Ah, spring is here – now what?
By Doug Burt, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

For the 26,000 attendees of the 2008 Arizona Game and Fish Outdoor Expo wanting more outdoor activities, here are some ideas.

If the fishing tank at the Expo was your kid’s favorite, then take the next step. There are 21 city park lakes currently participating in the department's Urban Fishing Program. Waters are stocked with fish every couple of weeks, and right now we are loading them up with hard-fighting, great-tasting catfish. Fishing with a simple rod and reel and some dough bait is all it takes to hook “Mr. Whiskers”. Children 13 years and under do not require a license and can fish for free. A license for those 14 and older is only $18.50 for the year. Visit www.azgfd.gov/fish and click on the “urban fishing” link for more details about the program.

If target shooting piques your interests, a great place to start is with BB guns. BB guns are very affordable and teach the foundations of gun safety, responsibility, aiming, marksmanship, calming breathing techniques, patience, respect and self focus. This is also a great way for experienced sportsmen to introduce a neighbor to target shooting.

Need a bigger bang? The Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association offers a .22-caliber shooting class to beginners. The class will go over gun safety, basic shooting techniques, and then out to the range to shoot .22-caliber rifles in a controlled environment. The introductory course is on Thursdays and it is free. For more information, contact Richard at mersman442@yahoo.com.

Ladies that enjoyed shooting at the Expo can sign up for our free introductory shotgun shooting program called the Desert Roses. This hands-on program is offered the first and third Thursday of every month. Ladies will be taught how to shoot a shotgun and learn three clay target games – trap, skeet and sporting clays. Space is limited and registration is required. Contact Fred Jeffers at fjeffers@azgfd.gov. Did we mention it‘s free?

Are you already a shooter and want to get more hunting knowledge? Go online and take the department's online hunter education class. It’s one of the best in the country and you learn about gun safety, wildlife identification, carrying capacity, survival and more. If you have a youngster between the ages of 10 and 14 who's interested in hunting big game – this course is mandatory. Right now is a great time before the next draw for the fall hunts takes place. The Web site is www.hunter-ed.com/az.

Speaking of hunting, take a youngster afield for some rabbit hunting. The season runs year-round and the springtime is a great time to be in the field while the weather is still beautiful. Rabbits, cottontail and jacks are abundant statewide, challenging to hunt, and make great table fare. Rabbit hunting teaches many of the same skills needed for pursuing big game, including locating game, stalking, shot placement, harvesting, field dressing and game meat preparation. All that is needed is a modest rimfire rifle (.22s and the new .17s), or for very young beginners a small gauged shotgun is perfect. Youth 13 years and under (2 max.) accompanied by a licensed adult can hunt for free and without a hunting license. A general hunting license is required for those 14 and older. (Hunter Ed is not required for small game – but it is encouraged.)

If you are fortunate to have a spring-turkey tag, congratulations, you won’t want to miss this issue. There are a number of articles to help you be successful on your hunt, including road conditions, laws on using electronic calls, recent transplants, and the spring hunting forecast with tips by Big Game Program Manager and turkey-nut Brian Wakeling.

No turkey tag? Don’t despair, there is plenty of other good stuff to enjoy in this issue of Hunting Highlights. We have a great feature about department employees teaching kids about hunting, the outdoors, and photos of their successes. We also have some super juniors-only hunting success stories and pictures.

In addition, you will find plenty of department news, highlights and activity dates. And it’s never too late to start thinking about the next hunt draw in June.

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Reaching out
Hunter recruitment starts with each and every one of us
By Doug Burt, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

The buzzwords "recruitment and retention" keep making their way into the outdoor community. Much of this driving force is derived from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's reports of declining hunter and angler numbers. Throughout wildlife agencies, including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, it is at the forefront of everything we do. Like most sportsmen and sportswomen, many employees of the department live and breathe hunting and fishing. We recently asked some department employees to share experiences with introducing or passing on our hunting and outdoor heritage to youth and families. Here are some of their stories..

Jim Heffelfinger, Tucson regional game specialist,
with the department for 16 years.

Jim is married and has four boys, ages 4, 11, 13, and 16.

He is well known in the wildlife community, has his masters degree, teaches at University of Arizona, and is the author of “Deer of the Southwest, A Complete Guide to the Natural History, Biology, and Management of Southwestern Mule Deer and White-Tailed Deer."

