Page 1

ARKANSAS WILD

& YOUNG -of-

INTRODUCING

GUNS

MEET JARROD NORWOOD SEE PAGE 37

GUMBO GOODNESS

+ gentlemen's guide

GIFT IDEAS FOR EVERY OUTDOORSMAN

CAJUN SENSATION

DUCK BLIND DRAMA

HUNTERS’ FIRST TIME FOLLIES WINTER 2016 a r K A N S A S w i l d.c o m


A F i r s t -C l A s s t i m e ... e v e ry t i m e . America’s #1 Trout Fishing Resort is Gaston’s. Our White River float trips for lunker trout are legendary from coast to coast. We do the work. All you do is fish – in style and comfort. Then there are the extras that make “resort” our last name. First-class lodging. One of the South’s finest restaurants featuring a spectacular view. A private club. Tennis and a pool. Nature trails for mountain biking and hiking. A conference lodge for your group meetings or parties. Even a private landing strip for fly-in guests.

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Follow us on

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CONTENTS FALL WILD 2016 ARKANSASWILD.COM ¸ FAcebook.com/ArkansasWild

25

LEGENDS OF THE WILD & YOUNG GUNS 42

DUCK BLIND CONFESSIONAL A first hunt inspires awe—and sometimes hilarity

46

BAD DOGS MAKE GOOD FRIENDS The trials and tribulations of Labrador Retriever ownership

MEET HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK RANGER MIGUEL MARQUEZ. PAGE 36.

48

TAG YOURSELF A TROPHY

The ultimate guide to supremacy in the deer woods

51

GENTLEMEN’S GUIDE DEPARTMENTS 10 OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS 12 CONSERVATION 16 GAME & FLAME 20 ARKANSAS OUTOOOR ARTISANS 56 TOP GUIDES 58 OUT & ABOUT 4 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

On the cover: Jarrod Norwood scouts a piece of land for Our Tracts, his new day lease business for hunters. Photo by Rett Peek.


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

TZDArkansas.org ARKANSASWILD.COM | 5


ARKANSAS WILD ARKANSASWILD.COM | FACEBOOK.COM/ARKANSASWILD REBEKAH LAWRENCE Publisher rebekah@arktimes.com ELIZABETH HAMAN Associate Publisher elizabeth@arktimes.com MANDY KEENER Creative Director mandy@arktimes.com MICHAEL ROBERTS Editor michael@arktimes.com KEVIN WALTERMIRE Art Director kevin@arktimes.com ADVERTISING LESA THOMAS Senior Account Executive lesa@arktimes.com RHONDA CRONE Account Executive rhonda@arktimes.com KIMBERLY BENNETT Account Executive kimberly@arktimes.com PRODUCTION WELDON WILSON Production Manager/Controller

HICKORY SMOKED

Turkeys & Hams Since 1962

Show your clients and family members how much you care by sending them a taste of Arkansas’s Finest Smoked Meats Call toll free 800-921-4292 or go online to order www.smokedturkeys.com Stop by our iconic Arkansas Restaurants: Little Rock and Lewisville For Little Rock pick-ups call 666-1660 5620 R Street • M-F 10-6 • Sat 10-5 www.smokedturkeys.com 6 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

ROLAND R. GLADDEN Advertising Traffic Manager JIM HUNNICUTT Advertising Coordinator GRAPHIC DESIGNERS BRYAN MOATS MIKE SPAIN SOCIAL MEDIA LAUREN BUCHER lauren@arktimes.com OFFICE STAFF ROBERT CURFMAN IT Director LINDA PHILLIPS Billing/Collections KELLY JONES Office Manager/Accounts Receivable ANITRA HICKMAN Circulation Director All Contents © 2016 Arkansas Wild 201 E. Markham St., Suite 200 Little Rock AR, 72201 501.375.2985


CONTRIBUTORS JOHN MCCLENDON grew up in a family engaged in a wide variety of business interests, and each entity used hunting and fishing in and around Drew County as a way to build customer loyalty. Guiding others afield for the better part of 25 seasons now has given McClendon volumes of stories to share.

KAT ROBINSON is an Arkansas travel writer and foodways enthusiast living in Little Rock. The author of three travel dining guides (including Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State), the veteran journalist spends her time exploring highways and byways wherever she may wander.

RETT PEEK is a photographer based in Little Rock. His work can be seen locally as well as nationally. He is also the father of two kiddos, Luca & Levi. They love to spend time outdoors whether it’s camping or hiking up Pinnacle Mountain.

ZOĂ‹ ROM is a post-punk vegetarian with a knack for misadventure. When she's not running, she's climbing, and when she's not climbing, she's cooking or eating. Writer, podcaster and avid gardener, she starts every day with a cup of strong coffee and a good story.

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PHILIP THOMAS is the owner and operator of Novo Studio, a photography, video and graphic design company located in northwest Arkansas.

Truck Caps and Toppers Pull Out Trays

Bug Sheilds

Bedliners

Step Sheilds

Hitches

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THE ELMS LODGE NOW BOOKING

FROM THE EDITOR

Duck and Goose Day Hunts and Lodging

Our birds are top flight. It’s not how high they fly, it’s where they land!

THE ELMS

Now Booking 2017-18 Season Field Leases and Season Lodge Leases

A WILD YEAR As I come to the end of my first year as editor of Arkansas Wild, I feel like I’ve come to know and love the Natural State better than ever. I’ve climbed mountains. I’ve crossed rivers. And I’ve met some of the most wonderful people all across the state. This is our annual Legends of the Wild issue, where we celebrate the people who help make Arkansas such a wonderful place for lovers of the outdoors. Men like Joe David Rice, for whom promoting tourism in the state isn’t just a job—it’s a way of life. Couples like Cowper Chadbourn and Debbie Doss, who not only teach others how to enjoy our creeks, rivers and bayous, they also work hard to keep them clean and accessible. Hard work like that humbles me. This year, we’ve added a new section to our Legends feature: the Young Guns. We asked you, the readers, who you thought were the next generation of Arkansas legends, and your nominations didn’t disappoint. From innovative hunting lease company Our Tracts to 19-year-old buck-killing sensation Eleanor Henry, I am thrilled and excited to introduce our Young Guns to the state. We’ve got some humor for you too, as hunter and storyteller John McClendon shares with us stories from the duck blind—and gives us the sordid details of what life is like with a bad dog. And if that’s got your appetite up, be sure to check out the delicious gumbo recipe we made with Le Petit Cajun Bistro and the folks from Riceland down in Stuttgart. It’s been a heck of a year, and I’m already excited about getting outside for 2017. Our Arkansas Wild team is one of the hardest-working bunch of folks I’ve ever known, and no amount of thanks would be enough for what they do. Enjoy the Arkansas autumn—and get outside!

Kimberly Freeman, Owner kim176@comcast.net 501.690.0164 www.elmslodge.com 8 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Michael Roberts Editor, Arkansas Wild @ArkansasWildMag


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OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS

ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT

Things every hunter should (and can) own BY JOHN MCCLENDON

Everybody’s got a list of outdoor necessities. Not everyone writes it down, but we all have one. Things tend to make my list when an item’s status elevates to “replace” due to being lost, stolen or mutilated. Here are a few things I’ve found I don’t want to live without and why:

1.

2.

3.

Provides 50 lumens in two light modes.

5. Keeps liquids hot for up to 24 hours.

4.

6.

Check your local outfitter for these great products. 10 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


1. RIGHT TOOL FOR EVERY JOB

This is the number one item on the list for its unmatched usefulness. Mine has seen action in over 30 different countries, and I love it for having exactly what you need right on your belt when you need it. There are hundreds of brands and models out there, but the Gerber Multiplier 600 is great because it can “sling” open with one hand—a huge plus when carrying gear. $47 gerbergear.com

A WELCOME SIGHT AFTER A

great day of

Adventure

2. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

A great light should be durable, costeffective, bright and long-lasting with a simple adjustable headband. Easier said than done. The Energizer 3 L.E.D. Head Lamp is a simple LED headlight that runs on standard AAA batteries while meeting all those requirements. It is the perfect handsfree light for home, camp, and vehicle. $13 energizer.com

PHOTO BY RETT PEEK / COURTESY OF VENDORS

3. STAY SHARP

There’s nothing more useful than a sharp, dependable knife. The Buck Bantam BLW is a great example of a light, easy-to-open folding knife perfect for daily use. This economical blade holds an edge very well and isn’t difficult to sharpen once dull. The included pocket clip is a must-have feature for any everyday knife. $22 buckknives.com

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4. EASY COMFORT

An itchy hat head is almost as bad as being cold. Polartec makes a watch cap that keeps your head toasty warm while being so comfortable it’s easy to forget it’s there. This cap features a “beanie” style cut that keeps ears covered without having to roll it like a toboggan. It would be a bargain at twice the price. $10 polartec.com

The 2016 PIONEER™ 1000

The 2016 FourTrax® Rancher® Works all day and is still up for some fun.

