Practice pays off for youngest elk hunter

ST. JOE (AGFC) – Practice. Practice makes perfect. Practice if you want to succeed.

Rip Finley of Mountain Home put the adages to work with a .270-caliber rifle on the family farm, getting in shooting familiarity with the use of a tripod stand and working from a standing position.

Rip Finley is 8 years old. A few days ago, he became the youngest successful Arkansas elk hunter by taking a 4X4 bull in the Richland Creek area of western Searcy County.

Even more impressive is that Rip shot the elk at a range of 205 yards, measured by dad Rob Finley with a rangefinder.

Rip said, "When we got out there (to a large field), there were other hunters there. There were cows and bulls (elk). When I got a shot at this bull, I hit him, and he kinda hunched. I shot him again, and he went down."

He added with a smile, "This was really exciting."

The experience of Rip's young life came in the 15th Arkansas elk hunt, and Rip's permit stemmed from dad Rob's making the winning bid in September at the Arkansas Outdoors Hall of Fame banquet, an annual event of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation.

Rip is a third grader at Mountain Home Christian Academy. He is not a beginner at hunting and enjoys going after deer and ducks – in addition to this elk adventure. He has taken a deer with a crossbow.

That .270 rifle that Rip used is a recent acquisition. It's a Tikka bolt action, a model growing in popularity among Arkansas hunters and made by the Finland-based Sako company.

The 2012 elk season closed with 23 of 27 public land permit holders getting elk. On private land, 10 bulls and 8 cows were taken.