ARKANSAS WILD the 2019
GIFT GUIDE GARY & LUCY ON PAGE 42.
BACK IN QUACK
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CHAMPIONS OF THE WILD MEET THE 2019 CLASS 34 Kim Rowland Dollins Healing Waters PHOTOGRAPHY BY NOVO SDUDIO
36 The Nature Conservancy Green Warriors 38 Ozark Beer Company & Fayettechill Great Beer, Better Cause 40 Terri Lane Natural Woman 42 Gary Don Stell & K-9 Lucy Dynamic Duo
10 OUTDOOR GIFT GUIDE Make Their Holiday
Champion of the wild Kim Rowland dollins (left).
20 BACK IN QUACK Duck Season is Here 30 RNT’S JOHN STEPHENS The Wild Interview DEPARTMENTS
16 TRIBE 18 EXPLORE ARKANSAS 46 ARKANSAS NOTEBOOK 4 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
On the cover: Gary don Stell and k-9 Lucy. Photo by Novo Studios
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3 seating offer class-leading comfort, convenience & smooth, quiet ride • Torquey 700-class liquid-cooled, fuel-MIKE SPAIN Advertising Art Director ted engine with strong low-end acceleration and pull through the rpm range • Ultramatic ® transmission with duale (Hi/Lo) drive, reverse and all-wheel engine braking • Pushbutton 2WD/4WD with On-Command ® • Comfortable ® LITTLE Professional drivers on3-point closed course. Always protect the environmentfor and wear your seat helmet, eyerear protection and protective clothing. Read• the owner’s n with handhold, padded head manual rests & seat belts all •belt, Steel cargo bed Available in Realtree ® XtraJORDAN and product warning before operation. Model shown Genuine Yamaha Yamaha Motor Corporation, Professional drivers on closed course. Always protect thelabels environment and wear your seatwithbelt, helmet, eyeAccessories. protection©2017 and protective clothing. ReadU.S.A. the owner’s Director of Digital Strategy All rights reserved. • YamahaMotorsports.com ridearkansas.com | 6600 S. University Little Rock, AR | (501) 562-0910 manual and product warning labels before operation. Model shown with Genuine Yamaha Accessories. ©2017 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. suntop & aluminum wheels. All rights reserved. • YamahaMotorsports.com
True 3 seating offer class-leading comfort, convenience & smooth, quiet ride • Torquey 700-class liquid-cooled, fuelinjected engine with strong low-end acceleration and pull through the rpm range • Ultramatic® transmission with dualrange (Hi/Lo) drive, reverse and all-wheel engine braking • Pushbutton 2WD/4WD with On-Command® • Comfortable cabin with handhold, padded head rests & 3-point seat belts for all • Steel rear cargo bed • Available in Realtree® Xtra® with suntop & aluminum wheels.
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the DIAMOND LAKES REGION PHILIP THOMAS is the owner and
operator of Novo Studio, a photography, video and graphic design company located in northwest Arkansas.
APRILLE HANSON is a freelancer whose
work has appeared in the Arkansas DemocratGazette, The Trucker newspaper, Truckload Authority magazine and the Arkansas Catholic newspaper. She lives in Conway with her husband and three fur-babies.
LAKE OUACHITA STATE PARK
ARKADELPHIA ♦ CADDO VALLEY ♦ GLENWOOD HOT SPRINGS ♦ MALVERN ♦ MOUNT IDA ♦ MURFREESBORO RICHARD LEDBETTER is a south-
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FROM THE EDITOR
WHAT A YEAR IT’S BEEN When it comes to the calendar, Arkansas really knows how to go out with a bang. Sure, spring is pretty and summer has its moments, but for our money nothing is better than when the temps dip and the colors change and the whole state looks forward to the holiday season. What a time to be alive. It’s natural as the year winds down to look back at the people we’ve met and the places we’ve seen in 2019. It’s one of the perks of this gig to encounter so many interesting folks and tell their stories for others to enjoy. And this issue is no different as we present our annual Champions of the Wild, a gallery of Arkansans who are making a difference in The Natural State every day. Some of them you may have heard of, others are just everyday folks, but all of them make life better for those who live and love the outdoors. We also bring you the biggest event of the year, duck season. Our special section looks at this annual rite of passage, from equipment to hunting locations. We take a trip to Stuttgart to visit with the good folks at Rich-N-Tone and see the new directions they’re taking the company. And we chowed down on the best in local grub to compile a short list of recommended eating spots. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. Finally, find inside our gift-giving guide, providing some ideas for the outdoors enthusiast on your list; check it out and make someone’s holiday. And don’t forget to add on an Arkansas Game and Fish Sportsman’s license – it’s a neat stocking stuffer that supports a great cause: preserving our outdoors. While we have a second, we want to recognize the many people behind the scenes who help make this magazine go. From the writers and photographers to our incomparable design and proofing team, advertising pros, our publisher and Arkansas Times’ senior leadership, we thank you, one and all. To everyone we met this year and who graciously shared their story with us, we also say thank you. To all our advertisers, we deeply appreciate your support in bringing Arkansas WILD to newsstands. And to the many people who read our publication, we also say a hearty thank you. We hope that we lived up to your expectations and look forward to doing so again in 2020. On behalf of the entire Arkansas WILD crew, may you find health and happiness both during the holidays and all through the new year.
Dwain Hebda Editor, Arkansas Wild 8 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 9
Check out these gifts for helping hikers enjoy Arkansas’s many trails.
1. CARRY ME HOME
For those overnight excursions, be sure to bring along some shelter. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 tent weighs in at just under 3 pounds and is consistently rated highest in overall features and ease of use. (bigagnes. com)
The difference between a great hike and a limping death march often rests on the smallest of details. Like socks. Visit Ozark Outdoor Supply to see a wide selection of the warmest, coziest socks out there, from Farm to Feet, Darn Tough and SmartWool. Great in front of the fireplace, too. (ozarkoutdoor.com)
3. LIGHT THE NIGHT
The Buffalo National River was named an International Dark Sky Park, which doesn’t do much for night hiking. So give the waterproof Black Diamond Storm headlamp, featuring 350 lumens of light plus three-color RGB night-vision to keep you from blinding your mates. (blackdiamondequipment.com)
4. TOTE YOUR TOT
Some folks hike to get away from the kids; others, not so much. If you’re the latter, give the Osprey Poco AG Plus Child Carrier, designed to keep Junior safe and secure while carrying them across all types of terrain. Start ‘em early! (osprey.com)
5. FUR FOR HUMANS
Arkansas ain’t the arctic, but it still gets mighty cold out there. Stay warm in the RAB jacket, featuring 650 fill power hydrophobic down and a faux fur-trimmed hood. Cut just above the knee for ease of movement, it’s lightweight, so you won’t feel like you’re toting a polar bear. Try one on at Ozark Outdoor Supply. (ozarkoutdoor.com)
6. TAKE A LOAD OFF, FANNY
OK, we’re just immature enough to find fanny packs laughable in everyday use, but on a short hike they’re uber practical over a bulky backpack. Choose the rugged Mountainsmith Tour with genderspecific fit; it does everything you want a fanny pack to do—except get you a date. (mountainsmith.com) 10 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF VENDORS
2. QUIET THE DOGS
VISIT GRANDVIEW PRAIRIE
WHERE EVERY DAY BEGINS WITH
The nation’s largest contiguous tract of blackland prairie in public ownership. Hunting, fishing on two lakes. Excellent birding for grassland species. Butterfly and hummingbird garden; nature trail, shotgun range; covered fishing pier. GROUPS: Group lodging available by reservation; East Building sleeps 26; West Building sleeps 14. Educational building with classroom space. 870-983-2790 • 1685 CR35 North • Columbus, AR 71831 • agsw.org
AND ENDS WITH
PAID FOR WITH A COMBINATION OF STATE AND REGIONAL ASSOCIATION FUNDS. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 11
Got a hunter at your house? Improve their outings with these thoughtful gifts.