Not just bigger: Better.

5. AWAKE AND READY

Even with so many single cup brewers and a coffee franchise on every corner, there’s still no better way to get your java fix outdoors or on the go than the good old vacuum bottle. The old school and tough-as-a-boot Stanley keeps a quart of Joe piping hot all day. It has become a familiar fixture from the construction site to the duck blind as an essential for the coffee-loving man. The 2016 FourTrax® Rancher® $23 Works all day and is still up for some fun. stanley.com

6. A CUT ABOVE

These micro-tip scissors from Fiskars may be small, but each pair is razor sharp. They are perfect to employ for tasks that require more precision than a pocket knife. Mine travel alongside a pair of good stainless steel 6” needle nose fishing pliers. The pair slips perfectly together in the pliers’ belt sheath and makes a handy combination for hundreds of tasks. $18 fiskars.com

The 2016 PIONEER™ 1000 Not just bigger: Better.

Richards Honda ridearkansas.com

6600 S. University Little Rock, AR (501) 562-0910 honda.com UTILITY ATVs ARE RECOMMENDED FOR RIDERS 16 YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER. ALL ATV RIDERS SHOULD TAKE A TRAINING COURSE AND READ THEIR OWNER’S MANUAL THOROUGHLY. MULTI-PURPOSE UTILITY VEHICLES CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO OPERATE. PIONEER IS ONLY FOR DRIVERS 16 YEARS AND OLDER. DRIVER AND PASSENGER MUST BE TALL ENOUGH FOR SEAT BELT TO FIT PROPERLY AND TO BRACE THEMSELVES WITH BOTH FEET FIRMLY ON THE FLOOR. PASSENGER MUST BE ABLE TO GRASP THE HANDHOLD. NEVER DRIVE WITH MORE THAN ONE PASSENGER. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT, AND KEEP THE SIDE NETS AND DOORS CLOSED. ALL MUV USERS SHOULD WATCH THE SAFETY VIDEO “MULTIPURPOSE UTILITY VEHICLES: A GUIDE TO SAFE OPERATION” AND READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL BEFORE OPERATING THE VEHICLE. FOR BOTH TYPES OF VEHICLES, ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET, EYE PROTECTION AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING. AVOID EXCESSIVE SPEEDS, AND BE CAREFUL ON DIFFICULT TERRAIN. FOR YOUR SAFETY BE RESPONSIBLE. NEVER DRIVE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL, OR ON PUBLIC ROADS. RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT WHEN DRIVING.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 11


Massive flocks of snow geese have caused incredible trouble for farmers along the Mississippi Flyway in eastern Arkansas.

POPULATION PRESSURES Record numbers of geese provide headaches and opportunities BY ZOË ROM

A

s fall eases into winter, the slow sweep of migrating geese becomes a familiar sight in the skies of Arkansas. To many, the birds are just one of the signs that come with the changing of the seasons. For farmers, conservationists and land managers, though, the annual overhead honking has become a troubling sound. Since the 1990s, populations of Lesser Snow Geese, Greater Snow Geese, Blue Geese and other varieties of light geese have been arriving in Arkansas in ever-increasing numbers. After such a long journey, the birds show up hungry— and Arkansas’ soybean, corn and rice fields suffer as hordes of geese descend and devour them. In addition to crop loss, farmers must also contend with fields covered with unwelcome droppings. “Much of the growth in light goose populations over the past several years is assumed to be primarily a result of a phenomenon termed ‘agricultural subsidy,’” says Luke Naylor, Waterfowl Prog ram Coordinator for the A rkansas Game and Fish Commission. “Essentially, land use changes across much of the midcontinent region have resulted in a greater amount of food resources available to light geese outside their breeding range.” 12 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Because geese are migratory birds with a wide seasonal range, overpopulation issues aren’t just isolated to Arkansas—the impact extends north to habitats in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. These areas are also experiencing unparalleled degradation due to increased pressure by growing populations of geese, and traditional mechanisms that formerly controlled populations are no longer effective. What once was a grueling migration across the United States has now become supported by agriculture in Arkansas other farmrich parts of the country. In addition to increased food supplies, a warming climate has also provided milder winters and warmer summers, enabling geese to reproduce in astounding numbers. Geese that would previously have been claimed by hunger and the elements are now surviving in record numbers. According to waterfowl conservation organization Ducks Unlimited, the population of snow geese alone has increased from around 800,000 in the 1960s to upward of 13 million birds today. As this enormous influx of geese arrives in their northern nesting grounds, they devour precious plant resources previously available to other shorebird species. Areas such as

PHOTO COURTESY OF ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM

CONSERVATION


ARKANSASWILD.COM | 13


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STAY IN THE TREE

One out of three deer hunters will fall from a treestand in their lifetime. That perfect 20-foot tall vantage point can become a 20foot disaster in a split second. Be sure to wear a full-body safety harness any time you’re in a treestand. Visit stayinthetree.com for more treestand safety tips and videos. 14 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Record populations of snow geese have put increasing environmental pressure on traditional habitats and breeding grounds.

James Bay and Hudson Bay in Canada have seen a dramatic reduction in biodiversity as competitors like the sandpiper, a small shorebird, are left out in the cold with no food. While the devastating impacts that these geese have is clear, the solution is murkier, and will most likely require a nuanced and multi-pronged approach to curb these voracious birds. The solution may be in the hands of hunters. Many organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited and the AGFC, advocate for conservation through hunting, eliminating bag limits and extending the hunting day for geese from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. “We offer maximum hunting opportunity for light geese,” says Luke Naylor. “Arkansas is now a primary wintering state for light geese, so our efforts to encourage legal harvest of these geese are important to broader efforts.” Conservation efforts also extend beyond the state level. The Light Goose Conservation Order (LGCO) was passed by Congress in 1999 with the goal of preserving Arctic and sub-Arctic habitats by decreasing the light goose population by half in ten years. This has yet to be achieved, however. Ducks Unlimited is quick to point out the opportunity that this grants hunters in search of fowl postduck season. Snow geese are typically hunted from September through

May, and offer hunters an interesting challenge to pursue such an abundant and incredibly well–adapted species. There are no bag or daily possession limits, and other restrictions such as the removal of plugs for shotguns and no electric callers have been eased. Arkansas hunters can enjoy an extended fowl season and feel good about contributing to ecosystem conservation. Other agencies, such as the Humane Society, are against the systematic rounding up and hunting of geese. They argue that hunting is not the most effective way to target specific species, and often just frees up more land for other geese to move in, creating a temporary but ineffective fix. GeesePeace, another agency focused on ethical treatment of fowl, advocates for the specific targeting of light goose eggs, which can be oiled to prevent hatching. GeesePeace is opposed to many hunting measures and suggests that people use green lasers to lure geese away from fields instead of hunting them. Though t here a re dif fering viewpoints on how best to effectively manage the inf lux of geese, the importance of addressing the issue is clear, and Arkansans are doing their part to contribute to the conservation effort. For more information on goose season, visit agfc.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

LET US HELP YOU FIND YOUR ADVENTURE


WHEN YOU WANT TO CALL ON A LOCAL TEAM.

WE’RE HERE. At First Security, we find a lot to love in our home state. In addition to great people and great communities, Arkansas offers some of the best outdoor activities a hunter could hope for. It’s one of the many reasons we love it here. And why you won’t find us anywhere else. Ready to give us a shot? First Security is here for you.

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GAME & FLAME

o l G

o b m u G s u rio

soak up the goodness with fresh bread

MAKE IT LIKE THEY DO IN DUCK COUNTRY BY MICHAEL ROBERTS PHOTOS BY BRIAN CHILSON

“A

ny gumbo’s no better than the roux going in it,” says Homer Campbell as he whisks together a mixture of flour and rice bran oil in a hot cast iron kettle. We’re in the kitchen of Le Petit Cajun Bistro in Stuttgart, and once this concoction turns from bright white to copper-colored, Homer will add it to the 19 gallons of gumbo base he’s had simmering all morning. It’s a seemingly simple process, but one that’s vitally important to the dish. “Without the roux, all you’ve got is soup,” says Homer.

16 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


riceland rice bran oil One of the World’s Healthiest Oils Riceland Rice Bran Oil is an excellent oil for frying. It has a superior smoke point compared to other cooking oils. The smoke point is the temperature oil begins to smoke and burn. Hotter oil allows food to cook crispier with less oil absorption.

