Sticking With Basics Produces A Bull Elk For Bryant Hunter
PONCA, AR –-(AmmoLand.com)- Daniel Dickerson of Bryant didn’t have the easiest draw for an elk permit in the just-ended September hunt along the Buffalo River.
Dickerson’s permit was for Elk Zone 2, an area from Arkansas Highway 7 downstream to Arkansas Highway 123. It’s a section that is hard to get around in, and some of it includes private land not open to elk seekers.
But Dickerson, who is 23, and his helpers took their time, looked at several areas and settled on a tract called the Wilson field.
Dickerson also saw something he liked, a large oak tree that had fallen. This was concealment for him, and his pulse thumped when several cow elk walked into view then a 5×6 bull elk. He aimed carefully, fired and downed the bull. He was using a .300 Magnum bolt action rifle, a Ruger Model 77.
It was a nice one. Access with a vehicle was difficult, and a full weighing wasn’t possible.
Dickerson was one of four hunters who took bull elk during the September hunt. Three of four public land permit holders were successful, and one elk of a quota of three was taken in Elk Zone A, which is private land. The hunt was five days. Another hunt comes up Dec. 7-11, and there will be more permitted hunters on public land along with hunting in both Zone A and Zone B on private land.
The public land permits, which are free, were issued in late June after an application period of the month of May.
Horace Smith of Daytona Beach, Fla., with his 6×6 bull that weighed 800 pounds. Of the four bull elk taken in the September hunt, Smiths had half of them. Horace Smith of Daytona Beach, Fla., had a 6×6 bull that weighed 800 pounds. Mike Smith of Little Rock got the Zone A bull, a 5×5, with his 7mm Magnum rifle.
The other bull fell to Mike Balenko of Cabot in an area called Jamison Field near Woolum in Searcy County. Balenko found the bull with a group of cow elk, took his time, sighted carefully and downed the bull with a .300 magnum rifle. It was a 7×7, meaning seven points on each side of its antlers.
Conditions were generally favorable for the September hunt. Temperatures were average for this time of the year, but a heavy rain the second night of the hunt raised creeks and made some areas of the Buffalo River country inaccessible for the hunters.
This is the 12th year of limited permit elk hunting in Arkansas. The big animals were once native to the state but disappeared nearly 150 years ago. They were restored beginning in 1981 with 112 imports from western states, mainly Colorado, in an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission project spearheaded by the late Hillary Jones of Pruitt (Newton County), an AGFC commissioner at the time.
The elk have done well and now number 450 to 500, with t he National Park Service, which operates Buffalo National River, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation joining AGFC in habitat improvement and other projects for the elk.
A major benefit has been the influx of visitors to the area just to view the elk. Many are easily seen along Arkansas Highway 43 in Boxley Valley, south of Ponca in Newton County. Best times for seeing elk are just after daylight and just before dark.