1. KEEP YOUR EDGE
Having a quality knife is pointless if you don’t keep it sharp. Hone all your cutlery with Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal multifunction sharpener. Its two sharpening slots use carbide to set the edge and ceramic to make it razorsharp. For use on straight and serrated blades. (smithsproducts.com)
2. PICTURE PERFECT
The Stealth Cam G42 trail camera offers loads of features such as highresolution photos and video and an undetectable black IR flash for night filming. And at under $100, it’s a steal, performing as well or better than much more expensive rigs. (stealthcam.com)
3. SLICE AND DICE
If you’re looking for a broadhead that cuts through the competition, get the award-winning Muzzy Trocar HB Hybrid. The trocar tip and four blades do effective three-dimensional damage, and it’s durable enough to make it through several deer. (muzzy. com)
4. FIND YOUR QUARRY
If you’re an evening deer hunter, you know how tough it is to track a blood trail. The Primos Bloodhunter HD blood tracking light uses a special lens that makes blood drops stand out from the leaves on the ground, giving you much better odds of finding your deer. (primos.com) Gunmakers are slowly realizing that a) women hunt and b) they want the same performance as their male counterparts. Enter the Franchi Affinity Catalyst shotgun, designed to be lighter and better fit a woman’s frame. Give Mama what she wants! (franchiusa.com)
6. BRING THE HEAT
No matter how much you love hunting, you’ll love it even more keeping warm. Mr. Heater’s Little Buddy propane space heater runs off a 16-ounce propane tank and cranks out enough heat to warm the deer stand or duck blind. (mrheather.com) 12 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF VENDORS
5. JUST FOR THE LADIES
A great day on the water begins with these great gifts for the anglers at your house.
1. HIGH-GRADE VESSEL
No matter where you stalk the big one, the Hobie Mirage Outback fishing kayak will get you there. Versatile, quiet and exceedingly nimble, the craft’s new Kick-Up Fins and Rudder system let you maneuver tight quarters in comfort thanks to the wide Vantage CTW seat. Go get yours at Ozark Outdoor Supply. (ozarkoutdoor.com)
2. PERFECT PAIR
There’s something nice about a rodand-reel combo that’s paired and ready out of the box. If that’s their style, give them Lew’s Mach Smash baitcast setup, an ICAST 2019 Best of Show winner. Offering a graphite reel with brass speed gears and a 7+1 bearing system, it’s their next favorite stick. (lews.com)
Round out their lure collection (or get them started in style) with a lure assortment from the Pradco family of brands. Choose from the topwater (shown), spinnerbait and heritage topwater; each comes with an assortment of proven lures, proudly manufactured in Fort Smith. (lurenet. com)
4. KEEP VALUABLES DRY
3. FISH THE BEST
Nothing sinks a great day on the water like a cell phone or wallet hitting the lake. Eliminate those lost valuables with Unigear dry bags. Waterproof and floating, they come in a range of sizes and will keep you from diving in after your car keys. (unigearshop.com)
5. CLEAN YOUR CATCH
There are 100 million Rapala Fish’n Fillet knives in circulation, so they must be doing something right. The knife offers nice extras like a leather sheath, birch varnished handle and a sharpener. Your choice of blade lengths gets the job done with precision. (rapala.com)
6. LIGHT THE WAY
If you’re the type who could fish night and day, the Wild River by CLC Tackle Tek Nomad backpack is for you. A side panel holds up to four medium tackle trays, a molded compartment keeps your shades safe and the integrated LED lighting system lets you stay out late. (gowildriver.com) ARKANSASWILD.COM | 13
CAMPING Getting out into the wild is easy in Arkansas; these products can make your experience even better. 1. CALLING ALL COOKS
Yeah, it costs more and, yeah, it’s a wee heavy compared to others, but Camp Chef’s Summit camp stove also delivers larger burners that put out stupid heat for even, versatile cooking. It performs great even when it’s windy. (campchef.com)
2. IT’S ESSENTIAL, YOU DIG?
OK, a folding camp shovel isn’t the most romantic holiday gift, but it is a musthave for a campsite. SOG’s survival model delivers rugged performance and a compact, fold-up design that serves dozens of uses. (sogknives.com)
3. STAY COOL
Ever since Yeti brought the concept to the mainstream, luxury coolers have been popping up everywhere. OtterBox’s Venture keeps ice for 14 days and lets you customize to meet your needs (bear proofing, anyone?). The slanted bottom that aids in draining is worth the price alone. (otterbox.com)
4. PUMP UP THE JAM
Ever hit camp at day’s end and you gotta dance? You could run the truck battery down with the radio or you could hum, but why not just crank Kicker’s Bullfrog BF100 Bluetooth portable outdoor speaker instead? It’s even waterproof for your Flashdance routine. (kicker.com) You wanna rub sticks or do you want to get a fire going? The lightweight TekFire Fuel-Free Lighter uses an arcing electrical current to get the job done. It’s windproof, rechargeable and at about $18, everyone on your list should have one. (ustbrands.com)
6. SLEEP LIKE A BABY
Sleeping on the ground sucks, especially when you can float on air in a hammock. Kammok’s Roo model sets up in minutes, folds down to nothing and is large and strong enough for two, should you and your partner decide to, umm, answer the call of the wild. (kammok.com)
14 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF VENDORS
5. BABY, LIGHT MY FIRE
from freeways to flyways. This state is made for waterfowl. It’s also made for the sportsmen who hunt them. Our outdoor heritage is one of many reasons First Security is proud to invest in Arkansas – and why we don’t migrate anywhere else. What’s your better? Get there with us.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park The memories you make in Little Rock will last a lifetime. From historic neighborhoods waiting to be explored to a raucous concert from your new favorite band, Little Rock is a city full of pleasant surprises, each one just waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s a hike to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, a heaping plate of barbecue or a sunset kayaking tour of the Arkansas River, your time in Little Rock will stay with you forever.