RICELAND

Rice bran oil can be used for much more than frying. It is neutral in ideal for baking, sautĂŠing and making vinaigrettes.

makes it

Rice bran oil contains natural antioxidants like vitamin E and oryzanol, which has been shown to help lower cholesteral. Rice bran oil is gluten free, cholesterol free, and has 0 grams of trans fat per serving. Find it online at RicelandStore.com


Riceland rice bran oil makes a great Roux Homer’s been making his gumbo at this popular southeast Arkansas restaurant for more years than he can remember. “Our previous owner, Linda Gaines, got it from her sister,” he says. “It’s an old recipe that’s been ad-libbed over the years.” Many of the ingredients in Le Petit Cajun Bistro’s gumbo come as no surprise. There’s the “holy trinity” of Cajun ingredients: celery, green bell pepper and onion. There’s smoked sausage. But Homer has a secret ingredient that he says makes his gumbo go from good to great—turkey broth. “Turkey stock is the best stock,” he says. “It can be hard to find if you want to buy it, but I make it here.” The turkey stock is paired with chicken stock and, because it just wouldn’t be Stuttgart without them, a couple of ducks. At a nearby prep table, Homer is being assisted by Whitney Robinson, who is steadily deboning thirty pounds of chicken thigh quarters. She shakes her head in amusement as Homer tests the heat of a pan with his bare fingers. “He’s been doing this so long he doesn’t get burned,” she says with a laugh. Homer just smiles and flexes his calloused cook’s hands. Along with a seafood-stuffed chicken dish and the restaurant’s signature étouffée, the gumbo is a huge draw for Le Petite Cajun Bistro’s clientele. During duck season, when Stuttgart’s population swells to many times its normal size of just over 9,000 people, the café will go through one of these 19-gallon batches in just a couple of days. It is simply served with Homer’s oven-baked rice—a rich, filling dish sure to help shake off the chill of the duck blind. We’ve scaled down the recipe for you to try at home, and we urge you to make this recipe your own. Use different proteins, different types of stock—just make sure your roux is right. Homer wouldn’t have it any other way. 18 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Stir the roux constantly

Homer Campbell prepares a pot of gumbo

A pot chock full of deliciousness


Classic Gumbo (yields 6-8 servings)

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken thigh quarters 1/2 pound shrimp 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced 1 duck breast, poached and sliced 2 pounds okra, chopped 2 cups yellow onion, diced 1 cup celery, chopped 1 cup green bell pepper, diced 2 quarts turkey stock (chicken may be substituted) 2 quarts chicken stock 1 cup Riceland Rice Bran Oil 1 cup flour Salt and Pepper (to taste) 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

Directions: In a large stock pot, combine the turkey and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and poach the chicken thigh quarters until cooked through. Remove from the stock to cool, then remove the meat from the bones. Sauté the okra, yellow onion, celery and green bell pepper until the onions become translucent. Add this mixture to the stock pot along with the deboned chicken, cayenne pepper and Old Bay Seasoning; simmer for 45 minutes. Add the sausage and shrimp and bring the mixture back to a simmer. In a cast iron skillet or pot, heat the rice bran oil until it shimmers. Slowly add the flour to the oil to form a roux, stirring constantly with a whisk. Keep stirring the roux until the color darkens to a copper tone (about 20 minutes). Once the color has been achieved, remove the roux from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then add it to the stock pot. Stir thoroughly to ensure the roux is mixed well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Arkansas’ own Riceland rice.

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Advanced Taxidermy’s quest for excellence BY KAT ROBINSON

B

randon Mitchell is an Indiana transplant. He moved with his wife, Angie, to Arkansas four years ago, settling in Van Buren. Taxidermy, to Brandon, is a craft. “I got started in it just working with my hands and eyes. A lot of people call it art, but I call it being a craftsman. Art is when you take nothing and make something. In this, God’s already made everything. We’re just trying to put it back together.” His journey didn’t start easily. He worked for a taxidermist in Indiana for some time. “When I told him I wanted to learn the trade, he handed me back my tools and shut the door on me. Taxidermy is a very cutthroat business,” Brandon says. Another taxidermist offered him training, but it wasn’t easy or quick. “I took notes for six months before I ever picked up a scalpel.” He eventually opened his own shop in Indiana, but when his only employee there told him he was leaving to be closer to his son in Tennessee, Brandon decided to look outside his home state. “I needed a worker. You can invest seven to ten thousand dollars training someone to do the work. I got on the internet on a site just for taxidermists to see what I could find. The very first thing I came to [was] Roger Keith’s processing plant and taxidermy shop [in Van Buren]. He was looking to sell. Within 30-45 days we were living in Arkansas,” Brandon says. He’s run the store as Advanced Taxidermy ever since. With a background in welding fabrication that he developed while creating and installing pools for casinos and hotels, Brandon already knew tilework, plumbing, welding, fabrication and priming. These skills came to good use in his taxidermy business. 20 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Advanced Taxidermy specializes in common mammals like bear (top) and deer (bottom).

PHOTOS COURTESY OF ADVANCED TAXIDERMY

The Craft Of Preservation


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Clockwise from left: Advanced Taxidermy works on “anything with fur.” Brandon Mitchell brought his taxidermy expertise from Indiana to Van Buren. Care is taken to make each project, like this wolf, seem as lifelike as possible.

“This industry, they don’t make things for it. Every tool we use, outside of some little hand tools we use for manipulating skins, was created to do something else,” Brandon says. “Tanning machines meant to tan skins for leather. Knives made for skinning at processing plants. Tanning products for softening skins for trappers. Taxidermists are jacks-of-all-trades. ” Brandon also takes his work to competitions, which he feels offer him a chance to refine his skills. Each year, there are taxidermy competitions on both the state and national level where amateurs, professionals and masters bring various works to compare—and to share knowledge about new technologies and tested practices. “Every state has an organization. Taxidermists compete on a score sheet—a perfect 100 is a live, breathing animal. You aren’t competing against each other as much as you are competing against nature. Everything is considered, down to where individual whiskers are set on a face with the muscles under them. We use reference pictures on the internet nowadays, close-ups. You break those things down and figure out what the animal is doing, what’s the expression, how the hair grows. Judging is on a scientific scale of complete accuracy. No one is ever going to get it right. Everyone is going to reach a level, but until you can blow into the nose of an animal and they blink back at you, you can’t make 100.” 22 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Four years into his Arkansas operation, Brandon and his team are doing very well. While his shop does take in the occasional bird or fish, Advanced Taxidermy mostly tackles, as Brandon puts it, “anything with hair.” Deer and bear are the most popular, with dozens of each brought in each year. Completion generally takes around a year. Today, in addition to his day job, Brandon is a board member for the Arkansas Taxidermists Association. He makes a point to teach his skills at the organization’s yearly meeting, offering three days of instruction. He also works hard to communicate with others who practice his craft here in Arkansas. “I’m a big fan of having friends in business. I’ve sought out and talked to everyone doing this in a 50-mile radius to try and get to know them and introduce them to the competition. I’ve done a collective artist piece with another guy and we competed with it. “When I tried to get started, I got a bunch of doors shut in my face,” Brandon says. “You don’t have to be enemies in business. It’s actually a good thing to be friends.” For more information on Advanced Taxidermy, visit advancedtaxidermy.net. For information about the Arkansas Taxidermists Association, visit arkansastaxidermist.net.


ARKANSASWILD.COM | 23


24 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


What does it take to be called an Arkansas outdoor legend? Vision, hard work and a love of Arkansas that never quits. On the following pages, we recognize six individuals—Joe David Rice, Gary Gibbs, Tim Scott, Kim Ward, Debbie Doss and Cowper Chadbourn—who have all dedicated their lives to increasing the profile of Arkansas through their stewardship, entrepreneurship and plain grit and determination. By Sandra Allsup and Michael Roberts ARKANSASWILD.COM | 25


Arkansas Tourism Director Joe David Rice gets some fresh air on his bike at Two Rivers Park in Little Rock.

