JASPER, AR (AGFC.com) – Dr. Shane Lyerly of Jonesboro was last, then was first in the 2013 Arkansas elk hunt in Buffalo River country. Lyerly was the last person drawn for a public land elk permit in June at the Buffalo River Elk Festival in Jasper. But he was the first hunter to down an elk in 2013, scoring on Monday morning.
He used a compound bow for the first time in any kind of hunting, and he took a cow elk in the Richland Valley Sonny Varnell Conservation Area just south of the river. It was the first time a cow elk had been taken by archery equipment in the 16 years of limited hunting. Two bull elk have been taken with bows – one in 2011 and the other in 2012.
It was Lyerly's first time to go after elk. He had a helper, Rick Hunter of Bono, who had hunted elk four times in Colorado.
Lyerly, a family doctor, said, "In the last drawing for an on-site permit at the festival, a name was drawn, but that person was not present. They had to draw again, and they drew my name."
Lyerly and Hunter scouted the area on Saturday and found a bull elk with 14 cows. In the next field they spotted a lone cow elk. Sunday, after the required hunter's orientation, they went back to the area and saw the cow elk by itself again.
"That was the one we went for, figuring that was just one elk to detect us compared the all those others in the next field," Lyerly said. "We got there early and found the cow, but we had to get close enough to shoot (with a bow). We took about two hours to move about 40 yards closer. Then a tree was in the way.
"That elk and I played peekaboo around the tree, and finally she moved where I could get a shot. The range was 40 yards. I hit her but a little high, and she ran. We found my arrow with tissue and blood on it. I waited again, and she finally turned broadside, and I put an arrow through her. The range this time was 14 yards."
Eight hunters had public land permits. But two were scratched because of the federal shutdown that closed Buffalo National River land to hunters. Those hunters' permits were for land within the National Park Service boundaries. These two hunters will be given permits for the 2014 elk hunt by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Other elk taken by hunters included a cow by Billy Burleson of Lead Hill, a 4x5 bull by Ridge Fletcher, 14, of Little Rock and a 6x7 bull by Cain Lusk, 12, of Hector.
Another elk hunt will be Oct. 28-Nov. 1 with 20 hunters holding permits for public land. A private land elk hunt will be conducted at the same time.