How Jim finds time to do anything outside of his careers and family life is still a mystery. However, he recently took several young people out on a rabbit hunt. Hunting rabbits and other small game is a great way to introduce youngsters and beginners to hunting.

Jim said everyone had a great time. In fact, he states, “How is this for Hunter Recruitment? We brought my son’s girlfriend and her younger brother out rabbit hunting. She's a vegetarian - that should count for two!”

Jim is currently putting ideas together to sponsor a “Junior Jack Kamp” sometime between January and March next year. At the camp, Jackrabbit Jim will show you how to “hunt ’em and grill ’em” as well as provide jackrabbit ecology discussions around the campfire. We will keep you posted on the development of this introductory program.


Robert S. Price, Arizona Strip wildlife manager supervisor,
with the department for 18 years.

Robert is married and has two children, a teenage daughter and an adult son who is an Army Ranger currently deployed in Iraq. Both of them are accomplished and enthusiastic hunters and anglers.

Robert is a member of the the department's Hunter Heritage Working Group, and has introduced many kids, on an informal basis, to hunting and fishing over the years. He submitted the following story:

“Greetings! Yesterday Selena, Ernie and I decided to go rabbit hunting. We were all sporting our .17HMRs, and excited to “go get ‘em”. So, off we went. The rabbit population was pretty healthy, and we did have a most excellent time!

However, Selena abandoned her Camelbak® pack and needed to go back to get it. I suggested she walk parallel to the road and take her gun. I asked, “Do you want to take more bullets?” She said she was okay and took off (with five bullets in her rifle).

She didn’t get 20 yards and two rabbits took off. There were a number of shots, punctuated by humorous “anecdotes” related to her ability to hit anything. I calmly asked her, “Need more bullets?” The response was a 13-year-old's version of “no kidding.” She came back all fired up, and we loaded her up with more ammo, followed by some fatherly advice to take more time, squeeze the trigger, and to sit or kneel.

This time, her aim was true, and by the time she retrieved her backpack and returned, she had as many rabbits as dad, and she reminded me of this several times!

Ernie commented that we were hitting some of those rabbits further out than you get most deer, and he told Selena, “Hey, deer hunting will be no problem for you!”

As stated before, we had a most excellent time yesterday. Rabbit hunting is fun, even for us old guys, and especially when you take a kid. Here’s a photo of Selena with some of the day’s harvest.”


Darren Tucker, Prescott-area wildlife manager,
with the department for 15 years.

Darren, a committee member with the department's Hunting Heritage Work Group, works with the Sportsman's Roundtable, and Hunter Awareness and Appreciation clinics. Darren shared this story of a very early introduction to hunting big game:

Attached is a photo of my recent pig hunt with my girls (ages 4 and 6).

I haven’t even applied in several years because to be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of javelina as table-fare. However, my older daughter has been bugging me to take her hunting for something besides ducks and coyotes for several years now.

Anyway, with pig tag and rifle in hand, the three of us headed out last Monday after school. They both made the three-fourths of a mile stalk with me and even used their little Bushnell binoculars to look at him.

It was awesome – they were able to witness the entire hunt firsthand."


Kathy Boyer, Phoenix headquarters customer service representative, with the department for 8 years.

If you ever visited the old department office on Greenway Road, you probably met or saw Kathy. She is extremely knowledgable in most department policies, licenses, regulations, draw processes, boating registration and more! Kathy has shot firearms and hunted small game, but this year was her first big game hunt. When she shared her story she was beyond excited, especially since her and her son both harvested pigs the same day of the past general javelina season. She recounts her feelings saying:

"We were just about done for the day. We had not seen any sign or any javelina all day and we were about to give up. We went up one more hill when my husband said, 'there they are'.

It was about a 200-yard shot and was almost the most exciting thing I have dealt with. We all had a great time on the hunt."

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Hunting outlook: Spring turkey forecast 2008

By Brian Wakeling, big game management supervisor,
Arizona Game and Fish Department

Brian and son, Seth, after successful spring turkey hunt.

The spring turkey season is just around the corner, and many spring turkey hunters are watching the calendar with eager anticipation. Because calling turkeys with simulated hen vocalizations is the most effective strategy in the spring, many hunters are already annoying friends and families by practicing their imitations on mouth, box, and slate calls.