26 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


JOE DAVID RICE J

[Arkansas] once just promoted hunting, f ishing and hik ing—and that was it, now we tell people to first have a quality urban experience with our brewpubs and restaurants, and then go duck hunting. Our product has diversified.

oe David Rice has served as Arkansas’ Tourism Director since 1987, but when he starts talking about the Natural State, it’s clear his excitement has only grown over the years. Promoting Arkansas is more than a job for him—it’s a way of life. “This was one of my dream jobs before I even went to college,” he says. He studied outdoor recreation planning at the University of Illinois, and took his first job with the city of Hot Springs. His experiences in one of Arkansas’ premier resort destinations helped shape his view of exactly how important promoting the state’s tourism is to Arkansas’ economy. Over the years, he has overseen ever-increasing successes, including a seven percent increase in tourism in 2015 over 2014—with 2016 looking to top that. “We’re in the economic development business,” he says. “The more people we get to come in from out of state to visit Arkansas, the more money everyone makes.” He thinks many people are surprised by the things that Arkansas has to offer, although that perception is changing. “People are finding out what we have.” Ever one to distribute credit around, Joe David points to the Arkansas Wilderness Act of 1983, introduced by Senator Dale Bumpers, as a great leap forward for the state. “Getting lands designated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System was important,” he says. Further aid came in 1989, when the state passed a tourism tax which resulted in more money for growth and development. Along the way, his department changed the way it talked about the state. “We once just promoted hunting, fishing and hiking—and that was it,” he says. “Now we tell people to first have a quality urban experience with our brewpubs and restaurants, and then go duck hunting. Our product has diversified.” He credits the beginning of this new state of affairs in Arkansas to the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. “No matter what your political leanings, it’s clear that Clinton’s election put a spotlight on the state, and the Clinton library did a lot to expand tourism.” Nearly three decades into his career, Joe David is still looking forward. He points to two areas of recent growth—cycling and the Arkansas craft brewery boom—as positive signs for the future of

Arkansas tourism. “There are so many great places for craft beer now. And places like Crystal Bridges have just given people more opportunities for a diversified experience in the state.” Along with these new tourist attractions, Joe David also cites the changing media landscape as an instrument of Arkansas’ growth. “It’s amazing what we can do with the internet and social media,” he says. The Arkansas State Parks page on Facebook alone boasts nearly 85,000 followers, and the state’s webpage hosts a wealth of information about not only parks and attractions, but other things to do in various areas of the state. “We’ve got the best state parks in the country,” Joe David says. “We’re also blessed with our Corps of Engineers reservoirs.” But despite this assertion, he still sees plenty of room for growth. “I’d like to see us build more IMBA Epic trails,” he says, referring to Arkansas’ current status of being tied for second place with Colorado for the number of trails rated Epic by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Cycling is estimated to have added $230 million of economic benefit to the state—a number that Joe David, a cyclist himself, thinks can grow. But it’s not all bicycles. “We’ve also got some of the most incredible watchable wildlife opportunities anywhere. And, of course, Arkansas is a primary destination for motorcyclists.” With so many areas of responsibility, it would be easy to be overwhelmed. Fortunately, Joe David says that Arkansas is possessed of a wealth of talent when it comes to promoting the state. “I’ve been surrounded by great people,” he says. “The Department of Arkansas Heritage. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Many of the federal agencies. Not to mention all our wonderful welcome centers built by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.” Tourism isn’t only about getting people from outside Arkansas to experience the Natural State. For Joe David Rice, part of building Arkansas’ reputation is getting Arkansans to better appreciate everything we have in our state. “There are new things happening all the time,” he says. He cites the “rails to trails” Delta Heritage Trail project as something he’s particularly excited about. “There’s never been a better time to visit Arkansas,” he says, and if he has his way, that will be true for years to come.

Photo by Rett Peek

For more information about Arkansas tourism, visit arkansas.com.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 27


Delta Resort and Spa founder Gary Gibbs looks for ducks near one of his world-class duck blinds. 28 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


GARY GIBBS “

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At Delta Resort, though, the luxurious a men it ies a nd faci l it ies a re just t he beginning—Gary Gibbs is, quite literally, reshaping the earth itself.

e started with nothing but a mudhole,” says Delta Resort owner and visionary Gary Gibbs of the nearly 2,000 acres of southeast Arkansas land in Desha County he’s hunted since 1979. Back then, Gary (along with his father and children) hunted ducks out of a small trailer tucked into a patch of green timber. “The land here belonged to a man named Lester Banfield,” he says. “This was a special place for my father and all of us.” Gary hunted the area until 1988, when Lester Banfield was forced to sell his land. “I said at the time that if I could ever have a dream come true, I’d buy the south end of that property and build a lodge.” He got his chance in 2006, and construction began in 2007. In the decade since, Gary’s idea for a hunting lodge grew into something quite different: a full resort featuring two hotels (totaling 130 rooms), the 43 Grill & Bar restaurant (named for local landmark Canal 43), a full menu of spa services, dozens of duck blinds and deer stands— and a world-class shotgun shooting complex that has hosted both major clay tournaments and Olympic-qualifying trials. At Delta Resort, though, the luxurious amenities and facilities are just the beginning—Gary Gibbs is, quite literally, reshaping the earth itself. “We are creating new wetlands every day,” says Gary. “We want to make the best habitat for ducks, of course, but we also see ourselves as stewards of the land itself.” To that end, Gary and his team brought in Jody Pagan, a habitat management specialist and avid hunter, in order to develop habitats that would work with the natural tendencies of the land—and draw in the ducks that make the resort such a hotspot for hunters. “We used to hunt a spot with George Dunklin [of Five Oaks Wildlife Services] and we’d just tear them up,” says Gary. “So we went to that spot and mapped every tree—and noted every species. Then we got with Jody and had him redesign that spot here at Delta Resort.” As he says this, he points out to a stand of trees located right where two sloughs cross. It looks like just another stand of timber, but it isn’t: Gary’s team has relocated trees fifty feet tall and taller here to this prime spot in order to bring in the ducks. It’s a testament to Gary’s passion—and his inability to think any other way other than “huge.”

It’s something that is proven over and over again all across the Delta Resort grounds. Stands of green timber are crisscrossed with raised roads that not only allow for easy access, they also serve as levees. “We have the ability to flood different parcels of timber,” says Gary. “That way, we can let one parcel a year rest. That keeps the trees healthier.” Outside the timber, open fields have been planted with corn and smartweed, something Gary calls “duck cocaine.” The abundance of food and preferable land is not only good for ducks, though—everything from deer to beavers make their homes in the lush wetlands around Delta Resort. Beyond developing and preserving the land he’s loved for nearly four decades, Gary sees his resort as part of a new way of life for a region of the state that has traditionally been economically depressed. “We’re bringing in Olympic shotgun athletes,” he says. “And once we finish our 1,000 yard rifle range and our pistol range, we’ll have one of the only facilities in the country where Olympic trials can be held.” That sort of prestige is a massive shot in the arm for the area. The resort’s facilities for corporate retreats— including facility-wide wifi, flat screen televisions and a conference hall that will accommodate up to 150 people—is another way Delta Resort sees itself as boosting the economy of the area. “You sit in McGehee for years and hope somebody will open a Toyota plant or something,” says Cindy Smith, a public relations agent for the resort. “Then Gary comes along and shows us another way of doing things.” It’s clear that the Delta Resort team sees themselves not as a stand-offish group of elites who operate outside the community—they view themselves as some of the biggest promoters of the land and region they call home. For Gary Gibbs, Delta Resort is a way to express his entrepreneurial spirit, but it’s also a way to give back to a region that has given him so much joy over the years. He lives in a lodge on the property where the walls are hung with photos of his father and that old trailer, and his sons’ first duck kills are mounted up right on the wall. The resort is adding on new features all the time, solidifying its place as one of Arkansas’ true outdoor treasures.

Photo by Rett Peek

For more information about Delta Resort and Spa, visit deltaconferencecenter.com. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 29


Devil’s Den assistant superintendent Tim Scott stands at the trailhead of the Fossil Flats Trail, one of the first mountain biking trails in the state. 30 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


TIM SCOTT

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With some of the best mountain biking trails in the country, it may seem like the sport has always been part of the northwest Arkansas landscape—but in the mid-1980s, the sport was only just becoming popular.

