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ARKANSAS WILD EXPLORING OUTDOOR LIFE IN THE NATURAL STATE

DIARY OF A DUCK HUNT

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FALL 2017 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m ARKANSASWILD.COM | 1


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4 ADVENTURE GETAWAYS Spend a weekend exploring the Natural State

28

DIARY OF A DUCK HUNT

A good duck hunt doesn’t always mean a good take

32

FLOATING THE BUFFALO PHOTOGRAPHY BY NOVO STUDIO

The Buffalo River area offers water hikes and historical sites

46

SOLAR ECLIPSE Paddler views celestial event

48

OUT THERE

We've all got our hobbies

DEPARTMENTS

10 OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS 12 CONSERVATION 16 GAME & FLAME 20 ARKANSAS OUTOOOR ARTISANS 24 OUT & ABOUT 50 OUTDOOR ORIGINALS

4 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

DIAMOND JOHN'S TEEPEES IN MURFREESBORO. See story page 44.

ON THE COVER: A couple arrives at the Bungalo treehouse in Eureka Springs. Photography by Novo Studio.


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REBEKAH LAWRENCE Publisher rebekah@arktimes.com ELIZABETH HAMAN Associate Publisher elizabeth@arktimes.com MANDY KEENER Creative Director mandy@arktimes.com

Located In The Historic Lafayette Building 523 South Louisiana, Suite M100 Little Rock, AR 72201 501-375-3335 M-F 9am-5pm www.kylerochellejewelers.com

LACEY THACKER Editor At Large Lacey@arktimes.com ADVERTISING LESA THOMAS Senior Account Executive lesa@arktimes.com RHONDA CRONE Account Executive rhonda@arktimes.com KIMBERLY BENNETT Account Executive kimberly@arktimes.com PRODUCTION WELDON WILSON Production Manager/Controller ROLAND R. GLADDEN Advertising Traffic Manager LARRISA GUDINO Advertising Coordinator GRAPHIC DESIGNERS KATIE HASSELL JASON HO MIKE SPAIN OFFICE STAFF ROBERT CURFMAN IT Director LINDA PHILLIPS Billing/Collections KELLY JONES Office Manager/Accounts Receivable ANITRA HICKMAN Circulation Director

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 7


FROM THE EDITOR AT LARGE

HELLO, ALL!

Lacey Thacker is over-themoon excited as she feeds a buffalo while on location at Ratchford Buffalo Farm in Marshall.

Hello! I am so stoked to be working with Arkansas Wild to explore our unique, diverse place in the world. From a leisurely float on Piney’s cool waters to riding the rapids on the Cossatot, a gentle walk on the River Trail to a hike on the Ozark Trail, bird watching to a predawn hunt, Arkansas has an activity to suit every interest. Listening to people tell stories about their experiences with the outdoors is one of my very favorite things to do, so I invite you to share your adventures—and misadventures—with me. I’ve always been willing to try just about anything when it comes to the outdoors, so when my friend Tammy invited me hunting, I said yes. I still remember the crisp morning air after a brisk night spent in a camping hammock. We rose before dawn, and when we arrived at the stand I was surprised to find she’d brought snacks, music, lotion and beverages. But, I’d seen Tammy’s trophies, and she was the best hunter in a family of skilled hunters. Though we didn’t find anything that morning, the pleasure of good company and a hearty breakfast cooked over a fire was more than worth the trip. In this issue, we have stories of the joys of hunting, and we’ve also included a collection of unique places to stay for a fall getaway—from a cave to a safari lodge. The lions caroling from their pens at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was an evening serenade I’ll remember for a long time. You’ll read about a skilled Arkansas Outdoor Artisan, John Kirkpatrick of JK Woodworking. Fall wouldn’t be complete without a 100-year-old chili recipe, so we’ve included that, too. Whatever the changing season brings, I hope this issue reminds you of the comforts of fall, the thrill of the outdoors and the adventures found just around the bend.

Lacey Thacker Editor at Large, Arkansas Wild

8 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017


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JOHN MCCLENDON of Monticello

loves to tell outdoor stories set in the Natural State. “Arkansas is such a unique place” McClendon observes, “I don’t know of anywhere else that someone can hunt alligators one weekend and hunt elk the next; or have a chance to catch a trophy largemouth bass and a trophy brown trout in the same afternoon.” In this issue, John shares his yearly obsession with monitoring game cameras.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS

Naturally With glorious mountains, lakes, rivers and trails, natural beauty abounds in Northwest Arkansas

FUN

TREY REID has been documenting

Arkansas's great outdoors for more than two decades as a writer, broadcaster and television producer. He chases fish and ducks more than anything else, but his favorite pursuit is Ozark smallmouth. A native of Pine Bluff, he lives in Little Rock.

RICHARD LEDBETTER South-

Arkansas outdoorsman who enjoys any time spent in the woods and on the water. His articles and accompanying photographs on history, hunting, notable Arkansans and local farming appear in numerous Arkansas periodicals. Ledbetter has published a pair of historical novels, “The Branch and the Vine” and “Witness Tree 1910” as well as appeared in several Arkansas made movies.

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OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS

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CONSERVATION

A LITTLE LESS TRASH YEARLY EVENT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER TO CLEAN UP PUBLIC LANDS BY LACEY THACKER

N

ational Public Lands Day, which falls on September 30 this year, was one of my favorite volunteer opportunities when I was in college. In fact, every year I’d comment at least once in the weeks leading up to it, “National Public Lands Day comes but once a year.” The reason for my excitement was simple: National Public Lands Day is, to my mind, nothing but an excuse to get outside, spend time with friends and partake in your favorite outdoor activity while doing some cleanup to benefit the environment. It wasn’t just me who enjoyed the day; a large group would inevitably turn up, with a leisurely float trip or camping excursion planned to coincide with our day of volunteering. I was lucky to attend school with a number of conservation-minded people, for whom volunteering outdoors for the day wasn’t even something they considered, it was just something they did. The weather around the end of September is just starting to cool a bit, making for good camping weather or a pleasant day on the water. To determine who was going where, a list would be distributed describing the several options for cleanup sites—some on the lake, some on a creek, a few at various hiking spots near campus—but they all culminated in a big lunch donated by one group or another. While we ate, stories would circulate about the items that had been collected. Every year, there would be one final winner: perhaps a tire found in a stream, perhaps a mattress dumped in an otherwise untraversed section of woods, perhaps a hunk of sheet metal blown from its original location by spring winds. Every year promised a surprise. And that’s the whole point of National Public Lands Day: to help remove those unexpected items from our precious public lands. If picking up trash isn’t your thing, there are other options available, including removing invasive non-native plants, planting beneficial plants, trail maintenance and structural repair. According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, in 2016 volunteer efforts across the country resulted in $18 million worth of public land improvements. 12 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF KEEP ARKANSAS BEAUTIFUL COMMISSION

Volunteers enjoy chatting in the pleasant weather while gathering trash on National Public Lands Day.