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 15
HOMETOWN HERO MARK DAVIS ENTERS BASS FISHING HALL OF FAME. BY DWAIN HEBDA
PHOTO COURTESY OF MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING
Mark Davis reads the water during a recent tournament. The Hot Springs native was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Oct. 3.
ntering the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mo., Oct. 3, Mark Davis felt many of the same emotions as the other inductees: pride, nostalgia and a sense of history. But unlike most of the others, he also felt something akin to a homecoming. “It was a great moment,” said Davis of Mt. Ida. “I had some history with the Hall of Fame. It started actually in Hot Springs and, in fact, I sat on the first board of directors for the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.” “A group of businessmen in Hot Springs, it was their idea to have the Hall of Fame in Hot Springs. Entergy had donated, like, 15 acres, but when it came time to raise money for bricks and mortar, it fell short.” Unlike the Hall itself, Davis never strayed too far from the Spa City, at least not permanently. Raised in Hot Springs, he learned to fish on Lake Hamilton, where he got his first professional gig as a guide. Since then, he’s spent the past 33 years competing professionally all over the country and serving as an ambassador for the sport, his sponsors and his competitive organization, Major League Fishing. But Arkansas was home. “My fondest childhood memories were growing up in Hot Springs and my dad picking me up at the schoolhouse with the boat in tow and heading to the lake after school,” he said. “He taught me to love 16 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
fishing and I was hooked on it immediately as a child of 6, 7, 8 years old. From the time I was 10 or 11, I’d already made up my mind that’s what I wanted to try to do for a living. And no one was making a living fishing in the ’70s.” Davis still remembers his first guiding job at age 13 for the thrill of it and because the client paid him $80 on a $40 guide fee. For nearly a decade, tournaments were just something to do between charters. “I made money taking people fishing and I thought, ‘Man, this is great.’ I never really thought I’d make a living fishing tournaments,” he said. “I was happy being a guide and just getting to fish. I was a tournament angler second and it was that way for nine years.” It took a lot to leave the security of guiding to compete full time, but when he won his first professional event — the 1995 Bassmaster Classic on High Rock Lake in North Carolina — the die was cast. In addition to the Classic, he was named Bassmaster Angler of the Year in 1995, the first of three such titles. He stands at six major wins, 64 top 10 placements and 100 top 20 placements amassing more than $2.3 million in career earnings. Regarded as a pioneer of Major League Fishing, he’s enjoyed the success, of course, if not everything that came along with it.
“I never felt like it was a job until I won the world championship. I won the Classic in ’95 and suddenly I had responsibilities beyond going fishing,” he said. “I was now the ambassador of the sport on the professional side of this whole thing for the whole nation, and that responsibility thrust me into a situation where I just couldn’t go fishing anymore. I had to be here, I had to be there, I had to go there and speak, here and speak. Then it became a job.” “[In 1995] I can remember I did 40 cities to do speaking engagements that year. Then I realized, uhoh, this is now a job. Now, suddenly, you’re having to do something that you really don’t want to do.” Davis weathered those storms and has adapted with the times. He’s no one’s social media maven, but he’s learned how to self-promote sufficiently to stay relevant with the younger generation, guys young enough to be his sons. Besides that, he’s got experience and instincts few can match as a hole card. And he’s not going anywhere, either. “I love to fish as much now as ever,” he said. “For the foreseeable future, I plan to keep on competing. I have no plans to retire, no date that I plan to retire. It’s been a great career, I’ve enjoyed it. But I’m not ready to quit just yet.”
“FROM THE TIME I WAS 10 OR 11, I’D ALREADY MADE UP MY MIND [FISHING’S] WHAT I WANTED TO TRY TO DO FOR A LIVING.” —MARK DAVIS
THINK TROUT... Think Stetson’s!
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Ad paid for using a combination of private and state matching funds. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 17
PHOTOS BY RICHARD LEDBETTER
Leg bands help researchers track the migratory patterns of ducks throughout the country.
LEG BANDS TELL A FASCINATING STORY OF DUCK MIGRATION.
BY RICHARD LEDBETTER
here are plenty of signs that point to longtime, successful duck hunters. Knowing the best holes is one, mastery of the call is another. But the dead giveaway is the jingling metal rings dangling from around hunters’ duck call lanyards, a point of pride and a testament to the hunter’s experience. Bands help unravel the mystery of waterfowl behavior. Certain species such as wood ducks practice lateral migration, moving from east to west rather than the more commonly understood north-south transits. Bands prove these birds regularly travel from Kentucky to Missouri. Bird banding studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey temporarily capture all variety of waterfowl species from different points along their migratory routes, placing the unobtrusive, numbered aluminum bands on the creature’s leg. This goes into the overall tracking system of bird habits. Before the dawn of the internet, harvested birds had a toll-free number listed on each band the hunter could call to report the time, place and serial number of harvest. Now there’s a web address (www.reportband. gov) to accomplish the same ends. As a reward for hunter participation, an attractive USGS Certificate of Appreciation is emailed to the sportsman, who may then proudly print it out for display. Band certificates contain all relative data regarding the particular bird, including where, when and by whom it was banded, where, when and by whom harvested and when hatched. Certificates also contain 18 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
the species and sex of a bird. Dr. Douglas Osborne, associate professor of wildlife and founder of Osborne Lab at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, is in his fifth year conducting southeast Arkansas duck banding immediately following duck season. “What we’re doing at UAM is a pivot study,” he said. “Most leg banding is done in the spring when ducks are on their northern nesting grounds. Historically, winter banding hasn’t been used because there’s a lot of uncertainty. We’re banding a bunch of birds that have to breed, migrate back north and hatch their clutch all while surviving predation. “With winter banding we don’t know what proportion of birds are dying before fall shooting time when the harvested bands start being reported.” Osborne said banding helps establish timing in migration, changes in migration and survival rates. Not just anyone can legally capture and band waterfowl; rather, it requires a Master Banding Permit. “I had multiple biology degrees and eight years’ experience working with other banders,” he said. “But I still had to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by putting through research proposals selling myself as a scientist and what our research objectives were. The species we target for banding are speckle bellied [or greater white-fronted] geese, snow geese and mallard ducks. “Our first goal is to establish survival rates from now until fall. We need a lot of bands out there to do that.
“WE’VE BANDED JUST SHORT OF 10,000 MALLARDS FOR THE FIVE YEARS WE’VE BEEN AT IT. WE’RE CATCHING MORE MALLARDS THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE SOUTH.” —DR. DOUGLAS OSBORNE A mallard comes in for a landing in flooded timber.
We’ve banded just short of 10,000 mallards for the five years we’ve been at it. We’re catching more mallards than anyone else in the South.” Asked how he knows the fate of birds he bands, Osborne noted he gets reports from spring banders on any birds they re-catch up north. He also gets a weekly email from the feds with a banded waterfowl report telling him where and when on their migratory route his subjects were bagged and reported. “With this additional piece of the puzzle, we can further provide predictable data that helps federal managers make informed decisions for the future of this precious resource.”
COME FIND YOUR ARKANSAS
The Lodge At Mount Magazine
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 19
BACK IN QUACK
BY DREW HARRIS, APRILLE HANSON AND DWAIN HEBDA
20 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
Come along for a quick tour of places to hunt, duck calls to try and spots to eat as you participate in this timehonored adventure. Let’s get to it.
Arkansas’s duck, coot and merganser season runs from Nov. 23-Dec. 2, 2019, Dec. 1123, 2019, and Dec. 26, 2019-Jan. 31, 2020. Check agfc.com for all regulations and other important waterfowl dates.
Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge Crossett | fws.gov/refuge/Felsenthal
For an entirely different duck hunting experience, visit the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, a 65,000-acre preserve just north of the Louisiana border in southeast Arkansas near Crossett. Straddling Bradley, Ashley and Union counties, this expanse of bottomland is dotted with ponds, creeks and lakes. There are also numerous swamps and oxbows, created by the Saline and Ouachita rivers which converge as the Saline River dissipates into a maze of sloughs and creeks. Felsenthal is thick and deep; wild and wooly. Guide services are not allowed on the refuge, so make sure your party includes at least one experienced hunter. There are numerous access areas and boat launches around the perimeter with ingress via marked county and other unimproved roads. There are also ATV trails designated for wildlife-dependent activities only, allowing penetration far beyond that of your average vehicle. Blue marked trails are open all year and yellow trails, which allow far deeper insertion, are open September-January. If you’re into the no-frills thing, there are six primitive campsites available on the refuge. No fees or reservations are required. Nearby, the Grand Marais Campground at Huttig has 50 tent and RV campsites, a boat ramp, restrooms and showers. Crossett Harbor Recreation on U.S. Highway 82 has 119 sites. As with any federally regulated area, one should be aware of and always abide by the rules. All Arkansas Game and Fish laws apply. Access permits are required for all users. In the heart of the refuge, there is a waterfowl sanctuary area closed to any public entry from Nov. 15-Feb. 15. It is posted with “Area Closed” signs. Hunters are not allowed to enter a hunting area or launch a boat before 4 a.m. and hunting ends at noon every day. Decoys that mimic wing movement are prohibited. Portable blinds are allowed but must be removed with all other duck hunting equipment, such as decoys or guns, to a campsite or vehicle or from the refuge entirely. Furthermore, hunters are not allowed to possess or discharge more than 25 shells per day, except the waterfowl youth hunt. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 21
THE BIG ONE
Cupped Wings Guide Service
Gilmore/Augusta | cuppedwingsguideservice.com Up in the northeast flatlands, Mike Del Toro guides for Cupped Wings Guide Service, the offerings of which range from an all-encompassing experience for the complete novice to a non-guided “get on the land” approach for those who have the knowledge but no access to land. Cupped Wings’ 22,000 acres of habitat include flooded rice, beans, millet and corn fields. If you’re into timber, they provide access to flooded green and cypress timber, plus willow swamps and sloughs. The company has one location near Gilmore in Crittenden County and another in Woodruff County near Augusta. Both are fully furnished. Sleeping up to 16 people, the Gilmore Lodge is a six-bedroom 3,600-square-foot lodge offering all the comforts of home and then some, including a bar, pool table, flat-screen televisions and skeet shooting for getting loose or knocking the dust off your shotgun. Hunting distance 22 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
ranges from 200 yards from the front door to about 55 miles away. Similarly styled and furnished, the 3,200-square-foot Timber Lodge is nestled between the Cache and White rivers in Augusta. It has six bedrooms and can accommodate up to 20 hunters. Del Toro and his crew cover a lot of ground. “We are totally reliant on Mother Nature,” he said. “You just gotta go where the birds are.” The full guided package boasts lodging, three meals, transportation, guides, retrieving dogs, decoys and game processing. There’s even an all-inclusive combo hunt that includes waterfowl and upland bird hunting on a private reserve. Gun rentals are available and Cupped Wings offers a 10 percent military discount, which is also extended to women and minors under 16. Consult the website for all available packages and pricing.
Pay attention to the weather. Migrating birds take advantage of stronger tail winds following a cold front. Don’t leave your blind or hole too early after a passing front.
DUCK CALLS COURTESY OF MANUFACTURERS/COURTESY OF CUPPED WINGS GUIDE SERVICE/HURLEY HOUSE CAFÉ: DWAIN HEBDA
HURLEY HOUSE CAFEÉ There are times when you just want a little pick-me-up, and that was us recently when we pulled into Hazen, a Grand Prairie bend in the road that’s home to the Hurley House Cafe. Upon entering this quintessential small-town eatery, we found a seat and glanced at the menu to ponder our options for a mid-afternoon snack. The fried pies caught our eye and proved to be just the ticket. Hurley House offers a good selection of these great meal-enders – apple, peach, coconut, blackberry, apricot and chocolate, plus we’d had cherry there before but missed it on the menu. We chose the stalwart apple and having never tried chocolate thought we’d give that a spin, too. Each of the pies came out plump, warm and golden with a flaky-not-greasy crust. And while it’s hard not to like anything chocolate, the apple was the clear winner of the two, especially crowned with vanilla ice cream. Maybe it was the sugar, but we felt recharged and ready as a result of our stop. Any other time of day we’d have taken advantage of the Hurley House’s great burger or, had we arrived earlier, enjoyed a hearty breakfast. But the simple pleasure of the fried pies was just what we needed to round out our afternoon, set to a soundtrack of casual conversation and surrounded by friendly locals. Y’all come back, now.
It gets cold up there in the tundra, and just before Thanksgiving many sportsmen start to hope for that nip in the air, maybe even a light freeze. Whether in fields or timber, creeks or sloughs, Arkansas has much to offer in winter, whether you’re hunting or watching.
HURLEY HOUSE CAFE 1303 Highway 70 East, Hazen (870) 255-4679
ELITE DUCK CALLS At age 6, Brad Allen ventured out into the woods for his first duck hunting trip with his father. The adventure would spur a lifelong dedication to the sport, from competitive calling to making it his livelihood. Allen won the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart in 2010, 2012 and 2013. He founded Elite Duck Calls in 2013 in Searcy. The company offers seven models, Specklebelly and Canada goose calls and dog whistles for hunting retrievers. “What sets our calls apart is the blend of raspiness and natural squeaky sounds that are present in a mallard hen’s voice,” Allen said. “It is a sound quality that we chase relentlessly and is a standard for us. “The fact that we have seven different call models ensures that we have a call that will fit anyone’s preferred calling style. Each call is meticulously hand-tuned, and we pride ourselves in service after the sale to our fellow hunters.” The Murder call, a raspy single reed call, and the double reed Edge call are both popular models. Allen recommended advanced callers ask the call maker to tune the call and set it in person. He also advised first-time and experienced hunters alike to utilize “The Art of Flight Control,” the company’s hour-long instructional video on Youtube that discusses calling techniques. “I would recommend that first-time callers obtain the best call they can get so they have confidence in their instrument throughout the learning process,” he said, adding their lower-priced calls have “new tone boards and higher grade material that run $29.99 and rival high-end calls with their sound capabilities.” Elite Duck Calls can be ordered online at elitecalls.net, by calling (501) 207-2994 or by visiting the showroom at 2910 Eastline Road in Searcy. You can also find Elite calls at many of your favorite outdoor retailers. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 23
BETTS GAME CALLS Wayne Betts began Betts Game Calls in the late 1980s because he was picky. On the West Coast, Betts worked as a waterfowl hunting guide and began competition calling. He wanted to sound like a real hen mallard, calling her “the boss lady of all ducks.” “All ducks will pretty much respond to her. Realistic sounds are what I was starving to find,” he said. He found treasure at a garage sale: a Craftsman wood lathe for $40. “I bought it and took it home and started creating something that fit me. After weeks and months of turning calls that sounded horrible, I finally hit the mark and struck hen mallard gold,” Betts said. Betts produces duck calls and Canada and greater white-fronted goose calls out of two shops behind his house in Rogers. His calls, which he said are made with “the most
natural sound and custom craftsmanship,” have won state and regional duck calling contests and largely sell by word of mouth. “My top-selling duck calls are my hybrid series and my Tree Hugger Timber call,” Betts said. “I also sell many molded calls.” “The more custom calls are made to fit different styles. Some have a softer sound and some have a bolder sound. They come in custom woods or cast acrylic.” For first-time hunters, Betts recommends the Rough Cut, selling for $40, which was the idea of his son, Chris. “This call works well for all callers, from novice to expert callers. They will cover the full spectrum of calls made by the hen mallard,” Wayne said. Betts Game Calls can be ordered at bettscalls.com.
