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

SPR I NG 2 0 1 3

Q&A with

Mike Knoedl AGFC’s new director pg. 28

The wild highway

Trout Fishing’s King

Arkansas 21 offers Nature, history pg. 16

JIM GASTON Collector, resort owner, A renaissance man pg. 8

Plus Inspiring story: Big Bucks Winner pg. 24

turkey hunting takes tenacity pg. 42

crappie 101: tips for success pg. 46


2 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013


Spoiled. But unspoiled. From natural landscapes to wonderful amenities, the 33 neighborhoods of Chenal Valley bring to life everything you could dream of in a community. Surrounded by green belts, walking trails and 36 holes of picturesque golf, this amazing community makes coming home more like a walk in the park. Plus, your new home is nestled near the fine dining and retail experience at The Promenade at Chenal, and located in the Chenal Elementary School zone. Now you can have it all and never leave the neighborhood. To begin your search for a new lot or home in Chenal Valley, go to Chenal.com.

Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 3


Whatever the sport, I’ve been around it in a 36-plus year career starting as a cub reporter in college covering the Arkansas Razorbacks. But like most Arkansans, my experiences with this state’s wonderful resources through hunting and fishing started much earlier. I still remember my uncle Merrill Shue taking me bream and crappie fishing on a White River pond (and experiencing the even more memorable chiggers) when I was still in single digits, and not long afterward catching my first big bass out of Arkansas River borrow pit. While I’ve let others stalk the deer, I’ve enjoyed their efforts at the dinner table - my sister-in-law, who has taken deer herself in her native West Virginia, cooks a mean venison chili.

Table of CONTENTS 8

By Jim Harris

16

24

28

I’ve swabbed away the sweat away on the first day of dove season, as well as swatted away mosquitoes on an Indian summer weekend to start duck season in Arkansas County. There’s also nothing quite like being with thousands of hunters and their friends at the annual World Duck Gumbo Cookoff and the Wings Over the Prairie Festival in Stuttgart.

34

Those are some of the stories I plan to write as the new editor of Arkansas Wild.

36

For this issue, I sat down with the incomparable Jim Gaston - collector, historian, onetime daredevil pilot and resort owner - who has run Gaston’s White River Resort for more than a half century. I also introduce our readers to Mike Knoedl, the new executive director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Joe David Rice takes us on a fascinating ride up state Highway 21, a barely traveled treasure of nature, history and stunning scenery. We talk deer, turkey, crappie, bears, alligators and more in this issue. In my career I’ve worked at nearly every regular newspaper/ magazine department: reporter and editor for daily news and layout, features, business, and dining and entertainment. Most recently I edited the online ArkansasSports360.com and currently am the featured columnist for SportingLifeArkansas. com. I’ve written freelance stories for outdoor publications and was thrilled to edit the fantastic “The Duck Hunter’s Almanac” by my friends Steve Bowman and Steve Wright. What I hope for Arkansas Wild in the coming issues is to produce what YOU want to read. Let me know what Arkansas outdoors stories interest you most. Email me at jim. harris@sportinglifearkansas.com and jimharris@arktimes. com and let’s talk outdoors. Enjoy this issue.

Jim Harris 4 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

GASTON’S STANDS SUPREME ON THE WHITE RIVER A Road Less traveled Arkansas Hwy. 21 By Joe David Rice

Big Buck classic Overcoming the odds By Jim Harris

Mike knoedl Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s new director By Jim Harris

Preserving ARkansas outdoor traditions By Sen. Mark Pryor

42 46

48

duck down Low Arkansas mallard numbers By Jim Harris

Bagging the big gobbler By Jim Harris

Holy Crappie Crappie fishing makes for exciting excursion By Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Game notes

50 Photography of

A.C. “Chuck” Haralson

52 Calendar of Events 56

Out and about

58 Jim’s Parting Shot

Arkansas Wild is Interactive Get everything Arkansas Wild has to offer every issue by reading the interactive edition on your computer or handheld device. Arkansas Wild is full of links to useful websites, apps, videos, documents, valuable hunting information, tutorials and more! Read the current issue for free at facebook.com/ArkansasWild or download the enhanced PDF to read any time on your iPad, laptop or other portable device!


Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 5


Carolina chickadee

Four Lakes Wildlife Cooperative

alan leveritt Publisher alan@arktimes.com

Editorial Jim harris Editor jimharris@arktimes.com Patrick Jones Editorial/Creative Art Director patrick@arktimes.com

Advertising Tamara Adkins Account Executive tamara@arktimes.com Erin HOlland Account Executive erin@arktimes.com kelly lyles Advertising Assistant kellyl@arktimes.com Lesa Thomas Account Executive lesa@arktimes.com

Photography Brian Chilson A.C. (Chuck) Haralson Jayson Cotter Mike wintroath

Production Weldon Wilson Production Manager Roland Gladden Advertising Traffic Manager kelly Carr Advertising Coordinator

HUNTING FOR SOMETHING MORE? Four Lakes Wildlife Cooperative features over 33,000 acres in Southern Arkansas. Experience quality deer management, fishing and waterfowl hunting opportunities.

For more information call 1-855-2-HUNT-PC 1-855-248-6872

tracy whitaker Advertising Coordinator KAI CADDY, rafael mendez, Bryan Moats, mike spain Graphic Artists

SOCIAL MEDIA Monika Rued Rose Gladner

Office Staff Weldon Wilson Controller Robert Curfman IT Director Linda Phillips Billing/Collections Angie Fambrough Office Manager Anitra Hickman Circulation Director

201 E. MARKHAM ST. SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents Š 2013 Arkansas Wild

6 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013


Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 7


Gaston’s Stands Supreme On the White River Jim Gaston Has Led Popular Resort for More Than a Half-Century By Jim Harris • PhotoGRAPHY by Jayson cotter

Jim Gaston greets a visitor’s hello, how are you with “Well, I got up today.” It’s not the first time he’ll say it to folks he encounters. He quotes the Founding Fathers — Thomas Jefferson in particular. But he’ll also attribute a favorite saying to Voltaire or Albert Einstein. On his office wall are portraits of his historical heroes — Jefferson, Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom Gaston will gladly explain has been misunderstood through history. Also on his wall is a well-preserved Henry rifle from the late 1800s, the office’s fluorescent lighting sparkling off its metal. Around his desk are ancient bank vaults that he’s picked up over the years. Aussie, an Australian shepherd, quietly sleeps unnoticed between the desk and two chairs in front for Gaston’s visitors. The 71-year-old Gaston himself is a complex man much like his historical heroes. He’s far more than the operator of Arkansas’ most popular trout fishing resort here in the northernmost reaches of the state, at Lakeview off Highway 178. He’s a collector — not a hoarder, mind you, as his collection is precisely organized throughout the resort — of some of the most arcane items ever compiled by one person. From the ceiling of the popular Gaston’s resort restaurant hangs an assortment of bicycles, plus hundreds of outboard boat motors. 8 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

A first-time visitors’ jaws are agape at the sight of the restaurant’s interior design. “When we first opened the restaurant, I didn’t have any money left to decorate the place,” Gaston says. “I had this pile of junk and decided to use that.” When the cost of buying abandoned bikes at flea markets grew too high, he switched to something else, like the boat motors. His prize collection of easily more than 100 classic watches is kept under glass outside the restaurant in the entryway. Elsewhere, there are old photographs of classic icons of entertainment and sports, plus old, tarnish license plates, Maytag washing machines that were probably in top condition during the Great Depression, and neon-lighted signs advertising anything from General Electric parts to Ford trucks. He’s piloted — and crashed a couple of times — at airshows, though he’s since given that up after trying it for 10 to 15 years. Some interests, like photography, have captivated him for a lifetime. Some others get his over-attention and he burns out on them like many of the kerosene lanterns he’s collected. But for 51 years, Gaston has been mostly known for his fishing resort. He arrived there from Kansas at 20 (in 1960), after his father, Al, had opened Gaston’s with its six


Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 9


boats and six cottages in 1958. When his father died not long afterward, Jim Gaston was running the place. Over a half-century later, it’s grown to 79 cottages and 60 boats, a full-service restaurant and a private club, plus three nature trails. A supporter of aviation, Gaston has a 3,200foot landing strip in front of the resort. A bird sanctuary near the main entrance houses beautiful pheasants, peacocks and turkeys. The serenity the place affords a visitor in the non-tourist season is comforting. Trout have finished their spawning for the year; that concluded about Feb. 1. The nearby Bull Shoals Dam moves thousands of gallons of cold water daily from the immense reservoir north of the structure, providing the perfect environment for brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. The big browns are waiting as these words are read. The tourist season is still a few weeks away – many visitors look forward to the cooling effect of the White River’s water south of the dam as the typical late spring and summer heat edges toward 90 degrees and higher. But for the angler or the first-timer looking for a great troutfishing experience, Gaston suggests making a trip to the White River now. “That’s when you’ll really catch the big browns,” he said. Or, if one chooses, a fall trip offers both large brown trout and spectacular foliage throughout the hills on either side of the White for a perfect getaway. The browns begin the swim back upstream toward the shoals to begin to spawn again in October. “We’re real fortunate on the White River that there is no peak time. The water temperature remains constant,” he said, adding that for 40 years state law has required that the dam release a minimum flow of water daily that keeps it at or below 58 degrees and provides the oxygenation the fish require. At its minimum flow, the water will increase the food source below the dam by 300 percent, he said. When all eight generations of the dam are operating, the river rises and the fish move miles downstream. RISING TIDE LIFTS BOATS The floods of 1927 and 1937 were the instigators behind the damming of the White River, though it still took until the Truman Administration was in power, citing the need for flood control while making the plan financial feasible through the production of electricity, for the Bull Shoals Dam to be built. Harry S Truman dedicated the dam in the summer of 1952. Before that, the White River was a warm-water haven for bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, bream and more. 10 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

The thought of sport fishing and the environment were not the public’s or the government’s priorities when the dam was conceived and built. The resulting reservoir north of the dam, however, offered warm-water fishing opportunities, not to mention the fun of the water for families when spring and summer arrived. Of course, the cold water coming through the dam during electric generation changed everything in the 80 or so miles below Bull Shoals. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission tackled the change with the introduction of trout. “The Game and Fish Commission has done an excellent job of managing the hatcheries and the trout,” Gaston said. Al Gaston was a construction worker by trade but an entrepreneur in his heart. He saw an opportunity in north Arkansas and moved from Kansas to purchase the 20 acres and the cottages and boats on the White River that would become Gaston’s fishing resort. Jim Gaston lasted six months at Butler County


Fly fishing on the White River

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 11


Community College before he decided to be a part of the business. He had no idea, though, that a half century in business would also take him countless times to Washington, D.C., and Arkansas’ state capital on behalf of the trout fishing industry.

Jim Gaston’s collection of watches.

“To get anything passed through government, you have to have a crisis,” he said. Gaston’s Resort grew under Jim Gaston’s ownership – the property now encompasses more than 300 acres and Gaston’s controls two miles of undeveloped river frontage downriver from the resort. Meanwhile, other trout resorts and smaller family-owned fish camps and guide services have opened along the White. Plus, the public takes advantage of the access to the White afforded by Bull Shoals State Park on the west and south side of the river, below the dam. And sport fishing has boomed in the past half-century. On the drive to Gaston’s Resort through Flippin and the town of Bull Shoals, visitors pass a number of smaller boat retailers as well as Forrest Wood’s massive Ranger Boat complex in Flippin. In a way, the unintended, good consequence of a dam for flood control and electric power was the multimilliondollar business of sport fishing, which Congress and the Arkansas legislature eventually recognized. Both state and national government and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spend millions on trout research as well as on the two trout hatcheries in Arkansas. “Sport fishing, not just trout fishing, has grown so much you have so much grass-roots representation,” Gaston noted of the efforts these days to gain government help. “If I was the only operator on the White, the hatcheries would close, I’m sure,” he said. Instead, Gaston’s success as a resort has led to many other fishing services on either side of the White River. Gaston would love to see help from the beneficiaries of Bull Shoals Dam – the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Power and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 12 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

“The Corps changed the habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife, their mission statement changes with each change of director … I’d like for them to share the cost,” he said. “It cost $1 million of taxpayer dollars to operate both the Greers Ferry and Norfolk hatcheries … but you see them trying to shift the financial burden to the states. More than Arkansas benefits from this habitat.” Every tax dollar spent on the state’s trout hatcheries returns $9 in tax revenue, Gaston said. He added, “The return is unbelievably. Imagine someone wanting to cut out funding. We need common sense. Voltaire said common sense is uncommon.” GROWING A BUSINESS Jim Gaston says he was familiar with Arkansas, but his interest in a full-service fishing resort, the first in the area, when he was 20 was strictly as a business. He had no blueprint. He only wanted to fill a need. “I just went from there,” he said. “I had no idea what I was doing, seriously. “I didn’t think a bit about failing. I was told many times it would never work here, but failing never crossed my mind …” Gaston has always seemed a step ahead in marketing the area. Today, much of that marketing is accomplished through the Internet. Arkansas residents make up about 30 percent of his business, Gaston says. The resort’s draw of the central part of the United States is egg-shaped when looking on a map, with a range extending into Texas and Oklahoma to the West and Illinois and Tennessee to the east, with St. Louis and Chicago also hot spots for trout-loving tourists. Gaston doesn’t appear ready to slow down his involvement, but he’s bringing along his 23-year-old grandson, Clint, to eventually run Gaston’s. None of the employees at the resort has a title, and Gaston frowns upon formality. “One of my pet peeves is, I don’t like to be called Mr. Gaston at all,” he said. “We don’t have corporate meetings. If we have a problem in a certain area, I’ll get with that person who’s in charge of that area and get it solved.” More than a century later, most of Gaston’s cottages maintain the pink exterior they possessed when Al Gaston first arrived.


Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 13


“People will ask me, why are they pink?” Jim Gaston said. “The originals were pink. At that age when I got here, color meant nothing to me.” A few of the newer cottages downstream use a redwood exterior. The facility possesses a game room for youngsters, a tennis court and a pool. The rustic restaurant is an attraction for even the non-fishermen set, some of whom still fly into the little landing strip to take in the Sunday buffet. When he’s not behind his desk, Gaston is out photographing nature. His maintains a Facebook page with many of his professional-level shots, and he’s donated many photographs to the nearby Arkansas State UniversityMountain Home or to the James A. Gaston Visitors Center at the Bull Shoals Dam. As a college student briefly in the late 1950s, Gaston says, he was big on mathematics but disliked history. How that changed over the years, though, as he points out his vast collection of books in his office. A personality like Nathan Bedford Forrest captivates Gaston because, he says, Forrest was unique. His research revealed that Forrest, contrary to popular belief, did not start the Ku Klux Klan nor was a member, and after the Civil War he spoke at African-American churches in Memphis and expressed the ideas not popularly held in this region that “we are all equal.” “He had 25 or 26 horses shot out from under him. His reading and writing skills were very limited. He had made his money in farming and slaves,” Gaston said. “When you look at history, though, you have to judge people by the era they lived in … They called him the wizard in the saddle. His tactical skills are still taught today at West Point. There is a lot of history that’s been said about him that is not true.” Gaston then stays on point about truth, noting that Jefferson “said he never read a newspaper and is a better man for it. The only truth is in ads.” He says that today, politicians in Washington are not using facts. However, the public has educated the operators of the trout resorts and services, Gaston says. Catch-and-release, which the resort started 40 years ago, is predominant among visitors these days. Nowadays, he said, trout fishing is “more about the experience.” While Gaston’s is a story of more than a half-century of success in a business with many more failures, its owner shrugs off the accolades. “I’m a firmer believer we shouldn’t give ourselves too much credit,” said, a lifetime appointee to the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission and a member of the board since 1973. “No one has accomplished, on their own, anything without the people around them. When people look at success stories, they forget a lot of the other people who work hard that are part of the equation.” 14 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

Visitors Center A Long Time Coming At the top of the hill on the southwest side of Bull Shoals Dam stands a sparkling wood and glass building that carries the name James A. Gaston Visitors Center. Jim Gaston worked more than 30 years to make the Bull Shoals State Park Visitors Center a reality. The building opened in 2006. “One-third of it is devoted to education,” said Gaston, who said the primary goal is to expose children to the outdoors and all that nature offers. Inside the visitors center, a 20-minute video explains the history of the White River before the Bull Shoals Dam from the time of Native American dwellers in the area to white settlers, all the way to the creation of the dam in the 1950s and the introduction of trout to the river below the dam. Elsewhere, record trout and other fish are on display, along with a live trout and a back bear that has met the taxidermist. Many of Gaston’s own personal photographs line the walls on the north end of the center, where educational programs can be held in classrooms. “We have 600 volunteers throughout the year and they put on about 1,000 programs a year, and most of those are geared toward children,” Gaston said. “For example, we’ll have an eagle awareness weekend, and attendance in the classroom will be around 3,500. “We do nature programs, fishing programs. We don’t do hunting programs because we don’t have a place for it.” Gaston believes that emphasizing early outdoors education can reduce some of the ills besetting the nation. “If you can get kids out into nature, we can go a long ways to correcting many of the social behaviors,” he said.


Gwatney is Fishing

Executive Manager Jamie Cobb, Gwatney Chevrolet General Manager James Miller

for Your Best Guess

It could be worth $500! Win a Tacklebox!

When you call, we’ll enter your name for a chance to win a completely outfitted tackle box. No purchase necessary.

Gwatney Chevrolet General Manager James Miller and Executive Manager Jamie Cobb went fishing. James caught a whopper, but how big was it? Was it bigger than the fish caught by Lance Brown, General Manager at Gwatney Buick GMC? (See the Buick GMC ad on the following page.) If you can tell us whether James or Lance caught the bigger fish, it’s worth an additional $500 off your best deal on a new Chevrolet.

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Gregory Street Exit • Jacksonville 501-982-2102 • www.GoGwatney.com

1-800-698-1746 Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 15


A ROAD LESS TRAVELED State Highway 21 Is a Wild Ride Through Ozark National Forest for Nature, History and More By Joe David Rice Photography by Joe david rice and A.C. “Chuck” haralson Apparently not worried a bit about my sudden appearance, the black bear paused on the opposite side of the road, taking up most of the lane as if he owned the asphalt. I’d rounded a curve and quickly slowed to a stop on state Highway 21 a couple of miles south of Salus in the middle of the Ozark National Forest. This was the first bear I’d ever seen in the wilds of the state – and my pulse kicked into overdrive. He looked plenty big to me even if 20 yards separated us. He gazed my way with small dark eyes for another 10-15 seconds and then ambled west and nonchalantly disappeared into the thick woods of summer, probably never giving me another thought. But I think about him every time I make that curve, always hoping I might encounter him again or one of his offspring. That’s one reason Highway 21 ranks at the top of my list of favorite drives in the state: the prospects for seeing wildlife. Over the years I’ve also spotted a fox, a coyote, too many deer to remember, dozens of wild turkeys and hundreds of elk along the route, not to mention all sorts of smaller critters. Yet this northwest Arkansas road – a good portion of which is known as the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway – offers far more than an interesting assortment of animals. It’s got geology, historic sites, vernacular architecture, serenity, hospitable folks, great fall color, and some of the nicest views in a state already known for spectacular vistas. And, in my humble opinion, it provides the finest introduction to the Ozarks you’ll find anywhere. My goal is for readers to put Highway 21 on their own personal bucket list. I’ve been driving it for years over every season – and the road still retains its original charm and intrigue. Pack a picnic lunch, walking shoes, camera and maybe even a pair of binoculars. Better yet, pack a suitcase and make it a leisurely trip. Consider also working in a visit to Clarksville, Harrison, Fayetteville, or Eureka Springs while you’re at it. Take note, however, that food and gasoline are scarce commodities throughout much of the route. Heading Uphill Highway 21 begins a short distance north of the Arkansas River and Interstate 40 at the eastern city limits of Clarksville. Branching off U.S. Highway 64, it heads more or less due north for exactly 99 miles to the Arkansas/Missouri state line at Blue Eye. 16 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013


Gwatney is Fishing

Executive Manager Jamie Cobb, Gwatney Buick GMC General Manager Lance Brown

for Your Best Guess

It could be worth $500! Win a Tacklebox!

When you call, we’ll enter your name for a chance to win a completely outfitted tackle box. No purchase necessary.

Gwatney Buick GMC General Manager Lance Brown and Executive Manager Jamie Cobb went fishing. Lance caught a whopper, but how big was it? Was it bigger than the fish caught by James Miller, General Manager at Gwatney Chevrolet? (See the Chevrolet ad on the previous page.) If you can tell us whether Lance or James caught the bigger fish, it’s worth an additional $500 off your best deal on a new GMC.

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Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 17


Those starting a trip at the route’s southern terminus might make the Pleasant Hill Ranger Station of the Ozark National Forest their first stop. Located at 2591 Highway 21 North, it’s approximately 2.5 miles above the junction with U.S. 64. The U.S. Forest Service staff can provide helpful maps and brochures any weekday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A few miles farther to the north and Highway 21 actually enters the Ozark National Forest, a federal reserve created via a proclamation signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. Eventually encompassing some 1.2 million acres, this immense tract serves a variety of purposes: grazing, timber, wildlife habitat, watershed management, aesthetics and outdoor recreation. Although much of the land never left the public domain, some of it had been settled and later abandoned by pioneer families unable to scratch out a living on the thin soils of the rough terrain. It’s not uncommon for today’s hunters and hikers to discover stone fences, chimneys and foundations of

early homesteads now going back to nature. Fresh Air, and Food Ozone is the next community of note, and it’s one of two or three places in America with that interesting appellation. Tradition has it that in 1875 Mrs. Delia McCracken, the local postmistress, gave the town its memorable name because of the pureness of its air. Back in those days, the word ozone was used to describe the distinctive smell of fresh air following a lightning storm. Chances are Mrs. McCracken would not appreciate the “Ozone Alerts” and “Ozone Action Days” of the 21st century. Ozone lost most of its retail establishments over the years, but one exception is the Ozone Burger Barn – a rare opportunity for sustenance in the area. It’d been in business a decade or so when proprietor Tom Camardese bought the establishment in 1999. An Ohio native, Camardese had worked for several national restaurant chains before making the move to the Ozarks. He offers an amazingly diverse menu (handmade burgers and fried catfish are specialties) with favorable online reviews from Yelp and TripAdvisor patrons. Dining is outside on one of the many picnic tables. Camardese says he’s pretty busy year-round: hunters in the winter, canoeists/ hikers come springtime, traditional tourists throughout the summer, and motorcyclists during the fall. On at least one occasion he’s had bears grazing on the berries in front of his take-out window. Three miles or so beyond Ozone is a handy public recreation area, complete with campsites, picnic tables and “primitive” (i.e., nonflush) toilets, maintained by the Ozark National Forest. It’s also the site of Camp Ozone, a Civilian Conservation Corps compound dating from the early 1930s. The camp, one of 106 situated in Arkansas, housed approximately 200 young, previously unemployed men who constructed roads, hung telephone lines, planted trees and fought fires during the dark days of the Great Depression. Today, the rows of barracks are long gone, but several monuments commemorating the workers at Camp Ozone can be found under the towering pines.

The Burger Barn on Highway 21 is home to the “3 Napkin Burger” 18 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

The Ozark Highlands Trail, a 218-mile footpath roaming across seven northwest Arkansas


Elk along the roadside of Highway 21.

counties, conveniently crosses Highway 21 at Camp Ozone. Anchored by Lake Fort Smith State Park on its western end, the trail passes through some of Arkansas’ most remote and scenic landscapes before ending far to the east at the Grinders Ferry access (U.S. Highway 65) on the Buffalo National River. Six miles up the road is the community of Salus, which straddles the Johnson/Newton county line. South of the town is an abandoned fire lookout tower perched atop Devil’s Knob. The tower is locked up and fenced off, but there’s still a good view from its base. However, the rough and narrow route to the top (Johnson County Road 5598) isn’t recommended for city cars. For those curious about the demise of fire towers, advancing technology put them out of business. Today’s fire patrols are typically performed by airplane, rendering the lonely spotters and their lofty perches obsolete. Another six miles north on 21 is the town of Fallsville. Highway 16 merges from the west, next to a unique building (formerly a cannery) with interesting architectural details. As for Fallsville, the name is most likely due to its geography: steep slopes fall off to most every side of the community. The Big Piney Creek originates immediately below Fallsville to the east and the Mulberry River begins just to the south. Meanwhile, the Buffalo National River heads up north of town. The lone retail establishment seems to be open intermittently. Highways 16 and 21 share pavement for a little over eight miles to Edwards Junction, where 16 continues east and 21 turns sharply north. Pastoral settings and wonderful panoramic views are frequent along the way. Many visitors are surprised that the surrounding mountains are all virtually the same height, with no one peak standing above the others. That’s because the Ozarks are not a mountain range in the truest sense of the words, but represent a dissected plateau. Eons ago this

land was actually the bed of a shallow sea. Following an uplifting process, the lands have been eroded for countless centuries – resulting in the deep valleys common along the route. Fossilized remains of seashells and other sea creatures are regularly found in the area. More Treats From Mother Nature Adventurous travelers will want to check out The Glory Hole, a unique geological formation between Fallsville and Edwards Junction. What we have here is a special treat from Mother Nature. A small creek flowing south through the Ozark National Forest has carved a hole through a layer of solid rock near the edge of a bluff – and the water cascades into a shallow cave below. It’s a great photo op, especially in the spring when water roars through the cavity or on a frigid winter day when the falls are frozen. While there’s no signage for The Glory Hole, it’s fairly easy to find. Set your odometer at Fallsville and travel approximately 6.2 miles northeast up Highway 21. There’s a small, graveled pull-out just off the highway on the right, big enough to hold a couple of cars. Park here and begin walking downhill, following an old logging trail. About a quarter of a mile into the hike, the primitive road forks. Bear to the right and continue down the trail crossing the creek as you go. The trail lands at the top of the bluff line and The Glory Hole is dead ahead. Beware of slippery conditions – especially during the wet months of spring – and make sure to keep a careful eye on any youngsters. Roundtrip, it’s about a two-mile hike – so dress appropriately and take water, and your camera! There’s no longer a sign marking Edwards Junction, but it’s the spot where Highway 21 requires a left-hand turn to the north while Arkansas 16 continues east. Highway 21 winds through the Ozark National Forest, makes a quick venture into Mossville, and then exits national forest Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 19


complex currently closed by the National Park Service due to a disease affecting bats. The parking area is 0.7 miles up the hill. History buffs might enjoy knowing the cave played a role in the Civil War, supplying saltpeter that Confederate forces used to manufacture gunpowder. The next is Whitaker Point, quite likely the subject of more posters, advertisements, book covers and post cards than any other locale in The Natural State. The Flickr website alone includes over 260 shots of this fascinating geological anomaly. Parking is on the right at 6.1 miles at a sign marked “Wilderness Access.” The easy-to-moderate trail begins across the road and takes a mostly downhill course for about 1.5 miles before the distinctive bluff known as Whitaker Point comes into view. Pay close attention to children and acrophobia sufferers.