ARKANSASWILD.COM | 13


CONSERVATION

IN 2016, VOLUNTEERS CONTRIBUTED $18 MILLION WORTH OF PUBLIC LAND IMPROVEMENTS. National Public Lands Day has been going for over 20 years, and since over 30 percent of the land in the United States is public, it’s an important day for volunteerism across the United States. For many federally managed public lands, it’s also a free entry day. Even if you don’t attend one of the many volunteer opportunities around Arkansas, get together with friends or family for an outing to enjoy the majesty Arkansas has to offer— and maybe bring a sack to fill with garbage you find on your adventure. Volunteering for National Public Lands Day is easy. Events, searchable by state, are listed online through the National Environmental Education Foundation and the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission, which hosts a number of events from September 9 through October 31 as part of the Great Arkansas Cleanup.

Below: NPLD often provides temperate weather for any outdoor activity. Here, two paddlers enjoy the sun while stopping at the shore to collect trash.

An excited volunteer pauses in collecting rubbish to throw the camera a peace sign.

FIND AN EVENT

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Bearcat Hollow 8am-4pm 479-229-2298 Volunteers will be fed breakfast on Saturday, after which they will work on planting seed for wildlife, installing new gates, and cleaning up trails and streams.

SEPTEMBER 23

DeGray Lake 8am-1pm 870-246-5501 Trash bags, T-shirts and lunch will be provided for all volunteers who’d like to enjoy a morning picking up trash around beautiful DeGray Lake.

For more information, go to neefusa.org or keeparkansasbeautiful.com. 14 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

SEPTEMBER 30

Lake Dardanelle Cleanup 8am-1pm 479-967-5516 In conjunction with Keep Arkansas Beautiful, the Lake Dardanelle Cleanup will be hosted on National Public Lands Day. Lunch is included, though volunteers are requested to register. Beaver Lake Cleanup Call for event hours. 479-636-1210 x1705 Cleanup will include focus on the shoreline. Free lunch and T-shirt for volunteers. Buffalo River Cleanup Starts at 9am 870-365-2700 The Buffalo National River Partners welcome volunteers as they clean a 4.6 mile stretch of river between Spring Creek and Dillard’s Ferry. Trash bags, shovels and litter grabbers will be provided.


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GAME & FLAME

PHOTOGRAPHY: MATTHEW MARTIN

Homemade cornbread, sour cream and cheese are the perfect toppings for a heaping bowl of buffalo chili.

WE VISIT RATCHFORD BUFFALO FARM IN MARSHALL TO TRY AN OLD FAMILY RECIPE BY LACEY THACKER 16 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017


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"You're gonna love this chili. I've been eating it my whole life and I still can't get enough." —LC Ratchford

92-year-old matriarch of the family, Granny Madge, still enjoys cooking for her family.

“I

couldn’t do any of this without them,” LC Ratchford says of the help he receives from his family on his farm, Ratchford Buffalo Farm in Marshall. On this particular day, his mother, called Granny Madge, sister Delora and niece Tabitha are cooking a big pot of chili from a recipe LC can’t put an exact age to, but estimates to be between 100 and 130 years old. We’re sitting in the living room of a cabin made from reclaimed wood LC and a couple of hired hands built several years ago, surrounded by handplaned cedar walls and stuffed creatures from land, sky and water. LC, the youngest of six children, grew up on this farm, where his parents grew strawberries. While they had several crops and livestock, strawberries are what draw the most conversation. Granny Madge remembers working in the field during the day and spending evenings making strawberry crates by hand, often working ten- or twelve-hour days. “They probably had as many strawberries on their one farm then as there are now in Arkansas combined,” LC comments, to which his mother replies, “Oh, honey—as they are now? There were twice as many!” Delora affirms that at the time their farm raised more strawberries than any other farm in Arkansas. Though strawberries were a big cash crop for the family, their cattle also have quite a story. According to LC, an ancestor of theirs from Georgia served in the Civil War before coming to Arkansas. “The story I got was that he actually got out [of the state] with a herd of cattle and drove ’em into this area. We’ve had the descendants of the same cattle [ever since]. I like to think they’re superior. We’ve got a very docile herd; that’s what we breed for. “I always wanted to farm full time, then when I was 13 or 14 I decided welding was the way to make the money, because it was going to take a lot of money,” LC adds. As for the buffalo? LC credits a PBS special he saw 18 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

RATCHFORD FAMILY CHILI Yields 8-10 servings

2 pounds ground buffalo meat 1 ounce chili powder 12 ounces stewed tomatoes ½ quart of Granny Madge’s tomato juice 12 ounces cooked red beans Worstershire to taste Salt to taste Combine all ingredients in a crockpot on High for 4-6 hours depending on model. Serve warm and top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips or cornbread.


Above: LC Ratchford seeks his mother’s advice regarding the farm. Below: Up close, buffalo are huge, beautiful and intimidating.

on television as a child with lighting a fire under him. From the moment he watched it, he said he was going to raise them, and he committed to his path. He’s been farming full time for about 16 years. As LC begins to serve the chili, he says, “You’re gonna love this chili. I’ve been eating it my whole life and I still can’t get enough.” Now that LC is in buffalo, they frequently use that variety of meat instead of cow, though any kind will work. The final ingredient added is Granny Madge’s homemade tomato juice, though she won’t give up the recipe. It’s so good I pour a glass by itself. After I put some Fritos and cheese in my bowl, I top it with a generous portion of chili. When I finally take a bite, it tastes like fall should taste. All we need now is a fire pit to sit around. “The fat of the oil is basically nonexistent,” LC remarks, referring to the lack of grease in the chili. And he’s right—it’s as lean as any chili I’ve ever had. And the flavor? Beyond comparison. Ready to make your first pot of fall chili? Granny Madge has you covered. She was kind enough to share her recipe—though, you’ll have to find your own tomato juice. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 19


