild where they are hunted. In Arkansas, the bear harvest annually is about 400. Early this past spring — did we really have a spring in Arkansas? — with winter’s chill hanging around longer than is usual in Central Arkansas, members of the media as well as two Game and Fish Commissioners and their wives all met in Pope County for a visit into the hills a hour or so northeast of Russellville for a bear and cub viewing, and much more education about the black bear species. Myron Means, the AGFC bear program coordinator, and several of the organization’s biologists led the group to a site where the biologists had been tracking a female and her weeks-old cub. The mother bear was named “Amy.” (For some reason, the cubs aren’t named; best not to get to familiar with them, especially if they’re males, we guess.) The biologists tranquilized the mother in her den, the human visitors made what at times was nearly a 45-degree climb up the hillside, and we all spent a good hour or more enjoying what everyone thought was a most astounding meeting with the bear species. It turned out the undersized mother bear had just one


cub, and it turned out to be male. A rough winter may have left food sources limited for the mother bear, but the cub — also figured to be slightly undersized — was healthy and perhaps 7 weeks old. We had in our arms, and often held closely to our chests, a real live baby Teddy, wrapped warmly in a blanket. Mama bear, out cold and eventually pulled out of her den through a tiny opening by Means and others, slept peacefully surrounded by awestruck observers while Means and the AGFC biologists were happy to provide insight into Arkansas’ bears and the commission’s bear program.

FOLLOWED BY RADIO

Forty-two female bears were being monitored this year by the biologists via collars that can be tracked via radio signals. In the case of our mother bear, she was snared on the opposite side of this hillside, tranquilized and collared the previous summer. If all goes well, she and her cub will spend this entire year and most of the next together as the cub reaches maturity in or around the den where the biologists first encountered the pair on our trip. After two years together, the cub will be a man — er, mature bear — and ready to take on the world all by himself. Meanwhile, Amy, who was estimated by the biologists to be around 7 years old, will go through the process of starting another small bear family again. She may have seven litters in her lifetime. It is hoped that Amy, by being collared, will be spared through the annual hunting seasons. Hunters are not allowed to shoot a mature bear with a cub, as this indicates a female, and it is also illegal to shoot a bear wearing a radio collar. Typical females reach at best 300 pounds, but Amy was below that weight, the biologists estimated. A male bear of age 7 and older will exceed 400 pounds, and some weighing more than 700 pounds have been recorded. The biologists say a typical bear has poor eyesight, but his or her sense of smell is keen, and they are among the state’s most intelligent mammals. In the case of Amy, one of the biologists estimated she will take 30 seconds or slightly more to climb the same hillside that we Media and AGFC biologist negotiated in two stops observe a sleeping and undisturbed Amy, the and about 15 minutes mother bear, during the (to be fair, it was much group’s visit to the den easier going downhill, (behind the bear’s head). and this invited visitor

Photo by Jim Harris Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 41


found that sliding down by the seat of his pants on the leafy decline of the forest was even better). Means and the biologists were excited to report that the longterm outlook for bears in Arkansas is good. The bear population disappeared in the Natural State earlier in the 20th century before the AGFC began a program in the 1950s to reintroduce the black bear. However, as with all animals, even while the numbers grow, habitat destruction is a threat. With proper management, though, the state’s bear population could someday sustain harvests several times the current level, Means said. Another myth about bears that was debunked for us on our trip was the notion of hibernation. To be sure, Amy was sound asleep during our visit, and probably wouldn’t be happy to see some of the digital photographs our group took of her so reclined. But unlike true natural hibernators, a bear’s body temperature during the winter denning period does not decrease drastically, and this enables a bear to be roused quickly from its sleep. On warm winter days, bears can be active. Black bears have large canine teeth — the baby bear, in fact, resembled a puppy. While that’s great for eating meat, the typical diet is still mostly fruit, berries and nuts. During the fall, acorns help bears bulk up for the coming cold. As some Arkansans no doubt have experienced, though, bears will sometimes overcome their fear of humans and seek food around houses, camping grounds and deer and duck camps when the usual food sources dry up. These bear den visits and viewings provided by the AGFC are often part of auction events. For anyone, they are not to be missed if the opportunity presents itself.

Arkansas Wild editor Jim Harris takes his turn with the 7-week-old cub.

Bear Hunting Strong in Recent Years During the 2011-12 bear season, hunters harvested more than 400 bears, a number considered to be on the strong side in Arkansas for a species that had disappeared here before the turn of the last century. The record harvest for bears came during the 2009-10 season, when 530 bears were taken. The following year, the count hit 450 bears. Bear Program Coordinator Myron Means, when he discussed the harvest in addressing the Game and Fish Commission last year, told the commissioners that the good harvest numbers could be attributed to private land hunters using bait. “Mast failure caused bears to seek baits more than in the past,” Means said. Means added that the sex ratio was good and the statewide harvest goal was between 350 and 400 bears each year. Polk and Scott counties typically are the top counties for for bear hunters, Mean said. The AGFC is always leery, however, of a rise in the female bear harvest. During the 2011-12 season, the female harvest rose from 35 to 50 percent. “A 50 percent harvest rate of adult females is not sustainable over the long term,” Means said.

