ARKANSAS WILD WINTER 2014
w w w. a r w i l d.c o m
INAUGURAL CLASS LEGENDS OF THE WILD DIARY OF A DOVE HUNT INTERNATIONAL SQUIRREL COOK-OFF
LEGENDS OF THE WILD
FIVE PASSIONATE PEOPLE THAT LIVE AND BREATHE THE ARKANSAS OUTDOORS
WILD CALLS: BADDER CHATTER
BEST WURST: DUCK ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE
TRAIL TALES: SISTERS OF SINGLE TRACK
2 | Arkansas Wild î‚¸ Winter 2014
Explore one-of-a-kind, American made pieces, conceived and crafted by our founder. Our Paul Michael Company Exclusive pieces are made from locally harvested wood and other reclaimed materials, handcrafted, and finished at our woodshop in arkansas.
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CONTENTS WINTER 2014 www.arwild.com FAcebook.com/ArkansasWild
29 LEGENDS OF THE WILD
RICELANDS AND WATERFOWL
DIARY OF A DOVE HUNT
INTERNATIONAL SQUIRREL COOK-OFF
SISTERS OF SINGLE TRACK
LAKE CHICOT STATE PARK
FIVE PASSIONATE PEOPLE THAT LIVE AND BREATHE THE ARKANSAS OUTDOORS
14 BIG BOY TOYS 16 GAME & FLAME 20 CHILL SPOT 22 FIN & FEATHER 62 OUT & ABOUT 4 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
WHEN IT COMES TO
relaxation THERE’S JUST SOMETHING IN THE WATER
It’s the little things that make a vacation big. Like settling into a spa bath fed by a natural spring. Or spending a leisurely day fishing on a clear blue lake. For a big vacation that’s just a small tank of gas away, visit HotSprings.org or call 1-888-SPA-CITY. #SpaCity winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 5
Let us find your underground utilities before you do.
ARKANSAS WILD www.arwild.com FAcebook.com/ArkansasWild REBEKAH HARDIN Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL DENA WOERNER Editor email@example.com PATRICK JONES Art Director firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING Advertising Sales Director ELIZABETH HAMAN email@example.com Account Executives BONNIE GREGORY firstname.lastname@example.org WENDY HICKINGBOTHAM email@example.com LESA THOMAS firstname.lastname@example.org ROSE GLADNER email@example.com JO GARCIA firstname.lastname@example.org CARRIE SUBLETT email@example.com PRODUCTION WELDON WILSON Production Manager ROLAND GLADDEN Advertising Traffic Manager ERIN HOLLAND Advertising Coordinator KEVIN WALTERMIRE, BRYAN MOATS, MIKE SPAIN Graphic Artists SOCIAL MEDIA LAUREN BUCHER firstname.lastname@example.org
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201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2014 Arkansas Wild
6 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
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EVERYONE CAN HELP!
Invasive Species are not wanted in Arkansas.
They can destroy the woods we have come to enjoy. So when you are out in the forest, be on the lookout for these invasive species. Please report any suspected findings.
Emerald Ash Borer
Asian Longhorned Beetle
CONTRIBUTORS KANE WEBB is a veteran Arkansas journalist who recently returned to his home state from Kentucky. He is currently working on a book.
Besides having numerous magazine articles and music reviews appear in state publications over the past nine years, native Arkansan RICHARD LEDBETTER is also the author of two historical novels, “The Branch and the Vine,” published in 2002 and “Witness Tree 1910,” published in 2011. ANDI COOPER grew up enjoying the outdoors in Mississippi, and attended Mississippi State University where she majored in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Wildlife Science option. DEVIN O’DEA is co-owner and VP of Development of Fayetteville, Arkansasbased Fayettechill, an outdoor lifestyle brand. His outdoor interests include yoga, backpacking, fly fishing, trail running and exploration in general. Follow Devin and the rest of the Fayettechill family’s adventures on Instagram (@fayettechill) and their blog (blog.fayettechill.com). JON STONE AND FLYNN SMITH Jon is a co-founder/partner in The Independent, a gentlemen’s clothier located in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood. Growing up in Stuttgart, Jon has always been influenced and inspired by khakis and camouflage. Business partner Flynn Smith hails from New Orleans and truly brings that city’s flavor to the table in menswear. Jon and Flynn helped to style and coordinate the “gentlemen’s apparel” for the “Legends of the Wild” cover story feature. BRANDEE WEAVER was born and raised on the prairie of Central Arkansas and grew up as a baby sister to two brothers that cut their teeth on a duck call in the famed White River Bottoms. It was this childhood and passion for the outdoors that ultimately led her to Mack’s Prairie Wings. “Being the casual department manager allows me to not only express my passion for decoration but also bring the hottest brands and trends on the planet to our cozy little “duck hunting town.”
ON THE COVER: “Legend of the Wild” and Arkansas native Jody Pagan; Photographed by Jason Masters at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Gear: Mack’s Prairie Wings 8 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
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FROM THE EDITOR
It resonates throughout our winter issue. It is found on a trail traversing across the Ouachita Mountains and in a small town in the Arkansas Delta. Passion also drives each unique individual selected as a “Legend of the Wild.” I had the privilege to spend a bluebird autumn day in Pinnacle Mountain State Park with five undeniable Arkansas legends. The Arkansas Wild team and I enjoyed getting to know each one of them, listening to their incredible stories and accomplishments. You’ll see the pure artistry of photographer Jason Masters in the images captured on that memorable day. We laughed and bonded as the group suited up in sportsman’s apparel outfitted by local merchants: The Independent, Mack’s Prairie Wings and Ozark Angler. We invite you to experience a ride on the Epic LOViT during a Girls Getaway weekend in the Ouachita Mountains. Thank you to Mountain Harbor Resort, Robert Cavanaugh and the LOViT Trail Dogs and our Hickory Mountain Trail navigation team: Dan, Jeff and Cliff. Our Game & Flame feature took the team on a culinary adventure to “South on Main,” and we can say that the Duck Andouille sausage is tested and approved. Thank you to Matt and Phillip for preparing this signature dish and sharing the wonderful recipe. Arkansas Wild, along with writer Kane Webb were graciously invited to shadow Paul Michael, Freddie Black and friends on their annual opening day dove season hunt in the Delta – a long-standing family tradition – allowing Arkansas Wild the privilege to engage in an in-depth experience capturing and creating “A Diary of a Dove Hunt.” I’d like to send a special thank you to the friends and families of Paul Michael and Freddie Black for their wonderful hospitality. The people, landscape and wildlife of the Natural State ignite passion. I invite you Images from A Diary of a Dove Hunt. to experience the adventures and dynamic Story begins on page 42 destinations through the words and images of (Top photo, left to right) Walter the bird dog, our writers and creative team.
Dena Woerner, Editor email@example.com @denajill 10 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
Tony Cardarelli, Paul Abide, Andrew Abide, Freddie Black, Arkansas Wild publisher Rebekah Hardin, Sandy Whann, William Whann, Saleem Black. (Center) Opening day dove season hunters clean the day’s harvest. (Right) Freddie Black, host and guide, reflects on the day’s hunt.
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W E K N O W A R K A N S A S B E C A U S E W E ’ R E O N LY IN A R K A N S A S . At First Security, we know a good spot when we see one. Our home state has it all – great people, great communities and some of the greatest outdoor opportunities a hunter could hope for. That’s why you won’t find First Security anywhere else. Stop by soon and give us a shot at helping you bank better.
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BIG BOY TOYS
Sounding off with six great duck calls.
BY DENA WOERNER
ELITE FREAK The Freak features a scratchy, raspy sound of a cut-down call, combined with the whiney, nasally sound of a traditional timber call. It has good backpressure making it easy to blow, allowing the operator to change tones to sound like multiple ducks. It has unbelievable range of both tone and volume.
SURE-SHOT YETZEN ONE From the inventors of the original double reed duck call, the ‘One’ has a patent pending ScrewLock system that eliminates air loss and the need for Orings, resulting in a classic duck call that performs reliably and consistently in all weather.
FLEXTONE HAIL MARY The Hail Mary features a smaller porthole for increased backpressure. Ideal for open water duck hunting, it cuts through strong winds at long distances. Pitch, volume and call duration are all maximized without running out of air. flextonegamecalls.com
FIELD PROVEN SINGLE SHOT Features a larger diameter bore in the mouthpiece to create a wider variety of different pitched hen sounds. Designed to be versatile, the Single Shot is tuned to get really soft for calm days but has the backbone needed to get loud enough for high-flying birds.
RNT DAISY CUTTER MONDO The Mondo has a short insert that creates very little backpressure, allowing the call to produce hard, loud, raspy licks of a mallard hen, as well as that trademark loud squeaky chatter. rntcalls.com
RNT DAISY SLAYER Has increased back pressure due to its shorter insert and unique bore, design which allow it to be free and loose on the bottom for uncanny natural sounding quacks and soft clucks of a mallard hen. rntcalls.com
Arkansas duck call makers 14 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
on tHe Water! TIM SCOTT’S NEwEST DuCk BOAT CrEATION One of the most influential duck boat builders in the country, Tim Scott knows that the point of buying a duck boat isn’t buying a boat, it’s to get you to your blind in speed, TIM SCOTT comfort, stealth and style so you can bag your limit. After a career spent designing and building boats for some of the industry’s best names, Tim co-founded Havoc Boats with one goal in mind: to bring the best duck hunters in the world the best rigs on the water. Not only is he Havoc’s chief designer, Tim’s on the shop floor every day, making sure they meet that goal. Stop by S&G Xtreme Marine in Sherwood or Hot Springs to check out the six models in the Havoc Boats lineup.
TOMMY MIDDLETON, S&G SALESMAN
Sherwood 8008 Warden rd 501-392-0315 hot SpringS 3475 albert Pike 501-767-1591 WWW.xtrememarine.com winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 15
GAME & FLAME
THIS DELICIOUSLY RICH-FLAVORED DUCK ANDOUILLE WILL HAVE YOU FLAPPIN’ AND QUACKIN’ BY DENA WOERNER • PHOTOS BY PATRICK JONES
Imagine a flavor so bold it literally stops you in your tracks. Thoughts stop and are lost. The culprit: duck Andouille sausage served up at South on Main in Little Rock.
Continued on page 18
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IT'S A YEAR-ROUND
OBSESSION At least it is for us. We love deer hunting. That’s why we fill our stores with deer-hunting experts and hold local events – not just during deer season, but throughout the year. From laying out a food plot and scouting with game cameras, through the heat of the hunt and processing game, we are here to set you up for success in everything deer hunting.