ONE OF A KIND JOHN AND RACHELLE KIRKPATRICK ON SPOONS, PARTNERSHIP AND THE VALUE OF HAND MADE BY LACEY THACKER

W

hen asked about retirement, John Kirkpatrick gives a quick laugh and responds, “Yeah, I retired. I retired and went to work.” About ten years ago, John picked up woodcarving as a way to alleviate stress, with no intention of it becoming a business. Today, JK Woodworking is the husband and wife team of John and Rachelle Kirkpatrick. Rachelle says, “He started out making this stuff and he gave it to family. Our son and daughter said, ‘You need to be selling this, Dad,’ and then it kind of turned into a business. It started out as stress relief and fun for him, just seeing what he can do.” While John does all the carving, he credits Rachelle’s help with allowing him to do his work. “She does more of the work than I do. She does all the labeling, making 20 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

tags, the website.” Each item is numbered, and it’s Rachelle who burns all the numbers into the carved items. Though John carves several types of items, Rachelle says it’s the spoons that sell best. “The spoons are John’s favorite thing to make. People just have an attraction to them.” John adds, “It’s all done by hand, which people like.” Rachelle continues, “He gets lost in a spoon. Look how lyrical it is. He works to leave that kind of character in each piece that he makes. John would have never thought of himself as being creative, but he’s very creative. We did a demonstration at War Eagle Mill back in June. John always tells people, ‘Oh, it’s easy. There’s nothing to it.’ But it’s a true talent. He has developed his own technique. It’s all self-taught.” John is humble about his craft, but when she mentions places his spoons have travelled—all over the world—he

PHOTOGRAPHY: NOVO STUDIO

John Kirkpatrick frequently leaves natural knots in his work, and so each piece of wood dictates what it’s going to become.


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“I GUESS AS LONG AS IT STAYS FUN, I’LL DO IT.” —JOHN KIRKPATRICK

22 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017


Facing page clockwise from top: Kirkpatrick’s open-air shop is tidy and efficiently organized. A smoothly-finished two-tone ladle is both beautiful and functional. John uses an adze to begin roughing out the shape of the spoon. Below: While spoons are the most popular item, John also creates other useful items such as this mortar and pestle.

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tells of the note he received after finishing a set of spoons for a wedding, and the pleasure in his tone is marked: “We got a nice letter from her. We still hear from her.” John first began carving canes, eventually transitioning into spoons: “I’d sit on the back porch and peel the bark and everything off. A lot of times when I’d get done taking the bad wood off, all I’d have left was a small piece, and that’s all I’d have enough wood for [was a spoon],” he says. Rachelle notes that their specialty items, like biscuit cutters, often receive a lot of attention at craft shows. “A lot of people when we’re at a show will say, what is this? Well, who makes biscuits anymore?” “A lot of people will spend a small fortune on tools. I bought a whole set of tools for $39 and they are the best. These other tools are $50, $60, $70 and I very seldom use them.” John begins each spoon with a piece of wood. After the bark is removed, he splits it into smaller pieces before shaping it into the shape of a spoon with a band saw. From there, he puts the part of the spoon that will become the bowl into a vise. He uses his small hand tools to shape the bowl, a process that takes about twenty minutes. From there, he’s got the shape of it, though there’s still work to be done before it’s ready to sell. Part of what makes their work so beautiful is the attention to sanding and conditioning the wood. It’s not finished until each piece is smooth as glass. After the piece is finished, John or Rachelle will apply a thick layer of a special rub to the wood. After a day or so, they’ll wipe away the excess. Rachelle says every item includes also includes a sample of the rub and a piece of sandpaper, because, “The first time you use it [the item] may get a little fuzzy, so you sand it down and apply a little of the rub.” As for how long he’ll stay at work? “I guess as long as it stays fun, I’ll do it.”

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OUT & ABOUT

SHORT DRIVE, LONG ADVENTURE FISHING, HIKING AND URBAN EXPLORING IN HISTORIC CALICO ROCK BY KAT ROBINSON

PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM

Hikers view the White River from Calico Bluff, easily accessible from downtown.

LOCATION: Just over three hours from Little Rock or under three hours from Fayetteville. GPS: CALICO ROCK: 36.1195° N, 92.1360° W calicorock.com 24 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017


AN HISTORIC DESTINATION Sitting atop a bluff overlooking the White River, Calico Rock has long been a favorite Arkansas destination. From its early days as a spot for industry to its reputation as a great jumping-off point for outdoor recreation, this north central Arkansas town has a lot to offer. The community is named for the black, blue, gray, orange and red markings on the bluff on which it sits. It was first a riverboat stop in the 19th century, and it became known for pearl buttons created from locally harvested freshwater mollusks. In 1902, the railroad reached this point. Though it was once the largest city in Izard County, Calico Rock has remained small, and it retains its hometown feel with just 1500 residents today. EXPLORE THE WHITE RIVER The city’s location above the White River along a section that runs between Norfork Lake and Newport offers a lot of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including fishing, hiking and birding. Bill Terry's Fishing Service is one of the local fishing services. His 17year operation brings trout fishing into reach for both the experienced and inexperienced fish lover. “We do guided fishing, we do boat rides on the White River, we do boat and motor rentals,” Terry says. “We provide rod and reel, hook and sinker, soda pop and water bottles – just about everything you might need.” CATCH A TROUT OR TWO Terry says catching trout along this section of the White River isn’t hard. “There’s rainbows, there’s brook trout, brown and cutthroat trout. Mostly it’s rainbow. In four hours with two customers fishing, we’ll catch 40 to 50 fish. It’s the best style of fishing in the nation, according to Field and Stream.”

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Clockwise from top: Mountain biking Calico Rock is a popular way to see the sweeping views of the White River. Walk downtown and take in the historic architecture before stopping for lunch. In this pre-1960s photo, check out remnants of the original part of town.

BRING YOUR BIKES AND BINOCULARS This particular section of the White River is also a haven for bird watchers. Bald eagles are known to nest and hunt along the river downstream from Lake Norfork, and orioles, osprey and water birds have been spotted along this length. Calico Rock is at an optimal spot in the region for those who like to hike and bike. It’s close to Blanchard Springs Cavern (well known for its living caves and tours) and the 14-mile North Syllamo Hiking Trail. Well-seasoned bicyclists can tackle the Syllamo Bike Trail, rated Epic by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. LOCAL HAUNTS For those who would rather do a little urban exploring, Calico Rock’s famed ghost town is worth an afternoon. The six-block area, which stretches to the east from Peppersauce Alley, includes a number of abandoned businesses, homes, a furniture factory and a jail. Interpretive markers have been placed near the structures. Motorcycle enthusiasts will find Calico Rock a good starting point for enjoying some of the best curves and more isolated highways in the state. Highway 5 is a scenic and interesting trip whether headed north, while Highway 9 nearby offers more challenging rides along curvy, mountainous ridges.

