HARTMAN, AR -- Ten-year-old Ayla Highfill is getting quite a bit of attention on social media after killing her first black bear just days into bear hunting season.
"I've hunted squirrels, I've hunted deer and many other animals, but I've never seen something like that," Ayla said.
On the first weekend of the bear hunting season, Ayla and her dad went on a hunting trip to Oark. After a few days of waiting on a bear, Ayla finally heard some leaves crunching.
"I saw something big and black walk by," Ayla said. "It's head was hiden behind a tree and I thought it was a hog. But it turned out, it was a huge black bear. When I shot it, it just kind of ran toward us and then in a big circle and it went down a hill."
Ayla's dad, Cory Highfill was the one who taught her to hunt. He was right beside her when she pulled the bolt back to hit the bear.
"We got her set up and she shot," Cory said. "I felt like it was a perfect shot."
"It was a feeling of nervous and like a mixture of nervous and excited because I didn't know what to think," Ayla said.
Under Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Regulations, hunters are only allowed to kill one bear per year, but Ayla said she is excited to pursue other huntable wildlife.
"I wanna go deer hunting and squirrel hunting for a very long time," Ayla said. "That's just one of my favorite hobbies."
Cory has been teaching Ayla to hunt since she was 6 years old and said for their family, it's all about the teachable moments. He considers the latest hunting trip one for the books.
"In the culmination of a hunt like that, you're 19 yards from a grown black bear with a kid," Cory said. "You know they're learning a lot about poise and self control and self discipline. For me, that was a big deal to share all of that with her and see it materialize into something she can be proud of."
Wednesday (Oct. 4) is Ayla's birthday, so she's celebrating that along with the hunt.
Alya said she plans to get the bear skin made into a rug to put in her bedroom. The family also told 5NEWS they did eat the bear meat, and it tasted like pot roast.