YOUR DEER-HUNTING AUTHORITY 365 DAYS A YEAR
BIG-GAME PHOTO CONTEST WITH CABELA'S OUTFITTER SERIES TRAIL CAMERAS ™
CONTEST RUNS THROUGH NOV. 30, 2014
Submit your Cabela’s Outfitter Series™ Trail Camera photos for a chance to win four monthly prizes and one grand prize. Total contest prizes are worth over $4,500. For a complete list of prizes and Official Contest Rules, visit
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“WE TRY TO USE AS MUCH OF THE ANIMAL AS WE CAN— AND TRY NOT TO WASTE ANYTHING.” – Matt Bell 18 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
They say necessity is the mother of invention. It was necessity that led the chefs of South on Main to develop duck Andouille sausage. Roasted Duck, another of the eateries’ popular entrées, creates an excess of duck legs. “We try to use as much of the animal as we can — and try not to waste anything. Because we serve so much duck breast, we are left with a lot of duck legs,” said Executive Chef and owner Matt Bell. Already known for his Andouille sausage and rabbit boudin, Bell decided to try to make a duck sausage. Duck meat is different than rabbit, and the proper amount of pork fat had to be established to make the sausage work. It was sous chef Phillip Schaaf that found the proper pork-to-duck ratio and developed the final recipe. (Left to right from top) Chef Phillip Schaaf deboning duck. Seven spices are used to give the sausage its unique flavor. Pork fat and duck are combined in meat grinder. Add beer and mix ground meat to emulsify the sausage. Hog casings are filled using a sausage stuffer. After sausage is stuffed, twist to form links.
WING TIPS Instacure no. 1, also known as Prague powder, can be found in most meat shops, specialty stores or online. Keep ingredients, bowls, and grinder really cold. The mixture will grind better and come together as a mix better if the ingredients are almost frozen.
HISKE YM DW RL S TER AS
1 onion, diced 3 1/2 lbs. raw duck meat, cubed 1 1/2 lbs. raw pork fat 36 grams kosher salt 4 grams instacure no. 1 2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne 2 tablespoons paprika 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, picked 2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard powder 1/2 cup beer Hog casings* 1. Combine the duck meat, pork fat, and all of your spices and let marinate over night. 2. Sauté onion until soft and translucent; add to sausage mixture. 3. Place the meat grinder parts in a freezer for at least 40 minutes, along with the sausage mixture. 4. Once properly chilled, grind the meat using a medium sized die. 5. Add the ground meat to the chilled bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed to emulsify the sausage. 6. Add the beer at this time, slowly so that it is properly incorporated. 7. Using a sausage stuffer, and whatever size casings you prefer, stuff the sausage and form your links. 8. Let the sausage hang overnight in a cooler to dry a bit. 9. Smoke the links on a low heat, around 180 degrees until the internal temperature is 140 degrees or about 4 hours. 10. Let sausage rest for at least 30 minutes before eating. Should make about 20 links, or 5 pounds of sausage. South on Main’s duck Andouille sausage links are served with brown beans and rice grits or as a crumbled sausage over spatzel. *Sausage can easily be formed into patties instead of links; however the sausage is easier to smoke if it is made into links.
THE W O
Duck Andouille Sausage
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What’s Cooking at Arkansas Community Colleges? Arkansas Community Colleges offer culinary arts training preparing students for careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry and cooking classes for those who just want to sharpen their skills. Culinary program graduates are trained and ready to step into the workforce. Cooking class participants may add sauce creation, cake decorating or meat carving to their menus. With community colleges across the state offering culinary training, a career or class is just around the corner.
Arkansas Community Colleges Cooking Up Opportunity Building Careers
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The Glory Hole of Dismal Creek in the Ozarks is a great place to hike or just sit and chill.
A NOT SO HIDDEN TREASURE
GLORY HOLE WATERFALL BY DEVIN O’DEA Fayettechill’s pick for the Winter Chillspot is the always awesome Glory Hole in the Ozark National Forest. We have taken a couple of trips to the Glory Hole as a company and find it to be a great hike to take with a medium-to-largesized group. The hike is fairly accessible to all, a very chill two miles (one mile each way) without too much elevation or challenging areas that makes for a nice trek with friends and some gear. The trailhead for the Glory Hole can be found off of State Highway 16, 2.2 miles west of Edwards Junction (the intersection of State Highways 21 and 16). Or just enter in the GPS coordinates (35.82595, -93.39737) to your Google Maps and you’ll be on your way. Once on the trail to the Glory Hole, you begin to make your way into a small canyon with beautiful Ozark bluffs abounding in all directions. Eventually, you stumble onto Dismal Creek, the small stream that has, over time, created a passage through an overhanging bluff and created the Glory Hole waterfall. 20 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
You never know exactly what you will get with the Glory Hole waterfall, but if you watch the precipitation around the region you can catch some high flowing forms. We picked it for our Winter Chillspot for the effect winter has on this unique waterfall. If you time it just right, after a proper winter storm or so, you can catch the Glory Hole as it is frozen in 360 degrees around the opening, creating a circle of icicles in waterfall formation. The end result is chill, to say the least. While the Glory Hole is the main attraction of the hike, the spots leading up to and beyond the waterfall are pretty special in themselves, especially during the winter. The bluff lines leading up the Dismal Creek drill site maintain a striking display for icicles over multiple feet in length. You can travel in front or behind these rows of icicles, and in general it is fun to just explore or hang out near. Beyond the Glory Hole the hike continues and you can cross back and forth over Dismal Creek, traversing fallen tree or across Ozark boulder paths. There are other minor waterfalls throughout the area to discover, boulders to climb up, on, or over, and nice variety of foliage to take in, although probably not as much in the winter. The area in general is especially chill. Secluded to the point where you feel removed from the daily grind and tapped into nature, but trafficked enough that you might meet a new friend while out and about. The Glory Hole highlights one of our favorite characteristics of the Ozarks— these mountains are a teller of time and show exactly what time and nature can make together. Check out more “Fayettechill Chillspots” at fayettechill.com.
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PHOTO COURTESY OF HAVOC BOATS
FIN & FEATHER
DUCK HUNTERS, BY DUCK HUNTERS CREATE HAVOC ON THE WATER BY JASON HALFEN While much of the marine industry is dominated by large corporations that assemble and distribute many makes and models of boats, one Arkansas-based boat manufacturer has “ducked” that trend by catering specifically to the unique needs of waterfowlers. Havoc Boats, located in Fordyce, builds purposedriven duck and utility boats, and prides itself on quality craftsmanship, custom features designed by avid waterfowlers, and the long-term relationships the company enjoys with its customers. General manager Tim Scott describes Havoc Boats as being born from a passion for duck hunting. Many of the specialized features found in Havoc Boats, like the rear step transom found in the popular DBST models, originate from years of waterfowling in the flooded timber of Arkansas’s lowlands. This unique transom 22 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
makes it easy for your retriever to enter the boat with a mouthful of mallard, and doubles as a swim platform on family trips. Havoc Boats offers rugged designs and wideopen floorplans to easily accommodate multiple hunters, dogs and decoy bags for transport to and from the hunt. With a network of 22 dealers, Havoc Boats makes it easy for waterfowlers across the southeastern United States to join the Havoc family. More important to Scott, however, are the long-term relationships that he builds with his customer base and the quality of service that Havoc provides after the sale. “Not only do we sell boats to our customers, but we hunt with them, too, and when they need us, we’re as close as their cell phone,” which is comforting to know when the ducks are flying. Experience the difference that a custom-designed duck boat can make on your next hunt. www.havocboats.com.
How Do You Play Outdoors In The Ozarks? With glee. “…it’s simply the best there is”
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Rice Lands and Waterfowl A MATCH MADE IN ARKANSAS BY ANDI COOPER Arkansas is as famous for being the duck capital as it is for growing rice, and that coupling is no coincidence. As the historic bottomland hardwood forests of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV), and the tallgrass prairies of eastern Arkansas, were cleared to make way for agriculture, only one crop continued to provide critical habitat for wintering waterfowl: rice. According to the Arkansas Rice Federation, Arkansas now accounts for half of the U.S. rice production, ranking first among the six major rice-producing states. The approximately 1.3 million acres of rice grown in Arkansas rank it as the state’s second highest value commodity and the top agricultural export. Each year, the state’s rice farmers and millers contribute more than $6 billion to the Arkansas economy and support more than 25,000 jobs. During the winter months, rice farmers capture rainwater in fields, creating managed wetland habitat for migratory and wintering waterfowl. These winter flooded rice lands provide food resources for waterfowl and other migratory birds in the form of waste grain and invertebrates. At the same time, the winter flooding helps prevent soil erosion, controls weeds and protects soil nutrients. Many farmers also benefit from a second source of income by leasing the hunting rights on their farms. Waterfowl hunting brings substantial economic benefit to Arkansas each year as hunters pay for lodging, food, gas and other amenities. In fact, waterfowl hunting accounts for more than $124 million of economic impact in Arkansas each year (USFWS 2006). Only Texas had higher economic impact from waterfowl hunting. Rice agriculture and waterfowl habitat are so intrinsically 24 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
linked that the global advocate for all segments of the U.S. rice industry and the world leader in waterfowl habitat conservation have joined forces to ensure the future of these working wetlands. USA Rice Federation and Ducks Unlimited have formed the Rice Stewardship Partnership to bring about meaningful and long-term improvements to three of the nation’s most critical natural and economic resources—working rice lands, waterfowl and water. The partnership advocates for sound agriculture and conservation-related policies, promotes the important ecosystem benefits of rice agriculture, and works to keep rice producers in business through increased on-farm profitability and enhanced conservation. DU President and Arkansas rice farmer George Dunklin Jr. is particularly proud of the joint effort. “It’s common-sense collaboration between two groups that can make a big impact on the future of our water and waterfowl resources,” he said. All three rice-growing regions of the U.S.—the MAV, Gulf Coast and California’s Central Valley—overlap directly with the continent’s most important waterfowl wintering grounds. In fact, more than half of North America’s dabbling ducks winter in these rice-growing regions. “The importance of a strong, viable rice industry goes well beyond the family farmers, rice mills and merchants to national conservation efforts, bringing home that what’s good for rice is good for ducks,” said USA Rice Federation President and CEO Betsy Ward. Further highlighting the importance of rice lands to waterfowl, a recent study conducted by Ducks Unlimited Continued on page 26
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scientists for the USA Rice Foundation found that the cost of replacing winter flooded rice lands in the U.S. with natural wetland habitat would exceed $3.5 billion. That doesn’t include the annual maintenance costs that farmers incur during their operations. The value of rice lands to waterfowl shouldn’t be underestimated. The estimated replacement cost is 3.5 times the original price tag for the entire North American Waterfowl Management Plan. “There’s no question that the futures of waterfowl and rice farming are intrinsically linked” – George Dunklin, Jr. According to the study, more than 40 percent of the food resources available to wintering dabbling ducks along the Central Valley and Gulf Coast comes from winter flooded rice fields. The resource values for geese are higher because of dry land feeding. Current rice food values for wintering dabbling ducks in the MAV are lower, at 11 percent of available food. That difference is due largely to the relatively earlier timing of rice harvest in the MAV. “Historically, rice in the MAV matured in October to November, providing substantially more food for waterfowl. In the mid-1980s, rice varieties changed. Now harvest is done August to September, and the food waterfowl have come to expect has decreased significantly by November,” Dunklin said. Still, keeping rice on the landscape is important for waterfowl. The winter flooded rice fields act as managed wetlands for waterfowl and millions of other migratory birds. In addition, practices that maximize the benefits of rice lands for waterfowl also improve water quality and benefit farmers. “There’s no question that the futures of waterfowl and rice farming are intrinsically linked, not only in Arkansas, but across the continent’s most important wintering areas,” Dunklin said. “For that reason Ducks Unlimited will continue to work closely with USA Rice Federation and the men and women that steward these working wetlands.” Find out more. www.ducks.org/ricelands
26 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
Congratulations to JODY PAGAN! “I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.” – Andy Warhol
www.5oakswildlifeservices.com winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 27
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Legends Of The Wild BY DENA WOERNER • PHOTOS BY JASON MASTERS
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What makes someone a legend? As you read about each member of our inaugural “Legends of the Wild” class, you’ll find a common thread— they share a passion for the outdoors, a love for Arkansas, and following their individual interests, have found vocation. They not only work in the outdoors, they teach others about their passions and love for our state. Our extreme sportsman, Joe Jacobs rides and hikes his way through the state, building the very trails he and so many others enjoy. Known for her call of the wild, Pat Peacock is recognized as the only woman in history to win the men’s duck calling division not once, but twice. Lawrence Taylor promotes fishing with the stroke of a pen telling others about Arkansas’s natural resources and publicizing outdoor sports. Jody Pagan has said “hunting is my addiction, habitat management is my passion,” and has built over half a million acres of wildlife habitat — not only in Arkansas but across the United States. Duane Hada spent valuable time working with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to achieve blue ribbon status for Arkansas’s smallmouth bass streams while painting memories in watercolor. We are proud to recognize Arkansans who work to promote outdoor activities and to protect the state’s natural resources. They truly live and breathe the Arkansas outdoors.