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Diary of a Duck Hunt

Diary of a Duck Hunt The Elms By Richard Ledbetter

A GOOD DUCK HUNT DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN A GOOD TAKE BY RICHARD LEDBETTER

Assistant guide Brice McCall skillfully placed our decoy spread to take advantage of the north wind. 28 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017


PHOTOGRAPHY: RICHARD LEDBETTER

I

’m reminded of something our editor said, “If all we tell are success stories, people will think we’re liars.” It doesn’t necessarily require a large duck take to make for a good hunt, but a good hunt will always include fellowship among buddies, being immersed in the outdoors and a deep appreciation for the resource and its preservation. As one hunting partner says, “Some days you win, some days the birds do. That’s why they call it ‘duck hunting,’ not ‘duck shooting.’” That said, when a longtime friend drives up from New Orleans for some late season water fowling, I prefer to get him on birds. In 1979, my friend K.P. Prevost took me to the marshes of Delacroix on my very first duck hunt, and all these years later, on a Monday afternoon in late January, K.P. made the seven-hour drive from South Louisiana to Fordyce to hunt The Elms Plantation in Altheimer. On the way to rendezvous with K.P. at a local Wal Mart, I got a text from Kim Freeman, the proprietor of The Elms, concerning current hunting. She forwarded a message from her guide Mike Land that read, “I want to be honest so you know. Our ducks are not to be found. The past week has been maybe one or two ducks. We did not fire a shot yesterday or this morning. I would rather tell them now and let them decide. Goose is not any better. It is as dead as I’ve seen it since we’ve been hunting this property.” When K.P. and I rendezvoused in the parking lot, I shared the news from the guide. I suggested we could still go over for supper that evening and spend the night at the Elms, but if he wanted, I’d pull my boat and we’d go back in the green timber since the prospects for success seemed greater there than in the fields. The decision was his to make. Experience has taught me K.P. isn’t real keen on wading and standing in cold water all morning. He prefers to four-wheel to a comfortable seat in a blind, high and dry on a field-side ditch

bank. And so it was. He wanted to take in the whole Elms experience, from Monday evening supper to Tuesday morning’s guided hunt. We made the hour drive to the Elms where we were greeted with a long-held tradition in Kim’s family of specialty cheeses and wine before supper. We enjoyed our appetizers while we explored the three floors and several rooms of the classic mansion and its collection of eclectic artifacts and antique furnishings. The evening meal soon followed, cooked and served by Elms staff members J.R and Randy. It consisted of cowboy ribeyes, baked potatoes, salad, rolls, and brownies topped with ice cream for dessert. After a brief grounds tour, with a predawn rendezvous scheduled, we found our respective bunks and called an end to a pleasant evening. Tuesday morning, K.P. and I pulled into the parking lot of J.L.’s Country Cafe outside Wabbaseka. Connecting with our guide, we followed Mike a few miles eastward through Wabbaseka to his camp. As we grabbed our gear, he introduced us to assistant guide and Cabot high school senior, young Brice McCall. Waders donned and shotguns in tow, we made the four-wheeler trek across a mile of flooded fields in the pre-dawn glow of what promised to be a bluebird day. The stars were radiant in the clear winter sky, and a sliver of waning moon hovered above the eastern horizon. Stepping out at the blind, K.P. commented, “That’s curb service. We could hunt in our house shoes here.” As we settled in to await shooting hours, Mike reminded us of our tenuous bird prospects, but we all knew things could change in an instant. At 6:39 a few distant, sporadic shots echoed across the open expanse. As we watched and waited, the pale glow in the east grew to a great orange orb creeping past the horizon. Mike and Brice began calling. Since I blew calls every other day, I gave it a rest and let the guides do their work. To our pleasant surprise, ARKANSASWILD.COM | 29


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it wasn’t long before birds began to appear in overhead flight. There weren’t great numbers of ducks, but strings of geese streamed steadily past, just out of range. As the morning wore on, we worked and occasionally landed multiple wads of teal, taking enough from their fast flying numbers to save being skunked. Suddenly, mallards appeared circling the decoy spread. We hunkered down in the blind as they worked around to eventually cup up and hover to our rear. We stood and spun and I drew a perfect bead on a greenhead gently settling down within thirty-yards. Fully expecting him to fold and flop in a puff of feathers, I pulled the trigger to hear only a click. My breach wasn’t fully locked. The others unloaded in rapid fire as I jacked a fresh hull into the chamber and the entire flock rose on the wind, safely departing. We stood staring at one another, stunned at the poor marksmanship, leaving little to do but shake our heads in disgust and chuckle. The humiliation still fresh, Brice and I heard the whistle of pintails overhead. We cautiously looked up to see a pair of sprigs in easy shooting range. They’d caught us unawares. We froze and called hoping they’d turn and come in. They, of course, didn’t and we both recalled that we’d just said if they get in range, take them. A flight of gadwalls and a few more fast-flying teal zoomed the decoys giving us the opportunity to somewhat redeem ourselves before we called it with a final volley at some low flying snows. Mike said, “As slow as it was, it was way better than what we’ve been seeing since that last freeze.” All in all, it proved a satisfying morning in good company. We topped off the Elms experience with a full country breakfast at J.L.’s and K.P. took home a mess of tasty meat for the gumbo pot.


ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31


O

ur gear lay in a neat pile outside a log cabin in the woods. There was a sisal beach bag with towels, sunscreen, Doritos and Ritz crackers; two small dry bags; a small fishing tackle bag; four spinning rods; and a well-used 30-quart ice chest. Inside the cooler, next to a block of ice, was a water jug, a container of homemade pimiento cheese, and three zip-seal bags stuffed with smoked ham, summer sausage and cheese from Coursey’s. My family judged these provisions adequate to meet our needs during a six-mile float down a river that has been called Arkansas’ gift to the world. With this heap of stuff, one another’s company and the sublime scenery of the Buffalo National River, we had everything we needed – except boats. They arrived a few minutes later when a long white van pulling a canoe trailer rattled to a stop on the gravel beyond the driveway. Two young men from Buffalo River Outfitters hopped out and the driver approached with an outstretched hand. 32 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

“It’s a great day to be on the river,” he said. It wasn’t a sales pitch. It was the last day of July, but the temperature held in the 60s at 9 a.m. The humidity was negligible; it didn’t feel like Arkansas. Fifteen minutes later our feet were wet. After a shuttle to Tyler Bend, we situated our gear in two canoes. My daughter and granddaughters picked the blue one. They were 50 yards downstream before my wife and I put water under our red boat. I considered the elegant efficiency of a canoe as ours sliced through the first emerald pool, but I lost the thought when I looked up to the left at a giant limestone bluff and felt small. This float trip was a long time in the making. It was supposed to happen right after Memorial Day last year, when my daughter traveled to Arkansas from southern California with a Buffalo float trip on her itinerary. But Mother Nature had other plans. Heavy rainfall turned the river into a torrent. Gravel bars and swimming holes