Our go-to in Stuttgart used to be the Cajun Bistro, a fine little spot for seafood and po’boys the passing of which we’ve been mourning the past couple of years. So when we were pointed to Open Season, which has only been open for a short time, we were hopeful to be impressed. The ambiance doesn’t disappoint – the place is huge and beautiful – and we thought the shrimp po’boy a fitting maiden order. What arrived was a massive sandwich on a great soft hoagie roll. It was so laden with cajun mayo-drizzled shrimp, we couldn’t get it closed. Fear not, we figured it out. But even better was the spinach dip that arrived piping hot from the oven for our appetizer; don’t pass on that, folks. The restaurant is so new, it might feel a little fancy for mud-soaked duck hunters, but there’s outdoor seating and a connected sports bar that will make you feel right at home no matter what your condition. Be advised, if you want a cold one in the restaurant, there’s a membership fee to be negotiated. We hadn’t seen that outside of dry counties in Arkansas before, and our server couldn’t tell us if that was a thing in town or just there. Either way, it’s a small concession given the great food. OPEN SEASON SPORTS BAR 2307 S. Main, Stuttgart (870) 672-4193
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DUCK CALL COURTESY OF MANUFACTURERS/OPEN SEASON: DWAIN HEBDA/DELTA RESORT: DREW HARRIS
THE CADILLAC Delta Resort and Spa Tillar | DeltaResortUS.com
The Delta Resort and Spa is a bit of an anomaly in the agrarian landscape of Arkansas’s southeastern Delta. Sitting on 2,000 acres 6 miles north of McGehee, this unique resort offers an abundance of activities to its guests. During its creation, the developers moved mature hardwood trees to create a habitat area dubbed The Matrix. The traditional rice and bean fields encompassing the resort are also cultivated with Golden and Japanese millet. McGehee native Nick Andrews guides for Delta Resort. Andrews’ clientele consists primarily of larger corporate groups, and most of the hunting is done from pit blinds. “We’ve been manipulating the levees and water, farming it for ducks more than anything,” he said. “We try to keep low pressure and rotate blinds … that’s why we’ve been able to be successful.” Hunting goes no later than noon, and access to the hunting areas is closed to keep disturbances to the wildlife at a minimum. Rates average $550 per person per day with lodging accommodations on the resort and they keep no more than four to six people in a blind. In addition, Delta Resort offers a 130-room hotel complex space and conference center for corporate outings and 43 Grill and Bar for Southern-style dining. Onsite, Duck Pro Outfitters offers a full line of hunting and sporting clothing and anything you might need for the hunt. In addition, the complex’s massive, world-class shooting complex includes skeet, sporting clays and Olympic bunker trap, and hosts numerous shooting events throughout the year.
From mallards to mergansers, Arkansas hosts an audacious array of dabblers and divers, most of which only venture this far south to winter. Of the divers, only the mallard and wood duck can be reliably spotted all year.
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Keep your calls clean. Almost every activity involved in hunting gets you dirty. Detritus from trees or blinds will accumulate and eventually foul a call.
THE PERSONAL TOUCH Duckbusters Guide Service
Pocahontas | Duckbusterguideservice.com Duckbusters Guide Service is a decidedly, if not purposefully, smaller outfitter operated by Jim Watson. A self-described “underground outfit service,” Watson guides on roughly 6,500 acres of land cuddled between the foothills of Arkansas’s Ozarks and the western edge of the Delta, bordering the rich bottoms of the Black River. Duckbusters hosts an average of 250-300 hunters per season. Watson’s turf is the pumped-up fields east of Pocahontas toward Peach Orchard and Delaplaine, then south and east to Portia and Black Rock with ample pits and blinds scattered around agricultural fields typical for the area. Hunting was a way of life from an early age for Watson. He even has a photograph of his father and grandfather changing his diaper in a duck blind. He started guiding to pay his way through college. “We’ve just grown … but I’m not like some of the big guys,” Watson said. “Are we the best duck hunters in the
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DUCK CALLS COURTESY OF MANUFACTURERS COURTESY OF DUCKBUSTERS GUIDE SERVICE
After studying under a wellknown call maker for a few years, Jeremy Powell opened Havoc Calls as a hobby. “Almost 10 years later, here we are with calls all across the U.S. and in four different countries,” he said. Located in DeWitt, Havoc Calls touts its five duck calls and three goose calls, two Canada goose and one Specklebelly, as performance-driven and built to last a lifetime. “Our most popular duck call is the Villain. It is a double reed call that has range and bottom end,” he said. “We have actually won several meat contests with this call since its release last year.” Havoc Calls can be ordered at havoccalls.com, by calling (870) 588-7841 or from retailers.
world? No way; but we put on a good show when we can.” Watson guided in Tennessee, South Carolina and Idaho before settling in northeast Arkansas in 1994. He also operates a successful offshore fishing charter in Destin, Fla., and sports a line of duck calls under the Duckbusters Duck Call brand. Most of Duckbusters’ pits and blinds are equipped with stoves where they serve breakfast, but as expected the foremost goal is getting a limit of ducks and enjoying the outdoors. The outfit doesn’t offer lodging but they start hunting at daybreak and will extend the hunt until midafternoon if they haven’t gotten a limit. Rates vary from $250 per hunter per day to $350 per day for a father and minor youth. An additional discount is offered to active military, police and first responders. Patrons, who come from as far away as the Carolinas and Atlanta, get the real deal.
RNT DAISY CUTTER The classic single reed from RichN-Tone is one of the foundational calls in the Stuttgart company’s product lineup. Designers have gussied up the old girl recently, from new engraving to a completely new tone board and opening up the bore inside. This gives it more volume and drive while preserving the trademark Daisy Cutter bark. Modeled after the Short Barrel, the call gained a much more aggressive calling style thanks to these design changes. “Daisy Cutter’s higher reed set and wider bore give it a more demanding presence while still letting you get down and dirty on the low end,” said Blake Fisher, creative director. “Think of it as a Short Barrel on steroids.” Reviewers rave about the call’s durability (especially in acrylic) and it comes with a protective storage sack to help ward off scratches. You also get two spare reeds and several replacement reed blocks you can swap out as needed to keep your call sharp and in tune. Testers also give it points for ease of cleaning and ease of use. The pricetag may give you pause, but for this much performance, consider it an investment in your long-term duck hunting success. Call ’em in, shoot ’em down, repeat. (RNTcalls.com)
The Mississippi Flyway stretches literally the entire mass of North America from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic. Smack in the heart of the Mississippi River Delta, the eastern third of The Natural State lies in the neck of the 2,300-mile flyway’s funnel. It is the most heavily traveled path for migratory birds and waterfowl along the continent’s mightiest waterway.
