Determined Hot Springs hunter takes bull elk in September hunt
COMPTON -- Robert Burks of Hot Springs knew he needed to take the first opportunity at an Arkansas elk. He did, and he scored.
Burks was one of four persons who won a permit to hunt bull elk in the September portion of the 11th Arkansas elk hunt. After two days of hard hunting in rugged mountain country along the Buffalo National River, Burks and his helpers saw an elk for the first time on Wednesday.
But it wasn't a chance for a shot. They worked the same area later in the day, and this time the bull elk popped into view about 30 yards from Burks.
He quickly got his .270 rifle up, fired and the elk staggered but didn't go down. He fired again and again hit the bull. It went down, tried to get up, and a third shot from Burks finished it.
The elk he took was a modest one -- 3x4 antlers, meaning three points on one side and four on the other. Burks checked the elk at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission check station at Compton where it tipped the scales at 433 pounds.
Burks was hunting with his 13-year-old son C.J. and his long-time hunting buddy John Oliver. Burks said, "I've hunted deer, lots of deer, but this is my first time to hunt elk. I never saw an elk until today.
The others went down to Boxley Valley to look at those elk (which are in a no hunting zone), but I didn't go. I didn't want to see an elk until I was ready to shoot it."
The hunting friends, Burks and Oliver, have applied for the Arkansas elk permits 11 straight years, ever since elk hunting began on a limited basis in 1998. Burks was successful this year. He attended the required hunter orientation session on Sunday, and his group camped in the Erbie area along the Buffalo River.
Burks is retired after being injured in a forklift accident. He said, "We walked I don't know how many miles up and down hills Monday, Tuesday and most of Wednesday, then we found this elk just a short distance from our camp."
He added, "You need motorized shoes up here to elk hunt."
And he had a bit of help. Son C.J. had practiced elk calls and called in the bull elk. His caller? A length of old heater hose from a truck.
Burks and his crew grinned with the AGFC biologists as they finished their work with the bull elk and headed back to the Erbie camp.
"First thing we are going to do after we dress that elk is to cut out the backstraps and have some real good eating," Oliver said.