PHOTOGRAPHY: TREY REID/COURTESY ARKANSAS PARKS & TOURISM/BUFFALO RIVER OUTFITTERS

THE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER AREA OFFERS WATER, HIKES AND HISTORICAL SITES BY TREY REID


Clockwise from far left: Trey Reid’s granddaughter is excited to take a turn paddling the lazy stretch of river. Twin Falls is actually triple falls after a heavy rain. Visitors often stop at Coursey’s Smoked Meats for snacks and sandwiches. Reid's younger granddaughter takes a break from the water with a walk on the shoreline. Two elk fight for dominance. Collier Homestead, a restored homestead near the Buffalo, is easily reached by a .6 mile trail.

disappeared under muddy water. There wasn’t any floating or river play in our future. Float trips are the main attraction for the Buffalo National River’s nearly 1.5 million visitors each year, but they’re not the only draw. Instead of lamenting river levels and bad luck, we put some miles on my truck, as well as our shoes. Although not technically a national park, the Buffalo National River is run by the National Park Service, which maintains campgrounds, historical sites, trails and, at Tyler Bend, a visitor’s center that provides a thorough introduction to the country’s first national river. From there, we turned to hiking trails, historic sites and waterfalls. With two young children in tow, we hit the .6-mile Collier Homestead Trail at Tyler Bend. Solomon “Sod” Collier and his family settled 40 acres in 1927 and later became one of the area’s last settlers to acquire land under the 1862 Homestead Act. Their restored home place offers a glimpse into the area’s hardscrabble history. Beyond, the

house, the trail winds past fields of wildflowers and native grasses before entering a wooded landscape and tracing a bluff line that offers spectacular views of the Buffalo, as well as sprawling pastures, where keen eyes might spot whitetails and elk grazing along the edges. The recent deluge also made it a good day to chase waterfalls. We drove west through the Springfield Plateau toward the upper part of the Buffalo, where the river falls out of the Boston Mountains at a steeper gradient. At the end of one of the upper section’s shortest hiking trails is Twin Falls. It’s a brake-burning, two-mile descent from Mount Sherman down to the trailhead next to Camp Orr near Kyle’s Landing. But that’s the hardest part of the trip. It’s just 75 yards to the base of the falls. When we found them, swollen by rain, they spilled over the rocky shelf in three cascades. Our only concern about water in July was the potential lack of it, but a wet summer left the Buffalo’s middle section ARKANSASWILD.COM | 33


buffalo river hiking trails by tim ernst offers a guide to trails ranging from 1/2 mile to over 20 miles. for more information, see timernst.com.

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with ample water. Despite a lazy flow, we didn’t have to drag over shallow riffles, and the languid pace made it easier to fish. The smallmouth bass is the undisputed ruler of the Buffalo’s underwater realm. In the deeper pools and runs with jumbles of rocks, they lie in wait for crawfish and other prey as they wash downstream. If you’re lucky, they’ll sometimes grab hold of plastic facsimiles. Despite a lengthy love affair with Ozark smallmouth, I’m still surprised at their strength every time I hook one. But a self-absorbed smallmouth aficionado does not always make a good companion on a family float trip. So I played in the water a lot. We stopped three times before reaching the Highway 65 Bridge and the popular swimming hole at Grinder’s Ferry. Just around

the bend at Shine Eye, we beached our canoes on a limestone slab under a natural shelter and spent an hour jumping off boulders into the river. We floated in our life jackets and bobbed through riffles and acted like we still had gills. We covered six river miles in about six hours despite frequent sojourns, and I learned things about our family and the river. The nine-year-old granddaughter was a quick study and handles a canoe paddle well, but she’ll abandon ship when spiders drop into the boat from a leaning tree. Her sixyear-old sister lacks fear and will charge into unknown outcomes. Sometimes there’s no antidote for sibling rivalry. You don’t want to hurry on the river, but neither do you want to tarry. Words don’t seem adequate to describe the Buffalo. We are all small.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: NOVO STUDIO

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N 1 O.

When I first heard “cave hotel,” I thought, “Well. That’s nice. Sounds quaint.” I met the property manager in the parking lot of the single church in Parthenon, a town in which I’d never found myself before. After a brief chat, we pulled out of the parking lot, me trailing behind her SUV in my little Toyota. When we pulled onto a dirt road, I wasn’t concerned, though the farther down the road we went, the more curious I became. About 15 minutes into our journey, we turned into a curve and suddenly, there it was. It shouldn’t have surprised me that such a place existed in Arkansas, but it did. The face of a cliff inset with a natural stone wall and stunning windows was what the pictures online showed, but the sheer size is impossible to grasp from a photograph. And when I entered, well, my jaw dropped open. The Beckham Creek Cave Hotel is, simply, luxurious. And it’s no surprise, given that it was built in the 80s by the founder of Celestial Seasonings as his end-of-the-world 38 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

bunker. Later acquired by investors out of Texas and recently remodeled, the hotel, perhaps more rightly called a lodge, is something out of a fantasy novel. The space feels nothing short of cavernous. I was surrounded on all sides by rock walls, the sides of which felt polished to the touch, though I was told by the property manager that the texture was caused by the thousands and thousands of years of water running down the sides of the cave. The living area has a large television that is none the less dwarfed by the space surrounding it, and who would want to watch TV here anyway? Instead, the nearly 15 feet long couch would be better utilized talking with friends and drinking a glass of wine. The gourmet kitchen is a chef’s dream, with double ovens and plenty of space for entertaining. But the best part? The view from the kitchen is of a formation called the Spanish Staircase, a fall of rock that from a distance appears to be a waterfall, but up close is actually solid

PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY MALLORY JANE PHOTOGRAPHY

BECKHAM CREEK CAVE HOTEL

The cave, man's original dwelling, is here transformed into an elevated space that stuns first-time guests.


Top to bottom: Though caves are naturally dark, the many windows and diffused lighting fill the massive space. The cave goes back a mile and a half past the lodging area. The farthest bedroom offers a secluded retreat within a retreat. The patio overlooks a portion of the roughly 200 acre property.