The Glory Hole on Highway 21 between Fallsville and Edwards Junction.

lands (and loses its scenic byway status) before dropping into what’s known as Boxley Valley. As the road begins its descent, the Smith Creek Nature Preserve will be in the deep valley to the right. This 1,226-acre tract protects one of the Buffalo River’s beautiful spring-fed tributaries. The Arkansas Nature Conservancy regularly leads field trips where participants can explore the watershed’s fascinating collection of rock formations, cascades and native plants (check out www.nature.org/arkansas). At the bottom of the 2.8 mile-grade into Boxley Valley, the highway crosses the western section of the Buffalo River Trail, a popular hiking and backpacking trail that essentially parallels the mountain stream. The trailhead for this 36-mile path is immediately to the left a short distance before the highway passes over Smith Creek. With several relatively short segments in the area, the trail offers opportunities for just about any skill level. A little over a mile beyond the “Boxley Valley Historic District” signage, Highway 21 crosses the Buffalo National River. Established by an act of Congress in 1972, the park protects a 135-mile riparian corridor encompassing nearly 95,000 acres. The stream is not far from its headwaters region at this location and resembles a creek more than a river – although skilled paddlers negotiate its rapids when water levels are appropriate, most often in the winter and early spring months. Famed View For those desiring an off-the-beaten-path experience, take a turn onto Cave Mountain Road at the north end of the bridge – and set your odometer. A narrow, graveled route, it quickly climbs up the steep hillside and leads to a couple of points of interest. The first is Bat Cave, an underground 20 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

Seven-tenths of a mile north of the Buffalo River bridge, Highway 21 passes through what remains of the Boxley community. Off to the left is the Boxley Baptist Church, one of the most photographed churches in the state. Next to it is the Walnut Grove Cemetery, which includes graves of members of the families that settled here generations ago. Down the road and on the opposite side is the former general store/post office and beyond it are the remains of an old steam-powered sawmill. Settlement in the Boxley area began around 1830, mostly with families moving in from Tennessee and the Carolinas. The town is named for William Boxley, a merchant from Springfield, Mo., who relocated into valley about a decade later. The National Park Service acquired most of the properties within the valley during the mid1970s as a part of its charge to preserve the landscapes and cultures of the Buffalo River. Some landowners sold their tracts outright and others retained title but deeded conservation easements to the federal government. A short distance north of Boxley, Highway 21 swings sharply to the left and begins a long climb out of the valley while Arkansas 43 continues north toward Ponca. This 4.3-mile stretch of Highway 43 is famous for elk herds grazing in pastures along the river, particularly during the winter months – and is a worthy detour. It also passes the entrance to Lost Valley, a former state park and now a campground and trailhead operated by the National Park Service. With its caves, waterfalls and looming bluffs, the two-mile roundtrip hike in Lost Valley is a special treat. Food and gasoline can be purchased at Ponca, at the junction of Highways 43 and 74, and visitors will also enjoy the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission’s Elk Education Center. The Ponca low-water bridge has been a traditional put-in point for Buffalo River canoeists for over half a century. Now, back to Highway 21. Approximately four miles north of its junction with Highway 43, gravel roads angle off on both sides of the highway. A right turn (to the north) and a one-third mile drive will lead travelers to the Elkhorn Church, a handsome and photogenic structure dating from 1900. The other option, the left-hand turn (to the south), goes to Sweden Creek Falls Natural Area, a 136-


acre preserve owned and maintained by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. Clear your odometer and drive slightly over 3.0 miles to a gate on the right side of the dirt road. Park in the graveled lot next to the gate and then follow a series of blue blazes down the easyto-moderate trail to an 80-foot waterfall that’s truly spectacular during the wet months. Smaller falls, rock shelters and sandstone glades will be seen along the route. Civil War History Continuing north on 21, the highway soon enters Madison County (named for President James Madison). Five miles later it reaches Kingston, a quaint Ozark community situated near the banks of the Kings River (of which Sweden Creek is a tributary). The town has an interesting arrangement of one-way streets around its tiny square. Several retail establishments along with one of the most picturesque banks in the state make up the compact commercial district. Two Civil War skirmishes occurred near Kingston in 1863. In early January of that year, 300 men from the First Iowa Cavalry captured a large Confederate saltpeter works southeast of town and destroyed warehouses, steam engines, boilers and half a ton of saltpeter. The second incident, in November and another Union victory, led to the retreat of 650 Confederate troops who marched south toward Clarksville. As Highway 21 departs Kingston, it continues northward on a 7.4 mile course parallel to the Kings River and, in fact, crosses the waterway twice. The north-running stream, a tributary of the White River, presents a scenic and serene landscape of pastures and small farms. When water levels are good, the river is an enjoyable float trip although most canoeing takes place further downstream, especially between Marble and Berryville. Following its junction with U.S. 412, a major east-west corridor across northern Arkansas, Highway 21 jogs to the right (east) for 0.3 mile before branching off and again heading north. The short stretch of pavement shared by highways 21 and 412 is a portion of one of several “Trail

of Tears” routes through the state. The Trail of Tears marks the tragic journeys of five Native American tribes – Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole – which were forced to relocate from their homes in the southeastern United States and move across Arkansas to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) as a result of the Federal Indian Removal Act of 1830. Highway 21 passes through rolling countryside and several small communities such as Omega, Metaltown and Cabanal as it nears Berryville. A couple of miles south of town it crosses Osage Creek, a major tributary of the Kings River and a float stream in its own right. Berryville, one of two seats of government for Carroll County (which is named for Charles Carroll, one of the country’s founding fathers and the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence), is a prosperous community of 5,356 residents. With a bookstore, soda fountain, the Carroll County Heritage Center, antique shops and other retail outlets located on an attractive public square, its downtown area offers something for nearly everyone and is definitely worth a visit. Just a block away is the Saunders Museum with an eclectic collection of firearms, knives and Victorian knickknacks. Heading north out of Berryville on the last 17-mile leg of its journey to the Arkansas/Missouri state line, Highway 21 meanders across a rural landscape dotted with small farms, pastures and the ubiquitous chicken houses of the state’s northwestern corner. About halfway through this last stretch of highway is one more surprise: Cosmic Cavern. Discovered by prospector John Moore in 1845, the cave includes a wonderful array of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone and some of the longest soda straw formations in the Ozarks. For more than three decades this commercial cave has been owned by the Randy Langhover family. Options include an 75-minute tour on paved walkways or – for those seeking a genuine hardhat adventure – a wild cave tour into the dark and muddy recesses of the cavern complex. Oak Grove is the next community of note, and it’s the largest of a dozen such named locales in the state. A few miles beyond Oak Grove lies Blue Eye, the final and northernmost town on the 99-mile length of Arkansas Highway 21. Arkansas claims 30 residents of the bi-state community while the Missouri side had 129 at the last census. If you still need convincing, think about this: the average traffic count on Highway 21 in Newton County is about 350 vehicles a day. Meanwhile, Interstate 40 at Clarksville carries about 30,000 daily. In other words, for every vehicle you’d encounter on Highway 21, you can expect 85 on the interstate. In short, you can relax and truly enjoy a road less traveled.

Whitaker Point is is perhaps the most photographed natural site in Arkansas.

Joe David Rice is director tourism for the Arkansas Parks & Tourism Department. Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 21


22 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013


Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 23


Overcoming the Odds Marion Hunter Mike Miller Fights Health Setbacks, Delivers B&C All-Time Buck in 2013 Classic By Jim Harris A decade ago, Mike Miller wasn’t thinking about tracking down a prize-winning deer. Miller, from Marion, was trying simply to survive.

again enjoy his passion — deer hunting — was rewarded on Jan. 27, 2013 when Miller came away with first prize in the Arkansas Big Buck Classic.

Miller was barely 30 and fighting an aggressive form of leukemia. He had relapsed three times after cancer treatments. In 2004, however, he underwent a stemcell transplant in Seattle. His 2013 Big Buck Classic identical twin brother, Mark, was the donor.

His deer scored 215 6/8 and landed him in the Boone & Crockett All-Time record book. Miller took the deer with a crossbow from about 25 yards in Cross County last October. It was the only buck in this year’s classic to score enough to make the B&C All-Time book. “I’ve been truly blessed,” said Miller, surrounded by family and friends just off the Barton Coliseum stage. “I’ve had some medical issues and the good Lord has been really good to me.”

“God took care of the rest,” Mike Miller said. The transplant was successful. Miller has been cancerfree for going on nine years. His fight back from cancer to once 24 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

photo by brian chilson

A longtime friend


from college days at Arkansas State University, Rhett Butler, was a finalist for the award with a non-typical rack that grossed a 203 score and netted 194. He was happy to see Miller come away with the top prize.

I went back this year and started getting pictures of him on the game cameras, decided to wait for the right weather and the right time, I guess, and right wind. “I went in there and hunted that afternoon, the first hunt. I heard some deer in the [nearby woods] clacking horns.

“Couldn’t happen to a better guy,” Butler said. The effects of the cancer treatment are still evident with the 41-year-old Miller, who has gradually regained his health after first being diagnosed in 2002. “I’m just recovering on all the issues, the breathing, the eyesight, the legs,” he said. These days, he hunts from ladder stands or box stands and must be transported closer to his hunting area than other hunters might require, but he says he feels he’s getting stronger.

“About an hour later this big deer came out, he had two deer behind him. All three of them gradually made their way to me in the food plot. When they got within about 25 yards, all three of them were standing there and had a distraction and turned. I was able to get a crossbow up and make a shot. The other two were

smaller, two nice eight points. Miller estimated the deer’s age at 5 to 5 ½ years. Miller said he started late in deer hunting, taking his first deer at age 17. “It’s my passion, it’s always been my passion,” he said. “I love to bow hunt, I love to hunt with a compound and through all the chemo and radiation I kind of lost the use of my legs. They told me I would never walk again, but by the grace of God I’m walking. I’ve been blessed with kids that I wasn’t supposed to have. I’ve got a beautiful wife and family, and deer hunting to me is everything.”

The lack of leg strength required him to abandon his preferred compound bow for a 10-point crossbow that he acquired last year as if fate had ordained it. “I had just gotten an entry fee from Bradford Marine for a bass tournament in Springdale for the Chamber of Commerce tournament,” Miller said, “and I was drawn for the $1,000 gift card and went to Bass Pro and bought the 10-point crossbow. The first hunt, I was able to kill that deer with that crossbow.” Coincidentally, one of the prizes for this year’s biggest buck was a 4x4 Bad Boy Buggy donated by Bradford Marine.

“I’d been getting pictures of this deer on a game camera,” Miller recalled. “I’d seen him last year on the game camera but I’d never seen him in the woods or live.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BIG BUCK CLASSIC

The fateful day for Miller and deer to meet was Oct. 7, as a cool evening crept in. The temperature was 55 degrees and a front had blown through after a day of rain.

Mike Miller was the overall champion of the 2013 Big Buck Classic with a 215 6/8 B&C score harvested in Cross County. Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 25


His friend Butler, who lives in Jonesboro, took his buck in Desha County at a private hunting club where he has hunted for several years. “I had this deer on the trail camera for three years, and basically this year picked him up in mid-October,” Butler said. “I bow-hunted him up to about the first of the gun season, then started gun-hunting him. After 23 days, ended up shooting him with a rifle on Nov. 23.”

estimated the deer’s age at 5 to 6 ½ years. The rack was officially a 15-pointer.