ECHO CALLS Rick Dunn never planned on selling duck calls. He simply wanted to make his own unique call to use while duck hunting. After about 50 attempts, he finally made one that worked. “I used the call and a friend liked it, so I gave it to him and made another one. I also gave the next one to a friend — which sounded OK — but the call I made after that was the sound I was looking for,” Dunn said. “I didn’t want to part with that call until a guy offered me good money for it. I sold it and made more calls. It started as a part-time job.” In 1975, Echo Calls was established as a small shop behind Dunn’s house. Based in Beebe, the company now has 10 employees and makes a variety of duck calls out of several materials. Prices range
from $20 to $150. “Acrylic calls are the most popular calls because the material doesn’t change when it gets wet or cold. The Breaker and the XLT are our bestselling single reed calls. The Meat Hanger is our most popular double reed call,” Dunn said. First-time duck hunters do best with a less expensive and “friendly” call, like a double reed, Dunn said, while more experienced hunters typically go with an acrylic model. “I think the main reason for our success is our customer service. We want every customer to be happy with our product, so we do whatever it takes to make that happen,” Dunn said. Echo Calls can be ordered from echocalls.com or found at major sporting goods stores.
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wondersofwildlife.org LOCATED IN SPRINGFIELD, MO USA ARKANSASWILD.COM | 29
THE WILD INTERVIEW
Stephens in the company taproom: “The first thing we thought of was beer because, you know, everybody likes beer.” 30 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
REBORN RICH-N-TONE CALLING A NEW TUNE ON THE GRAND PRAIRIE. BY DWAIN HEBDA PHOTOGRAPHY BY BLAKE FISHER
ich-N-Tone Calls sits in a sleek yet homey space on the edge of Stuttgart, Arkansas. It is unexpectedly small, given the reach of the company, both in market share and in the historical sense. Founded in 1976 by the legendary Butch Richenback, whose name is synonymous with the art of duck calls and calling, it’s today owned by the local kid who wandered into Butch’s shop one day and – aside from detouring to Mississippi State to earn a degree – never left. In many ways, John Stephens is still that kid, the prodigy duck caller who at 13 was the youngest to ever qualify for the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest, who grew up to claim three world titles between 1995 and 2005, and who cemented his legacy with the 2015 Champion of Champions crown. Arkansas WILD sat down with the call maker, outdoors TV personality, entrepreneur, landscape architect, barkeep and duck whisperer to learn what lies ahead for one of Arkansas’s most iconic brands.
ARKANSAS WILD: Three years ago, the company headquarters is gutted by fire. You reopen this spring and there’s a bar and a duck call museum inside. What happened? JOHN STEPHENS: Duck hunting as a whole has always been a strong heritage-related sport. Duck calls and decoys are two of the first true American folk arts. Duck calls and decoys were both born here in America. We’re proud of that. With the way we’ve set up our shop, it showcases that part and that’s where we’re at at our stage in the business. I don’t want to say by any means we’ve conquered the duck call, but we’re trying to look for what’s the next thing that we can build upon. I think through the museum and educating people of all ages about duck calls and the history, that’s a very important part of what we do. It’s kind of our job to do that because we’re one of the premier duck call makers. Obviously, that appeals to hardcore collectors. What about the average guy or the new generation? The numbers of young collectors are below what they used to be. There’s a lot of collectors who seem to be
my age and older. A lot of younger guys are collecting what we call contemporary calls that are being made now. Their view is they can’t afford these older calls, and that’s not necessarily true. I think there’s a big misconception that every call is going to cost $10,000 or $5,000, and that’s not true. We definitely like people collecting the contemporary calls because that’s what we make. But we’re trying to see an angle of why they’re not interested in some of this stuff and try to support both the contemporary and the older calls. We thought about how we can get those people interested, and the first thing we thought of was beer because, you know, everybody likes beer. You can sit and drink beer and look at old calls. That’s a way I feel we can reach a different crowd and expose them to what we do. Which leads you into a very different line of work, the development of Flying Duck and the taproom at the store. Was that a steep learning curve? The different things we manage, it’s a challenge, but there’s a lot of things that are the same. That’s why we picked a taproom because with craft beer, it’s the same quality, the
way you promote it, the value. It’s not much different from craft calls. There’s a lot of pride in that stuff being made in Arkansas. It’s kind of like call makers. So, it was a good fit. Full disclosure: Flying Duck is one of my favorite beers. How did you arrive at the style of beer you had in mind? We went to all the little breweries in Little Rock and had a few beers, saw what the vibe was like. We didn’t tell anybody what we were doing. That’s easy product research. Then we narrowed it down and visited with some of the people that were in management or owners and Flyway checked all the boxes. They were such a great fit and we hit it off, right off the bat. Our initial thing was we needed a beer that is an easy drinking beer—we call it a gateway beer —for people that aren’t craft beer drinkers. But we didn’t want it so watered down that craft beer drinkers are going to turn their nose up to it. That was the challenge. We said [to the brewers] this is what we want, but we don’t know anything about beer but how to drink it. You guys tell us what we need to make. [Flying Duck] is what they came up with and, man, it was awesome. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31
Stephens turns a call in his shop. The new RNT factory and store celebrated its Grand Opening in March as part of its inaugural Callapalooza.
“DUCK CALLS AND DECOYS WERE BOTH BORN HERE IN AMERICA. WE’RE PROUD OF THAT.”
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Along with all that, you’ve gone heavily into the handmade custom call market with the J. Stephens line. That feels counterintuitive given all the pressure to produce more, faster. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do and that’s actually the whole reason I got into doing what I do is because of the times I’d go to Butch’s shop as a kid and help and watch. I love turning calls. When I got into this that’s what I wanted to do, make calls. When we bought [the company] from Butch, we had to figure out right then how we’re going to make money. Not that we’ve totally figured that out yet, but we’ve done it long enough that we’ve got that machine rolling. So, I can step back and do what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been fun because the cool thing about it is, we have the luxury to do what we do and I get to kind of be more of a craftsman or an artist. What’s next? With the new shop and the taproom and the handmade calls and all these great things we have, it’s kind of like when you get a brand-new vehicle that’s all tricked out and nice. Now that we’ve got it, we want to take it out and see what we can do with it. I think you’re going to see some pretty interesting and exciting things in the future. We’ve got so many new avenues and tools to use now. We’ve had a good last 40 years and these next 40 are going to be really prime.