42 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


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Arkansas Trails Find

Way To Water AGFC Program Features 6 Water Trails Covering 63 Miles For Canoes and Kayaks

Story and photos By Jeff Williams, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

Canoeing on Bayou DeView’s water trail.

The Ouachita Trail and the Ozark Highlands Trail are known across the country as great examples of projects built by volunteers and partnerships. They’re also two of the best trails between the Rocky and the Appalachian mountains. Volunteers and partners are behind another kind of Arkansas trail project that’s gaining speed. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Arkansas Water Trails program began when the first trail was dedicated in April 2009. Today, six trails covering 63 miles are open and more are in the works. They are doors to places accessible via canoe and kayak, not foot or wheels. “This is a national treasure, just like the Buffalo River is a national treasure,” said Debbie Doss of the Arkansas Canoe Club, speaking in April at the opening of Bayou DeView Water Trail. Doss is among many 46 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

dedicated volunteers who have spent hundreds of hours installing trail signs, leading float trips and doing whatever it takes to draw people to these special places. It’s not easy marking a path through wetlands with trees so tight that sometimes canoes barely slip through. “We strapped two canoes together and built a platform to stand on so we could put trail signs high enough on trees,” Doss said. “I literally burned up a drill.” She enjoys being on any water, but Bayou DeView is her baby. Individuals like her, and public and private agencies, have made these trails possible, led by Kirsten Bartlow, the AGFC’s watchable wildlife coordinator. Many of the access points on these trails are marked by interpretive sign; follow the links listed below for details. This is a guide to Arkansas Water

Trails — so far — but it’s just a glimpse of the adventures and discoveries waiting for paddlers.

Bayou DeView Water Trail

Location — Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA, Benson Creek Natural Area and Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, Monroe County Length — 15.2 miles Camping — Primitive campsites available on Dagmar WMA Partners — Arkansas Canoe Club, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Details/Map — www. agfc.com/species/Pages/ SpeciesWatchableWildlifeDetails. aspx?Title=Bayou%20DeView%20 Water%20Trail


Picture a Rocky Mountain stream slipping through a lush valley — with gravel bars, swimming holes and gurgling shoals. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Arkansas’ Mississippi Delta is home to slower going for paddlers. Bayou DeView Water Trail oozes 15.2 miles through wetlands along Interstate 40 between Little Rock and Memphis. The water is covered by a canopy of cypress and tupelo trees, some up to 1,000 years old and more than 100 feet high. Although I-40 is sometimes within earshot, the bayou is another world, a place where a paddler can get lost in trees and lost in thought. It’s also a place where GPS units or compasses are good friends to have. At moderate water levels, Bayou DeView is a flat-water float, free of rapids, although heavy rain and high water — usually during spring — can create dangerous situations as the bayou widens and rolls through the Big Woods. The trail has five access points. “When people experience it, they feel like they’re stepping back in time,” Bartlow said. The AGFC manages Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, which is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. It has joined the Arkansas Canoe Club, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create this eyeopening trail. “Volunteers from the Arkansas Canoe Club blazed the trail,” Bartlow said. “Keep in mind this means blazing it downstream and upstream because it usually can be paddled either way.” There’s not much of the Big Woods left. These tracts of oaks, sweetgum, cypress and tupelo cover about half a million acres of Arkansas today, a shadow of the 24 million acres that once spread across Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. “This area is one of the best places for wildlife viewing because you’re paddling through woods instead of hiking,” Bartlow said. “You can do that so quietly — beavers sunning on logs, great blue herons, prothonotary warblers, barred owls, all kinds of woodpeckers. You usually don’t get to

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see things like that if you’re walking through the woods. Viewing from a boat is my favorite way to see wildlife.” Wetlands hold water and improve the health of rivers and streams, supply drinking water, and help agriculture and industry. They also support diverse wildlife, fishing, hunting and other recreational activities. “One of the coolest things about the trail is you can paddle about half of it, take a spur to Lake Hickson and camp for the night, then paddle the rest of the trail,” Bartlow said. The bayou includes underwater wildlife, too. Fishing is good, especially for crappie, bream and catfish. The area is popular with hunters seeking waterfowl and other game, especially during winter migrations; check agfc.com for hunting dates before you visit.

Robe Bayou Water Trail

Location — Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA, Monroe County Length — 4.5 miles Camping — Primitive campsites available along Dagmar Road. Partners — Arkansas Canoe Club, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Details/Map — www.agfc.com/species/Pages/ SpeciesWatchableWildlifeDetails. aspx?Title=Robe%20Bayou%20 Water%20Trail Consider this a little brother to Bayou DeView Water Trail. It’s on the western side of Sheffield Nelson Dagmar WMA, with a channel that’s much easier to follow than Bayou Deview’s. It’s also easy to access — five boat ramps are spaced along the trail, as well as a footbridge that blocks the channel. Portage around the

Crooked Creek provides boating excitement for all ages.

footbridge or plan your trip to the north or south. Camping is easy, too. Numerous primitive campsites are available along the trail. They are free and can be occupied on a first-come, firstserved basis. This trail is a wise choice for wildlife watchers and birders. Look for red-headed and pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, prothonotary warblers and, of course, great blue and green herons. In winter, bald eagles and an assortment of waterfowl drop by. Beavers, deer, raccoons and muskrats are common. Some of the towering cypress trees and their mammoth trunks are hundreds of years old. Tupelo, sweetgum and oaks — overcup, water and Nuttall — make up the forest.