EAT

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EXPLORE Buffalo National River rock. The property manager indicated this is one of very few formations like it in the world. The cave boasts four bedrooms, each with its own bath. The showers aren’t your typical showers, either; instead, the cavernous spaces are completely exposed to the cave walls, creating what I’m certain is a most unique bathing experience. While the cave walls have been sealed in sensitive areas, such as over beds or near electrical fixtures, this is a living cave, and as such, drips happen. The cave is still being formed by the water running through it, and thus the cave benefits from a constant water supply. In a section of the hotel accessible only to staff, there is a sophisticated water treatment system along with a large reservoir, the excess of which drains outside. When the water outside is high, it creates a small waterfall beside the drive that's perfect for enjoying while checking out the rest of the view or sitting beside the fire pit. If you get the urge to wander, there are roughly 200 acres of property and multiple trails. The Buffalo River is also quite close, making for plenty of opportunity for outdoor fun. This is one of the most amazing spectacles in Arkansas. If you get the chance to spend a night or a weekend here, take it. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 39


NO. 2

While spending the night in a treehouse sounds like something your children might try to convince you to do, the Treehouse Cottages in Eureka Springs are not your kids’ treehouse. Instead, a relaxing weekend at the treehouses is something a couple or a couple of friends would enjoy. Laura, the desk clerk, greets visitors at the register, where guests check in and customers make purchases from the gift shop. Many retreats offer a gift shop, with postcards, keychains and perhaps mugs with their logo stamped on them, but this shop is exceptional. Patsy, the owner, has curated a small but warm space in which to display both her own works in pottery and the works of other local artisans. There is also a small selection of jewelry available, as well as a whimsical series of decorative turtles. The treehouse cottages have two locations: the original location next to the gift shop has three treehouses, while a second location only a couple of miles away has four treehouses. All offer privacy and an up-close view of nature. I spent some time in a treehouse from the second location. The flight of stairs leading to the top created a sense of retreat from the rest of the world. Though lateseason foliage shielded the cottage, the proximity of each PHOTOGRAPHY: NOVOallows STUDIOfor privacy even when the cottage to the other 40 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

branches are bare in the dead of winter. In fact, I was told that several returning guests keep an eye out for lastminute snow cancellations, as they so enjoy the view when surrounded by a winter wonderland. Regardless which season you choose to come, wildlife abounds. Birds alight on limbs just feet from the large windows, and each cottage is complete with at least one bird feeder to tempt the winged creatures. Bring your binoculars, because you’re likely to see deer, squirrels and other wildlife easily viewable from the deck. Because of the height of the deck, guests can view ground-level wildlife without spooking them—a real treat. And when you’re ready for an intimate dinner, you’ll be pleased to find the dishes, all beautifully and expertly handmade by Patsy. She even crafted the tiles around many of the Jacuzzi tubs found in each cottage. There, situated in a glass-surrounded cutout, guests can bathe while continuing to enjoy the view. Aside from the pleasure of staying in a cozy, wellappointed cottage, the town of Eureka Springs is incredibly convenient. If you’re staying at the original location, historic downtown is within walking distance. And if you’re at the second location, worry not—despite the secluded feel, town is still well under five minutes away.

PHOTOGRAPHY: NOVO STUDIO

TREEHOUSE COTTAGES

Spending the night at the Treehouse Cottages offers a chance to realize your childhood dream of sleeping in a tree.


Clockwise from top: A small waterfall pours into a koi pond outside one of the treehouses, offering a relaxing view and sense of seclusion. The sunlight streaming into the treehouse through windows and skylights shows off the luxurious bed. Each guest receives a handwritten note welcoming them to their retreat. Cedar Shade Treehouse is accessed by a short bridge over a pond.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 41


N 3 O.

The drive to Eureka Springs is one of the prettiest in the state, and with the cool weather greeting me as I exited the car, I was ready to finally find what was in store for me at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. I was early for the three o’clock check-in but hoped to make the upcoming hourly guided tour included with all stays or available for purchase separately. In the visitor’s center, the smiling clerk took my name and assured me I had plenty of time to make the tour. Following the map I was given, I made my way out the back of the visitor’s center to meet the tour group at the end of a mulched path. To one side, a large grizzly bear observed the arriving visitors. The tour, an hour-long walk along a half mile of paved sidewalk, is led by one of several staff members and focuses on their mission of refuge. No animals are purchased or bred at Turpentine Creek; instead, the facility offers a home to animals that have been mistreated, bred for profit, or purchased as exotic pets. According to their website, Turpentine Creek’s mission is to “spread awareness about the exotic pet trade and the struggles these animals face in captivity and in the wild.” Our guide, a passionate intern recently graduated from college, was happy to tell us about the behavior of these wild animals, their habitats and how visitors can help. When a young boy had multiple questions about the differences between lions, tigers and bears (oh my!), she 42 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

thrilled to share as many details as the boy wanted to hear. After the tour, I drove over to my room for the night, the Kilimanjaro Suite at the Zulu Lodge. The suite is one of five lodges sharing a central deck with a gazebo, fire pit and hot tub. Each suite also includes a private deck off the back with a view of the Ozark Mountain range. I’d been told staying in the park was like spending a night on the Serengeti. While it was attractive and uniquely decorated, with paintings of big cats on the walls, the real atmosphere came when the sun went down. Watching the sun slowly sink into an orange-red wash of color on the back deck was its own pleasure, and then, when daylight had just faded, the lions began singing. It’s called caroling. It’s not a growl; it’s not a purr. It’s altogether different. It’s the lions' own special call meant to mark their territory, and it can be heard up to five miles away. The nocturnal beasts begin calling at dusk, and don’t quit until the sun rises again. When I rose from my slumber, I was pleased to find I’d slept well, the comfortable mattress having done its job. In the mini-fridge, there were muffins and fruit cups, along with cream for the coffee cups on the counter. If one was inclined to rise by seven or so, there would be plenty of time for coffee on the deck before walking over to watch the lions be released from their sleeping pens by eight. Bring your kids, a friend or a partner. The big cats are a sight worth seeing, and staying at the refuge offers an experience you can’t get at just any hotel.

PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY TURPENTINE CREEK WILDLIFE REFUGE

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Clockwise from top: The adults-only lodges each have a private deck as well as a shared space with a hot tub and fire pit. Elegant safari tents offer lodging for families or groups. A resident basks in the sun.

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honda.com UTILITY ATVs ARE RECOMMENDED FOR RIDERS 16 YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER. ALL ATV RIDERS SHOULD TAKE A TRAINING COURSE AND READ THEIR OWNER’S MANUAL THOROUGHLY. MULTI-PURPOSE UTILITY VEHICLES CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO OPERATE. PIONEER IS ONLY FOR DRIVERS 16 YEARS AND OLDER. DRIVER AND PASSENGER MUST BE TALL ENOUGH FOR SEAT BELT TO FIT PROPERLY AND TO BRACE THEMSELVES WITH BOTH FEET FIRMLY ON THE FLOOR. PASSENGER MUST BE ABLE TO GRASP THE HANDHOLD. NEVER DRIVE WITH MORE THAN ONE PASSENGER. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT, AND KEEP THE SIDE NETS AND DOORS CLOSED. ALL MUV USERS SHOULD WATCH THE SAFETY VIDEO “MULTIPURPOSE UTILITY VEHICLES: A GUIDE TO SAFE OPERATION” AND READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL BEFORE OPERATING THE VEHICLE. FOR BOTH TYPES OF VEHICLES, ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, EYE PROTECTION AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING. AVOID EXCESSIVE SPEEDS, AND BE CAREFUL ON DIFFICULT TERRAIN. FOR YOUR SAFETY BE RESPONSIBLE. NEVER DRIVE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL, OR ON PUBLIC ROADS. RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT WHEN DRIVING.