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Rowland Dollins casts a perfect fly on a recent outing. 34 | Arkansas Wild Â¸ November 2019
There’s more to the outdoors than meets the eye, like the many men and women working daily to keep our wild spaces clean, accessible and safe. Champions of the Wild honors these often-unsung heroes and the collective impact they make on the land we all love and call home. BY DWAIN HEBDA PHOTOGRAPHY NOVO STUDIO
KIM ROWLAND DOLLINS pangburn
Kim Rowland Dollins’ life seemed never too far away from a fishing hole. Growing up in southern Missouri and central Arkansas, she frequently fished with her father, uncles and cousins. Fifteen years ago, looking for a way to cope with an ugly divorce, she’d make her way to the riverbank and watch fly-fishermen ply their trade. Captivated, she made up her mind to give it a try and a new love was born. Later, she escaped the stress of corporate America by semi-retiring to a life of guiding, establishing Ryder’s Run Guide Service in Pangburn in 2015. “I still get the same great feeling of accomplishment and self-confidence in doing something challenging,” she said. “I get emotional about it, especially when I hear other women say they don’t believe they could ever learn to fly-fish and love it. I respond to them, ‘Come spend the afternoon with me and I’ll change your mind.’” Rowland Dollins’ desire to share the love of fly-fishing with others has taken several forms. She’s been active in a number of groups – Trout Unlimited Chapter 722, the Little Red River Foundation and Arkansas Fly Fishers, among others – through which she’s worked to expand fishing opportunities and preserve and improve trout streams, something she sees as inextricably linked. “The push for more diversity will allow more voices to be heard on the conservation of our cold-water fisheries,” she said. Some of her most impactful volunteer work has been with The Mayfly Project, which introduces foster kids aging out of the system to the joys of fly-fishing, and Casting for Recovery, which takes breast cancer patients into the stream and among peers for support. “The physical movement of fly-fishing is great for women healing from breast cancer. It is also a very powerful emotional healing tool for many women, and men, recovering from cancer, PTSD, anxiety, depression,” she said. “Seeing how so many folks overcome their fear of learning something they secretly want to learn but are fearful to try is what I still love most about this. Empowering those folks and helping them learn and become well enough that they land fish on their own, and the look on their faces and in their eyes, is what inspires me.” ARKANSASWILD.COM | 35
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY little rock
The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas has been working cooperatively with private landowners, businesses, public agencies and other organizations to conserve and restore the lands and waters of The Natural State since 1982. Working with these partners, The Conservancy has helped conserve over 325,000 acres in Arkansas. These partnerships have protected more than 30 million trees in the Delta, conserved more than 25 miles of river in the Kings River, Saline River and Greers Ferry Lake watersheds, conducted dozens of stream restorations using natural channel design, and worked to improve forest health and wildlife habitat using prescribed fire. The Conservancy owns or co-owns more than 30 preserves and natural areas with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission on 35,000 acres that are open for the public to enjoy for hiking, climbing, biking, canoeing, hunting, fishing and exploring. And now the organization has entered a new chapter in its history, creating trails to allow the public to enjoy natural areas. “On Oct. 11, five miles of trail [opened] to the public for hiking and mountain biking at Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area,” said Mitchell Allen, recreational use project manager. “While we have hiking trails at other preserves such as the William Kirsch Preserve within Ranch North Woods and Smith Creek in Boxley Valley, this is our first multi-use trail with an emphasis on mountain bikes on some sections.” The future lies in leveraging existing partnerships to engage the public in new ways, said Devan Schlaudraff, conservation leadership development program manager. “Thanks to partners like the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, hundreds of thousands of acres have been conserved and restored for people to enjoy. That’s a huge win,” Schlaudraff said. “But we’re learning that conserving places isn’t enough if people don’t know or understand how and why we do it. Figuring out how to engage more people in new ways to share how conservation is important to everyone is our biggest challenge. It’s a fun and rewarding puzzle we’re eager to solve.” 36 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
Devan Schlaudraff (left) and Mitchell Allen of the Nature Conservancy get in some trail therapy.
good beer, great cause
OZARK BEER COMPANY & FAYETTECHILL northwest arkansas
When two iconic Northwest Arkansas brands join forces to help fund conservation work, the result is bound to be special. That’s exactly what happened when Fayetteville outdoor lifestyle apparel maker Fayettechill teamed up with Ozark Beer Company of Rogers to produce River Water Lager this summer. “The outdoors were a part of our story long before we opened our doors,” said Marty Shutter, Ozark’s marketing director. “The idea for our brewery was dreamed up by [co-founders]Lacie Bray and Andy Coates along a riverbank as river guides in Colorado. “Enjoying an Ozark beer with friends on the river, a trail or in a backyard has always been the driving philosophy behind what we choose to brew.” The two companies broached the idea for a collaboration several years ago, but it wasn’t until 2019 – Fayettechill’s 10th anniversary – that things came together. “I wanted to make a beer that was refreshing any month out of the year with my favorite brewery in Arkansas. I really have enjoyed seeing Ozark Beer Company rise to what they are today and am honored they decided to work with our company,” Mo Elliott, Fayettechill founder, said. “Working with people in the community that share our same ideals of conservation and creating an amazing beer that gives back to organizations, that preserve the Ozarks has been a great ride.” Ten percent of sales – more than $4,000 in all – has gone to a variety of organizations, including NWA Land Trust, Buffalo River Foundation, Ozark Off Road Cyclists and Arkansas Climbers Coalition. And while the initiative will end Dec. 31, the experience has the two sides pondering similar projects in the future. “Sometimes you can do business while doing good,” Shutter said. “We’re in a fortunate place where that happens often for us. Life’s short and while we have this opportunity to use our passions for good while also running a business that does right by its employees and community, we’re going to go for it.” “It’s been a great summer being able to give back to organizations that do wonders for our community,” Elliott said. “If we can be a catalyst for them to gain awareness for all they do, then we feel like we are making an impact.” 38 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
Mo Elliott of Fayettechill (left) and Marty Shutter of Ozark Beer Company visit the woods that inspire their brands.
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TERRI LANE fayetteville
Growing up on Kessler Mountain in Fayetteville, Terri Lane developed early a protective streak for nature. Not surprisingly, her professional life has been filled with roles serving the outdoors. “My career in conservation began in 1997 as an outdoor environmental educator, program director and wilderness instructor; first in North Carolina, and then back to Arkansas where I served as the education director at the Ozark Natural Science Center,” she said. “As an educator, I could bring awareness to people, particularly the next generation, hopefully sparking a ripple effect of understanding and a sense of connectedness to nature that would lead to a greater appreciation and conservation of wild spaces.” After a short stint as an entrepreneur, she stayed home to raise her daughters while remaining a visible activist for conservation causes. As a part of the Fayetteville Environmental Action Committee, she led the city to become the first Certified Community Wildlife Habitat in the state as designated by the National Wildlife Federation. She also implemented Schoolyard Habitat areas on school properties and became active in the Caring for Creation movement, giving presentations to area churches about the connection between people and nature. She put that message into action by forming a Green Team at her own church, St. Paul’s Episcopal in Fayetteville, working with the youth there to calculate the carbon footprint of the parish and implement changes to reduce that footprint. In 2012, Lane accepted the position as executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, which has permanently protected 3,500 acres in Northwest Arkansas and seeks to save an additional 5,000 acres of priority natural areas and raise $2.8 million to fund its work. “We have to take a long-view to develop and invest in strategies for smart growth and protect what we have,” she said. “Decisionmakers need to broaden the lens when making growth and planning decisions to consider not only what is being built, but what is being set aside. And we must recognize the immense value of nature and the economic return of land conservation and invest in protecting our natural environment just as we invest in developing our built environment. “We can do this by working together across parcel and political lines; we’re all part of a larger ecosystem, watershed and collective future.” 40 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
Lane surveying the wilds of Northwest Arkansas.
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Stell and Lucy take a break from patrol.