o many, the quiet trees and majestic Ozark bluffs that form the landscape of Devil’s Den State Park outside West Fork are the epitome of permanence. Even many of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) structures in the park give off the vibe of being solid and unchanging. At first glance, the park isn’t a place that one might think of as a catalyst for change. But thanks to the progressive vision of Assistant Superintendent Tim Scott and others at the park, Devil’s Den is known as the birthplace of one of the most exciting, dynamic sports in Arkansas: mountain biking. With some of the best mountain biking trails in the country, it may seem like the sport has always been part of the northwest Arkansas landscape— but in the mid-1980s, the sport was only just becoming popular. “Folks were riding on gravel roads and forest service roads,” says Tim. “We didn’t have the trails like we do now.” Tim is a northwest Arkansas native son who attended high school in Rogers and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. After briefly working for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program in the late 1970s, he took a job as a park interpreter at Toltec Mounds State Park in England in 1980. By 1984, he was back on his home turf as an interpreter at Devil’s Den, and became assistant superintendent in 1989. It was during this time that he had his mountain biking epiphany. “Around 1986, our then-superintendent, Wally Scherrey, and I started talking about getting into mountain biking,” Tim says. “At that time it was all new. With the terrain of Devil’s Den, we believed it could be an opportunity—and we wanted to be proactive to address the needs of the community.” Tim and Wally purchased bikes—Tim’s was a Schwinn Sierra—and started learning the ins and outs of riding. “We were extremely lucky to work for an agency with a progressive vision,” Tim says of the response from the Department of Parks and Tourism to suggestions that mountain biking should become a part of Devil’s Den’s trail system. “Many places weren’t allowing bikes on their trails at all. The sport then had the reputation of being filled with people who didn’t respect trails. We studied it and found that bikes had less impact on trails than

horses—and only slightly more than foot traffic.” Tim and Wally continued their research in 1989 by heading up to Crested Butte, Colorado, for the Fat Tire Festival, then in its 13th year. “The state sent us to Crested Butte to see how they ran their race,” he says. “I came back and brought the festival to Devil’s Den.” That first race was “something of a gravel grinder,” Tim says with a laugh—but by the second race in 1990, “we had trails ready to ride.” The event still draws hundreds of riders to the park every year. “We held the first race in April, during a time when park attendance was traditionally low,” Tim says. “Back then, parks were very much on their own for revenue, so we were always trying to find ways to increase our visitor count.” For the second race, the park moved it to another lull period—postLabor Day in September. “We then devoted the whole month of April to fun riding activities.” Given the massive—and growing—number of mountain bikers in the area today, it’s clear that the stars aligned in just the right way when Tim Scott bought his first bike. “We kind of fell into this deal of mountain biking by luck,” he says. “Because we started when we did, mountain biking at the park has sort of grown up right along with the sport. I feel very lucky to be involved with that.” These days, there are plenty of places to ride in northwest Arkansas—but people still flock to Devil’s Den. “Lots of people use the park as a base camp. They’ll come here and stay, ride our trails, then drive up to Bentonville to ride Slaughter Pen or other trails.” Tim says. Trail use has become more spread out, but the ever-increasing number of mountain bikers in the region have kept the crowds coming. There’s more to Tim Scott’s job than mountain biking, though. “I still do interpretive programs,” he says. “I just like doing them.” Other than the programs, he says “any day could mean anything. Sometimes that means paperwork, and sometimes we’re out at night trying to locate a lost hiker or mountain biker. You just never know.” For more than three decades, Tim’s been rolling with the changes—and implementing changes of his own. What he calls luck is the result of hard work and a vision that continues to impact the state of Arkansas to the present day.

Photo by Novo Studio

For more information about Devil’s Den State Park, visit arkansasstateparks.com/devilsden. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 31


Kim Ward poses with one of the War Eagle boats that bear the mark of his innovations in the aluminum boat industry. 32 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


KIM WARD B

Kim Ward began building all-welded aluminum boats for the United States Coast Guard and the Air Force, as well as boats for civilians using the same all-welded method.

orn in 1936, Kim Ward grew up in a boat. After all, his father and uncle, Bill and Chick Ward, were inventors of the flat-bottom, allwelded seam aluminum boat. Original ideas and ways to make them a reality were his birthright. It was while working for his father’s company, Dura Craft, that Kim learned every aspect of boat manufacturing, parlaying it into a great success as an aluminum boat producer. He started as a welder and soon made his way through each of the company’s other fabrication departments. Leaving the manufacturing side of the business, he tried his hand at sales and again found success. In 1962, he would move into management, implementing a diversification program of all Dura Craft products. While Dura Craft had long built flat-bottom aluminum jon boats, Kim expanded the company’s offerings by introducing a stylish family runabout. The runabout became the hottest item in aluminum boating until fiberglass came onto the market. With aluminum runabout sales declining, Kim went to Washington, D.C., to learn a new business: government contracts. Kim Ward began building all-welded aluminum boats for the United States Coast Guard and the Air Force, as well as boats for civilians using the same all-welded method. This method allowed construction without rivets, resulting in aluminum boats that were stronger and more reliable than ever before. His confidence grew and so did his contracts. Many know Kim Ward as an outstanding marine innovator; however, few are aware of his skills as a promoter. He is passionate about the marine industry, and his sincerity allows him to be a great spokesperson. In 1968, Kim originated and

coordinated a national outdoors writers’ event that drew over 50 writers from leading national outdoor publications to Arkansas. The event would bring together 30 different aluminum boat manufacturers and was a tremendous boost for the aluminum boat industry. In addition, the event announced the Arkansas River as a navigable waterway. The publicity drew many industries and tourists to the state. A few years later, he would use his strong voice again to persuade the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association to recertify stick steering. What may seem like a small step is actually a giant leap for stick steering, the effects of which are still present in the industry today. Kim Ward arranged a meeting of all the NMMA head engineers along with engineers from several leading motor companies in Florida. There he gave a powerful demonstration that convinced the NMMA to change their regulations towardstick steering. In 1978, Kim Ward became the nations’ largest producer of aluminum bass boats. This impressive feat was accomplished with the help of Ray Scott, founder of the B.A.S.S. organization and professional tournaments. Kim and Ray developed a relationship which led to a series of B.A.S.S. tournaments where popular professional fishermen, such as Bill Dance and Roland Martin, fished from aluminum Dura Craft Bass Champ boats. Ray, the father of professional bass fishing, says of his relationship with Kim: “He was the most important [person] in putting metal bass boats on the water. I have nothing but fond memories of his cooperation and expert help.”

Photo by Novo Studio

For more information about War Eagle Boats, visit wareagleboats.com.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 33


Debbie Doss and Cowper Chadbourn paddle through Cyprus trees on Fourche Creek. 34 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


COWPER CHADBOURN & DEBBIE DOSS “T he first river we ever paddled together was the Mulberry,” says Cowper Chadbourn of his wife, Debbie Doss. “It was something we did before, but we paddled a lot more after we met.” That was back in the 1970s, and since then, the two have become Arkansas’ first couple of paddlesports. “Cowper’s been an evangelist for the sport and the Arkansas Canoe Club (ACC) for decades,” says ACC member Gordon Kumpuris. “He has a depth of knowledge, especially about Arkansas streams, that is unrivaled.” How unrivaled? Gordon says that his daughter once gave Cowper the nickname “the wave whisperer” on a float trip in Idaho. Debbie Doss is no slouch when it comes to the waterways of Arkansas, either. She recently retired as the ACC’s conservation chairperson after 16 years, and during that time worked with—and sometimes in opposition to—state and local leaders on issues concerning water quality and ways to protect the state’s water resources. She points to one three-year battle over a dam across Lee Creek near Fort Smith as something she’s particularly proud of. For Debbie, protecting places like Lee Creek mean more than just preserving it for paddlers: it’s about keeping the wilderness clean and accessible for the wildlife that make these areas their homes—and to any and all people who want to enjoy the outdoors. The couple’s commitment to conservation extends well beyond letter writing and legal wrangling, however. “There’s no way to exaggerate the sheer tonnage of trash they’ve single-handedly removed from our waterways,” says Gordon. Indeed, a single year’s report to the ACC shows Cowper having organized, led or participated in cleanups at Poke Bayou near Batesville, the Lower Saline River, the Caddo River near Arkadelphia, Wattensaw Bayou and more. And lest you think “cleanup” means simply picking up trash along the banks, the pictures of Cowper posing with abandoned boats, huge tires and other large detritus shows the huge scale of his efforts. Urban dwellers also have much to thank Cowper and Debbie for—Little Rock residents in particular. Seeing the copious amount of trash that were winding up in Fourche Creek and the 1,800 acres of bottomland hardwood surrounding it, the two were part of an effort to place trash booms in the creek to collect garbage—including bottles, sports balls, televisions

and even full-size porta-potties. In the years since that effort, paddlers have begun promoting Fourche Creek as a great opportunity for urban floating. Even though both Cowper and Debbie are now retired, they are still “very generous with their time” according to Gordon Kumpuris. Both are adamant about passing down their love of the water to a new generation of paddlers—and to teaching newbies to the sport how to respect and conserve Arkansas’ streams and waterways. This extends to rescue missions, too, such as the 2010 flash flood on the Little Missouri River that killed 19 people at the Albert Pike Campground. Cowper Chadbourn was right there, using his whitewater skills to help with search and recovery efforts. So where do Cowper and Debbie like to paddle most? Both of them cite the diversity of opportunities at Pinnacle Mountain State Park as an asset to citydwellers who want to get out on the water. “It’s just so close,” says Debbie. “It’s easy to get out, and there are different types of paddling you can do right there.” Cowper mentions the Cossatot River as one of his favorite spots for whitewater—although he admits that the river known to the native Caddo Indians as “the skull crusher” might not be for everyone. “One of my favorite places to paddle is actually flatwater,” says Debbie. “I really love Bayou DeView, which is part of the Arkansas Water Trails System.” Debbie has been part of the expansion efforts of Arkansas’ trails, including adding camping and other amenities. Such programs not only help preserve the wide variety of waterways in the state, they also serve as a magnet for tourists looking to float, fish or enjoy some of the Natural State’s unique watchable wildlife opportunities. Without the hard work and dedication of Cowper Chadbourn and Debbie Doss, our lakes, streams, rivers and bayous wouldn’t be of nearly the quality they are today. The two have explored rivers all across the country, but it’s their love of Arkansas— from the South Fork of the Little Red River to the Little Maumelle (with numerous small, steep creeks and flatwater expanses in between) that make them both such valuable assets to our state. “They show no sign of slowing down,” says Gordon. May we continue to be blessed with people like them who dedicate their lives to Arkansas’ waterways.

