By Ronnie Weston| December 13, 2011 at 5:12 PM CST - Updated June 26 at 2:46 AM
PONCA (AGFC) – Nathan Davidson scored with a nice bull elk early on opening morning of the 2011 December elk hunt in Buffalo River country.
But his brother-in-law, Bobby Sims, was close behind. The two were hunting on private land not far from their Newton County homes. Davidson scored with a 6X6 bull, meaning six points on each side of its antlers. Sims came in with a 5X1 bull, an elk with a broken antler, but it was heavier in body weight than Davidson's.
Davidson was hunting with his father, and he had the last laugh on dad. Danny Davidson shot at the bull, missed, and Nathan downed it with one shot from his .30-06 rifle. Sims also used a .30-06 rifle to take his bull.
Taylor Clark, 10 and a fifth grade student at Jasper, downed a 7X7 elk on private land in Newton County that ranks was one of the largest "racks" or antlers taken in Arkansas. Nathan Ogden, of Hogeye, took a 6X6 bull elk on private land in Newton County.
John Horton of Whitehall, 11, scored with a 6X7 bull elk on public land. He was hunting in the Richland Valley Sonny Varnell Conservation Area a few hundred yards from the Buffalo River.
The December hunt has 20 Arkansans seeking elk with public land permits they won in a random drawing for thousands of applicants. At the same time is the private land hunt, where 254 permits costing $35 each were issued hunters who had signed permission from landowners.
Snow on opening morning hampered the hunters in addition to heavy rain the day before. This is the 14th year of limited permit hunting for Arkansas elk. The big animals, once native to the state were wiped out a century and a half ago then were restored, beginning in 1981. The hunt began in 1998.
Arkansas residents may apply for 2012 elk hunting permits during the month of May. A public drawing is held in late June during the Buffalo River Elk Festival at Jasper. Both the applications and the permits are free for public land hunters. Some hunters send donations of the elk program of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, but the contributions are not required, and they don't improve chances of being drawn for a permit.