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DIAMOND JOHN’S TEEPEES Murfreesboro is well-known for its diamond hunting. The only diamond mine in the United States is found here, and visitors regularly bring home rough diamonds of all sizes. If you find yourself in Murfreesboro for the day or for a week, particularly if you’ve got children along, a sprawling riverside retreat might be just what you’re looking for. Diamond John’s is located close to the diamond mine, and they’ll even supply diamond mining equipment for guests to check out, saving the cost of renting at the mine. After you return from your search for diamonds, the kids might not be ready to quit for the day. Rest assured, Diamond John’s has you covered. Every night, the staff places gems in the sand. After interested children gather, they’re given flashlights so they can “hunt” for gemstones. Have you wanted to give fishing a shot, or were you surprised when your kids showed interest? Well, Diamond John’s wants you to try it, too. That’s why they provide poles for fishing on the Little Missouri River, located right there on the property. They even have well cared for animals you and your children can check out up close, including goats, peacocks, ducks and horses. The property as a whole is clean and tidy, and even the grass near the animal pens is neatly trimmed. Diamond John’s prides themselves on their effort to make the stay pleasant for the entire family, with an emphasis on children’s activities. But, the whole family will find their lodging options unique—particularly the teepees. And don’t worry—there’s plenty of room for everyone. Designed to hold up to four adults in the regular teepee or eight in the Grand Master Teepee, each has a view of the river from the front door. The large hot tub near the teepees is the perfect place for adults to relax after a day of diamond mining, and if you like, you can sit by the river as the sun goes down. While the three smaller teepees have air conditioning, the larger one does not, though all four have heat. A rare find in lodgings, pets are welcome at Diamond John’s, the icing on the cake for a family friendly place to stay close to home.

PHOTOGRAPHY: NOVO STUDIO

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Left to right: The shady riverside retreat in Murfreesboro is a peaceful spot for families to relax. Teepees are spacious, comfortable lodgings with plenty of room to spread out.

EAT Em’s Cafe

The museum tells the story of the Arkansas National Guard from its militia roots to its participation in the current global war on terror. The museum also shares the story of Camp Pike/Robinson. Displays include two largescale models of the post (WWI and WWII) weapons, vehicles, airplane models, uniforms and photographs. Military ID or Driver’s License vehicle registration & proof of insurance required for FREE Admission. Arkansas National Guard Museum Located on Camp Robinson, N. Little Rock Take exit 150 off I-40 & follow signs to Camp Robinson 501.212.5215 | arngmuseum.com

HOURS: Mon-Fri 8am-3pm Drill Weekends: Sat 8am-3pm

SEE Old Washington State Park

EXPLORE

Crater of Diamonds State Park

KeepArkansasBeautiful.com ARKANSASWILD.COM | 45


Solar

Eclipse

BY JEREMY MACKEY

The changing light was clear for everyone to see, though looking at the eclipse required special glasses.

Kayakers on Lake Quachita take a break from their paddle to view the rare celestial event. The clear, bright day was the perfect contrast to the dusk-like light to come.

T

he water stretched out in front of us like glass, urging us to explore. Under a cloudless sky we paddled, each of us excited about the rare celestial event we were to witness. Like most of the country, we had set out to find the perfect spot to view the solar eclipse. Lake Ouachita by kayak is spectacular on any given day, but this day promised to be breathtaking. From our put-in, the soon-to-be-dedicated Rabbit Tail Water Trail, we meandered through standing timber and beds of hydrilla, finally settling upon a quiet pocket of water that would serve as our personal grandstand. Breaking away from the group, I paddled to the north side of the cove and found a shallow piece of water among some stunted timber. Relaxing back into the seat of my kayak, I watched as the world around 46 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

me changed. The moon’s shadow crept over the sun, changing the color of the landscape to a blueish grey. Dragonflies danced around my kayak and fish began feeding on the water’s surface, leaving behind only concentric ripples of water as evidence they were there. The muted colors provided a perfect canvas as the trees began to project the shadows of the crescent sun. Stillness crept over me in a cacophony of silence. Slowly, the sky returned to its typical brilliance. Crepuscular clouds gave way to rays of sunlight and the entire lake sparkled. The group began to make its way back to shore, everyone marveling over what they had just seen. A cool breeze ushered us along, and I watched as a pair of cattle egrets flew overhead, following our return journey. I drifted, engulfed in the rhythms of nature.


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4 Locations to serve you! Central Arkansas

221 E. German Lane • Conway, AR 72032 (501) 358-6688

Northwest Arkansas

14644 E. Hwy 62 • Garfield, AR 72732 (479) 451-1837

North Central Arkansas

124 McLean Avenue • Cotter, AR 72626 (870) 778-0070

Southwest Missouri

4381 Selmore Rd. • Ozark, MO 65721 (417) 485-3219

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 47


Out There… WE’VE ALL GOT OUR HOBBIES BY JOHN MCCLENDON

si

48 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHN MCCLENDON

I

have a problem. I guess you could say it’s a technology problem. You see, ever since the advent of inexpensive and reliable “trail cameras” in recent years, I’ve experienced a debilitating obsession during the fall. At some point in September, my trail camera will capture a photo that drives me nuts for the next three months. It always starts with a nocturnal image of a mature whitetail with antlers far exceeding the normal fare of bucks in our hunting area. And the big deer always seems to sense the camera – never allowing a direct or completely clear photo. While lesser bucks and dozens of does frolic in front of the lens as if posing for a fashion photographer, this wise gentleman stays at the edge of shadows, tempting my imagination with glimpses of potential trophy antlers. Some years I get an additional picture. Some years I don’t. But every year I find myself hunting that buck: spending every available hunting hour trying to position myself where I think he will be and most nonhunting hours distracted by wondering where that deer is, what he's doing and how to get close to him during daylight hours. I lay awake at night wondering if maybe right at that very moment that buck is finally staring squarely into the lens. I spend hours contemplating wind directions, moon phases and barometric pressures hoping to find some magic alchemical formula for deer movement. When the rut commences, all courtesy and good judgement are abandoned. These things are just obstacles between me and the woods. Though, I think this fixation is more of a problem for those around me than it is for me. During deer season, I often have to remind my wife that there are far more destructive compulsions in which a man may participate than a daily obsession with a wild animal—and it is only for three months a year. Likewise, my closest hunting buddy waits patiently for this cervid infatuation of mine to play out so we can move on and focus on what he believes is a much more noble pursuit— waterfowl. Over the years my friends Here, it or miss. arely in h n and family have learned all efforts to e ft o re era a uck b game cam oe and a b a d dissuade my focus are futile. A picture g m o in fr d e n fe Images take camera captures a ons. is proof, as they say, and each year ti ra ’s st n u o fr d n 's McCle lendon cC M to some obscure buck in a muddled image g in ght, add