Photo by Rett Peek

For more information about the Arkansas Canoe Club, visit arkansascanoeclub.com. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 35


The people you’ll meet on the following pages represent a wide range of experiences. One thing they all have in common, though, is a love for Arkansas and a commitment to the outdoors. Some of our Young Guns are new to the state, while others have lived here their entire lives. They build and maintain trails for hikers and bikers, operate businesses that make the Natural State accessible to hunters and fishermen—and they all have a goal of passing down what they’ve learned to their peers and to future generations. Meet Jarrod Norwood, Miguel Marquez, Tandie Bailey, Lindsey White, Nathan Woodruff and Eleanor Henry, the next generation of Arkansas outdoor legends.

By Michael Roberts

JARROD NORWOOD “

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Photo by Rett Peek

ou’ll never feel more human than when you’re out enjoying your place in the world,” says Jarrod Norwood, founder of the innovative new hunting lease company Our Tracts. “We weren’t meant to sit at desks all day staring at computers. Lots of people want to hunt, but time and money are always issues.” The Prescott native puts it into perspective like this: “If I join a traditional hunting lease, I get only a few days a year where I can hunt. It costs a lot of money, and I’m an hour or more away from home.” The solution? Day leases—though that didn’t come without hurdles. The way the law works, giving someone permission to hunt doesn’t open a landowner up to any liability—unless there’s a fee associated. “You have to carry insurance—and most small land owners just don’t have the money or time to deal with that.” That’s where Our Tracts comes in. With his company, Jarrod created a system where landowners can list their properties with his company, charge fees for use—and be covered by the Our Tracts insurance policy. “Landowners sign up with Our Tracts, specify the terms of use for their land, then we list their properties,” he says. “We visit every piece of property before we list it,” Jarrod says. “We also conduct limited criminal background checks on everyone who wants to purchase a day lease—so we try to protect the landowners and our clients.” For more information on Our Tracts, visit ourtracts.com. 36 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


MIGUEL MARQUEZ Photo by Novo Studio

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rowing up in Oakland, California, is the concrete jungle,” says Hot Springs National Park supervisory park ranger Miguel Marquez. “My parents would take us to the beaches or to see the redwoods—I developed a love of nature pretty early.” He’s only been on the job in the Spa City for eight months, but he’s already implemented plans to increase access and awareness. “I’m in charge of educational programs, and I’m passionate about promoting our park to underserved communities,” says Miguel. “Hot Springs gets visitors from around the world, but I want to be sure that people just a few blocks away know what they have in their city.” To that end, Miguel has been active on social media, posting pictures to Instagram and Facebook. He also is responsible for such programs as “Tea Time with a Ranger,” where park rangers hang out near the thermal water filling stations downtown with tea bags. “You don’t have to heat the water, of course,” he says with a laugh. As Miguel settles into his position, look for more innovative ways to experience the park. “I want to take my GoPro and film a virtual tour of our trails to put online,” he says. During this centennial year for the National Park Service, it’s heartening to see the department in such capable hands. For more information on Hot Springs National Park, visit nps.gov/hosp.

TANDIE BAILEY Photo by Novo Studio

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n many ways, enduro and downhill racer Tandie Bailey has grown up along with the Arkansas mountain biking scene. The Bentonville native first started riding at the age of 18, inspired by a brother who worked for the company who designed the Slaughter Pen Trail, Progressive Trail Design. “He and his friends would hang out at the dirt jumps,” Tandie says. “I wanted to be part of that.” A member of Friends of Arkansas Singletrack (FAST) and Ozark Off Road Cyclists (OORC), Tandie has committed herself to both organizations’ mission of trail advocacy and maintenance. She also works with FAST’s mountain bike patrol, which offers first aid and bike maintenance to others out on the trails. After becoming certified by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) as an instructor and ride guide, she began leading rides with a “noboys-allowed, all-levels-welcome group” of women riders called the Dirt Divas. “When I first started riding, the cycling community was tiny,” she says. “The past few years have seen an exponential growth in the community culture and style in our area.” Tandie admits that mountain biking can be an intimidating sport to get into, but urges people to give the sport a chance. “Our riding community has proven that we’re there to support you,” she says. “We’re all in it together.” And for Tandie, more is always merrier.

For more information on FAST, visit fasttrails.org.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 37


LINDSEY WHITE

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Photo by Novo Studio

hen a $3 million bank foreclosure forced Lindsey’s Resort in Heber Springs to close down in 2015, it seemed that Arkansas was faced with losing one of its classic fishing resorts for good. Lindsey’s began with the dream of Bill Lindsey, who purchased the land on the Little Red River for $12,000 back in 1965. This is a story with a happy ending, though. By the beginning of 2016, the resort had been purchased and reopened by Brown Trout Incorporated. Even better, the new owners hired a familiar face to run the resort: Bill Lindsey’s grandson, Lindsey White. Since the reopening, Lindsey has become something of a jack-of-alltrades at the resort. He’s earned a degree in hospitality, but years of working with his family have given him a skillset that few others could possibly possess. He’s overseeing an operation that boasts cabins renovated with wifi connections and new appliances, a fleet of fishing boats with brand new motors—and a couple of new party barges as well. For Lindsey White, bringing a great experience to his guests is more than just a matter of running a successful business—it’s a way to keep his grandfather’s memory and legacy alive. From bait fishing to fly fishing, party barge fishing tours to self-guided boat and motor rentals, Lindsey White’s resort strives to offer the perfect fit for any fisherman. For more information on Lindsey’s Resort, visit lindseysresort.com.

NATHAN WOODRUFF

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Photo by Novo Studio

hen the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) comes to Bentonville for its 2016 World Summit, bikers from all over are guaranteed some of the best opportunities for cycling anywhere in the country. Arkansas has made a big leap in recent years in terms of bike trails, including five with an “IMBA Epic” designation—a number that ties the state for the second most in the country. One of the key people involved in this mountain biking renaissance is Nathan “Woody” Woodruff of Progressive Trail Design (PTD). Woody’s company has designed trails across the country, from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, to Aspen, Colorado, but it’s the PTD-designed Slaughter Pen Trail in Bentonville that folks in Arkansas know best. This trail is considered by many to be one of the catalysts for growth in Natural State mountain biking, turning the northwest corner of the state into an area that has become nationally renowned. For Woody, it’s part of giving back to a sport he’s loved for years. Woody first got involved in mountain biking in the mid-1990s when he was in high school. Back then, mountain biking miles were hard to come by, but Woody nevertheless cut his teeth on trails like the Butterfield Trail, a rugged stretch with a trailhead in Devil’s Den State Park. That stretch of trail, coupled with a need for speed and adrenaline, has informed his trail designs to the present day.

For more information on Progressive Trail Design, visit progressivetraildesign.com. 38 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016


ELEANOR HENRY Photo by Clay Newcomb

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ou want to know her secret? She just stays in the stand longer than anybody,” says Martin Henry of his daughter, Eleanor, who by age 17 had four record bucks listed by Boone & Crockett, the organization that keeps track of such things. When we caught up with Eleanor, she was just finishing up her first set of mid-terms as a freshman at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She recalled her most recent—and largest—record deer, killed when she was 17. “It scored 208,” she says. “I killed my first record deer somewhere between age 12 and 14. That one was a 164.” In between, she added bucks that scored 176 and 184, all with her .243 rifle. “I hunt every weekend when I can. I get obsessed with it and I can’t quit,” she says. Now that she’s in college studying marketing, she admits that she doesn’t have as much time for hunting as she once did. “I used to hunt every afternoon in high school—unless I had cheer practice,” she says with a laugh. “I’ll be able to hunt Thanksgiving, but my sister tells me she’s going to kill the big buck this year.” But she isn’t going to let life get in the way of her love of hunting. “I will continue to hunt,” she says adamantly. “It’s an awesome thing. It’s something I will do with my family to pass along what I’ve learned from my dad.” Those big Delta bucks had better watch out.