GARY DON STELL & K-9 LUCY camden
On the roster of dynamic duos for good, Sr. Cpl. Gary Don Stell and K-9 Lucy set the pace in the Arkansas wilds. Stell, a Fordyce native who has spent nearly 30 years in law enforcement, 21 of them as an Arkansas Game and Fish Commision Wildlife Officer, and Lucy, a 7-year-old Black Lab, have been a team for six years. In that time, they have repeatedly distinguished themselves for meritorious service. At ceremonies in March, the duo received the Governor’s Lifesaving Award for locating a subject who had attempted suicide before they located her, unresponsive but alive. The woman was treated and later recovered. They also earned the Warden’s Cross award for tracking an elderly man who went missing, finding the subject who’d suffered a stroke in 32 degree cold weather. Other honors include 2019 Arkansas Wildlife Officer of the Year, 2019 National Wild Turkey Federation Officer of the Year for Arkansas and Arkansas Attorney General’s Officer of the Year both for Dallas County and for the Southwest Region of the state. As well, Lucy has received numerous letters of appreciation from local sheriff’s departments. For Stell, such awards are just the icing on the cake, professionally speaking. “Growing up in the outdoors, hunting and fishing was a large part of my life and I wanted to see these things protected,” he said. “While working as a Deputy Sheriff for Dallas County [in the 1990s] I saw the great job that the local Wildlife Officers were doing and I soon knew that was what I wanted to do.” Lucy is Stell’s second K-9 and he praised his partner for her steadfast and dependable work, saying she is a major reason they’d been so richly decorated in the line of duty. “Being able to work to protect our great outdoors, the wildlife, the fish and the land, is a great job and being able to have a dog with you at all times just makes it that much better,” he said. “Having the K-9 is a large responsibility but having that extra tool overwhelms the responsibility. The K-9 is an excellent tool not only for me and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, but for all Arkansas police agencies.” ARKANSASWILD.COM | 43
STAY AND PLAY REAL ESTATE & PROPERTIES
BEAR CREEK LOG CABINS
6403 N HWY 65 | ST. JOE, AR 870.448.5926 BUFFALORIVERLOGCABINS.NET
OUR NEW FARM HOUSE CABIN IS READY!
If you are looking for a rustic retreat near the Buffalo National River at Tyler Bend, look no further than Bear Creek Log Cabins. There are five cabins scattered over hundreds of acres, all with access to the fishing holes of Bear Creek—a tributary to the Buffalo—right on the property. The ranch is less than five minutes south of Middle Buffalo access areas and the Ozark Highland Trail, but you will also find plenty of trails right on the Bear Creek property for hiking, biking or ATV use. It is a photographer’s paradise, with sweeping views of the buttresses that line the creek and wildlife on every adventure. The nearby private Lake House property, with a 22-acre stocked lake with dock and fishing boat right out the back door, is also a favorite location for all ages. The spacious cabins feature native rock fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, charcoal grills, full kitchens, linens, flat screen tvs with satellite reception (including SEC and ESPN channels), wi-fi and heat/air that will accommodate up to 48 guests. Bear Creek is open year-around, offers hunting in season, and is pet-friendly. Special winter discount rates are available in January and February. Bear Creek Log Cabins will quickly become your go-to getaway destination.
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• ELK AND OTHER WILDLIFE WATCHING • PRIVATE ROADS FOR HIKES AND ATV TRAILS • LESS THAN 5 MINUTES SOUTH OF THE BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER • OZARK HIGHLANDS TRAIL LESS THAN 5 MINUTES • 45 MINUTES TO COTTER FOR TROUT FISHING
STAY & PLAY REAL ESTATE & PROPERTIES
GASTON'S WHITE RIVER RESORT
1777 River Rd. | Lakeview, AR Gastons.com 870.431.5202
Gaston’s White River Resort began in 1958 with six small cottages and six boats. Today, Clint Gaston carries on the family legacy with over 400 acres and 79 cottages— ranging from two double beds to 10 private rooms—an airstrip, over 70 boats and a state-of-the-art dock. Gaston’s Resort also features an award-winning restaurant, private club, gift shop, tennis court, playground, game room, duck pond, three nature trails, swimming pool, conference lodge and fly-fishing school. Led by master fly-fisherman Frank Saksa, the fly-fishing school is a one-day course for two people. Combining a bit of in-classroom teaching with hands-on experience, these classes are a wonderful introduction to the art of fly-fishing. And the fishing is always good at Gaston’s. The White River stays the same temperature year-round, which means the trout are always active. Fly-fishing is not the only way to fish, either! In fact, over 85% of everyone who fishes in the area is spin fishing. You can produce excellent results either way—just have fun! Gaston’s offers a Bermuda grass airstrip that is open to everyone—not just guests who are staying in the cottages. Feel free to fly in for breakfast, lunch or dinner any day of the week, or on Sunday for the restaurant’s famous Sunday brunch. The resort has been featured in every major airplane and flight magazine in the world, and it is known as the best fly-fishing destination in this part of the country. Visitors fly in from all over the country to experience some great trout fishing, or just to enjoy a meal with a great view in the first-class restaurant. Gaston’s has a wide variety of different packages—perfect to suit you and your party. In addition to the basic accommodations, there are several larger cottages and lodges where guests can hosts larger parties and events, all of which offer free Wi-Fi. Whether you need a crib, extra blankets or handicap-accessible utilities, Gaston’s will strive to make you as comfortable as possible. Just let the capable staff know what they can do to make your stay perfect. Your dogs are welcome, too!
• COTTAGES AND LODGES FOR SMALL AND LARGE PARTIES • YEAR-ROUND TROUT FISHING AND INSTRUCTION AVAILABLE • AWARD-WINNING RESTAURANT • PRIVATE AIRSTRIP • DOG-FRIENDLY
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 45
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARKANSAS PARKS AND TOURISM
a n i m l e h l i W n e e u Q State Park Notes: A. Saw an eagle! B. Beautiful drive up here ring C. Found hidden healing sp Leap D. Gorgeous view from Lover’s E. Wonder House = amazing F. Took a train ride e G. Ouachita Trail goes all th way to Pinnacle in LR!
Overlook the T alimena National Scenic Byway. Crystal Spring e rail T e Wonder g n ic Driv i r Sp House Talimena Scen Amphitheater
Bathhouse Ouachita Trail Marker
Tent Camping Miniat ure Railroad
Mena - 13 miles
Mountain Glory Station
Trail Loop Lovers’ Leap
Old Stone Reservoir
46 | Arkansas Wild ¸ November 2019
ARKANSASWILD.COM | 1
You wear the vest. So wear the belt.
You wouldn’t go to the deer woods without your hunter orange. So why drive your truck without a seat belt? · Pickup trucks are twice as likely to roll over as cars. · Seat belts reduce the risk of dying in a rollover crash by 75%. Play it safe in the woods and behind the wheel.
A R K A N S A S S TAT E P O L I C E H I G H WAY S A F E T Y O F F I C E
Everyone Has a Hand in Helping Nature EVERYONE CAN HELP FUND CONSERVATION BY BUYING A FISHING LICENSE EVEN IF YOU DON'T FISH.
BUY A LICENSE TO SUPPORT CONSERVATION AT AGFC.COM
Arkansans have made quite an impact as champions for the wild. Hunters and anglers have long funded conservation in the state through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses.
Learn more at AGFC.com
Champions of the Wild Meet the 2019 class Back in Quack Duck season is here! Plus Outdoor Gift Guide