Crooked Creek Water Trail

Location — Marion County Length — 22.1 miles Camping — Brooksher Crooked Creek Preserve (about mid-point of trail) and Snow Access Partners — Arkansas Canoe Club, The Nature Conservancy Details/Map — www.agfc. com/resources/wildlifeviewing/ crookedcreek-watertrailmap.pdf

So far, this is the longest water trail the AGFC has designated. It’s 22.1 miles from Upper Pyatt Access in western Marion County to Yellville Access near downtown Yellville. A quick look at a map reveals how Crooked Creek got its name. It folds back on itself as it cuts through rock. Some paddlers like to call it a miniature version of the Buffalo River, and that makes sense, but Crooked Creek is not protected by public property. Almost all of it flows through private forests and farms. It sets a quick pace when spring rains hit, but most of the year it’s a gentle float. Smallmouth bass fishing is a major draw. The creek’s clean, fast water, a rocky bottom, and scattered boulders and logs give brownies all the hiding and spawning spots they need. They can be caught with soft-plastic lures, crank baits, spinners and other contraptions. They love crayfish. Camping is available at Brooksher Crooked Creek Preserve, owned by The Nature Conservancy, at the trail’s mid-point, and Snow Access. Except for Fred Berry Conservation Education Center on Crooked Creek, the rest of the trail passes through private property. Upper Pyatt Access is the westernmost public put-in place. Lower Pyatt Access is little more than

Water Trail Suggestions Welcome

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission designates trails that are part of the Arkansas Water Trails system. But make no mistake — partners power the development of the trails and there’s room for more. The AGFC welcomes anyone or any organization that would like to suggest a water trail, although a few criteria must be met. To find out how to become a partner and create a water trail in your area, view the application form at www.agfc.com/education/Documents/AWT%20Application%20for%20Assistance.pdf. 48 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


half a mile downstream, and an easier access. Next is Snow Access, 6.7 miles below Lower Pyatt. Kelley’s Slab Access, about 12 miles from Snow, is at Fred Berry Conservation Education Center on Crooked Creek. The AGFC owns almost three miles of frontage along the creek. The trail reaches the boat ramp at Yellville City Park 3.5 miles below Kelley’s Slab.

Arkansas Post Water Trail

Location — Arkansas Post National Memorial, Arkansas County Length — 5 miles Camping — Pendleton Bend Recreation Area (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), primitive campsites on Trusten Holder WMA Partners — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, Arkansas Canoe Club Details/Map — www.agfc.com/species/Pages/SpeciesWatchableWildlifeDetails.aspx?Title=Arkansas Post Water Trail This trail, with access at Moore Bayou Recreation Area, skirts the big, open water of the Arkansas River. Currents in the river can be dangerous, but there’s plenty to explore in the sheltered areas of Moore Bayou — with large cypress trees — Post Bayou and Post Lake. The trail wraps around the historic peninsula where Arkansas Post National Memorial is situated (the post has moved several times over the years). This strategic position on the river was a major trading port, a fort, a town and the site of skirmishes in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and battles between Europeans and American Indians. French explorers created a trading post with the Quapaw tribe on the river in 1686. There’s plenty to learn by walking the grounds of the memorial and touring the visitors center. Except for windy days, this is a flat-water float. Look for alligators, beavers, muskrats, songbirds, white pelicans, egrets and bald eagles. Enjoy a variety of trees such as cottonwood, sycamore, cypress and persimmon. American lotus blooms cover the water during summer.

Fish for crappie and bream with live bait and jigs, or pursue largemouth bass that lurk in vegetation. Fish the bottom for catfish with stink bait or worms. Do not launch or land on Arkansas Post National Memorial grounds.

Wattensaw Bayou Water Trail

Location — Mike Freeze Wattensaw WMA, Prairie County Length — 7.8 miles Camping — Primitive campsites available on Wattensaw WMA Partners — Arkansas Canoe Club Details/Map —www.agfc.com/species/Pages/SpeciesWatchableWildlifeDetails.aspx?Title=Wattensaw Bayou Water Trail Wattensaw Bayou takes a scenic route across the northern edge of Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area, heaving and twisting toward the White River. The trail includes three access points. North Road Access is on the western end. Robinwood Road Access is downstream 3.5 miles, and Fire Tower Road Access is 4.3 miles from Robinwood Road. This was the first Arkansas Water Trail, dedicated in April 2009. It’s a bayou, although heavy rains can push the current, which carries logs and other debris through standing timber. It usually is a float that can be made upstream or downstream. The channel is easy to follow, except for the first mile or so at North Road Access where it’s small and zigzags through trees; keep a trail marker in sight. A train trestle 0.3 miles upstream of Robinwood Road Access can create a logjam. Birders will enjoy several kinds of woodpeckers, as well as prothonotary warblers, herons, eagles and waterfowl during the winter migration. Giant, old cypress trees mark the channel; oaks and sweetgums make up much of the forest. Wattensaw WMA is popular with turkey, deer and small game hunters. Be aware of hunting seasons and wear hunter orange when appropriate.

