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story.lead_photo.caption Caden Parrson, 11, of Fordyce killed this 5x5 bull elk Oct. 27 in Richland Valley, near the Buffalo National River. He was accompanied by his father Mike Parrson, grandfather Steve Brookshire and uncle Larry Brookshire.

He's only 11 years old, but Caden Parrson of Fordyce showed adult resolve when he leveled his sights on a bull elk in Richland Valley.

The date was Oct. 27, when Parrson enjoyed a beautiful autumn day with a highly coveted elk hunting permit in the Sonny Varnell Richland Valley Wildlife Management Area in Searcy County near the Buffalo National River.

Parrson's first stroke of luck was in winning the permit. Many Arkansas hunters have applied unsuccessfully for an elk hunting permit since the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission opened its first elk season in 1998. Parrson got a permit on his second try.

The second stroke was a mixture of luck, confidence and skill that resulted in Parrson putting his tag on a mature bull elk with a 5x5 elk that weighed about 900 pounds. He shot the elk with a custom rifle with a Mauser action chambered in 308 Winchester topped with a Nikon Pro Staff 2-10X scope with a BDC reticle.

Accompanying Parrson was his father Mike Parrson, his grandfather Steve Brookshire and his uncle Larry Brookshire of Miami, Okla. Larry Brookshire was the designated bugler, or caller. When elk mate in the fall, bulls make a squealing sound known as bugling. Dominant bulls often respond to bugles as a challenge, and bugling is an effective way to call one into range.

The group camped at Woolum campground on the Buffalo National River along with about 15 trail riders.

The group arrived in the valley early, but about five seconds too late to bag a big 7x6 bull, Caden Parrson said.

"We had been checking out one field that had elk in it all the time," Parrson said. "We had to crawl on the ground. I set up my shooting sticks, but he walked into the woods before I could get a shot. We sat there for an hour bugling trying to call him back in."

The group went to a different spot that contained many hay bales. They set their jackets on a bale, and Steve Brookshire bugled. About 30 cow elk walked into the field, Parrson said, including one cow that walked right to them. Spooked, it ran back to its herd, but the herd soon approached the group.

Parrson said he spotted horns bobbing around in the herd, and he identified it as the herd, or dominant, bull.

"I kept telling my dad, 'I see horns! That's one I want!'" Parrson said. "They couldn't see it because they were closer to the ground."

At a laser-verified range of 319 yards, the bull finally stood broadside and presented Parrson a clear shot. Nikon's BDC reticle contains stacked circles of diminishing size under the crosshair. A shooter can calibrate the reticles to compensate for bullet drop, which eliminates the imprecision of estimating holdover. Steve Brookshire did the range work and knew which circle to use at all distances.

"Pawpaw said use the first one (circle) under the crosshairs," Parrson said.

Parson fired, and he said he heard the thump of the bullet striking home.

"I hit him," Parrson said. "He walked about two or three yards and stood there looking at us for another five minutes."

The adults were convinced that Parrson missed, but the bull was surrounded by cows and was not in position for a followup shot. It didn't matter to Parrson, because he knew he'd done his part.

"I could see this red hole in his side," Parrson said. "I said, 'Daddy, I really do think I hit him. I see blood. That's a bullet hole! I can see blood coming out!"

The cows walked away, but the stood wobbling for about 30 minutes before it finally lay down and died.

So intense was the moment that the adrenaline release made Parrson weep while the adults rejoiced.

A student at Fordyce Elementary School, Parrson enjoys playing video games and exploring the woods. He's earned the title of Elk Hunter.

Sports on 11/04/2018

Print Headline: Fordyce youth bags mature Arkansas elk

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