“God took care of the rest.”

Butler estimated the kill was made over just 50 to 80 yards with a Winchester .270. Nearly every fall weekend in Arkansas featured a front rolling through with rain, and such was the case on Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. “It had been warm most of the week. It cleared off about lunch, we had a cold front coming through and I was able to position on his bedding area,” said Butler, who

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Snakes, Knives Guns Aplenty

The annual Arkansas Big Buck Classic drew thousands to Barton Coliseum and the State Fairgrounds the final weekend of January, and interest in the event continues to swell. While the event offered plenty for the nature lover and outdoors fanatic to enjoy, whether it was hunting or fishing or camping, the biggest crowds throughout the weekend seemed to converge around a snake demonstration amid all the other stands on the floor of the coliseum. Joe Martin’s Snakes of Texas had crowds running four and five deep around the dozens of Western Diamondbacks kept separated from the onlookers by thick wire fencing amid 2x4s.

“I think he’s got some offspring, but after 30 years of an established hunting club, he’s the biggest thing we’ve harvested,” said Butler, who was happy to see Miller surrounded by his three young children, including twin girls, and Miller’s twin, Mark.

Miller said, “This is my first time up here. It was awesome, and awesome being able to stand up in front of my friends. They know how much I love to hunt, and they help me so much. Without them I couldn’t do it.” When the deer hunts are over, Miller can’t wait to get out his fishing gear. “I love to fish, crappie fish in particular, when the weather gets right,” he said.

environment as the Classic wound down. “They strike for two reasons, food and fear,” said Dugger, who gladly answered questions for the inquisitive crowd. Meanwhile, an exhibit in the Hall of Industry featured no real danger for the younger set. Bwana Jim brought his array of animals, including a baby alligator and a python, for regular showings each day. Bwana Jim enjoyed scaring the kids in front by deftly slamming his knee into his glass case while he held a live baby alligator or his nonpoisonous snake. The rest of the exhibit was an informative presentation of animals such as a barred owl, a red-tailed hawk and a turkey vulture, all injured in the wild and no longer able to survive on their own. Outside the coliseum, native Arkansan knife-makers plied their trade and brought up visitors to learn first hand the art of forging a blade. All this and more will return to the Fairgrounds again next year.

The snakes were gathered in an area south of Waco before the trip to Arkansas. Lively on arrival, the snakes — ranging from very small to 6-feet long — had become docile by Sunday while being kept on the cold Coliseum floor. With the reassurance of handlers, who had a full grasp on the snakes, a few of the onlookers felt comfortable enough to touch the reptiles and examine the “rattles.” Doug Dugger, who appears on an Animal Planet show about snakes, was among the handlers there. He said he’d only been bitten five times by the poisonous creatures. “I only count the times I’ve had to go to the hospital.” Very few of the snakes appeared bothered enough to bite anything on Sunday, and they all seemed used to their new 26 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

Joe Martin’s snakes of Texas are a crowd favorite at the Arkansas Big Buck Classic.


Youth Always Served At Big Buck Classic The Arkansas Big Buck Classic recognizes all ages of hunters and their fine work in the field over the past deer season. Many youths from throughout the state happily took their turns on the main stage at Barton Coliseum on Jan. 27 as their antlers, if not full deer heads, earned them plaques for top kills.

Whether you're hunting for ducks or hunting for bucks, we have the truck for you. 2013 GMC SIERRA

Eight-year-old Davis Stephens from Fayetteville had a big deer season. His crossbow kill, from a distance his father estimated was 30 yards, earned the youngster a plaque and recognition. But that was just one of two prizes for Stephens, who also scored with a muzzle-loading kill. 2012-13 also was significant in that Stephens landed the triple trophy — he took a doe with a single-shot .243 rifle. Stephens attends Holcomb Elementary School in Fayetteville.

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He’s also a fast learner in the ways of hunting; he’ll only admit that he took the deer south of Fayetteville in Washington County. “My dad wouldn’t want me to tell you exactly where we hunted,” he said, while his surrounding family chuckled.

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Hunters young and old proudly displayed their bucks at the Classic, including Davis Stephens.

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www.sportinglifearkansas.com Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 27


Mike Knoedl Enforces a New Plan at AGFC Former Enforcement Head Leads Entire Agency After It Endures Rough Patch, Want To Address Image Problems By jim harris Mike Knoedl was unanimously selected by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission as its executive director on Oct. 24. Some observers of the AGFC might say it’s been one of the few things the commission has unanimously agreed on lately. Knoedl (pronounced kuh-NAY-duhl), a well-liked, longtime enforcement officer with the AGFC, knew what he was jumping into. His predecessor, Loren Hitchcock, was roundly criticized during his brief tenure after taking over for Scott Henderson. The commission took a hit over the past several years on various fronts, from the elimination of fall turkey hunting or blinds in public duck hunting lands of northeast Arkansas, to an attempt by a trio of commissioners to make the G&FC immune to many of the state’s Freedom of Information Act laws. Even since Knoedl came aboard, the commission suffered yet another black eye when veteran Commissioner Rick Watkins, who was due to become 28 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

chairman in the summer, resigned earlier this year after an embarrassing public intoxication charge and runin with law enforcement officers in Lonoke County. Knoedl knows full well the agency needs to address its image problem with the public, which funds it through tax dollars. Knoedl is a native of Scott and played football for Sylvan Hills High School, but today he makes his home in Fordyce, where he spent a significant portion of his G&FC enforcement career. He was named chief of enforcement and then was asked by Hitchcock to be one of three deputy directors a little more than a year before he was named as Hitchcock’s replacement and officially took over last Oct. 28. He and his wife, a Sheridan school teacher, have four grown children; in fact, the 49-year-old Knoedl is due to become a granddad in the later this year. Knoedl spent 24 years in the field in

South Arkansas as a wildlife officer before advancing to Little Rock with the rank of major, was enforcement chief for nearly five years, then joined Hitchcock’s staff as a deputy director. He was one of three deputy directors, as well as some out-of-state applicants, considered for the director’s role after Hitchcock resigned. Knoedl sat down with Arkansas Wild editor Jim Harris for a question-andanswer session on his background and his immediate plans for the agency. AW: So, maybe to get this started on a lighter note, I have to ask, when people first greet you, do you hear all kinds of pronunciations of your name? KNOEDL: I guess my response to that is, yes. In school I thought my last night was “uh.” The teachers, they might ask a question and would just say Mike ‘uh” and I knew they meant me. It’s a German name. When it’s spelled the German way it comes across with the line over it as a long “A.” I’ve been around the state a lot and my kids have


been involved in sports a lot over the years, and I’ve been around a lot of people in the field. You’d be surprised but a lot of people pronounce it right. My great-great grandparents settled in Little Rock. Not far from John Barrow Road is Knoedl Road … But yes, the name has been pretty mauled up from time to time. I go from “No-dooll” to “Ka-No-Dall” to “Ka-noodle.” AW: Have you been a hunter and outdoorsman your whole life? KNOEDL: I’m about five clicks above a hunter and an outdoorsman. My dad told me I couldn’t earn a living hunting and fishing. I did the next best thing and by the good Lord’s blessing got on with the Game and Fish when I was 21. I’m blessed to get up every day and go to a job I love. As for hunting, I’ve killed 26 deer with my bow. I can’t tell you how many turkeys I’ve killed, but that’s my favorite type of hunting. I’m not mad at the deer anymore, I don’t hunt them like I used to, but I will go with my boys occasionally and I did kill a nice 8-point this season. But I just love turkey hunting. I’ll go to two or three different states and turkey hunt each year. It’s hard, it’s one of the biggest challenges in the world. And, of course, I’ll squirrel hunt, crappie fish ... there is no bigger sportsman in the state than I am, and I look forward to, when I retire, to catching up on a lot more of it. AW: Who were your major influences in whetting your appetite for the outdoors? KNOEDL: My grandfather, Carl Knoedl. He was in the logging business. He was outside a lot as a logger. My uncle, Jim Knoedl, was a huge outdoorsman, a duck hunter and a deer hunter, he did it all. My dad worked all the time. So my grandfather definitely was the most influential as well as my uncle. The first time I went duck hunting and remember shooting a duck, I was 6. About then, I started hunting small game. When I look back on it, I can’t believe now that my grandfather turned me loose with a .410 squirrel hunting all by myself when I was 8, but those were such special times. It’s almost like it’s in my blood. I just love

“...there is no bigger sportsman in the state than I am...” the outdoors so much. My grandfather was such an influence that when he passed away in 1990 and was lying there in his casket, I pinned my first badge I ever wore on him. I was named Wildlife Officer of the Year in 1993 and I just wished then he could have seen it. AW: So, as you progressed with the agency, did you see yourself eventually moving up to the administrative ranks, or has all this come about with no real planning back then? Knoedl: You hit the nail on the head on the second part, my friend. When I went to work for this organization, I never got up one day and put my uniform and gun on and thought, “I’m going to be chief of law enforcement or the director some day.” I got up and went to work and did the best job I could. I can tell you, I’m a very Christian person and I believe God has a plan for us all. I’m where God has planned for me to be; for how long, I don’t know. It’s been a whirlwind trip, coming up through the ranks, the way it’s transpired. One thing that’s very important to me, and I quote this to our employees. Never once in all my years of working for the Game and Fish, and I’m still this way as director, did I think otherwise: I don’t do this for the commission or the commissioners, if you will, or anybody else. I tell my employees, don’t forget who you work for and that’s the taxpayers of Arkansas. Don’t get up

and work for me. Don’t work for your supervisor. Remember, we answer to the taxpayers. It may sound cheesy to you but I’ve always been that way … The people pay all our salaries and we need to give them the best bang for the buck. AW: This is one of the more difficult times for the agency in leadership and how it is being perceived by the public. You replaced Loren Hitchcock, whose tenure as director was reportedly difficult. It can’t be easy moving into the role at this point, can it? KNOEDL: What I can tell you is this. I worked for Loren Hitchcock pretty much most of my career. He was in a supervisory position. We go way back, grew up together in the agency, if you will. We disagreed a lot, we agreed some of the time. I won’t get into the differences Loren and the commission had. You are right. I’m taking over where the PR or our image is not where I want it to be. I hope it’s one of the legacies I leave when I leave the agency, that we have the respect that the agency carried for many years. Not being too critical but some of our commissioners have not made that easy for some of the employees at some times. I don’t want to start pointing fingers at anyone; it is what it is. On the flip side of that coin, I believe our commission that we have now in place, they are a great bunch of guys and they are committed to do the right things. Now they don’t always do the right things but it is not on purpose that they do the wrong things. They have the best interest of our customers to do the right job. I would not have applied for the job if I did not believe that Commissioners Overton, Cook, Brown, all of those guys are truly committed to taking our agency back where we need to be with the public. On the flip side, though, I tell this quite frequently when speaking to the public. It’s a tough business. There is nothing in this state besides the Arkansas Razorbacks and some of your residents are more passionate about their hunting and fishing. It’s a tough job to make the majority happy sometimes because people have their own thoughts for Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 29


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with all of the people of the state of Arkansas. It’s often said we are only an arrogant agency and we don’t listen to the hunter or fisherman. But we have public meetings around the state all the time about major issues. We explain what our biology department does and how we set our seasons on the different data that is collected, and they do a heck of a job doing that. Of course, the public doesn’t always agree with the decisions.

setting duck season dates or deer season or duck limits. It’s hard to please everybody, but they are very passionate about it and that’s a good thing. If you’re passionate about it, you’re going to want to conserve it. AW: So, one of your focuses is educating the young people... KNOEDL: I was so blessed as a young man when I was growing up around my grandfather and uncle in the outdoors. I’m very tuned into the fact that we have to conserve as well as enhance what we’re blessed with, and I want to see that continue for generations, for my grandkids and their kids and so forth and so on. That’s something every important to me. Like [Bob] Dylan once sang, “The times they are a-changing” and you’re seeing family traditions of hunting change. Unfortunately some of that is because of technology. The kids sit at home and play hunting games on computers and shoot game on the computer. I firmly believe we have to get our kids outside and involved, teach them how to correctly handle firearms, educate them. I’ve seen a lot of traditions change and that’s something that is near and dear to me. We need to enhance it by all means. A prime example for this agency is our youth shooting sports. We have 7,000 school children involved in our youth shooting sports and many more in the archery in schools program. That’s huge. Hopefully we can parlay these activities into more of a desire for our children to enjoy the outdoors. My oldest son killed his first turkey when he was 6 years old, almost 7. There are a lot of kids who might not 32 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

be physically capable of playing sports well or even interested in team sports, but they can shoot a bow-and-arrow, they can be taught those life lessons that hunting can teach. When I speak to our wildlife officers when they graduate … I always say to remember this, when you have contact with a young man or young woman in the field it may be their first contact with a Game and Fish employee. That is going to set the stage for them about what the Game and Fish Commission is all about. I can tell you, the first wildlife officer I ever met, we got checked hunting rabbits near Nashville and he was very nice and made us feel at ease. These young people are our future. If those kids don’t grow up and buy hunting and fishing licenses, ultimately the state loses. I tell our people, always take the time to educate them, and even though they don’t grow up to be a hunter or fisherman, they won’t grow up against it. There are plenty of people in Arkansas who don’t hunt or fish but they aren’t against it. AW: What are some other ways you will tackle the public relations problem that has beset the agency of late? KNOEDL: We must try to repair our image