OUTFITTERS OPENING PAGE: SPORTSMAN’S APPAREL: MACK’S PRAIRIE WINGS GENTLEMEN’S CHARCOAL WOOL VEST AND TOBACCO CHECK-PATTERN JACKET: THE INDEPENDANT THIS SPREAD: SPORTSMAN’S APPAREL: MACK’S PRAIRIE WINGS ANGLER’S VEST: OZARK ANGLER (LEFT FOT RIGHT) THE INAUGURAL CLASS OF “LEGENDS OF THE WILD”: JODY PAGAN, LAWRENCE TAYLOR, JOE JACOBS, PAT PEACOCK, DUANE HADA. PHOTOGRAPHED AT PINNACLE MOUNTAIN STATE PARK winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 31
JOE JACOBS Have you visited the Natural State’s many hiking the Jackfork Mountain Bike Trail at Pinnacle Mountain and biking trails? If so, you perhaps noticed colorful State Park. Construction occurred on days off and evenings marks on the trees, guiding you to the correct path. after work. “I see this as my way to give back for all of the Or, walked through sawdust on a trail trail use I’ve enjoyed,” said Jacobs. Recently, where there was once a felled tree? he played a big role in building the newly “There Trail fairies don’t magically maintain opened 9.2-mile Enders Fault Trail at and build trails—volunteers keep ArWoolly Hollow State Park near Greenbrier. aren’t kansas trail systems growing in numJacobs has given back to the cycling many places bers, as well as clean and clear. community in leadership roles as well. where you Manufacturing and maintaining trails He is a current board member of Central is a lot of work. Equipment like machetes, Arkansas Trail Alliance (CATA) and a have these chainsaws, rakes, sledgehammers and former board member of Bicycle Advocacy opportunities, shovels must be carried or biked into the of Central Arkansas (BACA). Through and this woods for miles. Ice storms and heavy his position at Arkansas State Parks, he windstorms drop trees in their tracks, designed the current bicycling brochure is just a across trails, while floods can wash out “On Road/Off Road” and collaborated snapshot of bridges and expose previously hidden with various agencies to create the online what you’ll rock hazards. Arkansas bicycle safety manual. Joe Jacobs, a selfless volunteer, helps In 2011 Jacobs started ArkansasOutside. find all put those trails back in working order. com. The website began as a personal blog, across the And for this, and other notable efforts and but fully metamorphosed after one of his state.” accomplishments, Jacobs is a “Legend of stories stirred up the cycling community. the Wild.” He was unhappy with the local coverage Jacobs’ love affair with the outdoors of the Big Dam Bridge 100 ride. To his disbegan at a young age. His father, Joel Jacobs, a four-tour appointment, the story focused on what roads would be Vietnam veteran, would spend his scheduled leave between closed for the event instead of the race’s economic impact. tours taking his family on camping trips. “He’d come home So he took to his computer and broadcast how important and we’d spend a month in the mountains waterskiing, the event was to Arkansas. Readers wanted more, and hiking and camping,” recalls Jacobs. Such trips took them encouraged Joe to continue covering events. Today, the to the Canadian Rockies, Idaho, Montana and Yellowstone evolved website is a go-to, online resource for finding out National Park. “It is on those trips where I developed an all about scheduled outdoors events. appreciation for the outdoors.” ArkansasOutside.com isn’t just about cycling, either. Jacobs moved to Arkansas to manage a Circuit City Jacobs and Mullis, along with their team of writers and location, but it was while watching television’s “Eco photographers, cover hiking, cycling, kayaking, paddle Challenge” that he decided his future home would be the sports and running events. In addition to communicating perfect place to take up adventure racing. He bought his information about the events, the group gets their hands first mountain bike, a Gary Fisher Tassajara, at Chainwheel dirty assisting with and developing new outdoor programs. in Little Rock and hasn’t dismounted—metaphorically Since 2011, they have volunteered at numerous outdoor speaking—since. sporting events, including hosting an aide station during Arkansas’s natural beauty and its virtually infinite the 2014 Big Dam Bridge 100. Realizing that children are the future of outdoors sports outdoor opportunities and activities kept Jacobs planted in Arkansas, and he currently claims the position of marketing and conservation, the ArkansasOutside.com duo brought together volunteers and started celebrating “Take a Kid and revenue manager for Arkansas State Parks. Sitting on the grounds of Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Mountain Biking Day.” In October 2014, they worked with just outside of Little Rock, he said, “This place is a perfect the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance (CATA) to make the example.” He pointed to a cypress marsh and continued. event a full-blown festival, and gave it a new name: The Big “We have wetlands right there,” pointing left of the marsh, Rock Mountain Bike Festival. The inaugural event brought “we are sitting at the base of a mountain and over there is together Little Rock bicycle shops, volunteers and a healthy a river. In 20 minutes by car we can be in the heart of a number of participants. What does the future look like? Jacobs hopes to get more city or take a bike and travel there via the Arkansas River physically involved in the outdoor sports he loves. Instead of Trail system. “There aren’t many places where you have these mostly writing about them, he’d like to get back in the game. With the help of cycling friends, he rebuilt that Gary opportunities, and this is just a snapshot of what you’ll find Fisher, adding the rookie-ride to his collection of modern all across the state.” Jacobs not only enjoys the fruit of the Natural State, he machines. If you see Joe (and Gary) on the trails, be sure gives back, too. Over a two-year stint, he worked tirelessly to tip your helmet, because the philanthropic cyclist might with his wife, Lisa Mullis, and friend Daron Harris to build have just cleared a windfall off the next switchback. 32 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
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JODY PAGAN As autumn envelops Arkansas, growing numbers of to other NRCS employees in states across the country. waterfowl accumulate on ponds, bayous and river bottoms. Recognized for his work, he was put on a national wetland V-shaped formations crisscross bright-white jet contrails training cadre for the NRCS. “I have spent my life trying while telltale honking fills the air. Arkansans to gain more understanding of habitat resanxiously anticipate birds filling the fields toration and habitat management so I can and flooded timber across the state. educate the next generation of conservation“People worry An element of luck, or rather hope plays ists,” said Pagan. about gun into the equation, however. Arkansas is “I have preached restoration for basically directly in the path of an atmospheric 20 years. So much agricultural land in our rights being superhighway called the Mississippi river bottoms across the Mississippi Delta a threat to Flyway. We don’t run the show, but have should have never been cleared for farmland.” hunting, but a heavy hand in influencing outcomes. Pagan’s career and mission has taken him Properly managed, Arkansas wetlands to 16 states working to restore wetlands and the sport may provide prime resting and feeding areas help landowners manage for waterfowl. He’s very well fall for ducks and geese as they make their way effected positive change to the wetlands due to the loss to and from northern nesting grounds and of California to hunt clubs surrounding more southern overwintering locations. Chesapeake Bay. of habitat.” Abundant waterfowl attracts thousands Wetland restoration has become a popular of hunters to Arkansas each year, fueling buzz-phrase due to the efforts of state, federal an industry valued at over $100 million and nonprofit agencies retiring agricultural annually. So it’s no surprise conservation is a hot topic. While lands and returning them to wetland dependent species. “After a few hardcore land managers rely on science and restoration, working for over a decade in restoration, I realized that there many hunters and private club owners are on the “wing and were hundreds of private landholders across the country that prayer program,” hoping ducks and geese fly their way. restored land but had no idea how to manage their wetland Luck gets you only so far, though, as it has a tendency to run for waterfowl. While still working for the government, my out. Land management and wetland restoration, on the other cohorts and I began working with many of these landholders hand, are surefire bets for drawing and holding migrating to educate them in wetland management,” he said. birds. Responsible for a half-million acres of restored Arkansas In 2005, Pagan went to work for his friend of 20 years, wetlands, Jody Pagan is a champion of waterfowl conservation George Dunklin Jr. and Five Oaks Wildlife Services. The two conservationists share a like-mindedness that wildlife and has earned his place as a “Legend of the Wild.” Born into a family of avid hunters on a small Southern farm, and wetland conservation is habitat based. “The reason we Pagan’s duck hunting addiction started early. He hunted at have a target rich environment is because of the conservation every chance, even spending entire Christmas breaks with efforts of private landowners, state and federal agencies, and gun and call in tow. “Back then you could only kill one to organizations like Ducks Unlimited—I’m a proud sponsor of three ducks depending on the species; there weren’t as many this organization,” he added. Over the course of nine years, Pagan and Dunklin have ducks,” remembers Pagan. Even as a boy, he couldn’t help but notice and appreciate the connection between habitat and added another 250,000 acres of wetlands to their restoration and management ledger¸ with a goal of 1 million acres set in waterfowl populations. Pagan majored in biology and chemistry at the University their sites. Pagan’s latest venture is Ecosystems Protection Service, of Arkansas at Monticello. In 1994, the Farm Bill established a Wetlands Reserve Program and a biologist was needed to LLC, a company that constructs and/or renovates farmland and wildlife properties. As a general contractor, Pagan pulls start the process of restoring Arkansas wetlands. “Arkansas wetlands were under-described and not charac- together the top engineers and contractors to do just about terized. There were many unknowns in the early 90’s. I had anything conservation-oriented on private properties and the opportunity to work with many state and federal agencies state and federal lands. to classify and characterize the wetlands of Arkansas,” said A half-million acres is quite an accomplishment, but not Pagan. He spent countless hours compiling data on threat- enough, according to Pagan. When asked just how important ened and endangered species for the Natural Resource Con- conservation and land management is to future generations servation Service, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission of hunters, Pagan profoundly stated, “Habitat should be a and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. hunter’s major concern. People worry about gun rights being He finished the project and took a position as a biologist a threat to hunting, but the sport may very well fall due to the for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural loss of habitat. It is my hope that our hunters put forth as much Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and continued energy to preserve, increase and manage habitat as they do to conservation efforts with state, federal and nonprofit agencies preserve our right to bear arms! for the next 12 years. During this time, his passion for habitat If we don’t have habitat, there will be no critters to hunt.” restoration intensified. He played a key role in restoring over Pagan’s pretty sure that would affect the value of your guns 250,000 acres of Arkansas wetlands and provided assistance and bows. 34 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