Cut-Off Creek Water Trail

Location — Cut-Off Creek WMA, Drew County Length — 8.3 miles Camping — Primitive campsites available on Cut-Off Creek WMA Partners — Arkansas Canoe Club, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Details/Map — Coming to AGFC website soon Just 25 miles from Louisiana and less than that from the Mississippi River, this stretch of creek doesn’t look like what might be expected in Southeast Arkansas. Cut-Off Creek Ravines Natural Area, at the Lower Weir Access, features rolling hills that look more like parts of the Ouachita Mountains than the Mississippi Delta. A few miles north, Ravines Natural Area gives way to flatter ground. Paddlers will notice white oaks, shortleaf pines and overcup oaks. The channel is obvious, although it’s littered with cypress trees that will keep your attention when the water’s moving at a good clip. Look for eagles, warblers, fulvous whistling ducks, wood ducks and owls. The WMA is popular with waterfowl hunters and includes a greentree reservoir and a waterfowl rest area. Paddlers should be aware of two weirs, one just above Upper Weir Access and one just below Lower Weir Access. This article, reprinted with permission, appeared in the May/June 2013 issue of Arkansas Wildlife, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission magazine. To subscribe, call 800-283-2664 or visit www.agfc.com.

Cut-Off Creek’s flat areas in Drew County are perfect for paddling among the oaks and pines. Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 49


50 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013


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calendar events 28TH ANNUAL STEAMBOAT DAYS

June 7-8: Carnival, entertainment, 5K run, children activities, cook-off, food, arts & crafts, and car show all take place at this annual event. Event place: River at Main Street, Des Arc. For more information call T.J. Nelson at 870-256-5289.

40TH ANNUAL DIAMOND FEST

June 7-8: Arts and crafts, all kinds of great food, and all kinds of fun activities for all ages. Location: Courthouse Square, downtown (No. 1 Courthouse Square, Murfreesboro). For more information contact Zane Woodall at 870-285-3131.

16TH ANNUAL YOUTH FISHING DERBY

June 8: Lots of hungry fish will be biting. Fishing enthusiasts ages 15 and under are invited to join in the morning of fun, fishing and prizes. Call for derby regulations and more. Date, time and location subject to change. Registration 7-8 a.m. Derby time: 8-10 a.m. Location: Dupree Park Lake (1700 Redmond Road, Jacksonville). Free. For more information call Dana Rozenski at 501-982-0818.

ARKANSAS STATEHOOD CELEBRATION

June 8: The Old State House Museum will provide a glimpse of what life was like in 1836, the year Arkansas became a state. Visitors will have a chance to experience the politics, entertainment and commerce of the period through hands-on programs given by costumed living historians. Free. For more information contact Amy Peck at 501324-9685.

BOATING EDUCATION (AGFC LITTLE ROCK)

June 11-13: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission invites you to take the Arkansas Boating Education Safety Course. Registration required; call 501-223-6377. Hearing-impaired interpreters available. The Arkansas Boating Education Course teaches fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. This is necessary to reduce loss of life, personal injury and property damage while increasing boating enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts. Take the class and pass the test. The basic six-hour boating course includes: Arkansas Boating Law, Boat Classification, Registration and Trailering, Personal Flotation Devices (life jackets, etc.), Rules of the Road, Maintenance and Boating Accidents. You must attend all 3 days in order to complete the course. The event will take place at 52 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

AGFC Headquarters Office (2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock). Event time all 3 nights: 6-9:30 p.m. Students under age 18 will need parent or guardian signature on permission slip before attending class.

55TH ANNUAL AUTO SHOW AND SWAP MEET

June 11-15: This annual Antique Car show is cohosted by the Mid-American Old Time Automobile Association and the Museum of Automobiles on Petit Jean Mountain. Classic and vintage vehicles from all over the region will be on display. Call the museum at 501-727-5427 for more information. Free.

WINGFEST

June 15: Area restaurants go head-to-head to see who has the best chicken wings. Restaurants compete for the title of “Best Buffalo,” “Most Exotic,” “Best Overall — People Choice” and “Best Overall — Judges Choice.” For only $10 the public can sample and vote while listening to live music. Admission: $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Location: Northwest Arkansas Mall (4201 N. Shiloh Drive, Fayetteville). For more information contact Anita Cowan at 479-521-5566.

FATHER’S DAY LAKE CRUISE

June 15: Treat Dad to a day of cruising on Lake Maumelle. A park interpreter will navigate the lake on the park’s pontoon boat to view the beautiful landscapes, historic structures and the lake’s resident wildlife. Advance payment required. Admission: $12 for adults, $6 for children age 6-12 years. Time: 9-11 a.m. Location: Jolly Roger’s Marina.

FATHER’S DAY SUNSET CANOE FLOAT

June 16: Explore the Big Maumelle River with Dad as nighttime unfolds. Possible sights and sounds for the night include bats, coyotes, deer, owl, beaver and maybe even the elusive alligator. Advance payment required. Admission: $35. Time: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Location: Big Maumelle Boat Launch.

GASTON’S FLY FISHING SCHOOL

June 17-18: Frank has developed many new techniques for catching fish on the White River, ones that will make you a much better fly fisherman, no matter what you fly fish for. Most of all, he is a great teacher and very gifted at sharing what he


has learned over many years of fishing. Admission: $240. For more information and reservations call 870-431-5202.