It’s important to me that we get our image back and show that were not arrogant. Throughout my career, I’ve seen a lot of people do this and it’s this way in a lot of life, but they want to focus on the negative stuff. They don’t know all the positive areas we’re affecting, the youth shooting sports, the archery programs; we have wildlife officers out every day working for the public and putting their lives on the line. I liken that to an offensive line of a football team. The offensive line goes out every Friday night and does their job and on Saturday, they don’t expect nor do they want to see their name in the paper. They don’t want the recognition, they just do it. I think at times we fail to tell our story to our customers. Yeah, we may have made a mistake over here or a mistake over

I hope it’s one of the legacies I leave when I leave the agency, that we have the respect that the agency carried for many years.


there, but look at all the good things we’ve done for the state and how blessed we as a people are with all the opportunities we have to hunt and fish. I go to other states and turkey hunt and I’m very careful to look around and see what opportunities they have in other states, and I’ve never seen a state like Arkansas that has such abundant public lands and areas where, say, you can light 100 mallards into green timber reserves like we have, or where you can put a boat in on some reservoir and fish. I think our public may take some of those things for granted if they don’t get out of the state much, and especially if they don’t go to other places and fish and hunt. I want to say, we are listening to you and I work for you, and since the passage of Amendment 75, the 1/8th cent sales tax, we’ve been able to do so much more as far as equipment goes, buying more public property to hunt and fish on, and I want to tell them we are spending your money wisely.

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Enforcement Education Has Changed In 30 Years AW: What was it like going through the process to become and enforcement officer? Are Game and Fish officers trained like state policemen? KNOEDL: We have our own academy up at Mayflower. Man, how times have changed since I went through. It was eight weeks long then, which I thought was seven too many. It was like going through military training. I thought we’d just learn what we had to know with a little training, but little did I know that I had joined the club and it was very military-oriented in the training. Ed Armstrong, who ran the academy then, he also had a great influence on my life as well. We slept in open barracks with two commodes and two sinks. Now, we have a $1.5 million facility. And the training, it eventually went to 22 weeks but we have cut that back to 16 weeks. Back when I graduated, they handed you a gun and a badge and said, “Go get ’em.” I’m 21 then and you turn around and say, “What do I do next?” I loved the outdoors so much. I just loved to be outside and it didn’t matter if it was night or day. It just kind of all came to me naturally as I got my feet on the ground. I’m proud to say, these days we provide those wildlife officers with the most innovative training of any enforcement division in Arkansas. We’ve come a long way. Back then, we did not carry full police powers. We were classified as specialized police. In the late 1980s the legislature granted us full police authority, and we had to change our academy curriculum to meet certain criteria to be full officers.

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Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 33


Preserving Arkansas’ Outdoor Traditions U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (right) hunts with a friend near Stuttgart.

By Sen. Mark Pryor From duck hunting in Stuttgart to fishing in the Ozark Mountains, there’s no denying that Arkansas truly is the Natural State. Like many Arkansans, I was born and bred to embrace our state’s rich outdoor traditions. I can still remember sitting in the duck blind as a teenager with my older brother, and the excitement of my first hunting, camping and floating trips with my two children — memories I’m certain many families also share. During my tenure as Arkansas’ U.S. Senator, I’ve worked tirelessly to preserve and promote these outdoor traditions. That’s why I was honored to join the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, a bipartisan group that’s responsible for allocating our nation’s conservation funds. As a member of this group, I’ve helped preserve critical habitats from the refuges at the Cache River to the White River, and I’ve fought for legislation to make it easy, quick and convenient for Arkansas hunters to receive their federal duck stamps online.   As the vice chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I’ve supported policies to increase hunters’ access 34 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

to public lands, protect and enhance wildlife habitats, and support fish hatcheries in our state. This year, I plan to move forward with legislation that would prevent Arkansans from being penalized for hunting on what could be described as baited fields. As you know, this past summer Arkansas was affected by a severe drought that caused rice farms to re-head, creating second growth crops. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has now decided to view these crops as baited fields, even though this practice was recommended by local cooperative extension services. Unfortunately, this can result in a fine of up to $15,000 or prohibit hunting on the land. I hope my legislation will clear up this issue and ensure hunting season resumes undeterred this year. Enjoying the outdoors is a way of life for thousands of Arkansas families. Through my work on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I plan to preserve our outdoor traditions for generations to come. Connect with Sen. Mark Pryor at www.pryor.senate.gov


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Duck Down Arkansas Mallard Numbers Took Another Tumble this Season By Jim Harris

Pintails and mallards taking off near Noble Lake in Jefferson County this past February.

Photo by A.C. “Chuck” Haralson 36 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013


Photo by A.C. “Chuck” Haralson

Youth hunt near Noble Lake.

There’s reason to believe, based on biological surveys, that mallards never made it to Arkansas in great numbers during this recently completed duck season, and the ones that came were on the early end of the season. The migration of mallards to Arkansas just before the Nov. 17 opening of duck season was more than three times the count at the same time the year before, according to aerial surveys by Arkansas Game and Fish biologists. The total of nearly a half-million estimated mallards in the Delta was the largest since the AGFC began the standardized aerial surveys of the Arkansas River Valley and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley in 2009. However, by mid-January, as the season was winding down, mallard counts were also down comparable to past seasons. Surveys in mid-December and early January also showed low duck numbers compared to estimates in recent years.

This year’s late January survey count, according to the AGFC, was roughly half of the 2010-11 late January average of about 1.6 million ducks and 1 million mallards. Yes, there were a few areas of high concentration around the eastern portion of the state, particularly in the northeast quadrant. And hunters on the Youth Duck Hunt Weekend Feb. 2-3 reported what the AGFC’s surveys also showed: There were a handful of concentrated mallard areas in the Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area in eastern Jefferson County. But word-of-mouth among hunters around Arkansas County in the final weeks indicated that few ducks were flying in the area, much less working the hunting clubs as much as they had earlier in the season. Arkansas was hit by an early winter storm of ice and snow on Christmas day, and other rains before and after the Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 37


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holiday allowed more available habitat for ducks than what the birds experienced in early November, when the state was coming off an extended drought. The 2012-13 wintering period also was characterized by relatively cool temperatures, according the AGFC biologist report. However, temperature is only one factor driving duck movements, and dry conditions early on appeared to have resulted in insufficient widespread habitat to attract large numbers of ducks to Arkansas, leading to a noticeable lack of major migration events since early November. The Jan. 21-23 aerial survey estimated 837,195 ducks and 476,741 mallards in the state, which were similar to the numbers estimated weeks earlier in the midwinter survey. However, that was off drastically from 2012 late January estimates of 1.3 million ducks and 750,518 mallards. The highest concentrations of mallards were in Bayou Meto, Black River/Upper White, the Cache and the Lower St. Francis River. The lower White River saw nearly 110,000 fewer ducks from the Midwinter survey to the late season survey, and almost 90,000 fewer ducks over the same survey period a year ago.

So, if hunters in most of the usual duck wintering grounds thought they were seeing fewer ducks this year, they were right. According to the surveys, mallards were observed using flooded agricultural fields in the Delta, a common occurrence late in the duck season and wintering period. Most mallard observations in the Arkansas River Valley were on large lakes, ponds and moist soil units with very patchy distribution, according to the AGFC. Arkansas has seen a steady decline in late season ducks from the enormous numbers recorded in January 2010. That year, the late season estimate showed 3.2 million ducks in the state, with more than 2 million being mallards. Each successive season has seen a fall-off of about 400,000-500,000 total ducks from the previous year’s count. There’s always next year and a chance to turn that trend around if Arkansas gets a better break on the weather both here and to the north.

Photo by Mike Wintroath 40 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013


Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 41


Poto by Chuck Haralson, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Bagging the

Big Gobbler

Season Has Grown Shorter, Later For Arkansas Turkey Hunters By Jim Harris

Turkey hunters in Arkansas have to make every day count. For the second year in a row, Arkansas will have just 16 days and for hunters who work weekdays, that’s just three weekends — to land the wary gobbler. The season was shortened in 2012 from 18 to 16 days, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stuck with that schedule again for this April after reviewing the recent harvest and brood 42 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

surveys and the recommendations from the agency’s biologists as well as taking input from hunters. The state reportedly experienced a record-low brood in 2011. The season will also be pushed back another weekend, opening this year on April 20. In zones 4, 4A, 5A and 9A, the season will close on April 28, while the remainder of the state (with the exception of Zone 1 in north-northwest

Arkansas, where no turkey hunting is allowed) will see the season close on May 5. It wasn’t that long ago hunters in Arkansas were enjoying five-week seasons like neighboring states. Arkansas also had a fall turkey season as well that was scratched six years ago by the Game and Fish Commission. “Arkansas’ spring season used to open


If those weekends are like typical Arkansas spring days in April and May with gusting wind to go along with rainstorms, turkey hunting could be a wash, Tynes says. “Wind is a turkey hunter’s worst nightmare. I’ll take rain and cold, but wind will shut a turkey up quicker than anything.” The agency has been surveying hunters and collecting information since 2007 on the spring turkey season. The survey isn’t random, and it requires the hunter to return the information to the agency in a postage paid, self addressed envelop, so it’s believed much of the information received comes from avid hunters. Still, the survey provides some interesting data. Hunters report everything from the hours spent hunting to the number of turkey gobbles they heard in the field. One statistic gleaned from the survey shows that of the hunters responding, 50 percent hunted on private land, 35 percent hunted public land and 15 percent of the hunters

were on hunting club land. According to the respondents, the most hunts in 2012 took place in Perry, Montgomery, Izard and Drew counties. The Ozarks region produced the most reported turkeys seen or heard. Missouri continues to be the strongest destination of Arkansas hunters seeking an out-of-state approach.

Poto by Chuck Haralson, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

up the first of April. The last three to five years they [the commission] have slowly hurt the turkey hunter and taken the season down,” says Dickie Tynes, a lifelong hunter from Little Rock who will hunt turkey in several neighboring states each year. “So, for the average Joe working Monday through Friday, he’s only going to have six days to hunt. The Game and Fish is only thinking about the weekend hunter.”

Since 2007, the commissioners have taken a conservative approach to the season. At the commission’s Nov. 29 meeting, Jason Honey, the agency’s turkey program coordinator, reported on the 2012 brood survey, saying that the state’s good weather and proper season structure had resulted in the best poult-to-hen ratio since spring 2002. Honey did say, however, that poor weather in 2011 during the nesting and brood-rearing period led to one of the lowest poult-to-hen ratios in the state’s history, and he said that the lack of 2-year-old birds might result in a drop in 2013 harvest. “They are saying our turkey population is down,” says Tynes. “I don’t know where they’re getting the information because the places I’ve hunted I’ve seen plenty of turkeys.”

Finding the Gobbler

Tynes, who is the golf superintendent at Country Club of Little Rock, grew

up in Pine Bluff hunting turkeys with his dad and older brother. “Where a lot of people duck hunted, my dad turkey hunted. I was hunting as soon as I could hold up a .410,” he said. His excursions over 40-plus years of hunting, from Mississippi to Tennessee, Missouri and other states in the region, resulted in Tynes bagging the “Grand Slam,” harvesting all four of the turkey subspecies found in the United States: the Eastern, which is found in Arkansas and most of the U.S.; the Osceola in Florida; the Merriam in the Rockies, and the Rio Grande, whose habitat ranges from Texas to Kansas and also can be found on the West Coast. Tynes seemed like just the hunter to ask for suggestions for the novice to bag a gobbler and for maybe the more experienced hunter to improve on the experience.

Dickie Tynes

Greg Trulock hunted with Tynes and took this gobbler.