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PAT PEACOCK Pat Peacock comes from a long line of duck callers. from Arkansas State Teachers College, now University of Her mother, Sophie, and sisters Brenda Cahill and Dixie Central Arkansas. Over the years, Peacock has blended academia with (named after a call) Holt have combined for 20 duck calling her love for the outdoors. She ran Ducks world titles. Pat’s stepfather, Chick Major Unlimited’s Green Wing program for 10 (revered call craftsman), and Pat’s brotherin-law, Eddie Holt, have added four more years, teaching kids how to use a duck World’s Championship Duck Calling Concall. She and her sisters have continued “People need test titles to the family trophy case. teaching the art of calling on the Friday to wake-up “You couldn’t sit at the kitchen table in morning before each World’s Champion and take our house if you couldn’t use a duck call,” Duck Calling competition. remembers Peacock. “I love to see their faces. They are just care of our Peacock is long on formative childhood so proud when they can blow each type of natural memories. Her career as an outdoorswomcall,” smiled Peacock. resources. If an and duck calling maven has brewed since She served in civic duties as well, bebirth. It bubbles up in her anecdotes. “My ing the first woman to sit on the Arkansas we don’t stepfather, Chick Major, was an outdoorsGame and Fish Commission. “The goverteach our man — squirrel hunting and rabbit hunting. nor needed a female on the commission kids to I was a little child and I remember trying to and because I had a history of the outmake every step he made. One day, I deciddoors and so forth, I was chosen. I enjoyed be in the ed to make a larger step. I was so focused on learning and traveling all over the state outdoors and for meetings, going to seminars and doing making that step that I landed on a skunk! protect those I missed school for a week,” said Peacock. seminars. I held the position for one and a She wasn’t allowed in the house, either. half years. resources, “Chick was making calls but he hadn’t I tried to do my best for Stuttgart,” it won’t be made it big yet. I wanted to go to college remarked Peacock. here for and college was expensive. So Mom said I Pat believes in community. In addition better win some duck calling competitions to serving on the Arkansas Game and Fish them. As if I wanted to go,” she said. Commission, she also sat on the Arkansas adults, we And that, she did. Game and Fish Foundation for three years owe it to before being named a ‘Lifetime Member.” Peacock entered her first Junior Women’s Duck Calling Championship at age 12 She’s a lifer when it comes to the Natural them.” and won! State. “I’ve stayed in Arkansas because I love the outdoors. It is the most serene And she proceeded to win the Women’s thing — a gift from God. I love the outdoor World Championship five years in a row opportunities the South offers. In Arkansas, you can do from 1951–1955. In ’55 she took the Arkansas State Duck Calling Champi- your job and still have time after work or weekends to onship and won her first World’s Duck Calling Champion- participate in the outdoors. There are so many parks and ship in the same day. “I had won the Arkansas State Cham- recreation areas in Arkansas that you don’t see in other pionship earlier that morning. I was a member of the high parts of the U.S. I’m grateful and super proud of where I school band at that time. We preformed around noon, and I have lived all my life. Stuttgart is a small community but it’s didn’t have time to change before the World’s Duck Calling close to Little Rock and Memphis that you can be in the big Championship, so I ran up on stage in my uniform. I won city easily,” she said. Peacock believes we are all put here on earth to be the World’s Duck Calling Championship in that uniform.” Continuing in her pursuit of college scholarship money, stewards of our environment. “I think that because we’ve Peacock entered the first Queen Mallard beauty pageant been fortunate to grow up with it, we don’t realize that half at the Wings Over the Prairie Festival in Stuttgart. It’s no the country doesn’t have the opportunity to use and enjoy surprise; she was crowned as the very first “Queen Mallard” the outdoors like we do. of the festival in 1955. In 1960, she became the first and only People need to wake up and take care of our natural lady to ever win either a World’s Duck Calling Championship resources. If we don’t teach our kids to enjoy the outdoors or the Champion of Champions World’s Duck Calling title. and protect those resources, it won’t be here for them. As After winning the World of the Worlds, she received adults, we owe it to them.” an endorsement from Service Rubber Company, a boot Peacock’s future plans are to continue calling and manufacturer. They sent her all over the country promoting teaching with her sisters, Sophie and Dixie, all the while their footwear. On one of those trips, she appeared on the advocating conservation. game show, “What’s My Line.” Recently, she received calls that she was on Jeopardy! in the By this time, she was a freshman in college — calling form of a question: “In 78 years, Pat Peacock is the only woman ducks had paid off. She earned an academic scholarship to win the Arkansas contest for calling this other bird?” 36 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
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DUANE HADA Naturalist, artist, educator and silver medal angler, compatibly with the rhythms of the Natural State. Duane Hada finds himself among “Legends of the Wild.” Hada’s prowess with a fly rod went noticed by others, Born in Benton County,—Samsang Hollow, to be exact— too, like Greg Patterson. He was starting a Master Angler Hada grew up in the rural Ozark program in Arkansas to recognize folks Mountains. His playground was tucked who catch trophy fish but don’t beat away in the majestic mountains, where current records. The program is broken “People he’d spend hours fishing, sketching the into eight species-categories: black bass, streams and woods, and sometimes just sunfish, crappie, pike and true perch, think of the roaming whimsically. He chased fish in catfish, trout, true bass and rough fish. mountains, moving water, catching his own bait by Patterson approached Hada and asked seine and crafting techniques for trout if he thought he could catch all of the streams and Master Angler class fish in one year’s with a fly rod. “I was a better crawdad time. Not surprisingly, Hada accepted catcher than a coon,” he said. ponds as the challenge, and followed by becoming Fishing became a passion. And in these the first fly angler to best all eight mountains and hollows he discovered, or a precious categories in one rotation of the earth rather developed, a partnering passion: getaway, now. watercolor painting. around the sun. In 1998, Hada was awarded a silver “People think of the mountains, streams I just saw it as medal in International Fly Fishing for and ponds as a precious getaway, now. coaching the U.S. Youth fly fishing team I just saw it as a resource to enjoy,” said a resource to in the FIPS Mouche International Fly Hada. “I assumed all kids grew up like I did. I’ve realized that I was blessed to have Fishing Competition in Wales. “I’ve enjoy.” that childhood.” never felt more Olympic proud—ever. Hada worked through his college years, Coaching young men to fish was a great guiding and tying flies to pay for gas monhonor,” he said. ey, with the mentorship of Linda Warwick, proprietor of His giving-back gene kicked in again when Hada Charlie’s Bait and Tackle on the Little Red River. was asked by Arkansas Game and Fish to be part of a After graduation, having earned a BSE in art from the smallmouth bass taskforce, to fish, report and document University of Central Arkansas, Hada started teaching in the conditions of the streams and write a proposal Mena. During the summer months, he guided and taught a based on his findings. They took his input with equal fly-fishing school for Rich Mountain Community College. weight of the biologist’s reports to come up with new It was there that he met the Dobbins family, owners of The recommendations for Blue Ribbon smallmouth waters, Woodsman Company in Fort Smith. They ended up hiring preserving the quality of water and fisheries. On a related Hada as their instore fly-fishing pro. note, Hada has fished every piece of running water that True, Hada enjoyed his “real job,” teaching, but much maintains a smallmouth population. This includes 88 preferred being outdoors. So in 1989, he officially combined Arkansas rivers and streams. the arts of guiding and painting and manufactured a Meanwhile, the artistry continued. Hada traveled the sustainable career. entirety of the White River, from Pettigrew to DeWitt, and This passage, in his own words, serves well summarizing painted while his brother Ken chronicled the undertaking. the depth of his passion for the outdoors and painting: Famed writer/entertainer Garrison Keillor of NPR’s As a working artist and passionate outdoorsman, I cannot think “Prairie Home Companion” has read several excerpts from of any place better to live and work than my Ozark studio tucked the book on air. Duane produced 50 watercolor paintings away on a ridge close to the Buffalo River National Park. From while traversing the White River, too, telling visual tales of this vantage point I experience daily the wonders of the Natural barges, duck hunting, canoeing, hiking and more. State. I never have to look far or ponder long for inspiration. As a Hada is currently working on a long-time commission native son of this rural landscape, I’ve become increasingly aware with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Nature and protective of my corner of the planet and strive to keep the Centers. His landscape murals adorn the walls in Nature Ozark ecosystem the unique wild and beautiful place that defines Centers located in Pine Bluff, Jonesboro and Little Rock. who I am and what I paint. I feel great achievement when I paint Hada intends to continue focusing on his artwork. “As I from my own heart and passion and others identify with my efforts get older, I’m guiding a little less. There was a time when to capture a special time and place that I call home. Many of my I was guiding 180 days a year; that will make an old man favorite representational watercolor or acrylic paintings depict an out of you fast. I love taking people fishing and showing unspoiled land of unmatched natural beauty; my Ozarks, quiet, them the time of their life but my art has become front intimate places I know well, places that upon visit, immediately and center. More and more of my time has been put to a stir up the creative side of me and won’t rest until painted. As the focus of bringing my art to a level of professionalism and Ozarks are discovered and changing, I see my art bring awareness developing a client base of people that recognize and especially to those new to this state and desire that they live appreciate my work.” 38 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