17TH ANNUAL MT. MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL BUTTERFLY FESTIVAL

June 21-22: Celebrate the butterflies in downtown Paris. Live Butterfly Observatory, art show, photo contest, pageant, arts and crafts, and food will be part of this event. Free. For more information contact Paris Area Chamber of Commerce at 479963-2244 or visit www.butterflyfestival.com. You can also call Mt. Magazine at 479-963-8502 or visit www.mountmagazinestatepark.com.

THE GREAT WAR MEMORIAL BALLOON RACE

June 21-23: Approximately 20-25 hot air balloons from throughout the country are expected for a weekend of flying over Little Rock in the mornings and “glowing” in the evenings. Music, vendors and children’s activities are scheduled throughout the weekend. The three-day event will take place in War Memorial Park surrounding War Memorial Stadium. The first year drew a weekend crowd of more than 30,000 people and was exciting and fun for all ages. Admission free, $5 parking fee. For more information contact Lisa Archer 501-350-5333.

OLYMPIC DAY

June 27: Olympic Day commemorates the birth of the modern Olympic Games and is an international effort to promote fitness and well-being in addition to Olympic ideals of Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect and Sportsmanship. Join us as Olympian Dr. Grover Evans shares his experiences and answers questions about the Olympic Movement and its value and ideals. Youth activities will start at 11 a.m. (ages 6 and up). Call Dana Rozenski for more information at 501-982-0818. Date, time and location subject to change. Free admission.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE SERIES: BUGS, SLUGS AND MORE WEEKEND

June 28-30: If the first thing that comes to mind is slimy, then we have just the program for you! By the end of the weekend, we hope that you will come to like Arkansas’s creepy crawlies a little bit more. During the weekend’s programs, we will highlight all the great aspects about these misunderstood creatures through nature-related games, hikes, and crafts. This weekend is a favorite with kids! Contact the park at 501-844-4176 for a schedule as the event draws near. Admission is free. Event place: Lake Catherine State Park.

SUNSET ON THE MOUNTAIN

June 29: A park interpreter will be leading a hike up Pinnacle Mountain’s West Summit for a special sunset viewing. This is a great hike for the whole family to get outdoors and active, while learning how to be safe hiking at dusk. Dress in layers for cool and windy temperatures at the summit. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water. Free

admission. Meeting place: West Summit Trail Head. For more information call 501-868-5806.

10TH ANNUAL RIVERSIDE CLASSIC

June 29: Race No. 4 of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship series. Classes offered for beginner through pro-level. Admission price varies depending on category. Event place: Burns Park. For more information contact Fred Phillips at 870246-6686 or visit www.dltevents.com.

STAR-GAZING CRUISE

June 30: View the stars while we cruise aboard our tour boat on Lake Maumelle near Pinnacle Mountain. A park interpreter will serve as your pilot and guide to learn about stars, constellations and satellites in the sky. Advance payment required. Admission: $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12. Meeting place: Jolly Roger’s Marina. For more information or to make reservation call 501-8685806.

6TH ANNUAL RIVERSIDE DUATHLON

June 30: Race No. 3 of the Arkansas Tri series. Race consists of 2.5-mile run, 11-mile bike and 2.5mile run. Admission varies depending on category. Event place: Burns Park. For more information contact Fred Phillips at 870-246-6686 or visit www. dltevents.com.

POPS ON THE RIVER

July 4: The state’s largest Fourth of July celebration, Pops on the River features a free performance by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and a fireworks display at the First Security Riverfront Amphitheater. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets; amphitheater seating limited. Concessions will be available on site. No personal fireworks, coolers, or pets allowed. For more information visit www. littlerock.com.

SHERWOOD’S FOURTH OF JULY FAMILY CELEBRATION

July 4: The city of Sherwood provides free admission, free hot dogs (while supplies last), entertainment and a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. Location: Sherwood Forest (1111 West Maryland Ave., Sherwood). For more information contact Sarah Coulter at 501-833-0476.

FIREWORKS EXTRAVAGANZA

July 5: One of the largest fireworks displays in Arkansas over beautiful Greers Ferry Lake. Admission: $10 for parking. Location: Sandy Beach. For more information contact Melisa Gardner at 501362-2444.

schedule as the event draws near at 501-844-4176. Admission free.

PLANT SWAP IN PINE BLUFF

July 6: Bring plants, cuttings, seeds or bulbs (up to 5) to trade with other plant lovers. Be sure to label them. Short programs, swaps and door prizes. You never know what you might go home with. Come meet other plant lovers and go home with something new and interesting. Bring a fellow plant lover or your family, enjoy the swap and then visit the center and the trails. All ages welcome. Location: Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center (1400 Black Dog Road, Pine Bluff). Event time: 10 a.m. For more information, please contact Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center at 870-534-0011.

STAR-GAZING CRUISE

July 7: View the stars while we cruise aboard our tour boat on Lake Maumelle near Pinnacle Mountain. A park interpreter will serve as your pilot and guide to learn more stars, constellations and satellites in the sky Advance payment required. Admission: $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12. Location: Jolly Roger’s Marina. For more information call Pinnacle Mountain State Park at 501-868-5806.