One of his first suggestions was to pick up a copy of Tenth Legion, a book on tips and stories about turkey hunting by Tom Kelly. “I read it every year before springtime. It gets me fired up about turkey hunting. I have a passion for it.” Turkeys are silent creatures in fall and winter. Spring comes and the mating season begins, however, and they begin to make noise. The males are gobbling and the hens are yelping; the woods are waking up all around, dogwoods are budding, trees are greening up and flowers are blooming. Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 43


“It probably doesn’t get any more beautiful than that, and to hear a turkey gobble is something else,” Tynes said. “You have to have a place to go and know there are turkeys there. You’ve got to do a lot of scouting. Arkansas is fortunate to have such public grounds as it has. We have lots of good turkey grounds. With very little effort you can find some turkeys by doing some scouting beforehand.” The effort, the difficulty, the challenge that makes turkey hunting such a draw to avid hunters comes later. A hunter must know the correct sounds to call in a turkey. One dominant male in the area is gobbling to assemble their harem of hens, typically in the morning, the start of the mating process. The trick, Tynes says, is finding that gobbler who hasn’t already got his hens. “You’ve got to go against nature and call the gobbler into you. A lot of people don’t realize that.” A dominant male with hens will run another male off. “Then you’ve got a single gobbler trying to gather up his

hens. That’s when you can get lucky and call a bird in.” Easier said than done, he adds. Turkeys are preyed upon from the moment they hatch. Besides being a human’s holiday feast, turkeys are the main food supply for bobcats and coyotes. They are very wary birds. “Their eyesight is about 10 times stronger than a human’s. Their eyesight is keen. Deer don’t really see colors, but turkeys see everything. That’s why when you hunt turkey, full camouflage is mandatory … They can spot things that are just not natural,” Tynes said. OK, the hunter has a gobbler responding. Now what? The hunter must now get the bird in killing range for the shotgun or bow, the next difficult part in this endeavor. “That’s what makes it so challenging, and it is very challenging,” Tynes noted. “I know guys who have been hunting four or five years and never kill a bird. It’s very frustrating and challenging, especially with the limited time you have to hunt them.”

Noisy gobblers have figured out survival techniques enough to often wait for the hens to come to them. Tynes has seen gobblers stay locked up for 2-3 hours, just sitting, rather than venturing out for the hens, then just walking away from the chase. “And that’s what they do, 90 percent of the time is just walk away,” he said laughing. “A lot of times, you’re just trying to figure out his next move. Then you make your move. It’s like playing chess. Most of the time he wins.” Know your terrain, he said, when on the chase. Tynes prefers a No. 5 shot for his 12-gauge when hunting. Shoot at the head. Experience is often the only way to know when that perfect time has come to pull the trigger. In north Arkansas, Tynes will hunt mostly fields, and one of his favorite approaches is to use a gobbler decoy with a hen. “Even if the [live] gobbler is with his flock, when he sees that other gobbler down there and it’s his territory, he’s

Turkey Season Dates

Zones: 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 10, 17 Season: April 20-May 5 Shooting Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Limit: Statewide bag limit and limit for these zones is two adult gobblers or bearded hens, no jakes. Hunters 6 to 15 years old may harvest one jake as part of their two-bird limit (including youth hunt). No more than one turkey may be taken per day.

Zones: 4, 4A, 5A, 9A Season: April 20-April 28 Limit: In this zone, only one bearded turkey, no jakes. Hunters who kill a turkey in one of these zones must travel to any other zone (including another one-bird-limit zone) to harvest a second turkey. Hunters 6 to 15 years old may harvest one jake as part of their two-bird limit during the season (including the youth hunt). No more than one turkey may be taken per day. Zone: 1A* Turkey hunting is not allowed. *—Easternmost Benton and Washington counties, Carroll County, most of Boone and Marion counties, southern Baxter County and northernmost Madison, Newton, Searcy and Stone counties. Turkey Youth Hunt Zones: 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5A, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9, 9A, 10, 17 Dates: April 14-15 (30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset both days). Limit: Bag limits of the regular turkey hunt apply. Hunters must follow the zone bag limits of the zones in which they hunt. Only hunters 6 to 15 years old may hunt turkeys during the special youth turkey hunt. An 18-year-old 44 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

mentor may accompany youth who have completed the hunter education course. Youths who have not completed the hunter education course must be under direct supervision of an adult 21 years old or older. Key Regulations • Only shotguns (10 gauge and smaller) and archery equipment (including crossbows) may be used to hunt turkey. Shot larger than No. 2 common shot is prohibited. • Shooting a turkey from a boat is illegal. • Firearms must be unloaded and cased while being transported by boat at night (from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise). • Turkeys may not be hunted with the use of traps, nets, snares, hooks, explosives, dogs or live decoys. Hunters may not possess electronic or mechanically powered calls. • Releasing domestically reared turkeys into the wild is illegal. • Capturing wild turkeys or collecting their eggs is illegal. • Turkeys may not be hunted with the aid of bait. • Immediately tag the harvested turkey with the tag from the hunting license and complete all information. • Call 866-305-0808, or log on to AGFC online checking to check your turkey within 24 hours of harvest.


looking for a fight. He’ll run down and jump on the decoy, and that’s a hoot.” Decoys also make it much easier to kill a bird because, for this rare moment, the turkey will be distracted. He warns the novice against using calls on public lands, recalling times that he’s called up hunters rather than birds, even with a hen call, in those areas. It can be extremely dangerous, he says. Save the calls for hunting on private land, particularly since experienced guides can be found there and lead a good hunt. Tynes remembers days in his youth when the state had an immense population of turkeys while the sport wasn’t nearly as publicized and had fewer hunters. He cites a drought of 1980 as a time when the number of turkeys seemed to tumble here, and then lately has seen the Arkansas seasons growing shorter and shorter. “Having such a short season kind of deflates you about getting fired up about the turkey hunting in Arkansas,” he said. “I guess the thought with the commission was to build the population up. One way to discourage the hunter is the cut the season, and maybe next year they’ll revisit it. I know a lot of turkey hunters here who aren’t happy about it.” For hunters looking to travel beyond Arkansas, Tynes notes that Missouri has been a top destination, but of late Tennessee and the region from Nashville to the Great Smokey Mountains has been overrun by turkeys. Mississippi has a six-week season that extends on either side of the Arkansas dates. “I guarantee you Arkansas has as many turkeys as Mississippi does,” he said. At this point in his turkey-hunting career, Tynes said, it’s no longer about bagging the gobbler. “It’s all about the experience,” he said. “There is nothing like sitting there and hearing a turkey gobble, and they do a drumming, and it will just get your heart in your throat.”

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Holy Crappie! As Easter Approaches, Crappie Fishing Makes for An Exciting Excursion

46 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013


Some of the best times fishing in Arkansas come in the spring, right before Easter. Easter this year falls on March 31. Crappie begin to spawn, and they seem especially lively and hungry around the full moon. In the spring, that tends to come in what some denominations note as Holy Week, the period between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. So, get out the rod and reel, or just a cane pole, and enjoy a great fishing experience that’s also a perfect time to expose children to another of the state’s outdoor resources. Crappie fishing is a bit more advanced than bream fishing or catfishing, but it’s still an exiting way to spend a day on the water. Crappie tend to gather close to cover in deep water, except in spring when they move shallow to spawn. Two species of crappie are found in Arkansas, and both are excellent as table fare. Lures to Use •T  he best lure to use for crappie is live minnows and shiners. The extra trouble of purchasing and keeping a minnow bucket is well worth the effort, as crappie often will hit minnows when nothing else will work. •S  mall 1/8-ounce marabou jigs and tube jigs are great for catching crappie without the hassle of live bait. They aren’t as productive as minnows, but you can spend much more time fishing and covering water with jigs than you can minnows.

comes in handy when it’s time to catch a minnow to bait the hook. •W  hen crappie fishing from a boat, a length of rope comes in handy to tie up next to large brush piles and work through the cover with your jig or minnow. •C  ommercially prepared Crappie Nibbles are often the extra enticement you need to get a crappie to hit a jig. Fishing Tips •C  rappie usually spawn at the same time dogwood trees are blooming. This is the best time to find a lot of crappie around shallow brush and trees. Once the spawn ends, they move out to deep water where only people in boats can get to them, but a few stragglers are always in relatively shallow water. •W  hen fishing with jigs, you don’t need hundreds of colors. These colors are all you need to catch crappie: • Red/chartreuse and black/chartreuse – muddy water; • Pink/white and red/white – stained water; •C  lear with sparkles and clear green with black flake – clear water.

• Small spinners, such as Rooster Tails and Beetle Spins are good lures to use for crappie when they’re active. They also catch quite a few bass in between crappie bites. Rods, Reels and Tackle  uch like bream fishing, crappie fishing is dominated •M by cane poles and jigging poles. To rig a pole for crappie fishing, tie a 10-foot length of monofilament line (4- to 10-lb. test) to the tip of the pole and tie a no. 2 Aberdeenstyle hook to the other end. Pinch on enough split shot to keep the minnow from swimming away and add a bobber about 3 feet up the line.  igging poles are also ideal for using crappie jigs. Tie a •J 10-foot length of 8-lb.-test monofilament line to the tip and tie a jig to the other end. Work the jig in an up-anddown motion close to brush. When a fish hits, it will jerk the rod tip down.  pinning rod-and-reel combos are used by many crappie •S anglers who prefer to use spinners and slip-cork rigs. A slip-cork rig works like a bobber, but the line slides through the cork until it reaches a stopper. This lets you reel up the rig and cast. Other Helpful Equipment  n insulated minnow bucket and ice helps keep •A minnows lively throughout the day. A small dip net also Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 47


GAMe

Notes

Ty Patterson To Serve Remainder of Watkins’ Term Ty Patterson of Texarkana will complete Rick Watkins’ term as Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioner after Watkins resigned earlier this year following a charge of public drunkenness and a run-in with law enforcement in Lonoke County. Gov. Mike Beebe, noting that the current commission was not represented by anyone in southwest Arkansas, revealed Patterson’s appointment on Friday, Feb. 15, at the Witt Stephens Nature Center Jr. in Little Rock’s River Market district. Watkins, of Little Rock, had 17 months remaining as a commissioner. “The bad news is it’s only for a 17-month appointment, but I know you’ll leave your mark as a commissioner,” Beebe said to Patterson during the event. The 35-year-old Patterson said, “This is truly a dream come true for someone like myself who is passionate and enjoys hunting and fishing. Patterson is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He pointed out his love for fishing on lakes in southwest Arkansas, duck hunting on Lake Millwood and hunting turkeys in the spring around the Cossatot River and Hurricane Creek. “I need to get in and get my feet wet” with the commission, said Patterson, whose first meeting with the rest of the commission was less than a week later. He said he learned of his appointment about 8-10 days earlier. The Arkansas Times reported on Feb. 15 that Patterson was not registered to vote in

Good Reports on Bears, Gators The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard reports Feb. 21 at its monthly meeting that the 2012 bear and alligator hunting seasons went smoothly and populations are stable. Myron Means, AGFC bear program coordinator, said the statewide population of about 4,000 black bears is stable. During the 2012 bear hunting season, 264 males and 167 females were harvested. Archery hunters harvested 359 of that total, and 297 bears were taken on private land. Madison, Franklin, Polk and Scott counties continued to lead the state in number of bears harvested. Means also pointed out that nuisance bear calls answered by the AGFC totaled 130 in 2012, which is in the average range; the number of calls spiked at 314 in 2007. 48 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

Gov. Mike Beebe congratulates Ty Patterson, the newest member of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Arkansas until 11 days before the official appointment. Patterson has worked for his family’s auto dealership in Longview, Texas, before returning to Texarkana in recent years. Patterson said he was not familiar with the details of Watkins’ resignation or other controversies surrounding the commission and the agency in recent years and could not comment on them. He said he was unfamiliar with most of the commission, with the exception of commissioner Ford Overton, but was looking forward to interacting with all the commissioners soon and getting to know them. “I’ve grown up an outdoorsman my whole life, and being a conservationist also is a chance for me to give back,” he said, adding that he felt fortunate to be appointed even to a short term.

Mark Barbee, an AGFC biologist, updated the Commission on the 2012 alligator hunt. Barbee said 30 alligators were harvested and 47 tags were issued. The largest alligator in six years of hunting seasons was taken by Mike Cottingham during the 2012 season. It stretched 13 feet, 3 inches. Barbee said about 3,000 people applied for hunting tags. A revised plan for turkey management was approved at the meeting. The AGFC Wildlife Management Division began work to update the 1999 Strategic Turkey Management Plan in 2012. The result is the 2013 Strategic Turkey Management Plan, which will provide “long-term guidance for proper management of Arkansas’s turkey population,” according to a Commission minute order. The Commission also approved purchase of 58 vehicles at a cost of $1.5 million. The cars and trucks are replacements for aging vehicles.


Field Can’t Keep Up With Pace in Bassmasters Fighting the ever-changing weather of late February on an East Oklahoma lake, Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., won the 43rd world championship of bass fishing, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. His three-day catch of 54 pounds, 12 ounces, earned Pace the first prize of $500,000 and the most coveted trophy of the sport. Mike McClelland of Bella Vista was the top Arkansas finisher. McClelland was fifth at the final weigh-in on Feb. 24 after starting the day in 14th place. He landed a weight of 45-5 over the three days. Pace led the Classic wire-to-wire on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, although he shared the first-day lead with 2003 Classic champ Michael Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J. On the second day, Pace put some distance between himself and the 52 other anglers and led his nearest challenger — Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho — by 7 pounds.

surpassed the $1 million mark in earnings from Bassmaster events. Pace was fishing in his fifth Bassmasters Classic. He was runner-up in the 2008 Classic. The Classic will be shown March 10 on ESPN2 from 4-8 a.m. CT. An hour-long Classic highlights program will air at 7 a.m. on April 7.