ANGLER’S VEST : OZARK ANGLER WAXED CANVAS CAP AND LE CHAMEAU BOOTS: MACK’S PRAIRIE WINGS winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 39
LAWRENCE TAYLOR Arkansas has a massive stake in the sporting goods years at a newspaper as a writer and an editor, followed industry. We build boats (lots of ’em), baits, firearms, by a drive to earn his master’s in journalism. While knives, ammunition and duck calls. The brands are working on his thesis, a friend told him about a couple of household, but the names of the parent fishing magazines. The thought hadn’t or holding companies usually are not. occurred to him that he could make a And that’s OK to the mega businesses, career out of fishing. So he stopped by “EVEN too, because they’re all about consumer one of their offices and dropped off brand recognition, and sales, of course. a business card. Two weeks later, he THOUGH I Enter Fort Smith’s PRADCO Outwas writing and editing for Bassin’ and WORK IN door Brands fishing division and its Crappie World magazines. public relations director, Lawrence Beyond talking baits, Taylor is FISHING AND Taylor. Under the hood, PRADCO is responsible for leading the way in a full-blown fishing engine with reccollege bass fishing by sponsoring IT’S MY FIRST ognizable parts, or rather, brands. It’s the University of Arkansas and OklaTaylor’s job to make sure everyone homa State University fishing teams. LOVE, DEER who soaks a worm or flips a jig knows He gave seminars teaching the young those brands by heart. competitors how to succeed in tourHAVE ALWAYS Taylor babysits no less than 17 fishing nament fishing. “I like to cover everybrands. Ready? They are: Heddon, Rebthing from smiling on stage even when BEEN SPECIAL el, YUM, BOOYAH, Bomber, Bomber you don’t weigh-in a single fish, to beTO ME. Saltwater Grade, Lindy, Cotton Cordell, ing loyal and promoting your sponsors, Arbogast, Creek Chub, Lazy Ike, Little to creating your own brand through THE EVENING Joe, Sliver Thread, Thill, Smithwick, social marketing,” said Taylor. XCalibur and newly acquired Bandit. In 2010, Taylor was named the AFTER MY More than a mouthful, not to mention Arkansas Conservation Commission’s a sizable workload. But he isn’t comCommunicator of the Year. That year he FATHER PASSED plaining. Shoot, he’s one of the “lucky produced national articles promoting guys” who get to work at his hobby. Arkansas hunting and fishing, including AWAY A (Disclaimer: “Luck” isn’t what earns a state spotlight on the Natural State you a position like this. We call it skill in Bear Hunting magazine and the YOUNG BUCK and hard work.) promotion of White River brown trout STOOD IN OUR Taylor organizes, plans and executes fishing, Buffalo River smallmouth public and press marketing efforts for fishing, stripers on Lake Ouachita, and DRIVEWAY FOR print, television and digital, and not small waters fishing with local legend just stateside, but all over the world. Mitch Looper, who caught the fourth 10 MINUTES “Bomber and Heddon are a couple of largest northern strain largemouth (more than 14 pounds!) from a watershed brands that are big overseas,” he said. WATCHING US.” lake not far from Fort Smith. “It’s a challenge producing editorial and advertising for foreign magazines “Even though I work in fishing and and websites.” it’s my first love, deer have always been Taylor embraces the challenge. “Fishing is like that, special to me. The evening after my father passed away a too. You can fish the same place over and over and know young buck stood in our driveway for 10 minutes watchit inside and out; but going somewhere you’ve never ing us. Then, the night I accepted the Conservation been before and learning how to be successful, that Communicator of the Year award, when I pulled into my gives you extra satisfaction.” driveway, eight bucks — one of them had to be 170-class On a daily basis, he works with popular fishing pros — stood in my driveway. These were the only times in my like Terry “Bigshow” Scroggins, Alton Jones and Jason life I’ve seen deer there.” Christie. They provide the insights; while Taylor transDon’t expect we’ll see Taylor leaving the Natural lates and communicates them to the fishing masses. State anytime soon. “Nowhere else are you only 45 minHe grew up in rural Oklahoma, fishing mostly with utes away in any direction from such great fishing and his mom. They stalked crappies from the bank, but he hunting, not to mention two different mountain rangwas “an energetic boy,” so he graduated from watching es,” he said. bobbers to chasing bass. His first encounter with what As for the future, Taylor expects to be part of the is now a PRADCO brand, was trolling for white bass strong team that leads PR ADCO for the next 15 years with his grandfather pulling Bomber 6A’s. “It’s really or so. “After that, I’d like to be able to fish in the great to be working for Bomber now,” he said. morning, write midday and take my kids fishing in But before representing Bomber, Taylor put in five the evening.” 40 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
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DIARY OF A
DOVE HUNT BY KANE WEBB • PHOTOS BY PATRICK JONES
Opening day of dove season, “Bear” Van Ness (left) and his brother Charlie greet the Delta morning at a quarry-filled field in Pickens, Arkansas. 42 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
The calendar may say September, but in Arkansas it’s the beginning of a new year. The seasons converge. Not just fall, but football, school and, perhaps most importantly in Arkansas, hunting. Each season comes with its own time-honored traditions, and you’ll find no event more tradition-filled than the annual dove hunt held by FREDDIE BLACK and PAUL MICHAEL in Lake Village. It’s a social hunt. A gathering. If you’re lucky, yes, you’ll get your limit. If you’re luckier still, you’ll see old friends. There’s a rhythm to a weekend of dove hunting — a rhythm we found in the crackling late-summer fields in the Delta. We chronicle it here.
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t’s Friday, Sept. 5, the day before the first day of dovehunting season—an important day. A late-afternoon rain looks as if it won’t hang around, and that’s important, too, as nobody wants to relive the sauna that was last year’s dove hunt. Not that it would stop a soul from coming this weekend, from attending Paul Michael and Freddie Black’s dove hunt, which has grown from childhood tradition to a legendary annual gathering. Paul’s wife, Debbie, meets us at her husband’s furniture store, Paul Michael Co., on U.S. Highway 65 and lays out the agenda: party tonight, hunt tomorrow and then party again tomorrow night. Lots of folks. Lots of food. Lots of life. She announces excitedly that Georgia Pellegrini — Manhattan chef, author, blogger, foodie celebrity — will be in town. Yes, a dove hunt in the Delta attracts a classically trained chef from New York. 7:12 P.M. PAUL MICHAEL’S PRE-HUNT PARTY MAIN STREET, LAKE VILLAGE Michael’s office/party room, in a recently renovated old building, is jokingly referred to as “the Lebanese men’s club,” even though women are more than welcome, and in attendance. Why is it called the Lebanese men’s club? Lots of folks of Lebanese descent in the Delta. Immigrants from the Middle East came in the late 19th century and early 20th century, mostly merchants. Debbie Michael shows me a painting that hangs near a brick fireplace that’s sizeable enough to sit in, topped by a thick dark wood mantel. She says she bought the painting, which not coincidentally features a brick fireplace, at an estate sale in Nashville, Tenn., where she met Paul. “Paul loved it so much he built the fireplace and mantel to match.” I’m introduced to Freddie Black. He’s 58, with rugged Marlboro Man good looks. Black served on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from 2002-2009. Some down here call him “The Commish.” By day, Black is 44 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
chairman of the South Region for the quickly growing Simmons Bank. Black and Michael are first cousins. They started this hunt informally back in high school. When Black later attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, he would bring classmates home to dove hunt. Black figures he’s been part of the tradition for 40 years now. He tells me about the sunflower fields he plants to attract doves when Georgia Pellegrini joins us. “I took her on her first hunt,” Black says. “Turkey hunting.” Pellegrini describes the adventure in her book, Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing The Way We Eat, One Hunt At A Time. Among other things, Pellegrini now acts as a guide for other women who want to try hunting. “I think women are looking for a more visceral experience,” she says. I look around the room—all cypress wood, a chef’s kitchen, Michael Co. furniture and plenty of open space. Over there: dove fried in a cast-iron skillet. Over here: steaks grilled in a restaurant-quality stove. On the oversized island: bread delivered by hand from New Orleans by one of the regulars; homemade pasta; an endless line of fresh vegetables and sides. Makeshift bar. Cigars all around. Sandy Whann is the man responsible for the bread. His family has owned Leidenheimer Baking Co. in the Crescent City since 1896. Whann married into the dove hunt, the family. His first dove hunt in Lake Village was 23 years ago. “I don’t remember NOT coming here,” he says. “The great thing about this weekend is renewing friendships that have lasted for two decades now,” Whann adds. Paul Michael, butcher knife in hand, stands working at the kitchen island, carving beef and plating steaks. This is the first time he’s held the pre-hunt party in this space, which he bought two years ago when it was “just a burned-out shell on Main.” The “Lebanese men’s club” doubles as the business office for Paul Michael Co., which now has four stores in three states. Accountants run the numbers in a separate room up front. In back, it’s, well, a little more relaxed.
PRE-HUNT PARTY (Opposite page) The hunt starts with a party the night before. This year, Paul Michael hosted the pre-hunt bash at his Main Street business office, a renovated building in downtown Lake Village that Michael customized for events like this, including a fireplace built to replicate a favorite painting of his wife’s and a restaurant-quality cooking area (photos across the top). Hunters and friends brought fresh bread, salads, pasta and sides, while host Paul Michael (lower right) cuts and preps, and Jake Michael grills steaks for the house (left and below); appetizers included fried dove (lower left) and lots of conversation. Debbie Michael, Paul’s wife and co-host, chats with Ainslea Hooton, marketing coordinator for The Paul Michael Company (above left); Author/ chef Georgia Pellegrini of New York renews acquaintances with her friend Freddie Black and his wife Liz (right). Black introduced Pellegrini to dove hunting and the Delta about a decade ago, which she writes about in her book Girl Hunter.