EVENING CANOE FLOAT

July 13: Explore the Big Maumelle River with a park interpreter on this guided canoe float. Meet at the Big Maumelle Pavilion to experience the serenity of twilight as it slowly changes into a peaceful moonlit night. Advance payment required. Admission: $35. For more information call Pinnacle Mountain State Park at 501-868-5806.

INSPECT AN INSECT WEEKEND

July 13-14: Ninety-five percent of all living creatures are insects. Spend the weekend learning about the different types of insects in the park and have a chance to eat one. Admission free. Contact Pinnacle Mountain State Park for a detailed program schedule at 501-868-5806.

BLUE KNIGHTS MOTOCYCLE RALLY

July 14-19: The Blue Knights is a non-profit fraternal organization consisting of active and retired law enforcement (officers), men and women who enjoy riding motorcycles. Among the Blue Knight members “There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t yet met.” Admission: $95. Event place: Hot Springs Convention Center (134 Convention Blvd., Hot Springs). For more information contact Blue Knights International at 207-947-4600.

CELEBRATION OF INDEPENDENCE

July 5-7: Join us in celebrating our nation’s independence with patriotic games, crafts and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Contact Lake Catherine’s State Park for a

Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 53


FEATHERED FLYER WEEKEND

July 27-28: Programs all weekend will feature our feathered friends, including hummingbirds, raptors, waterfowl, backyard birds and more. Admission is free. Contact Pinnacle Mountain State Park for more information at 501-868-5806.

STARGAZING CRUISE

July 28: View the stars while we cruise aboard our tour boat on Lake Maumelle near Pinnacle Mountain. A park interpreter will serve as your pilot and guide to learn about stars, constellations and satellites in the sky. Advance payment required. Admission: $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12. Location: Jolly Roger’s Marina. Contact Pinnacle Mountain State Park for more information at 501-868-5806.

126TH ANNUAL OLD SOLDIERS REUNION

Aug. 1: Held at Spring Park in Heber Springs. Carnival, parade and the Little Miss Cleburne County pageant. For more information contact the American Legion at 501-362-9979.

STAR PARTY

JOHNSON COUNTY PEACH FESTIVAL

July 25-28: This event will take place at Courthouse Square on Main Street in Clarksville. Free admission. Here are the times of some of the activities that will take place: Thursday, 9 a.m. crafts and concessions open; more events thoughout the day; 6 p.m. gospel music, Friday, 9 a.m. crafts and concessions open; noon Peach Cobbler Bake-Off and Jam/Jelly Contest; more events throughout the day; 7 p.m. street dance. Saturday, 9 a.m. greased pig chase; 10 a.m. frog jump also craft booths open; 11 a.m. terrapin derby; 12:30 p.m. peach eating contest and more events throughout the day. Sunday, 9 a.m. Horseshoe Pitching Tournament registration at Cline Park. For more information contact the Peach Association at 479-754-9152.

27TH ANNUAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CARDBOARD BOAT RACE

July 27: See creative boats in all shapes and sizes made of CARDBOARD vie for the most elaborate, fastest and best team spirit. There is even a Titanic award for the most dramatic sinking. Admission: $5 for parking. Event place: Sandy Beach, Heber Springs. For more information contact Melisa Gardner at 501-362-2444. 54 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

Aug. 3: Join amateur astronomers at Pinnacle Mountain’s Visitor Center for an evening with the stars and other celestial phenomena. As twilight settles in, the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society will provide telescopes for viewing objects in the night sky. If cloudy skies prevent observation with telescopes, an indoor program on astronomy will be presented at 9 p.m. Free admission. For more information contact the park at 501-868-5806.

HOORAY FOR HERPS WEEKEND

Aug. 3-4: Spend the weekend at Pinnacle Mountain State Park learning about this group of very misunderstood animals. Park interpreters will be hosting hikes, crafts, games and talks about Arkansas’ native reptiles and amphibians, including opportunities to meet live animals up close. Contact the park for a detailed program schedule at 501-868-5806. Free admission.

GASTON’S FLY FISHING SCHOOL

Aug. 5-6: Frank our expert fly fishing instructor has developed many new techniques for catching fish on the White River, ones that will make you a much better fly fisherman, no matter what you fly fish for. Most of all, he is a great teacher and very gifted at sharing what he has learned over the many years of fishing. Admission: $240. For more information call 870-431-5202 or to make your reservations.

34TH ANNUAL CAVE CITY WATERMELON FESTIVAL

Aug. 8-10: Crafts, food concessions and free entertainment will be part of Thursday night,

Friday night and all day Saturday. The event will take place at Park Street in Cave City. For more information contact Charles Landers at 870-283-5959.

14TH ANNUAL BARGAINS GALORE ON 64

Aug. 8-10: 160 miles of yard sales and flea markets all along U.S. Highway 64 from Fort Smith to Conway, ending in Beebe. No permits required. Featuring antiques, collectibles and other great buys. Participants from across the country. Admission free. For more information contact Bargains Galore on 64 at 888-568-3552.