B.A.S.S. Bassmaster Classic Top Ten Finishers Name 1. Cliff Pace 2. Brandon Palaniuk 3. Hank Cherry 4. Michael Jaconelli 5. Mike McClelland 6. Tracy Adams 7. Jason Christie 8. Kevin VanDam 9. Todd Faircloth 10. Randy Howell

Wt. (Lbs) 54.12 51.8 49.0 48.5 45.5 45.2 43.5 41.11 41.5 41.4

Winnings $500,000 $45,000 $40,000 $30,000 $25,000 $22,000 $21,500 $21,000 $20,500 $20,000

Palaniuk closed the gap on Sunday to 3 pounds, 4 ounces and settled for second place. “This is a gift that I will always cherish,” the 32-year-old Pace said at the weigh-in. “This is the ultimate high of a career, a lifechanging moment.” Anglers dealt with snow, rain, belowfreezing temperatures and then warming air and water under clear skies on the final day. The expectation among the field was that the winner would average 17-18 pounds per day, but Pace was well ahead of that pace with 21-8 on Friday and 21-12 on Saturday. However, he said that Sunday “was probably the hardest day I’ve ever spent on my boat. I caught two in the first hour and didn’t get another bite until about 1:30.” His hot spots of the first two days were affected by a wind change Sunday that left those areas calm, and Pace went 5 ½ hours without a bite. But Pace, who used Jackall jerkbaits and a Jackall DD Cherry crankbait in a crawdad color, managed to catch 11-8 to stay ahead. He also used a ½-ounce B&M Football Jig with a V&M Twin Tail trailer in green pumpkin, then dipped the plastic trailer’s tails in orange dye so they could be seen in the stained water. His $500,000 Classic prize allowed Pace to become the 39th member of the B.A.S.S. Millionaires Club — anglers who have

Mike McClelland placed fifth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic held last month at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, located in northeast Oklahoma. Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 49


Purple cone flowers on Hwy. 65.

NATURAL STATE BEAUTY By A.C. “Chuck” Haralson From cascading waterfalls to wooded nature trails to the beauty of vibrant azaleas, Arkansas offers so much to see and do in the Natural State. Whether you decide to traverse a scenic highway or take a walk through one of the state’s picturesque parks, you owe it to yourself to get outside an enjoy the view. Here are just a few photos to inspire you.

Lake Catherine Wildlife.

Garvan Woodland Gardens 50 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013


Columbine Flower at Triple Falls near Jasper.

Petit Jean State Park. Falls Creek Falls at Lake Catherine.

Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 51


calendar events 34th ANNUAL WYE MOUNTAIN DAFFODIL FESTIVAL

March 1 thru 31: Event dates will be announced when flowers are close to blooming. Check the Facebook page for updates. Seven acres of over 30 varieties of daffodils to view, photograph, and walk through. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. while daffodils are blooming. On weekends we’ll have arts & crafts, BBQ, cobblers, other food concessions and soft drinks. Admission: free, Daffodils can be picked for a small donation. Event place: Wye United Methodist Church. For more information contact Sue Gildner or Betty Harmon at 501330-2403.

MOUNTAIN VIEW BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL

March 7 thru 9: Great bluegrass music all weekend long. Single day pass or Festival pass available. Event location: Ozark Folk Center State Park, Music Auditorium. For more information call 870269-8068.

LIL’ WILD ONES: NATURE STORIES AND ACTIVITIES AT THE WSJCANC

March 9: You are invited to join us for the program series Lil’ Wild Ones the second Saturday of each month through the school year at 2 p.m. The program for March 9 is Chasing Rainbows: Catch a Trout. We will explore the wildlife and habitats of Arkansas through nature stories and hands-on activities. These programs are recommended for children age 4-8 years old. Registration is not required. For more information contact Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center at 501-907-0636.

ARCHEOLOGY DAY AT PETIT JEAN

March 9: March is Archeology Month in Arkansas, and you are invited to spend a day discovering some of the archeological treasures of Petit Jean Mountain, including the genuine Native American pictographs of Rock House Cave. Contact the park at 501-727-5441 or visit www.petitjeanstatepark.com for a schedule as the event draws near. Admission: FREE. 52 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

ARBORETUM NIGHT HIKE

March 9: A whole new world emerges as nighttime falls in the forest. A park interpreter will help you explore how both human and animal senses adapt to low light levels. Please wear sturdy shoes (no sandals) and dress for the expected weather. Meeting place Pinnacle Mountain Arkansas Arboretum. For more information call 501-868-5806.

TWILIGHT HAYRIDE & CAMPFIRE

March 10: There are more ways to experience nature at Pinnacle Mountain State Park than just climbing the mountain or hiking our trails. Come take a hayride through fields and woods followed by a cozy campfire. Blankets and snuggling recommended. Advance payment required.

Admission: $12 adults, $6 children ages 6-12. Meeting place: TBA. For more information call 501-868-5806.

2013 ARKANSAS ARCHERY IN THE SCHOOLS STATE TOURNAMENT

March 15 and 16: The top archery teams from schools around the state will compete. The Elementary Division will compete on March 15 and the Middle and Senior High School Division will compete on March 16. Event location: Hot Springs Convention Center and Summit Arena. Admission: FREE. For more information contact Curtis Gray at 870-319-5136.

SPRING CANOE FLOAT

March 16: Take off from the Little Maumelle boat launch and experience the beauty of spring on this guided 4.5 mile float. No paddling experience is required, but you should be comfortable around


water. Wear shoes that can get wet. Fee includes use of canoe, paddles, and life jackets. Bring a lunch and water. Advance payment is required. Admission: $35 per canoe. For more information call 501-868-5806.

8TH ANNUAL “DU IT IN THE DIRT”

March 16: An Off-Road Duathlon consisting of a 2 mile trail run followed by a 10 mile Mountain Bike ride and a final run of 1.8 miles. Admission: varies. Meeting place: Cedar Glades Park in Hot Springs. For more information contact Fred Phillips at 870-246-6686.

ORGANIC VEGETABLE GARDENING JAPANESE STYLE AT GARVIN WOODLAND GARDENS

March 19: From 9:30 a.m. until 12 p.m. is the time of this event. Do you like the healthy, fresh taste of organic vegetables, but have limited space for both beds and composting materials? Then this is the workshop for you. Learn to compost and grow in the same bed. The Japanese, with limited land for gardening, have perfected a simple, effective method for growing intensively in small spaces. We can learn from them and it works! We will identify companion plants that are “good neighbors”. They attract beneficial insects and limit aphids

and red spiders. Your vegetables will prosper and produce without costly insecticides. Handout materials and demo items will make it easy to transfer the workshop experience to your garden. Don’t miss this one if you’re partial to the best-tasting vegetables ever! Cost is free to members; regular admission to non-members. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. To register, please call 501-262-9300. Admission: $10 adults, $9 seniors, $5 children 6-12.

MINI DAY CAMP (AGES 7-10)

March 20: Come and try a Pinnacle Mountain day camp for a day. See if your 7-10 year old child would like to spend a full week with us in one of our summer day camps this summer. Activities will include nature programs and a guided hike on a park trail. Advance payment required. Admission: $15. Meeting place: Visitor Center. For more information call 501-868-5806.

TREK INTO SPRING—DISCOVER NATURE DOWNTOWN

March 20 thru 22: Spring Break special programming. Contact the Nature Center or review our website for information on activities planned during spring break at Witt Stephens Jr. Central AR Nature Center located at 602 President Clinton Ave. Contact Hollie Sanders at 501-907-0636 or visit www. centralarkansasnaturecenter.com.

MINI DAY CAMP (AGES 11-13)

March 21: Come and try a Pinnacle Mountain day camp for a day. See if your 11-13 year old child would like to spend a full week with us in one of our summer day camps this summer. Activities will include nature programs and a guided hike on a park trail. Advance payment required. Admission: $15. Meeting place: Visitor Center. For more information call 501-868-5806.

2013 WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VETERANS DAY

March 30: In 1973 the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was controversial and sadly our Vietnam Veterans never got the “Welcome Home” they deserved. Join us at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History on Saturday, March 30, 2013 for a day of activities to Honor, Celebrate and Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans. Activities include free admission, a parade, memorial ceremony and fellowship. For more information contact Danna Duggar at 501-241-1943.

CITY OF SHERWOOD EASTER EGG HUNT

March 31: Every Easter (weather permitting) the City of Sherwood provides an Easter Egg Hunt. Ages range from walking through 10 year olds. Candy and prizes are given out in each age group and pictures with the Easter Bunny are offered. The Hunt starts at 2 p.m. SHARP! Admission:

T H E L U R E O F D E G R AY L A K E R E S O R T

An island lodge, lakeside campsites, full-service marina and 13,800 acres of the sparkling waters of DeGray Lake to enjoy. Add to that, trails, swimming areas, tennis courts and an 18-hole championship golf course. It’s all here for you at Arkansas’s resort state park – outdoor adventures and resort amenities!

DEGRAY LAKE RE S O RT

S TATE

PA RK

One of 52 Arkansas State Parks.

1-800-737-8355 • DeGray.com Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 53


GASTON’S FLY FISHING SCHOOL

FREE. Event place: Sherwood Forest (1111 West Maryland Ave., Sherwood). For more information contact Amy Jackson at 501-833-0476.

4TH ANNUAL JUMBO GUMBO COOK-OFF

April 5: One of the South’s up-and-coming events! 40 teams will compete for best gumbo, best booth, people’s choice, and more! Event time 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. All you can eat gumbo and there will be live music. Drinks available for purchase. Jumbo Gumbo is a fund raiser for The Allen School, a preschool for developmentally disabled children. Admission: $20. Event place: River Market Pavillions. For more information contact Jessica Myers at 501-301-4824.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE SERIES: FISH FASHION WEEKEND

April 5 thru 7: It’s hard to win a staring contest with a fish, but they sure are fun to catch. Join us on this weekend devoted to all things fish. Through special programs and activities, you can learn about the fish that live in Lake Catherine and how they are adapted for their environment. Join park staff for cane pole fishing around the marina and get an up close look at some of the species lurking under the water. Contact the park for a detailed schedule as the event draws near. Admission: FREE. For more information call 501-844-4176.

LIL’ WILD ONES: NATURE STORIES AND ACTIVITIES AT THE WSJCANC

April 13: You are invited to join us for the program series Lil’ Wild Ones the second Saturday of each month through the school year at 2 p.m. The program for April 13 is The Lorax: A Conservation Challenge. We will explore the wildlife and habitats of Arkansas through nature stories and handson activities. These programs are recommended for children age 4-8 years old. Registration is not required. For more information contact Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center at 501-907-0636. 54 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

April 13 and 14: The first day of the course will begin with three hours of one on one classroom instruction. Covered subjects include the art and history of flyfishing, equipment and uses of different types of equipment and the basics of fly-fishing starting at 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. The afternoon will be spent with personal instruction on how to use your fly rod, and with Frank’s very successful casting methods. How to fish both the low water and high water levels of the White River. This will also include instruction on fly-fishing methods that you can and will put to use on streams or lakes other than the White River. This part will be taught using our nature pond from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. The morning of the second day will be spent fly-fishing the White River for trout with Frank. This will be along the two miles of river frontage here at Gaston’s White River Resort. If water conditions are too high for wade fishing then we will return to the nature pond for bass fishing from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. with Frank, however you may fish as long as you wish. Our goal is to provide you with the very best instruction and quality education. In order to do this we must limit the number of fly fishermen to six per course. There will be no exceptions; however, there may be less. In no case however, will there be more than six. Please note: You must furnish your own chest high waders. In addition to the above instruction, the course will include the use of fly fishing equipment, selection of flies, and course study guide. You may bring your own equipment if you wish. You will need your own waders, polarized sunglasses, rain suit and hat. The cost of cottage reservation will depend on what type of facilities you would like to stay in. 2013 Fly cost is $240 per person. For more information visit www.gastons.com.

HERSHEY TRACK & FIELD GAMES

April 18: Starting at 4:30 p.m., if you are a kid between 9 and 14 who loves to run, jump and throw, these games are for you! Come on out and join in the fun by competing in basic track and field events and have a chance of a lifetime to receive an all expense paid trip to compete in the annual North American Final Meet held in Hershey, PA each year. Beginners and track enthusiasts are all welcome. In case of rain, the Track & Field Games will be moved to April 25, 2013. Call 501-982-4171 for more information. Date, time, and location subject to change. Admission: Free. Event location: Jacksonville High School.