For more information on big game records, visit boone-crockett.org.

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ARKANSASWILD.COM | 39


There are many places where you can go duck hunting ... But there’s only one region on the planet that has so many stores to get the gear you need, lodges to spend the night between hunts, qualified guides to take you to the best hunting holes, plus so many interesting places to go and things to do after you’ve gotten your limit. And most importantly, there’s no other place on Earth that has so many DUCKS! This season, visit The Arkansas Delta for the hunt of your life! This ad is paid for with a combination of state funds and private regional association funds. 40 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

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52 STATE PARKS. 52 WEEKS. COINCIDENCE?

We have a park for every week, every activity and every personality. You like history? Got it. You like music? Got that. Paddling, fishing, swimming, climbing, soaring, sunning, hiking, camping‌? Yep, yep and double yep. So come take advantage of your Arkansas State Parks.

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Duck Blind Confessional A first hunt inspires awe— and sometimes hilarity Story and photos by John McClendon

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ike a lot of Arkansas duck fanatics, I have been extremely fortunate when it comes to incorporating hunting into my professional life. I’ve never worked as a paid guide or run any kind of outfitting service, but I have been taking people who were important to our family business out hunting for 30 years. Hunting is a common way to promote and build relationships with customers, vendors and key employees. No other activity in the world can bond a business acquaintance quite like a morning or two spent together in a duck blind. Sometimes, those trips turn into annual traditions: several of my groups haven’t missed a hunt with me in 20 years—and I took more than a few of them on their very first duck hunts. It’s a special experience to take someone on their first hunt. Even the crustiest old hunter isn’t immune to the enthusiasm and excitement. There’s a special magic that occurs in someone the first time they see mallards cupping around hard. An epiphany takes place as colorful wings slash through bluebird skies, and a sense of wonder develops at the athleticism of a water-bound retriever’s pure passion and purpose. Every time, it’s as if the newly minted hunter has found some vital piece of life itself they hadn’t even known was missing. Many of the folks I’ve taken hunting have found themselves similarly awestruck. Those hunts generally ended with smiles and high-fives—but there were a few that got off to a rough start. I’ve lost count of the decoys sunk by the careless shots of over-enthusiastic guests. One fellow even shot one of my MoJo Duck motorized spinning wing decoys. The wings of the capsized decoy were still slightly turning when he shot it a second time. I guess he didn’t want it getting away. Another morning, legal shooting time was fast approaching and we all began loading our guns. There were five of us in a 16-foot-long blind; I was on the very end. This wasn’t a group I had hunted with before, and none of them were seasoned hunters— although each man had reported some level of shot gunning experience at dinner the night before. As the moment came to be ready, still and quiet, the gentleman furthest from me seemed to be having some trouble loading his firearm. I leaned forward and shined my light down the length of the blind and immediately saw for myself what the trouble was: he was attempting to load his shells in backwards— brass forward! 42 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Tom Wingard and Paul Griffin show off their kill in one of several cypress slough blinds author John McClendon uses to entertain business guests (above). Anthony Brown and Tom Wingard enjoy the aroma of John’s signature “boat bacon” while waiting on the next flight (opposite page).

Imagine my guest’s surprise when he learned that it wasn’t the shiny metal part of the shell that kills the duck. Over the years there have been numerous clothing faux pas. Some guests arrived equipped with blaze orange hats or bright red rain ponchos—not realizing that waterfowl are not colorblind. And while I am certainly not a camouflage snob, I did once have to find a way to cover a bright blue zebra-stripe jacket that appeared to be the size of a small circus tent. Such things just don’t blend in too well on an Arkansas rice field levee. These experiences aren’t unique, and you can always count on duck guides to have the best outdoor stories. One that I heard (but wasn’t present to witness) involved a hunt so cold that a client’s gun froze solid—he pulled back the trigger and nothing happened. Apparently the shotgun had gotten wet, and even though the trigger released the hammer, it was iced solid and wouldn’t fall. The action was also frozen closed, leaving no way to safely extract the shell. The hunters cautiously set the gun aside—pointed in a safe direction— until it thawed. The hammer did, indeed, eventually fall, but too slowly to ignite the shell’s primer.


It’s a special experience to take someone on their first hunt. Even the crustiest old hunter isn’t immune to the enthusiasm and excitement.

ARKANSASWILD.COM | 43


The Trammel family is all smiles after a morning outing with author John McClendon.

Another story I wish I’d been there to witness was told to me by a good friend who did not grow up duck hunting—but was a competent outdoorsman just the same. On his very first duck hunt, this fellow joined some friends on a public land hunt which was walk-in access only. He’d borrowed an old pair of waders for the occasion and was eager to experience the “green timber magic” he had heard so much about. About halfway out to the hole, it became apparent the borrowed waders were no longer watertight. The further he walked, the worse the leaks became, and as they neared the setup point, my friend realized that enduring a 30-degree morning in waders full of water was out of the question. Selflessly, he declined assistance and left the group to enjoy their hunt. He headed back in what he thought was the right direction. As any hunter can attest, landmarks in unfamiliar flooded timber can be confusing and very difficult to follow. Before long, he was lost, water-logged, nearly hypothermic and heavily weighed down by the waders— which were now full to the waterline. He determined he could move much faster by abandoning them completely, trekking toward the closest shotgun reports he could hear in just a pair of socks. 44 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

The group he found was understandably surprised to see the soaked-and-bootless nomad approaching their set. They pointed my friend in the right direction… then volunteered to walk him out when he arrived back at their hole sometime later after making a full circle. Even the most experienced among us gets a surprise now and then. A friend of mine (the saltiest hunter I know) and I once took a client from northern Illinois on a hunt. There are scads of details necessary to properly relate the entire episode, but the climax of the story involves a young alligator clamping onto my friend’s leg as he waded out among decoys. Our patron in attendance—unaware that Arkansas even had alligators—high-tailed it toward higher ground while I worked to free the small reptile from my friend’s leg. He hasn’t been back for a hunt since. Anyone who has hunted more than a season or two likely has a great story to tell. The social nature of waterfowl hunting lends a jovial atmosphere to the sport. Throw some extreme weather and inexperienced hunters into that environment and you have the recipe for some epic yarns. It’s just another day at the office for your guide who gets to witness them all.


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Bad Dogs Make Good Friends The trials and tribulations of Labrador Retriever ownership Story and photos by John McClendon

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am a black lab guy. Duck hunters all have their own breed. Some swear by yellow labs, others like chocolates—and a few like the endurance of a Chesapeake or the sunny disposition of a golden retriever. But I love black labs, the good ones as well as the bad. Even the ones that really test your patience. Labs, particularly smart ones, have sublime expressions like no other variety of canine. When scolded, my dog, CoCo, will squint her eyes and turn her head as if she can avoid what’s being said; at the same time, she wags her tail slowly and lets the tip of her tongue appear just barely past her lips. She blinks and winces at every word as if each one were a puff of sand blown in her face by some terrible, hot wind. It is a cute and comical sight that makes it very hard to stay mad for long—even after the most egregious of offenses. It has become a selfpreservation technique she employs in order to offset the criminal frustrations she initiates. Leave her loose and alone in the yard, and in a single afternoon she can dig up more azaleas than a contractor with a back-hoe. She once ate an entire bag of raw garlic (garlic, bag and all) and the zipper off of a sleeping bag in the same afternoon. She has removed and eaten all of the vertical netting encompassing our child’s trampoline, and she has an uncontrollable fetish for any object left out on the patio table: Tervis tumblers and Ray Bans left unattended require a forensic examination in order to determine an original purpose. And shoes! Shoes are irresistible to this animal’s addiction to destruction. Shoes of all kinds end up looking as though they’ve gone through a limb chipper and been blown across the back lawn in multicolored snowfall of foam, rubber and faux leather. The worst incident of them all, however, involved a large bowl of homemade deer jerky that I carelessly left out on the kitchen counter. The aftermath defies description, but let’s just say our living room carpet has never been the same since. The dog is allegedly a hunting retriever. Her paperwork boasts a bloodline connecting back to Europe and she has undergone an expensive education from a world-class kennel that required a credit check and some long46 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

For the rest of the afternoon she ignored my commands to heel, spending much of that time chasing butterflies and attempting to befriend a wandering armadillo.