METEOR SHOWER MANIA (BOAT CRUISE)

Aug. 10: View shooting stars from the middle of Lake Maumelle. Join a park interpreter on this guided boat cruise to learn about stars and constellations, then watch a slice of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Advance payment required. Admission: $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12. Location: Jolly Roger’s Marina. For more information or to make reservations call 501-868-5806.

BOATING EDUCATION (AGFC LITTLE ROCK)

Aug. 13-15: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission invites you to take the Arkansas Boating Education Safety Course. Registration required. Hearing impaired interpreters will be available. The Arkansas Boating Education Course teaches fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. This is necessary to reduce loss of life, personal injury and property damage while increasing boating enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts. Take the class and pass the test. The basic six-hour boating course includes: Arkansas Boating Law, Boat Classification, Registration and Trailering, Personal Flotation Devices (life jackets, etc.), Rules of the Road, Maintenance and Boating Accidents. You must attend all three days in order to complete course. Location: AGFC Headquarters Office (2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock). Time: 6-9:30 p.m. all three nights. Students under age 18 will need parent or guardian signature on permission slip before attending class. For more information or to make reservations call 501-223-6377.

MOUNTAINS, MUSIC & MOTORCYCLES

Aug. 16-18: This is a one of a kind event for Mountain View with biker games, a poker run and a bike show. There is something for the biker in everyone. Prizes, games, music and good food for the whole family. For more information call the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce at 870-269-8068.

EVENING CANOE FLOAT

Aug. 17: Explore the Big Maumelle River with a park interpreter on this guided canoe float. Meet at the Big Maumelle Pavilion to experience the serenity of twilight as it slowly changes into a peaceful moonlit night. Advance payment required. Admission: $35. Location: Big Maumelle Boat Ramp. For more information or to make reservations contact Pinnacle Mountain State Park at 501-868-5806.


CIVIL WAR ARKANSAS, 1861-1865 EXHIBIT

Aug. 19-Sept. 1: The Jacksonville Museum of Military (100 Veterans Circle, Jacksonville) will host the Civil War 1861-1865 traveling exhibit. The traveling exhibit displays a timeline of the Civil War in Arkansas and includes images and narratives of places and battles. Produced by the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission in cooperation with the Old State House Museum and the Arkansas Humanities Council. Admission: $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and military, $1 for students. For more information contact DannaKay Duggar at 501-241-1943.

BACK 2 SCHOOL SPLASH

Aug. 23: From 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. kids ages 1115, are invited to slip, slide and dive into the night at the last Splash Zone (201 Main Street, Jacksonville) bash of the summer. Swim and dance to music by DJ Chad Mansfield. Must be 48 inches or taller to ride the slides. Concessions available. Date, time and location subject to change. Admission: $2 entry and $1 slides. For more information contact Dana Rozenski at 501-982-4171.

GEOCACHING WEEKEND

Aug. 24-25: Join Pinnacle Mountain State Park interpreters all weekend to immerse you and your family into the world of geocaching. Learn about Arkansas State Park’s geocache tour and geocaches

found right in our park. Events will introduce geocaching to participants who are interested but don’t know where to start. Contact the park for more information at 501-868-5806. Admission free.

19TH ANNUAL END OF SUMMER HANG GLIDER FLY IN

Aug. 24-25: Join the Central Arkansas Mountain Pilots (C.A.M.P.) as they say farewell to the hang gliding season. Come and watch as they set up their equipment, ask them questions, and marvel as they fly through the air above Mount Nebo. Bring cameras. Due to the sport’s high dependence on wind and weather, no flight times will be announced. Weather permitting the pilots will fly on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. For more information and to check on flight schedules call Mountain Nebo State Park at 479-229-3655.

28TH ANNUAL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP CHUCKWAGON RACE

Aug. 24-Sept. 1: Chuckwagon races, bronc fanning, Snowy River race, camping, trail rides, concerts, dances, clinics, western trade show, non-denominational service and horse sale are all the things to experience at this annual event. Admission: $25 for adults, $12.50 for children. Event place: Bar of Ranch (2848 Shake Rag Road, Clinton). For more information contact Dan or Peggy Eoff at 501-745-8407.

END OF SUMMER BLOWOUT

Aug. 30-Sept. 2: Join us as we celebrate the official end of summer and daily interpretive programming (we’ll still offer weekend programs in the autumn season). Bring the whole family to enjoy lake and kayak tours, hikes, crafts and educational programs. Join us as we close the nature cabin down for the summer and have a release party for its animal inhabitants. Contact Lake Catherine State Park for a schedule as this event draws near at 501-8444176. Free admission.

PETIT JEAN FOUNDERS AND BUILDERS DAY

Aug. 31: In 1923 Petit Jean became the first state park in Arkansas, thanks to the efforts of Dr. T.W. Hardison. In 1933 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) laid the foundation for the park as we know it today. Join us for family-friendly programs that celebrate the founding and building of Petit Jean State Park. Contact the park for a schedule as the event draws near at 501-727-5441. Free admission.

Get WILD with a Honda

6100 Landers Road | Sherwood | 501-835-8996

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Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 55


Asa Henry bagged this big Tom near Paron during the youth hunt with his uncle.

Arkansas Wild readers share pictures from their outdoor adventures. Eleanor Henry, all made up for turkey hunting, bagged this big Tom near Lincoln while hunting with her father.