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5:10 A.M., SATURDAY, SEPT. 6 FIRST DAY OF DOVE-HUNTING SEASON AT A FIELD NEAR PICKENS It’s 73 degrees but the air is so thick with mosquitoes and humidity that you could set a coffee cup on it. We’re to meet Freddie Black in 20 minutes for the drive to his family’s field. It’s still thick black with no sign of dawn. There are mosquitoes in the car. After a half-hour tailing Black’s white truck up the freeway, we’ve arrived at a narrow strip of land between rows of harvested cornstalks and crinkly sunflowers past season. “You get to see the sunrise,” Black says, chiding the drowsy writer in the group. He surveys the land. “Always the best dove field around,” he says. “I’m breaking my plans already by allowing my heathen buddies to hunt here this morning.” He’ll host a group of all-star student shooters on this field the following Monday. By 6:15, the sun starts its climb over the pancake-flat horizon. A convoy of trucks and SUVs arrive in a rush within minutes of each other. Black teases again: “I feel like I’m breaking some law letting y’all hunt out here.” He positions us down the line, next to the Van Ness brothers: Charlie, 29, and Bear, 26. They’re both in the commercial lending business in Fayetteville. Bear? He smiles. It’s on his business card, he says. Robert is his birth name, but he’s always been a Bear. Their father is one stool down. As he chats, Bear stands, shoots and takes down the first dove of the season. “Shot!” yells his brother, shorthand for “Good shot.” Explaining why dove hunting is a tradition apart, they return to the social aspect. Even in the fields. “You don’t have to be quiet or anything,” Bear says. “Straight at us!” Charlie yells. Bear takes down another. “I want to reiterate,” Charlie says, “that he won’t do that all day.” Shots fill the air like fireworks on the Fourth, pops and cracks and muffled booms, all competing with the steady backbeat of the cicadas. The brothers pivot and twist, instinctively staying clear of each other. “There’s definitely teamwork,” Bear says. Bam! This time Charlie finds his target. Some 50 yards “down the line” — between the cornfield and the fading sunflowers — sit the Whann men, Sandy and William. “That sunrise is gonna be pretty,” Sandy says. “It’s hard to get any better than a morning like this.” He sighs. He tells his story. He’s hunted all his life, in his native south Louisiana and here in Arkansas for quail, pheasant, duck, dove — anything with wings. “There aren’t a lot of dove fields in New Orleans,” he explains. Eyes train on the sky. “I have heard of this field by reputation — usually after a hunt I wasn’t invited on,” Sandy Whann adds with a laugh, “accompanied by photos of piles of doves.” Rifle raised. Then lowered. “Boy, they are just skirting around the edges.” ... “One so far. I want it to last.” ... “William! Dub!” Too late. He smiles apologetically at his son. “There was a pair out there, but I just lost them.” William smiles back. They could be father-and-son at a ballgame, or playing catch, or at the fishing pond. The bond is thick. 46 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
7:35 A.M. ANDREW ABIDE AND “WALTER” Andrew Abide is a dentist from across the river in Greenville, Miss. He’s the one who referred to last night’s party location as the Lebanese men’s club. Walter is his 3-year-old lab. Coal black and oozing equal parts slobber and personality. A few yards to our left sits Jake Michael, Paul’s son, who did most of the cooking last night. Paul, meanwhile, is on the golf course today. Or will be. At half-past 7, he’s probably sipping coffee or sawing logs. Thing is, I’m not the least envious. Jake has felled a dove, and Walter is in full-out, leg-splaying sprint to retrieve it. He’s gangly and enthusiastic like an animated cartoon; you half-expect to see one of those cartoon dust cyclones spinning in his wake. “Call him to you, Jake,” Abide says. Walter, the lab, takes his prize to Jake, reluctantly relinquishes it, and then scurries back to Abide’s side. He laps rhythmically at a bowl of water, pants heavily and coils his muscles for the next sprint. “Normally, this field we’d be through in about 30 minutes,” says Abide, who estimates that some 10,000 hunters are in the fields across Arkansas this morning. “Rain’s hurt a little bit.” Freddie Black motors up in a four-wheeler. JoJo, his yellow lab, sits in the back. He offers water, Gatorade, Bud Light, cigars, rides to another spot. Then he motors off slowly to the next group of hunters. More host than hunter this weekend, Black never fires a shot. “They don’t come much finer than that,” Abide says as Black drives off. Saleem, Freddie’s brother, who has staked a spot about 70 yards north of us, fires overhead. “If he shoots me, I’m shooting him back!” Andrew yells, loud enough for his brother to hear, he hopes. “You can quote me on that. The crazy dentist!” About that time, Jake scores another dove. It falls from the sky as if suddenly weighted with sand. Like a sprinter at the gun, Walter fires off from beside his owner’s stool. “I think Walter needs a tip jar,” Jake says with a wide grin, enjoying, like the rest of us, the puppy-dog enthusiasm of the big lab. 1:47 P.M. AT A FIELD OUTSIDE LAKE VILLAGE The day’s second hunt brings a different group of hunters. Freddie Black still plays host, since he didn’t hunt in the morning and, not surprisingly, won’t this afternoon either. We follow The Commish down the road again, but this time the drive isn’t much. Within minutes we’re peeling off the highway and onto a mustard-yellow dirt trail. We’re six miles outside Lake Village. A covey of trucks edge, a patch of trees (and shade). It’s hot now: mid-90s, no breeze, an angry sun. As hunters arrive, this crop socializes. Joseph Terracine and Phil Mansour, both of Greenville, Miss., talk about a recent school fundraiser. They served 1,400 muffalettas, thanks to bread supplied by Sandy Whann. They talk football, a Southern obligation. One hunter swigs from a bottled water, leans against his truck and says, “It gets so hot here, the vehicles sweat.” In a few minutes, we’ll take our sweating selves to the sunflower
THE HUNT (Clockwise from left) Andrew Abide of Greenville, Miss., and his dog Walter enjoy a laugh; Abide’s dog Walter (foreground) readies himself to speed after another dove downed by Jake Michael; the Van Ness brothers — “Bear” (left) and Charlie — get in their first hunt of the season before heading up to a Razorback game; Walter doing what Walter does best; Freddie Black, ever the attentive host, checks on the hunters in his Polaris, which he stocks with drinks, snacks and cigars; Black, the co-host of the annual hunt, sits next to hunter, author and classically trained chef Georgia Pellegrini; Sandy Whann of New Orleans, who “married into the hunt,” sits with his son William at a field near Pickens; Freddie Black (second from left) holds court before an opening-day hunt on his family’s land some six miles north of Lake Village.
fields, scattered across 20 acres that Black and his buddies have hunted for 30 years. “Twenty years ago, we could lay some sunflower seed out and wax ‘em,” Black says. “Now corn and more grain are harvested, and the doves can just light on the highway and pick up corn.” He pauses, puffs his cigar. We’re now sitting in his Polaris ATV, desperate for shade. Black relaxes in his blue jeans, Magellan short-sleeve khaki shirt and Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation cap. He hangs his cigar-hand over the steering wheel, twists slightly in his seat, a move reminiscent of a cowboy turning in his saddle to address a passerby. “They still like sunflower.” Puff. I ask him what makes this hunt so special. “It’s a social hunt,” he says. He puffs again. “It’s the first opportunity to hold a gun. It’s laid back. You can talk.”
Georgia Pellegrini sits on a stool, waiting with her rifle and her smartphone. “Last time we got Paul out here it rained,” Pellegrini reminisces. A few minutes later, Black unsaddles from his ATV and kneels to the right of Pellegrini. They make quite a pair — the Commish and the Manhattan chef he introduced to hunting the Delta, another world and way of living. They wait. We wait. Looking across the flat fields, shading our eyes from a relentless sun. The only movements come from the decoys; the only sounds from the cicadas, pierced minutes apart by an occasional shot. We wait for the doves. Pellegrini wipes sweat from her forehead and turns to her mentor: “You’re making us suffer,” she says to Black, who squints into the distance. I think she’s grinning. winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 47
SOMETIME AFTER 8 P.M. THE GATHERING AT FREDDIE AND ELIZABETH BLACK’S HOME ON LAKE CHICOT The home is stunning; it’s as if you’re stepping into an architect’s fantasy. Think something by A. Hays Town and his Acadiana-style homes of antique brick floors, reclaimed and recycled cypress floors and beams, arches, deep gallery porches. Still, it’s hard to take your eyes off the food: turkey fried in a black-iron skillet in the garage…two monster grills roaring, including one with a rotisserie…“Italian-Lebanese spaghetti sauce” — like the Delta!” somebody says…baked pimento cheese spread…crawfish dip…deer steaks…grilled eggplant…sweet corn…tenderloin…asparagus…fresh okra picked from the yard and grilled with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. As the food is set on the island in the kitchen, Freddie (because you can’t not call him Freddie by now) calls together his guests and says a few words. “Made it to another dove season. Nobody got hurt today. That’s a blessing.” This is the first time the after-party has been held at the Blacks’ new house. “A stress test for Liz,” Freddie says, but she seems as relaxed as the writer on his third helping of fried turkey. Snippets of dialogue fill the air. At one point, I jot down: “He lives about 400 yards from where he grew up. I now live about 100 yards from where I grew up.” Who’s talking? With this group, it doesn’t really matter. Whann, who plays bartender, has chronicled every hunt 48 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
since 1986 by year, names of hunters and number of doves bagged. At one point, standing near the turkey crackling in the cast-iron skillet at the lip of the garage, Whann suggests a group photo. He even insists on including the writer. “Smile!” As if anybody needed to say it.
POST-HUNT GATHERING (This page) Freddie and Elizabeth Black’s new home on the eastern shore of Lake Chicot, an Acadiana-style beauty, was the site of the annual post-hunt dinner party for the first time. (0pposite page) The food keeps coming — from fried wild turkey (upper-left and upper-right corners) to pasta, fresh grilled okra from the Blacks’ garden, beef tenderloin carved by Georgia Pellegrini (lower left corner) and fresh bread (lower right corner) from Leidenheimer Baking Company, Sandy Whann’s familyowned bakery in New Orleans. (Center left) Freddie Black’s “man cave” is any hunter’s dream closet, filled with guns, camo, trophies, even a sink to clean the kill. (Center right) Reclaimed antique brick from Pine Bluff abounds as an architectural detail throughout the home.
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Team 28 Springs Head Drinks Enthusiast Casey Letellier hunted the Fox and Gray squirrels the team used for their dish at his family’s farm west of Decatur.
2014 International Squirrel Cook-Off BY RICHARD LEDBETTER Following a wet, blustery Friday in Northwest Arkansas, Saturday, Sept. 14 dawned a cool, crisp 58 degrees while still a touch cloudy. By 8:30, the square in downtown Bentonville was filling with weekend farmers market shoppers. But this particular Saturday was unique. Besides the usual crowd milling among the produce vendors, the surrounding streets were dotted with Squirrel Cook-Off attendees and enthusiasts anxiously awaiting food samples. The notion of holding an annual Squirrel Cook-Off originated with the founders of Squirrels Unlimited (SqU). The point of the annual event is to promote the relatively unknown conservation organization. “The quickest way to get to folks’ hearts and minds is through food, so we organized the cook-off toward that end,” said third-year SqU President, Joe Wilson of Bella Vista. Prime mover in the establishment of SqU, Zach McClendon, explained, “We have several goals for the promotion and conservation of this most versatile creature, one being preservation of squirrel habitat. Besides striving to protect hardwood forests in general, 50 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
we attempt to educate timber companies on the benefits of leaving old, hollow, hardwood den trees that merit little to no commercial value but have served as brooding centers for generations of squirrels.” Wilson explained another goal of SqU is to bring notoriety to squirrel hunting. “Over the past 15 years the sport has dramatically declined. Squirrel hunters once purchased 80 percent of Arkansas hunting licenses. Now that number is closer to 15 percent. Current SqU paid membership includes 1,600 paid members and several hundred honorary ones.” “Deer hunting from a tree stand trains kids to be shooters, not hunters. Small-game hunting teaches youngsters woodcraft and effective hunting skills. The decline of squirrel hunting popularity keeps fathers and grandfathers from having the opportunity to take and teach kids about true hunting,” said Wilson. Squirrel hunting provides ample time for that, with the season open all but 75 days a year in Arkansas. Wilson concluded, “People often ask me about nutritional
Team 28 Springs delivering the finished dishes in the regulation white boxes. (Left to right) Head Chef Dorothy Hall, Head Drinks Enthusiast Casey Letellier, Head Pastry Chef Chris.
facts concerning squirrel. In response, this year’s T-shirt has squirrel nutritional info printed on the back.” The whimsical copy reads, “Serving size: 1 squirrel. Calories per serving: 541, 100% organic, all natural, sustainable, no hormones, the best meat in your tree. May contain bird feeder food, hickory nuts, oak acorns, deer feeder items, fruits, garden veggies & anything left on the porch.” Among the competition’s 12 judges was International food and travel writer Elyse Pasquale (foodieinternational.com). “I’m a food writer who travels the world covering all types of dishes. “This is my first time in Arkansas and my 48th state to visit. Squirrel is exciting and delicious!” she exclaimed. Snacking on a variety of squirrel leftovers, Pasquale elaborated, “I think most of the squirrel dishes were excellent, I think the squirrel Teriyaki is my favorite.” Listening nearby, president Wilson added with a grin, “… and available.” 28 Springs Restaurant of Siloam Springs took first place and a $500 cash prize with its smoked squirrel meatloaf.