I THINK THIS FIXATION IS MORE OF A PROBLEM FOR THOSE AROUND ME THAN IT IS FOR ME. from a trail camera gets affixed in my imagination like Charlie’s golden Wonka Bar ticket to the chocolate factory. Sometimes a neighboring land owner or another hunter from my own camp gets the prize. There are no words worthy to describe the deflation and disappointment one experiences the second it becomes clear the antlers in a texted photo, or even worse, seen in person, are the very same set that have been appearing in tantalizing dreams for the previous two months. Every once in a while I get lucky and kill a decent buck, but it is almost never the same buck from the trail cam photo. The mystery bucks on camera, year after year, turn into ghosts by the peak of the rut, never showing up in the flesh. Over the years I think the offspring of previous bucks, due to similar antlers, have actually appeared to continue the tradition. It’s as if when one deer retires the next generation steps up to prevent any hopes of my return to sanity. You understand, don’t you? There is a giant buck out there, and at least once it got within the flash range of my trail camera! Don’t you see? It’s out there! Really it is! I’d love to continue, but I have to get going. I’ve got some trail camera memory cards to go pull.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 49


OUTDOOR ORIGINALS

BOB PHELPS

CONSERVATIONIST, HIKER AND WILDLIFE WATCHER BOB PHELPS TALKS LEGACY AND KEEPING ARKANSAS BEAUTIFUL BY LACEY THACKER Where are you from? I was born in Hot Springs, but spent all my life in El Dorado before leaving to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I’ve lived in Little Rock, which I consider home, since 1962. How did you become involved with Keep Arkansas Beautiful? In 1993, my wife, Deede, and I were returning from a trip east, where we were mesmerized by the natural beauty we encountered across Tennessee and throughout Virginia. But as we returned to Arkansas we encountered trash and neglect that made us ashamed. Our love for Arkansas’ environment led us to create and distribute bumper stickers stating, “Only Trash Litters,” hoping to awaken the pride we felt for our home in others. After I retired from my marketing agency, I was offered the position of Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission director. I began in August 1998 and have just recently retired. 50 | Arkansas Wild ¸ FALL 2017

What legacy have you left with Keep Arkansas Beautiful? I’ve worked to create a culture change in Arkansas, one that is intolerant of litter, trash, dumping, pollution and the behaviors that contribute to this blight. We’re better than this; our natural beauty deserves respect, care and protection. The message of conservation depends on each citizen taking personal responsibility for their own waste through to recycling whatever can be usefully recovered. When I see evidence of volunteerism that embraces these ideals, I am filled with optimism that together we will become a cleaner, greener state. What outdoor activities do you currently enjoy? My involvement with the Boy Scouts (I’m an Eagle Scout) taught me to love all things outdoors, and formed my deep love of Arkansas’ natural environment. I’m at the point in life that I can enjoy a long walk or a quiet retreat that permits marveling at the

How does conservation impact enjoyment of the outdoors? Habitat preservation, even in urban areas, is essential if we are to continue to fully enjoy our natural world. We must include the needs of all creatures, flora and fauna as we conserve and preserve. Litter and dumping harms our wildlife as it also blemishes and degrades our natural beauty, enjoyment and quality of life. As more and more people come to realize the natural treasures that Arkansas abundantly holds, I hold great hope for our future and for continuation of environmental stewardship. I believe we can develop a caring culture that values our state’s pristine and beautiful outdoors.

Three essentials Phelps uses on his hiking adventures: baseball cap, tennis shoes, and a hiking stick Phelps was gifted to commemorate his service to Keep Arkansas Beautiful.

PHOTOGRAPHY: DEEDE PHELPS

wonder of nature, enjoying simply being a spectator, observing birds, wildlife and our abundant natural beauty. My love for the physical environment has not diminished, but it has mellowed into a deep appreciation and desire to protect it for future generations. I still enjoy just about anything to do with water and swim often. My knees won’t support running now, but I still walk as much as possible. I want to learn to fly fish and catch some trout and I am hopeful that my good buddy Jim will share his secrets with me. I’d also like to attract a hummingbird to feed in my hand, like the chipmunk that greets me each morning.


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ARKANSAS WILD EXPLORING OUTDOOR LIFE IN THE NATURAL STATE

FROM teepees

To treehouses

DIARY OF A DUCK HUNT 100+ Years

rock on at horseshoe canyon! page 41

YOUNG & YUM!

CHILI RECIPE PLAN A FALL FLOAT TRIP

GEAR UP & CLEAN UP!

NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY

FALL 2017 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m ARKANSASWILD.COM | 53


ARKANSAS WILD EXPLORING OUTDOOR LIFE IN THE NATURAL STATE

FROM teepees

To treehouses PLAN A FALL FLOAT TRIP

DIARY OF A DUCK HUNT 100+ Years YOUNG & YUM!

CHILI RECIPE

GEAR UP & CLEAN UP!

NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY

FALL 2017 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m ARKANSASWILD.COM | 54


ARKANSAS WILD EXPLORING OUTDOOR LIFE IN THE NATURAL STATE

FROM teepees

To treehouses

DIARY OF A DUCK HUNT 100+ Years YOUNG & YUM!

you have to stay here! page 41

CHILI RECIPE PLAN A FALL FLOAT TRIP

GEAR UP & CLEAN UP!

NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY

FALL 2017 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m ARKANSASWILD.COM | 55


ARKANSAS WILD EXPLORING OUTDOOR LIFE IN THE NATURAL STATE

FROM teepees

To treehouses

DIARY OF A DUCK HUNT 100+ Years YOUNG & YUM!

you have to stay here! page 41

CHILI RECIPE PLAN A FALL FLOAT TRIP

GEAR UP & CLEAN UP!

NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY

FALL 2017 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m ARKANSASWILD.COM | 56

Arkansas Wild Fall 2017