Deena Eastwold and Kate Serrano with nice catches on Bull Shoals Lake.

Hannah Covington bagged this big Tom near Ward during the youth hunt with her dad.

Ben Luneau with a late-in-the-day catch.

Little guy with a big crappie, send in from Lake Nimrod to our Arkansas Wild Facebook page. Cedar Creek Falls

56 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

Boy Scout Pack 12 sails Greers Ferry Lake.


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PARTING SHOT Jeff Nichols Showcases Arkansas’ Backwoods in Best Light

58 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

on sights we may take for granted in was seeing my hunting and fishing everyday life: A lot full of boats needing stomping ground of my younger days repair, our rivers and bridges, our rice, now up on the big screen in all its cotton and soybean fields. gorgeous wonder. It reminded me of In “Mud,” geese fly the White and hunting ducks on freezing cold days Arkansas rivers near their confluence on an oxbow just off the Arkansas with the mighty Mississippi. Critters River near Back Gate (a Dumas scurry along the forest floor. The tiny suburb) with the Grady bunch, going boat trails off those rivers suddenly to my dad’s deer club near Arkansas open up into a stunning expanse like City and trying to shoot a squirrel an ocean bay. with a .410, or fishing near Ethel with I wrote a feature a few years old friend Al White. back in Arkansas Times about the Nichols scares us with water disappearance of the native “River moccasins— a backwoods, backwater People,” or “river rats” as many others resident in large numbers during called them, along the White River. these warmer months — and he calms I found folks now in their later years us with the purring of an outboard who had lived that life with parents motor moving an aluminum flatwho made their living finding river bottom up a quiet bayou. pearls, making trinkets or obtaining “Mud” played to sold-out theaters their food right outside their when it opened here several weeks back, houseboat home. and it was theorized that maybe some Nichols conjured up the remains of the local attraction was that it was of that life in his fascinating story of filmed in Arkansas, by an Arkansan, “Mud.” As I found in researching the about a certain Arkansas way of life. long-gone river life around St. Charles Certainly it resonated with many of and other towns on the White River, us Arkansans. We who have traipsed regulations prohibit setting up a home the grounds — whether casting for a on a major waterway now — families bream or crappie to pass the time, or still have houseboats and homes off the in search of that elusive greenhead, oxbow lakes — but people who had been or tracking down the wounded blue living on the river before those laws goose that just wouldn’t die — have long been convinced of its beauty. came into existence could remain until they passed on. Young star Tye Sheridan boats along a Southeast Arkansas waterway during With affordable filming of “Mud,” a scene that would hit home with many who grew up in the cars, better roads, Arkansas outdoors. bridges over the rivers instead of ferries, changes in the school system and so forth, many of the river folk became city dwellers. That’s another theme in Nichols’ film. But what hit home most for me

Photo by Jim Bridges – © 2013 - Roadside Attractions

While I liked Jeff Nichols’ latest movie “Mud” and how he weaved an interesting story around two local boys and a transient bum temporarily living on a river island and on the run from the law, I especially loved the way Nichols filmed it. To some whose reviews I read, or from some comments I heard about the film, Nichols spent way too much footage on the Arkansas landscape to the detriment of his story, stretching the film to more than two hours. Some of these reviewers are the same ones who would praise a three-hour Terrence Malick film containing about 15 minutes of dialogue and 2 hours and 45 minutes of resident foliage changing colors. Hey, I have nothing against Malick’s work; I loved “The New World” and “The Thin Red Line,” in fact. Just the same, I wonder if I would look at Nichols’ work differently if I wasn’t acquainted with him and his family. His dad sold us a gorgeous piano a few years back, and I’m always awaiting the next local appearance of Lucero, led by Jeff’s brother, Ben. The positive international reviews of Jeff Nichols’ films, and there have been many (even any negative gripes about “Mud” usually were encased in an overall praise of the film), validate my feelings that Arkansas has produced a wonderfully skilled filmmaker whose other works include the lauded “Shotgun Stories” and “Take Shelter.” If I were the decider who wanted to showcase Arkansas’ beauty on film, I’d excise all the non-speaking, nondramatic portions of Nichols’ latest work and present it as “Spectacular, Hidden Southeast Arkansas.” One of the traits of Nichols’ filmmaking, especially in his work back home in his native state, is to focus


WHEN IT COMES TO

relaxation THERE’S JUST SOMETHING IN THE WATER

k

It’s the little things that make a vacation big. Like settling into a spa bath fed by a natural spring. Or discovering a new stretch of shore on a different lake each day. For a big vacation that’s just a small tank of gas away, visit HotSprings.org or call 1-888-SPA-CITY. Summer 2013  Arkansas Wild | 59


Wear It! It’s in our nature.

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To find out more about boating education courses or to buy a license, visit agfc.com. 60 | Arkansas Wild  Summer 2013

Profile for Arkansas Times

Arkansas Wild - Summer 2013  

New Marina near downtown Little Rock, Central Arkansas Water takes on health and hunting, fishing Lake Ouachita, new Ducks Unlimited preside...

Arkansas Wild - Summer 2013  

New Marina near downtown Little Rock, Central Arkansas Water takes on health and hunting, fishing Lake Ouachita, new Ducks Unlimited preside...