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Young hunters score big in elk youth hunt

JASPER — A trio of young Arkansans had experiences of a lifetime during last weekend’s youth elk hunt.

“The youth did really well – all the kids were excited,” said Wes Wright, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission elk program coordinator. “The weather turned bad with lots of rain Sunday but they were able to harvest before the rain hit. The rain did make it a little difficult to pack (elk) out. It was a really good experience for them to get out and learn how to hunt and enjoy nature.”

Wright says elk were bugling well, which made locating the big bulls less strenuous. All three were harvested in Newton County.

“A couple of (hunters) used calls to bring them closer,” Wright said. “Myles Moss called in the bull on Gene Rush (Wildlife Management Area), and Colten Flowers did the cow call himself.”

Moss, 13, of Stuttgart, obtained an elk permit through the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s tag grant program. His father and a helper, Jamie Mefford, assisted him with a 6×7 bull taken in elk zone 2.

Flowers, 8, of Hasty (Newton County), also harvested a 6×7 bull, this one from elk zone 1 along the Buffalo National River. He was accompanied by his father and several friends and family members.

Flowers drew one of three onsite permits plucked from a squirrel cage at the annual Buffalo River Elk Festival in Jasper last June. Twenty-nine elk permits are available for those who enter the draw during May. Three permits are reserved for people who enter the day of the drawing.

“He was competing with all the adults for a tag – 680 hunters put in,” Wright said of the festival drawing. “Since he was a youth, he was able to go out during youth season.”

Riley McCuiston, 15, of Cord (Independence County), took a 6×6 bull on Bearcat Hollow WMA. He received his either-sex elk tag through the Arkansas Wildlife Federation’s tag grant program.

Youth elk hunt, for those under 16, are held during the weekends before the regular elk seasons so young hunters don’t have to miss school. The first regular public and private land hunts opened Monday and will close Friday; the second is set for Oct. 28-Nov. 1. The other youth hunt is scheduled for Oct. 26-27.