And the winner is...
Yield 2 pounds meatloaf INGREDIENTS Meatloaf 3 grey squirrels and 2 fox squirrels (26 ounces trimmed meat) 6 ounces bacon 2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter 1/2 cup minced yellow onions 1/2 cup peeled, minced local apples salt and pepper 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced 1 large egg 1/2 cup corn bread crumbs (recipe below) 1. Grind the squirrel and bacon together. Chef Dorothy Hall uses the meat grinding attachment on a KitchenAid stand mixer. 2. Heat some the bacon fat in a skillet and add the apple and onion with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the minced sage and stir to combine. Remove from heat. 3. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground squirrel and bacon, apple mixture, egg, and cornbread crumbs. Using your hands, knead together until well-combined. 4. Smoke or bake the meatloaf. In a smoker: Shape meatloaf and place on a perforated pan. Smoke for 1 to 3 hours, preferably with hickory, keeping the temperature between 225-275 degrees. Insert a thermometer into the middle of the meatloaf. When the temperature reaches 155 degrees, the meatloaf is done. In an oven: Shape meatloaf and place in a bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. 6. Serve with ketchup and pickles.
1 1/4 cups War Eagle yellow cornmeal 3 tablespoons all purpose flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour) 1 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoons baking powder 3 tablespoons bacon fat (plus more for the pan) 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup buttermilk 1. Grease a 9” cast iron pan (or a cake pan) with bacon fat. 2. Stir together all dry ingredients. Work in bacon grease with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse sand. 3. Stir in remaining ingredients. 4. Pour into greased pan. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. 5. Cut off a wedge, and crumble it up for the meatloaf. Enjoy the remainder with local honey.
In October, 2014, the World Championship Squirrel CookOff in Bentonville, Arkansas was named one of USA Today’s 10 Best Culinary Skills competitions across the country. The winning recipe from the 2014 World Championship Squirrel Cookoff:
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Dena, Sue, Addie, Michele and Nancy on top of Hickory Nut Mountain.
SINGLE TRACK BY DENA WOERNER
Rocks, more rocks, never ending rocks. The smell of [Cool, I thought. I’ll finally make one of these Epic wildflowers and dust siphon through my sinuses, and weekend rides.] thoughts, with each breath. Coughing and gagging, I spit “Although this 2-day adventure will be a casualout a flower—No, maybe a bug. Wheels spinning, each no-women-left-behind-rests-as-needed-ride, you will pedal-stroke counting. Now up and out of the saddle, it’s need to be able to ride for at least 4 hours each day push, push, push. on your mountain bike. I strongly recommend that you The pounding in my ears grows louder—heart feels like are at least a strong beginner with good endurance ridit’s going to explode out of my chest like that scene from ing experience to intermediate rider to do this ride.” “Alien” when the otherworldly creature rips out of the [Casual? Really, Addie?] man’s torso. Why am I doing this? I could have spent my “Day 1: Roll out from Blakely Dam/Avery Rec area girls’ getaway weekend at the pool or getting a massage. trailhead to the Crystal Springs trailhead at 10:00 am. The Almost there. Am I crazy? distance is approximately 18 The rhythmic cranking miles. Don’t let the “short” THE POUNDING IN MY still filling my ears, thoughts distance fool you. There are CHEST QUIETED, AND MY drift back to the original quite a bit of long climbs, invitation from my friend BREATHING SLOWED. I STOOD especially from the start.” and mountain biking mentor, [Double Yikes] IN AWE. MY EYES DRIFTED Addie Teo. “Day 2: Roll out from the “Hello to all of you ladies OVER TREETOPS, HILLS AND Crystal Springs trailhead to who love to play in the the Shangri-La trailhead at VALLEYS, MAJESTIC LAKE dirt! We will be riding the 9:00 am. The distance is apentire Lower Ouachita Vista OUACHITA, AND THEN BACK proximately 23 miles. Again, Trail (LOViT), from Blakely there are a couple of real steep ACROSS FIVE SEXY BIKES Dam Rd/Avery Rec area to and long climbs from the start the Shangri-La Trailhead! AND FOUR FULLY LIBERATED to Hickory Nut Mountain. AfThe Vista Trail was recently ter we descend Hickory Nut, WOMEN. AH, YES, THIS IS recognized by IMBA as an there are a few shortcuts to WHY I DO IT. IMBA Epic trail!” Continued on page 54 52 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
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Continued from page 52
the Shangri-La parking lot, if any of you decide you have enough. Lodging: Mountain Harbor Resort.” [Quit being a chicken, Dena, go for it] Everything is packed for a weekend of sweat, dirt and speed: sexy wheels, Lycra and spandex clothing, wine, snacks, cameras, a bathing suit, plenty of food and water and directions to a luxurious cabin at a Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa on Lake Ouachita. This isn’t your typical Girls’ Getaway. The spandex is part of a cycling kit. The sexy wheels aren’t stilettos. This is a hardcore mountain biking escape, tackling all 40-plus-miles of the LOViT, located in the Ouachita Mountains. The weekend is about pushing our bodies to finish in only two days. And to be honest, plans for a little postride pampering, too... Ladies from across the state showed up for the ride. Along for the ride: Nancy and Michele from Fort Smith, Addie from Sherwood, Sue from Waldron and I traveled the shortest distance from Benton. Day one was an adventure. We’d summit three mountains over a total of 18 miles. Trust that we were thankful for what I’ll call “trail TLC.” The LOViT is maintained by the Trail Dogs, a pack of dedicated volunteers. They keep the trails passable, but without eradicating all of the challenge—this is far from a paved walking path. The area had been savaged by recent storms. Just days before, the Trail Dogs removed over 20 trees. One of the thrills of mountain biking is seeing, experiencing how trails evolve over time—so some change is good. We stopped for lunch on Bear Mountain. I couldn’t help but notice everyone’s knees. Mine were freshly blemished with red scars and bruises from earlier this season, while the other ladies’ marks were reduced to little white lines. I said, “Our knees are the same … well almost,” as healing is a metamorphosis, and my war wounds were fresher. We discussed tumbles we had taken over the years, and how, perhaps, that could be a reason why there aren’t many women mountain bikers. Admittedly, there are times when I’ve thought about permanently parking the bike for fear of injury, or maybe just fear. Addie said that if we focus on the trail, watch our balance and body positioning and choose a good line, we 54 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
“Laura’s Bench” — resting and reminiscing. Culinary reward for hungry cyclists.
Addie serves her signature salad.
would keep our rubber side down. We were deep into a discussion on how each of us got into mountain biking when the realization hit - it was time to remount and pedal. We had an important stop to make and several more miles to ride. It was like being on a roller coaster–one where the car can jump off the tracks and seatbelts are an afterthought. We defeated slow, gradual climbs; the anticipation building; the pause just before the break, and then the rush of racing downhill, around curves and switchbacks that led to creeks only passable by climbing over rocks and boulders. The next stop proved to be very emotional. We could have picked any number of trails for the weekend adventure, but rode LOViT for a very personal reason. Three months earlier we lost a dear friend and fellow rider, Laura Wooldridge. A bench has been dedicated in her name. The climb to the bench is steep and it’s best to attempt the trek with buddies, steadfast riding companions, like Laura. We all rode and raced with Laura. Mountain biking builds a special bond between women riders. We needed to be there together. Addie led the way to Laura’s bench. Laura was a charter member of this ride. This year, she was in our hearts and on our minds with every push and pull. I could almost hear her say, “Come on ladies, start moving, I hear there’s a hot tub waiting on you.” The day’s ride ended in Crystal Springs. We felt great. No mechanical problems, no major falls or bumps and bruises. We shuttled over to Mountain Harbor Resort. Expecting a basic cabin, double-takes were universal upon entering our quarters. The cabin, beautifully decorated, featured memorabilia from Arkansas’s Daisy Gun Company, amongst other colloquial artwork. The best part, though, was casting eyes on the hot tub on the back deck — it was just what the doctor ordered for our sore muscles. Meals didn’t suck, either. We planned the perfect menu, each of us supplying ingredients and chipping in on the cooking. Shrimp, asparagus, salad, bread and pasta, topped off with a sweet potato pie baked especially for us by Sue’s husband, Ed Hawkins. A culinary reward for a hard-fought battle on the bike. Next was hot tub time. The ladies in the percolating water, on the saddle by day, ranged from early 40s to 60 years young. That’s
Resting on Hickory Nut Mountain.
right, badass ladies staying young in fitness and spirit by shredding single track. And fancy this: each of us didn’t return to cycling until our mid-30s. Late to bed, early to rise. Day two began. Fueled with another great meal, we tackled the last 23 miles of the LOViT. Just as the steepest climb leveled out, we stopped. The pounding in my chest quieted, and my breathing slowed. I stood in awe. My eyes drifted over treetops, hills and valleys, majestic Lake Ouachita, and then back across five sexy bikes and four fully liberated women. Ah, yes, this is why I do it. On the steep descent of Hickory Nut Mountain I was 12 again. Pedaling a purple Schwinn with a flowered banana seat, flying through the woods alongside the neighborhood boys, racing to get to the watering hole on a distant Texas hillside. Question is, why did I wait so long to get back on the saddle?
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Cooler temperatures and shorter days bring thoughts of flooded rice fields, migrating waterfowl, crackling campfires … even hummed holiday tunes. While an outdoorsman’s mind is consumed with fish, fowl and furry things, the age-old question of what to buy that certain someone looms large. Arkansas Wild has been on the hunt to harvest the newest and coolest gift-giving items for your favorite hunter or angler. PLANO WATERPROOF CASE IN REALTREE MAX-5
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Look Ma, No hands! Hobie’s Pro Angler 17T is a human-powered 17’ fishing machine. The MirageDrive® frees up your hands to cast a line and reel in your next catch. The Pro Angler 17T offes three configurations, MirageDrive® pedal system and H-Rails for accessories. $5299 Available at Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters in Hot Springs. www.hobiefishing.com
ISAIA NAPOLI SIGNATURE “COR ALFLAGE”
THE COMMANDER BUTTON-DOWN FROM FAYETTCHILL
This isn’t your grandpa’s camp shirt. A 100% cotton flannel button-down wears great in the woods or a night on the town. Available in Navy and Moss Green. $65 fayettechill.com
7-Fold Tie, grey camouflage pattern, unlined wool blend, made in Italy. $235 Pocket Square, tobacco camouflage pattern, wool/silk blend, made in Italy. $125 Available at The Independent located in Little Rock and Rogers.
