Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery
Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas
I have mentioned Boxley Valley as the ultimate one-stop photo shopping destination, but it doen't hold a candle to my home ground of Old Erbie Road. The maps show it as highway 19. It starts in front of the Compton and winds past the Hemmed in Hollow trailhead, and on to the Schermahorn Trailhead, then past McFerrin Point and decends into the Buffalo River Valley.
Between Compton and the park boundary is some pretty decent whitetail deer shooting. Because it is near my home, I am roughly halfway down to the park boundary on the east, I travel this road often and take picture of the abundant deer. My home borders the Ponca Wilderness. We live almost directly across the Buffalo River Canyon from Kyles Landing (which is up Highway 74 east of Ponca). Its a pretty wild place.
What I am speaking of is about a three mile stretch of road, and the good stuff starts past the Hemmed In Hollow Trailhead. Along this stretch I have taken a lot of quite good deer pictures, plus my Coyote on a Hay Bale picture. That one will probably be the rarest shot of my lifetime.
To get the whitetail pictures you need to hit the ends of the day. These animals are on about the same schedule as the elk, but perhaps they stay out a bit longer. It seems to work best to shoot them from a car (with a camera), although the occasional schnackered redneck will shoot them from a car with a gun.
The deer seem to feel most comfortable if you stay in your car. I have found that I can cruise slowly up and down the road and get some pretty good shots. They do seem to have seasonal patterns that are worth mentioning.
Late spring is when the does give birth. For quite a period after birth, the fawns are bedded down in open fields motionless while their mothers forage. Sadly this often tracks closely with haying season. You know the rest. They simply can't be seen. You know the rest. Often when you see buzzards in a freshly hayed field, that tells the story. I always feel a little sick about it.
After a few weeks the fawns start moving around with the mothers. I have two does in my back yard now with fawns, one with twins. We don't have a dog quite intentionally so I can get the wildlife up close. If you drive by looking for deer shots, checking out the trellises with my organically grown pole beans is a very good bet.
The fawns fairly quickly get their legs and navigate pretty well, but I think the transition between laying in the fields and the first week of moving around is the most dangerous time to drive around. If you see a doe dart across the road, a fawn might come along 10 seconds later. A lot of them die that way too.
I will tell you that if you come to town to shoot the elk by all means do so, skip the deer. But if you need a break and want to take one of the half-day trips I mentioned, if you go to McFerrin Point, or Schermerhorn Trail, you can shoot the whitetails along the way, either in the morning or the evening. You may get some great shots.
I have had some pretty good success getting bucks in velvet too. During the rut the deer seem to vanish. The speculation around here is that they go down to the lower benches. (Benches are the bluff and flat stair steps that descend to the canyon floor. You have to be a real hiking monster to hike up and down them.)
If you get lucky, you might get a coyote on a hay bale. Keep alert, and be opportunistic. There is so much wildlife in the Buffalo National River area that it is pretty hard to rule anything out.
The Whitetails of Old Erbie Road