Spring turkey hunting can be challenging in the best of years. Weather and access can be two of those challenges. Every year it seems as though the weatherman first checks the spring season dates before he forecasts high winds. And if he can't find the opening date, he simply piles up deep snow earlier in the winter so that getting to your favorite spot is impossible.

Deep snow and limited access can work in your favor if you are willing to hike a bit. Gobblers are often located near the receding snow line in pursuit of hens after a winter like the one we just experienced, and walking a ways can often put you within earshot of a gobbling tom. Should you harvest a bird "way back in there," they are not nearly as difficult to pack out as an elk. This extra effort can also get you into an area where there are few hunters with which to compete.

If windy conditions prevail, those same gobblers have greater difficulty in hearing your calls, and you may have difficulty in hearing his as well. Be patient and persistent. Once you find fresh sign (droppings or tracks), you may have a turkey come to your calls that didn't call or that you didn't hear. Just last spring, I was able to watch a gobbler walk for at least 400 yards in response to my calls. He never made a sound, but he strutted almost the entire distance. The junior hunter at my side was able to harvest this bird because we did not move a muscle until he was well within range.

A turkey's best defense is his eyesight.

So practice your calls or find an electronic call that works for you. Decoys can be effective at distracting his attention by giving the gobbler something on which to focus. Gobblers are used to hens coming to him, not having to go to the hen. They can be incredibly hard to convince at times. Should you find yourself at the end of the hunt with an unfilled tag in your pocket, you may receive solace if you recognize many other hunters are in the same boat with you. Successfully harvesting a bird often results from a great deal of hard work, practice, patience, and a generous sprinkling of good luck.

But a successful hunt is usually the result of just being out there, even if you don't tag a bird. Enjoy the season. And if you didn't get drawn, find someone that can use the help and lend a hand in camp or calling. Spring is a great time to be in the turkey woods!

Brian Wakeling has worked for the department for many years. He loves turkeys and turkey hunting. Brian has been instrumental in the reintroduction of the Gould's turkey and feels that reintroduction will be one of the most important milestones of his career. Brian also enjoys hunting with his two sons.

One of the main differences between wild turkey and domestic store-bought is it is much leaner. Additionally, if you remove the skin in the field rather than plucking, the chances of drying out the meat when cooking are even greater. Keeping the skin on is recommended, but if you must skin out your bird, here is a way to prepare it and still enjoy moist, delicious turkey meat this summer.

Deep-fried cajun turkey with wild rice

Deep frying a skinless bird will keep it moist and tender.

  • 1 wild turkey

  • cajun rub and/or liquid seasoning

  • meat injector

  • 2-3 packages of instant wild rice

Clean bird in and out. Dry thoroughly! Do not stuff bird. Heat oil per fryer instructions. Rub and inject turkey with seasonings to taste.

Turn off flame, then carefully lower bird into hot oil, turn heat back on.

Cook for 3 minutes per pound. Remove from oil and let stand for 15-20 minutes before carving. Serve with wild rice, vegetable of choice and cold refreshments on the patio.

Enjoy and re-tell your hunting adventure to friends and family.

 

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Junior hunters: Matt Misetich, late season deer
By Chuck Misetich, very proud father

We would like to thank the Arizona Game and Fish Department for providing affordable big game tags for nonresident youth hunters.

My 13-year-old son, Matt, is very active in the Boy Scout program and loves the outdoors. He was fortunate enough to draw an 18B youth deer tag last fall, his first big game hunting opportunity.

We spent four great days in the field together over his Thanksgiving break from school. He got to sharpen his camping and outdoor skills from our tent camp in some brisk 20- to 25-degree overnight temperatures. Unfortunately, we did not feast on the grilled venison tenderloins that we had envisioned for Thanksgiving dinner. A November campfire provided us an opportunity to reflect on some of the things that we were truly thankful for, not the least of which was the backup pot of Thanksgiving dinner that mom had prepped and sent with us.

We saw deer on three of the four days we hunted, and as fate would have it, our big opportunity came in the last hour of our last day. With the sun setting, we spotted a dozen deer coming out to feed about three quarters of a mile away. We knew we would have to move quickly, but quietly, in fairly open country to get within shooting range. I could see at least one buck, and that was all we needed to grab our gear and hustle to try to intercept them.

