Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Eureka Sprigns and Buffalo National River
Known as the Bear State when it was first settled in the 1800s, Arkansas kept that namesake for a long time, until the bear were nearly hunted out. Enter the elk.
In 1981, and for the next several years, 112 elk were transported to Arkansas from Colorado and Nebraska and released to five different grassy areas along the Buffalo National River. Since that time the herd has grown to more than 450 and provide endless opportunities for viewing. Boxley, and Erbie are two of the most popular sites to see elk. Mornings and evening are the best time to see them. Remember, these are still wild animals and should be treated with respect. Cows, calves and yearlings live in loose herds or groups. One viewer reported seeing two separate herds along the river’s edge in the Boxley valley numbering over 75 each on a March afternoon. During "rut" (the mating season"), cows and calves form harems with one or two bulls. The rut takes place in mid-September to mid-October each year. You might just be fortunate enough to hear the bull elk "bugling" during the rut season.
Fall and spring are the best times to catch the elk grazing in the luscious fields of Newton County, but never rule out seeing some in the summer months as well. Elk watching has increased in Arkansas every year. People enjoy viewing and photographing these one-of-a kind animals.
Wapiti (\’wa-p?-ti\), the Indian name for elk, translates into "white rump", which all the Arkansas elk have. Mature bulls have antlers, huge antlers, and shed them once a year, then growing a new set. The new set has a fuzzy skin called velvet, and they will eventually lose the velvet over time and produce magnificent antlers. Bulls can weigh as much as 700 lbs. and measure up to eight-feet from nose to tail. They are very large.
All in all the Elk are some of the areas most looked for animals. And be prepared before you go. Review a site description and services available (you can get gas and food in Ponca).
If you go:
Take Arkansas Highway 7 South from Harrison and turn right on the Erbie Road just south of the Pruitt Bridge. The eight mile gravel road is maintained and relatively smooth. You will end at the Erbie campground.
Or take Arkansas Highway 43 South from Harrison and travel to Ponca. This highway takes you to Highway 21 along the river banks where you should look for elk on your left in the valley.
There are numerous hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts for overnight accommodations in Harrison, along with many places to eat and shop. Contact the Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau at 870.741.1789 for additional information or visit www.HarrisonArkansas.org.