TENZING TZ TP14
Carry everything you need to slip in, set up and steadily work the birds. This unique pack comes with a built-in padded foldout seat. Tailor-made for turkey hunting, ducks and geese in the field, even camerawork for serious sharp-shooters. $299. www.tenzingoutdoors.com
FR ABILL CR ANKBAIT LANDING NETS
The most recognized name in landing nets has cleverly designed meshing to foil even the sharpest treble hook. Intelligently engineered holesize and shape, along with a specialized net coating make this a must for bass anglers who throw hardbaits. Prices vary, $44 to $199 depending on size and style. www.frabill.com
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THE DAMASCUS STEEL KNIFE
The Damascus steel knife featuring scrimshaw handle with mallard design by J.A. Lonewolf is perfect for the man who has it all. Each piece is original. No two works are the same, even on repeated orders. $385 Available at Sissy’s Log Cabin locations: Pine Bluff, Jonesboro, Little Rock and Memphis. www.sissyslogcabin.com
CONTINUING THE TRADITION. Through his involvement with the Youth Shooting Sports Program, Freddie Black shares his love of the outdoors and hunting with young Arkansans. We are proud of his work with our home state’s youth and keeping great traditions around for generations to come.
Freddie Black Simmons Bank, South Arkansas Regional Chairman
Member FDIC | simmonsfirst.com
2014 Accord Hybrid
6100 LANDERS ROAD | SHERWOOD | 501-835-8996 CALL OR SHOP ONLINE @ RUSSELLHONDA.COM winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 59
ARKANSAS WILD W I N T E R
2 0 1 4
Gentlemen’S G U I D E
Get to that favorite hunting spot faster and quieter while working off holiday dinners. Cogburn is a fatbike. This human powered all-terrain vehicle allows hunters to access more land with virtually no impact on habitat. 3.8”-wide tires run at a very low pressure to provide floatation and amazing traction over rough or soft terrain. Carriers hold firearms, gear and fishing rods. $1800 www.cogburnoutdoors.com Dealers include Chainwheel in Little Rock and Phat Tire Bike Shop in Bentonville and Fayetteville.
ABU GARCIA REVO BEAST The Abu Garcia Revo Beast is perfect for anglers looking to pull big fish from the gnarliest cover. At $349, this reel has 22-pounds of max drag for handling large fish and big lures. www.abugarcia.com
FISHOUFLAGE PERFORMANCE HOODIE
Cool-looking, athletic look with a brushedcrazy-comfortable fleece interior, the mid-weight garment is versatile, worn standalone or as a midlayer. Techy features include a moisture-wicking, quick-drying outer layer, special stain releases and UV protection. And you get “Fisherman’s Camo” style points at the pub. Men’s and Women’s, up to $69 www.fishouflage.com
Southern Toddies: Bourbon & Whiskey Arkansas’s first legal distillery since the days of prohibition opened in Little Rock in 2010. Owned and operated by Phil Brandon, Rock Town Distillery offers a variety of spirits, including single malt whiskey, hickory smoked whiskey, rye whiskey and Arkansas bourbon. Brandon started making Arkansas bourbon right away, but unlike vodka and gin, the bourbon had to be Phil Brandon, Founder aged. The first batch was released in 2012. Currently, Rock Town Distillery they have over 4,000 barrels aging. Sourced locally, most of the grains are delivered from Northeast Arkansas. The grain is then cooked and distilled in Little Rock by hand — one small batch at a time. It is important to Brandon to provide an Arkansas product. He didn’t make rye whiskey for a long time because rye wasn’t locally grown. It was after he worked with a local farmer to grow rye that he began distilling rye whiskey. Be sure to try the Rock Town hickory smoked whiskey. Brandon creates this flavor by cold-smoking the grain over hickory before they make the whiskey. Rock Town’s Arkansas bourbon has won many international awards. Brandon is proud to be distributing globally. “Shipping to London, Glasgow and Edinburgh is amazing. We have shipped gin to Australia and are working on France.” Their current U.S. distribution includes 15 states. www.rocktowndistillery.com 60 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
1 1/2 ozs. whiskey 1/2 oz. cherry brandy Maraschino cherry for garnish Pour the whiskey and cherry brandy into an old-fashioned glass with ice. Stir well. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
YOU’LL WISH YOU HAD ROOM FOR TWO TAGS
SHOW EVERYONE YOU SUPPORT DUCKS UNLIMITED 24 / 7. 365 DAYS A YEAR. For over 75 years, Ducks Unlimited’s conservation work has benefited wetlands, waterfowl and you, the Arkansas duck hunter. Purchasing a Ducks Unlimited license plate for your vehicle will help fund Ducks Unlimited’s habitat work in both the breeding grounds and here in Arkansas. Pick one up at your local Arkansas Department of Finance today, or visit Arkansas Ducks Unlimited online at ar.ducks.org for more information.
Hunter founded. Hunter supported. Hunters wanted. winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 61
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
OUT & ABOUT
Lake Chicot is known for its fishing, birding and trademark cypress trees.
LAKE CHICOT S T A T E
P A R K
BY KANE WEBB
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Lake Chicot State Park may turn you into one. You’re likely to see egrets, bald eagles, loons, pelicans, woodpeckers and storks, among others. Take a hike along the Delta Woodlands Trail, which runs for a mile through bottomland hardwoods. The woods surrounding the trail are a haven for native birds. (Park interpreters are available for guided hikes.) The trail is accessible year-round and good for all skill levels. A local tells us that since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, seagulls now call Lake Chicot home, too. TIRED OF BIRDS? Take a cup of coffee down to one of the fishing piers and, well, just look at those peculiar cypress trees standing up to their knees in the water. It’s almost prehistoric. Yeah, you can fish, too. Cast a line for catfish, Continued on page 64
KNOWN FOR: Its location on the north end of Arkansas’s largest natural lake, a 20-mile-long oxbow that was cut off from the Mississippi River centuries ago when the main channel changed its path. HISTORY: This place is loaded with it. Start with the lake that used to be part of the Mighty Mississippi. According to the official website of the city of Lake Village, Lake Chicot was cut off from the river c. 1350. Locals say nobody knows for sure except that, in regional parlance, “it’s been a while.” Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, who discovered the lake and Arkansas on his way back to the Gulf of Mexico, died and was buried in the part of the Mississippi River that is thought to have become Lake Chicot. But it was a Frenchman, LaSalle, who gave Chicot its name. He mistook the cypress “knees” in the lake for stumps. Chicot means stumpy. WHEN YOU GO: Be aware of the tricky turn off state Highway 144 onto 257 into the state park grounds or you’ll blow right past it. Slow down! A deer or three are likely to cross the road. The Visitors Center to your right? That’s where you check in. But before you head to the campsite or cabin, read that historic marker outside the center about the former town that was Columbia, Arkansas. OFFICIAL ATTRACTIONS: Camping, swimming, picnicking, fishing and hiking along the Delta Woodlands Trail in search of critters like mink, bobcats, deer and wild turkey. In short, a full outdoors menu. WHAT WE RECOMMEND: Face the lake. Sit. Watch. Specifically, watch for the birds. Even if you’re not a birder,
Hike along bottomland hardwoods, pecan groves and wildlife on the Delta Woodlands Trail.
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ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
(Clockwise from top left) Fourteen renovated cabins feature fireplaces for winter stays. Rhoda Adams serves up homemade favorites at Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales. The U.S. 82 Bridge across the Mississippi River into historic Greenville, Mississippi. Lake Chicot is Arkansas’s largest natural lake, a 20-mile-long oxbow, formed centuries ago when the Mississippi River changed course.
64 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
Continued from page 62
bass, bream and crappie. Or, simply explore the lake. You can rent a variety of boats at the marina store. (www. arkansasstateparks.com) THUMBS UP: To the cabins. Thanks to the conservation sales tax that passed in 1996, the renovated cabins are clean, fully loaded with kitchens, cooking utensils, tableware, A/C and flat-screen televisions. Eight of the cabins have lake views—these come highly recommended. You can roll up the blinds and gaze at the water between outdoors activities. HAVE A MOMENT LIKE THIS: Get up early even if you don’t have to and wander outside the cabin. Hear the creatures of the night, the cicadas and frogs and bugs dive-bombing floodlights in concert with the quiet conversation of anglers and hunters. Some gather by trucks, others bass boats. Listen for snippets of stagewhispered conversation like this one in early fall: “Hogs”…“in the truck”… “gonna be bitin’ “…purple-hull peas.” DON’T FORGET: Rhoda’s in town for lunch. Famous for its tamales and homemade pies, everything on the menu is good. Don’t be surprised if the place is closed for no good reason. Maybe Rhoda is taking a nap. You might also consider a day trip to Greenville, Miss., just across the big creek and over the spiffy new U.S. 82 Bridge. (Well done, architects.)The original Doe’s still serves up massive steaks on Nelson Street. As always, enter through the kitchen. WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT? Besides its sheer size, besides the lake’s fascinating backstory, Lake Chicot State Park is different because it’s in the Delta. And the Delta is different from pretty much anywhere else.
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REVIEW FROM A REGULAR: “Lake Chicot is the largest oxbow lake in North America. Before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built all the big impoundments across Arkansas, Lake Chicot was the place to go if you wanted to waterski, swim or fish in a big lake. The lake and the state park along its shores have quite a history.” — Rex Nelson, presidential appointee to the Delta Regional Authority and current president of Arkansas’s Independent Colleges and Universities. winter 2014 Arkansas Wild | 65
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Our Mud Runner and DXS models are the perfect boats for your hunting needs. With heavy gauge aluminum, heavy-duty ribs and caprails, and five different camo patterns to choose from, these are the right choice in boats for serious hunters in extreme conditions. All SeaArks are designed with 3/16â€? Extruded Keel and come with a lifetime warranty against hull puncture. SeaArk Boats, the toughest boats in the swamp are MUD TESTED, HUNTER APPROVED! Visit our website to find a dealer near you.
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You’re the best at managing your land for crops. Let us help you with the wildlife.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Private Lands Program offers valuable technical support, advice and financial assistance to landowners seeking to establish or enhance a wildlife habitat on their property. Contact one of our private land biologists today to see how you can take part in helping conserve Arkansas’s wildlife. To locate the private lands biologist that covers your county, go to www.agfc.com/habitat and review the map for contact information. 68 | Arkansas Wild Winter 2014
David Long 877-972-5438 Private Lands Supervisor
Legends of the Wild