SEERSUCKER SOCIAL

April 18: This fundraiser for the Old State House Museum features live music, party games, and

appetizers and libations for those 21 and older. Prizes will be awarded to the most fashionable seersucker wearers, so don your dashing vintage duds! Admission: $25 in advance and $30 at the door. For more information contact Amy Peck at 501324-9685.

TWIN LAKES CHAPTER BIG GAME BANQUET

April 20: The mission of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. Since 1984, we have protected and enhanced over 6 million acres of wildlife habitat. We also support hunting heritage programs and help restore wild elk herds. Along the way, we have helped open access to nearly half a million acres for public hunting and other recreation. The Twin Lakes banquet will take place in Mountain Home. Contact Gary Goeckerman at 870-405-4099 for more information.

ARCHERY ON THE LAWN (LR)

April 20: You’re invited to drop in every third Saturday from noon until 2 p.m. to test your archery skills at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. We’ll be shooting compound bows at square targets. No experience necessary, but you do need to be at least 10 years old to pull the string back. This is a drop-in activity, so stop by any time from noon until 2 p.m. For more information call 501907-0636.

BOATING EDUCATION (AGFC LITTLE ROCK)

April 23 and 25: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission invites you to take the Arkansas Boating Education Safety Course. Registration is required. Registration begins March 25, 2013 by calling 501-223-6377. Hearing impaired interpreters will be available. The Arkansas Boating Education Course teaches fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. This is necessary to reduce loss of life, personal injury and property damage while increasing boating enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts. Take the class and pass the test. The basic six hour boating course includes: Arkansas Boating law, Boat Classification, Registration and Trailering, Personal Flotation Devices (life jackets, etc.), Rules of the Road, Maintenance, and Boating Accidents. You must attend both days in order to complete the course. The event will take place at AGFC Headquarters Office (2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock). Event time both nights: 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

CRUISIN’ IN THE ROCK

April 26: Crusin in the Rock is a free hot rod show in the Little Rock River Market District. Cars, music, door prizes and the excellence River Market restaurants. Event starts at 6 p.m. For more details contact Carol Dolan at 501-370-3201.

ARKANSAS YOUTH SHOOTING SPORTS PROGRAM TOURNAMENT

April 26 and 27: The Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program (AYSSP) aims to bring the joy of the outdoors and the rewards of safely learning


to shoot to young Arkansans. Have you ever considered competing in the Olympics or a national shooting championship? This program from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission could be a start. The AYSSP has two divisions: junior and senior. The junior division is for grades 6-8 and the senior division is for grades 9-12. The public is invited to come watch. Juniors compete on April 26 and seniors compete on April 27. Event time: 8 a.m on both days. Any type of shotgun action is allowed, as long as the bore is 12 or 20 gauge. Release triggers are not allowed. Trap machines that throw targets at unknown angles are used. The state coordinator may specify models of trap machines for AYSSP events. All shooters and coaches must wear appropriate eye and ear protection. All teams must be on the field and ready to compete 45 minutes prior to their scheduled time. Event location: Remington Gun Club (1604 Highway 15 North, Lonoke). For more information contact Chuck Woodson at 501-230-4738.

WOO AT THE ZOO

April 27: Take an after hours tour of the zoo and get a special zoo keeper chat all about the interesting, strange, and hilarious world of animal mating behavior. Then, jam to the tunes of one of the hottest cover bands around. Food and beverages included with ticket. Must be 21 to attend. Admission: $35. Contact Katie Grant at 501-661-7212 for more information.

GERMAN HERITAGE FESTIVAL

Daze has something for everyone. This free, family festival has awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships and scholarship endowments to students in Faulkner County. Event place: Downtown Conway. For more information contact Conway Area Chamber of Commerce at 501-327-7788.

For the past 29 years, we’ve been serving food, friends and the community, put on by Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. Event place: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. For more information call 501-221-5300.

PIONEER VILLAGE SPRING OPEN HOUSE

May 18: You’re invited to drop in every third Saturday from noon until 2 p.m. to test your archery skills at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. We’ll be shooting compound bows at square targets. No experience necessary, but you do need to be at least 10 years old to pull the string back. This is a drop-in activity, so stop by any time from noon until 2 p.m. For more information call 501907-0636.

May 4: Pioneer Village is a collection of 19th century buildings, farm equipment and other items of historic interest saved from throughout White County by the White County Historical Society. Crafters, Dutch oven cooking, live music, clogging, square dancing, and games for children, along with food and crafted items for sale will be part of the day’s event. Event place: White County Historic Museum, Pioneer Village. Admission: Free (donations accepted). For more information contact Elizabeth Heard at 501-580-6633.

DISCOVERY DAYS

May 9: This program is designed especially for school field trips. Park interpreters and trained volunteers lead programs in the picnic area that include hikes around the Kingfisher Trail, interactive Native American History, animal programs, and viewing of native wildlife. Reservations are required. Contact the park for more details at 501-868-5806. Event place: Pinnacle Mountain West Summit Picnic Area.

WILD WINES OF THE WORLD & MORE

April 27: Celebrate Stuttgart’s German heritage by participating in a 5K run/walk followed by a lunch of German Brats, Germanic beers and wine, and homemade German pasta. Join us for live polka music and more! Admission: $5 for kids’ activities and $10 for brats. Event location: The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie (921 East 4th Street, Stuttgart). For more information contact Melanie Baden at 870-673-7001.

May 11: Don’t miss out on the wine and food event of the season. Wild Wines of the World & More takes guest on a journey through the zoo, experiencing food and beverages from all corners of the world. For more information contact Susan Altrui at 501-6617208 or via e-mail saltrui@littlerockzoo.com.

JEWISH FOOD FESTIVAL

INTERNATIONAL MIGRATORY BIRD DAY

April 28: The Jewish Food Festival includes traditional Jewish foods such as old fashioned corned beef sandwiches, lox, bagels and cream cheese, kosher hot dogs, rugelach and many more wonderful Jewish delicacies. Want a traditional Israeli meal of kabobs, falafel, and Isreali salad? Then the 2013 Jewish Food Festival is the place to be. Cultural and religious booths will showcase Jewish life from Arkansas to ancient Israel. Learn about Jewish holidays and life cycle customs and enjoy an exciting kid’s area with plenty of activities from face painting to a whole area for jumping activities. Entertainment includes contemporary and traditional Jewish music. Admission: Free. Event location: Little Rock River Market. For more information contact Jewish Federation of Arkansas at 501-663-3571.

32ND ANNUAL TOAD SUCK DAZE

May 3 thru 5: From local and national entertainment to kids’ entertainment; from arts and crafts to anything you can eat on a stick; from the 5K/10K race to the World Famous Toad Races, Toad Suck

May 11: This event celebrates and brings attention to one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas—bird migration. Contact the Nature Center at 501-907-0636 for more information on planned activities. Admission is free.

LIL’ WILD ONES: NATURE STORIES AND ACTIVITIES AT THE WSJCANC

May 11: You are invited to join us for the program series Lil’ Wild Ones the second Saturday of each month through the school year at 2 p.m. We will explore the wildlife and habitats of Arkansas through nature stories and hands-on activities. These programs are recommended for children age 4-8 years old. Registration is not required. For more information contact Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center at 501-907-0636.

29TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL GREEK FOOD FESTIVAL

May 17 thru 19: The International Greek Food Festival is the largest ethnic festival in Arkansas.

ARCHERY ON THE LAWN (LR)

ANNUAL BUZZ-B-QUE

May 18: 103.7 The Buzz will be present at the BuzzB-Que. Come enjoy live music and BBQ at the Buzz-B-Que competition. Event place: Downtown Riverside RV Park (50 Riverfront Drive, North Little Rock). Admission: $5. For more information call 501-661-1037.

GASTON’S FLY FISHING SCHOOL

May 18 and 19: The first day of the course will begin with three hours of one on one classroom instruction. Covered subjects include the art and history of fly-fishing, equipment and uses of different types of equipment and the basics of fly-fishing starting at 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. The afternoon will be spent with personal instruction on how to use your fly rod, and with Frank’s very successful casting methods. How to fish both the low water and high water levels of the White River. This will also include instruction on fly-fishing methods that you can and will put to use on streams or lakes other than the White River. This part will be taught using our nature pond from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. The morning of the second day will be spent flyfishing the White River for trout with Frank. This will be along the two miles of river frontage here at Gaston’s White River Resort. If water conditions are too high for wade fishing then we will return to the nature pond for bass fishing from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. with Frank, however you may fish as long as you wish. Our goal is to provide you with the very best instruction and quality education. In order to do this we must limit the number of fly fishermen to six per course. There will be no exceptions; however, there may be less. In no case however, will there be more than six. Please note: You must furnish your own chest high waders. In addition to the above instruction, the course will include the use of fly fishing equipment, selection of flies, and course study guide. You may bring your own equipment if you wish. You will need your own waders, polarized sunglasses, rain suit and hat. The cost of cottage reservation will depend on what type of facilities you would like to stay in. 2013 Fly cost is $240 per person. For more information visit www.gastons.com. Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 55


Arkansas Wild readers share pictures from their outdoor adventures. Passing on the tradition on the Black River

Black River ducks Ready to go near Crawfordsville

56 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

Brown Trout on the White River

Ducks and more ducks


White River at Calico Rock Jenkins Trout Dock, Calico Rock

First fish caught at Tichnor Spring 2012 turkey, Izard County

Ducks at Bayou Meto WMA Fly fishing on the White River

Just put Stetson’s on the White River Spring 2013  Arkansas Wild | 57


PARTING SHOT They’re More Special Than Pets In case you missed the notice, April is National Pet Month. And that’s all fine and good, and certainly in our household we’ll continue to shower our mini schnauzers with treats galore. Every month is national pet month around our house.

a star running back) over the years, and he’s had them replaced — not a cheap operation by any stretch.

As most hunters know, a huge difference exists between the average pet and whatever it is they term their hunting dog that accompanies them the yearround into the woods, fields, duck blinds and deer camps.

Father Time is the only real enemy of a hunting dog. Mother Nature wasn’t fair when she only allocated about 8-12 years of life for a typical Labrador.

Whether it’s the typical bird dog or a loyal Labrador, the word “pet” just doesn’t seem to fit. The term “companion” seems most appropriate. That’s how my brother would describe his 12-going-on-13-year-old black Lab, Woodrow, who’s probably right up there with any dog in Arkansas for ducks retrieved over his lifetime, at least at a private club. Before this season, Woodrow was averaging somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 ducks retrieved per year. Woodrow has been the king of the club where my brother hunts, though the other men there who owned Labs felt a special kinship and pride with their dogs as well, a feeling that’s hard to replace when those companions have breathed their last. There are probably Arkansas hunting wives out there who wish they enjoyed the same level of companionship with their spouse that they see between their husband and his hunting dog. With my brother as the perfect example, hunters will go to great lengths for their dogs. In Woodrow’s case, he’s blown out two ACL’s (the anterior cruciate knee ligament; yes, the football injury of many 58 | Arkansas Wild  Spring 2013

Woodrow has come back pretty much as good as new each time, to Stephen Harris’ delight.

Woodrow was our first dog — I say “our” liberally, as it’s all my brother’s dog, and Woodrow is sure to let me know it, but I’m still “Uncle Jim.” It seems like only yesterday Woodrow was barely a puppy, saving us the embarrassment of our poor wing-shooting and losing cripples in the woods. He could get them all. Suddenly now he’s mostly deaf, a gray beard surrounding his mouth and more prone to sleeping in like Uncle Jim — though he still was able to retrieve several more ducks this year in what was supposed to be his retirement. It was intended that he’d turn the retrieving over to Tuco, a young black Lab who has been brought along more slowly by my brother, who self-trains his dogs and likes the bond it creates. The second dog is never like the first and doesn’t get the same attention. One early morning this past season, though, Tuco had had enough of being left out and swam the

bayou a mile to the blind to join in, even retrieving two ducks. Tuco’s too rambunctious still at 3. Where Woodrow has always been statue-like and quiet as the ducks work, waiting for the shots to ring out, Tuco bores easily. If the hunting is slow, he wants something to retrieve. He’ll drop a stick at your feet to let you know. He’s better off back at camp with Lori, a sweet, female yellow Lab my brother and his wife adopted when they moved to Benton. Soon enough, though, it will be Tuco’s turn. There will only be stories about Woodrow and his greatness, like a longgone baseball Hall of Famer. “Remember that time Woodrow did …” Right now, we thankfully sit in a blind amazed at what he can still do. Then the hunt’s over and my brother drives back home, with his companion beside him.


Stick to the roads you know and some you’ve yet to meet.

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Arkansas Wild Spring 2013  

Trout fishing's king Jim Gaston, AGFC, Arkansas 21, Big Bucks, Turkey Hunting, Crappie Fishing 101