Coco, author and hunter John McClendon’s black lab, sits proudly by the results of a day’s hung (opposite page). Retrieving birds is easy for Coco…when the dog decides to behave (above).

term financing. But much of that schooling has faded as I worked with her less and less during the off seasons. The desire of a champion is certainly there, but the self-control never really was. When she was still fresh from the trainer, I took her on a dove hunt. Positioned on the edge of a field on a scorching September afternoon, I watched her intense focus—despite the absence of birds and the high temperature. Finally, a lone dove succumbed to my 20 gauge, and I lined the dog up for what turned out to be a textbook retrieve. I felt like both a proud father and professional dog handler for most of the next ten minutes. My ego was crushed soon after when she broke at full speed for

a dove that landed about 100 yards out. For the rest of the afternoon she ig nore d my com m a nd s to heel, spending much of that time chasing butterflies and attempting to befriend a wandering armadillo. Not long ago, I took her to a neighbor’s pond to practice retrieving and get in some exercise. This particular pond—about 4 acres total—is home to a flock of white farm ducks that reside there all year. On about the third throw of the training dummy, a duck swam leisurely into view. The dog made a beeline for the bird and spent the next 40 minutes swimming from one end of the pond to the other while I ran back and forth like a mad man desperately trying to get the dog’s attention by blowing my whistle. She ignored me completely.

But despite my disappointments, hunting without a dog—even a mediocre one—seems incomplete. I love to see a lab’s eyes follow circling ducks as they work the decoys. There is a subtle mixture of happiness, surprise and relief that can only be experienced when your dog finally finds that downed bird lost in a thicket. Best of all, dogs love kids (and vice versa) and there is no better place for either of them to be than outdoors, learning how to be hunters together. There are few images that exhibit more pure than an old retriever sleeping soundly in front of the fireplace on a cold Arkansas night. Yeah, I am a black lab guy. I guess I always will be. ARKANSASWILD.COM | 47


The ultimate guide to supremacy in the deer woods By John McClendon

Wind direction and scent control: This is the most important thing to know about deer hunting. Deer have a nose more sensitive than a dog’s. If you are upwind, deer can smell you, no matter what method of scent control you try. Avoid hunting in areas that force you to approach deer that are downwind. It helps to think of your scent as a “cone” that originates from your location and spreads like a baseball diamond. This means your scent signature gets wider as it travels downwind. Always scan for movement: When sitting in a stand, keep your view wide, like a gallery portrait, instead of focusing on everything you can see. Subtle movement will become obvious and seem to jump out at you from the portrait frame. Deer generally appear darker than the surrounding terrain, so train your mind to look for dark shapes instead of the typical light brown coat. Invest in the best optics you can afford: My binoculars cost as much as a nice set of golf clubs, and I would rather have a cheap rifle with a good scope than a great rifle with a cheap one. The ability to clearly see and observe your prey is the most important attribute you can possess. Deer hunting is mostly observation; the killing part is almost secondary. To do that properly, one must have decent “glass.”

Using a climber stand can allow you to pick the perfect spot to account for wind direction.

D

eer hunting has become a very sophisticated sport. Long gone are the days when hunters wore Army surplus jackets in olive drab while toting granddad’s old Winchester 12 gauge pump loaded with 00 buckshot. Today, we enjoy numerous television channels dedicated solely to hunting—and the majority of shows airing are related to white-tailed deer. Those shows make it look easy to bag giant deer with record-size antlers—so easy that one might forget that even professionals were once amateurs who had to learn the finer points of hunting. 48 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Find a firearm that feels comfortable and learn to use it: You are much better off being able to hit the heart of a deer with a small bullet than the rear end of a deer with a large bullet. Too many hunters allow ego to dictate caliber, but while bigger is not necessarily better, accuracy is. There are some exceptions when a large caliber might be necessary, but there is nothing in the continental United States that cannot be killed with a common .270 under almost any circumstances. Find the right-sized gun and practice to become proficient with it. Wear a facemask: There is something about the bare face of a human that deer find quite disturbing. Being hunted for 75,000 years tends to have that effect on an animal. I have noticed that it’s much harder for deer to acknowledge me as a threat when they cannot see my exposed face.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM

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TUMI ALPHA 2 You’ll travel in style with the Tumi Alpha 2 line of bags. The design is sleek and streamlined, while the numerous pockets are perfect for wallets, cell phones— and, of course, hunting or fishing licenses. $695; Available from tumi.com, ready.com and Bauman’s Men’s Fine Clothing, Little Rock

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TOP GUIDES

WATERFOWL WIZARD Dave Stratton of Arkansas Feathers loves the hunt BY MICHAEL ROBERTS

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN GUIDING? Going on fifteen years, with guided and self-guided hunts in the Stuttgart area. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE A CAREER OUT OF BEING A GUIDE? I’ve hunted in that area since I was 17 or 18 years old. I just enjoy it so much. I’ve always wanted to be a guide, and try to stretch the season. I don’t know anything else, so it’s my life. HOW MANY HUNTS DO YOU GUIDE IN A TYPICAL SEASON? We do 45 or 50 guided hunts a season. ARE YOU STRICTLY A GUIDE FOR DUCKS? We sometimes guide for specklebelly geese. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CHOICE OF FIREARM ON THE HUNT? It may sound odd, but I shoot a 20 gauge. I’ve shot so many guns, but I like shooting 20 gauge. I probably own 50 guns but my favorite is a 3-inch Mossberg pump shotgun. My son used to shoot, so I’ve just kind of stuck with it. WHAT’S THE ADVANTAGE OF WORKING WITH A GUIDE FOR HUNTERS? Most guys, especially new hunters, are apprehensive about calling. Transportation back and forth to the blind is also an issue. I’ve found, though, that most people want someone with experience calling mostly. WHO TAUGHT YOU MOST ABOUT GUIDING? My dad. He was an old time waterfowl hunter in North Carolina. He used to take me out when I was a little kid. It’s different hunting up there, but it’s what made me fall in love with it at four and five years old. For more information or to book your hunt with Dave Stratton and Arkansas Feathers, visit arkansasduckhunting.co or call 912-996-0398. 56 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

PHOTOS COURTESY OF ARKANSAS FEATHERS

DAVE STRATTON ARKANSAS FEATHERS STUTTGART


ARKANSASWILD.COM | 57


OUT & ABOUT

FLYWAY EXPERIENCE The Elms Lodge is a hunter’s dream BY MICHAEL ROBERTS

ELEGANT LODGINGS

Located in the heart of the Mississippi Flyway, The Elms Lodge is home to some of the best hunting in the region— and hunters can stay in style, too. Luxurious corporate lodges (which sleep up to eight adults) provide a great place to rest after a long day in the blind, while smaller lodges are available as well. Each lodge will make guests feel at home with amenities like washers and dryers, satellite television and complete kitchens. In addition to the excellent accommodations, corporate lodge guests also have the run of the grounds, access to a 16-acre catch-and-release lake, kennels for hunting dogs, private grills and fire pits. It’s an amazing hunting experience that doesn’t end when the day is done. RV hookups are also available.

HUNT WHAT YOU WANT

Although the area around The Elms is most famous for waterfowl hunting, the lodge offers packages for deer and dove hunters, too. Duck hunters will love the choice of guided morning hunts, guided afternoon goose hunts as well as a variety of self-guided options. Gear rental is also available, and includes decoys, shotguns, waders and 12 gauge ammunition for purchase.

Interested in hunting something even more out-of-theordinary? The Elms also offers specialty guided “varmint hunts” when permits are available. Go after beavers, opossums or coyotes with the lodge’s experienced and dedicated guides. And at The Elms, you can hunt knowing that the best conservation practices are always employed— the lodge is part of the federal Wetland Restoration Project.

GREAT EATS

Guests at The Elms are encouraged to grab a meal at JL’s Country Café. Stop in for a delicious country breakfast, then come back for a supper of slow-cooked pulled pork or one of JL’s massive 1/2-pound certified angus beef burgers. And keep your fork, of course, because you know there’s going to be pie—including pies made with pecans grown right on the lodge grounds.

DON’T MISS

While in the area, check out the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie in Stuttgart, a free museum full of exhibits about the Delta Region. Stock up on any new gear that catches your eye at Mack’s Prairie Wings. And you’re just a short drive away from Pine Bluff and the Arkansas Railroad Museum, Delta Rivers Nature Center as well as a host of historical sites in that storied Delta city.

LOCATION: Just an hour and some change southeast of Little Rock down I-530 at 400 W. Elm Plantation Road in Altheimer. GPS: 34.488136, -92.400561 Phone: 870-766-8337 elmslodge.com are available Smaller lodges for hunters. 58 | Arkansas Wild ¸ winter 2016

Down-home eats at JL’s Country Cafe are a must when staying at The Elms.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ELMS LODGE

At The Elms Lodge, the corporate lodges sleep up to eight adults.


ARKANSASWILD.COM | 59


Profile for Arkansas Times

Arkansas Wild - Winter 2016  

Arkansas Wild - Winter 2016