We were able to complete a very exciting stalk with the wind in our favor and get within 160 yards of the deer before sundown. With minutes of light left, Matt took a prone rest on my backpack and waited. As I glassed, a doe stepped into a body-length opening between two cedar trees and stared intently in our direction. After what seemed like an eternity, she sauntered on and the buck stepped out broadside. I could hear Matt click the safety off, just then, a second doe stepped in front of the 20-inch 3x3 buck. They looked towards us for another eternity. As the light faded, the buck walked off into cover while the rest of the does slowly single filed through the small opening. Our hunt had ended. I was so glad that Matt showed the composure of a seasoned hunter by not taking the risky shot.

On the walk back to the truck we recounted the exciting events of the stalk and discussed the pain of disappointment. Sensing my silence on the drive back to camp, Matt asked me if I was happy. I assured him that my disappointment should not be mistaken for unhappiness. The four days of camping and hunting with him was the cake, and harvesting a buck was just icing. We hauled out two garbage bags of litter from our camp and hunting area the next morning to leave it nicer for the next guy. We look forward to another opportunity.

Chuck

If you have a "Junior hunter's" story you would like to share, please email a picture, story, name and city with subject title "Junior Hunters" to:
HuntingHighlights@azgfd.gov

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Gould’s turkeys thrive, allowing further range and distribution

By Doug Burt, public information officer,

Arizona Game and Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the National Wild Turkey Federation, along with sportsmen and private citizens, successfully captured and relocated 50 Gould’s wild turkeys from the Huachuca Mountains in early March. The captured birds were relocated to the Santa Rita and Catalina Mountains to help supplement existing populations and continue to expand the range of this unique but once eradicated wild turkey subspecies. The Gould’s turkey is common in Mexico, but only Arizona and New Mexico support populations in the United States.

Six mountain ranges throughout southeastern Arizona now support populations of the Gould’s turkey: the Chiricahua, Pinaleno, Galiuro, Santa Rita, Catalina, and Huachuca Mountains. All of these mountain ranges are part of the Sky Islands. This 70,000-square-mile region extends from southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and the northwestern part of Mexico. This region encompasses one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America.

The Gould’s reintroduction project began as a joint international effort with Mexico, where the first populations of Gould’s subspecies came from to restore Arizona’s historic populations during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s.

Today, Gould’s populations in the Huachucas are significant and capable of sustaining further range expansion from our own populations. This translocation marks the fourth time that in-state populations have been used to continue the repopulation effort, indicating that the reintroduced Gould’s turkeys to southern Arizona are healthy and adapting well.

Translocation programs are designed to increase diversity of wildlife populations throughout the state and beyond. Turkeys nationwide have expanded from a historic low of less than 100,000 to over 7.4 million birds today. Programs are possible by funding from license sales, concerned sportsmen groups, special auction tags and other concerned conservationists.

To watch an exciting online video of Merriam’s turkeys being captured, click here.

To hear the sound of wild turkey gobbles, click here.

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Junior hunters: Jacob Dufek, juniors' cow elk success
By Paul Dufek, proud father, Flagstaff

This is just a quick update to a story you printed last summer about my son Jeremy. My oldest son Jacob collected his first elk during the juniors' hunt last fall. Like Jeremy's hunt, there is always a story involved, and Jacob's first elk was no exception.

We hunted long and hard the first couple of days without any real opportunity for success. We tried both calling and still-hunting, but were unable to visibly locate any elk. Sunday morning turned both very cold and windy. Having moved into a new area, we heard countless shots in almost every direction from us seemingly regardless of where we went. We knew we had just missed seeing animals several times and this was starting to take its toll on Jacob's spirits. That evening while driving back in, we bumped two cows that headed back in the direction of a vehicle we had passed several minutes before.

After hearing shots again a short while later, he became visibly discouraged. We talked about ethics, providence, and the real gift of even having the opportunity to take part in this hunt. I told him that perhaps we had helped provide an opportunity for another junior hunter that might not have otherwise had one and we should be glad for them. He agreed.

A mile down the road, we set up near what appeared to be an active watering hole and began calling. While we talked some more, he knew that things don't always turn out like you might hope. A short while later and without warning, two cows seemed to appear from out of nowhere, seemingly answering our call. After calming him down some, Jacob proceeded to collect his first elk.

I'm sure he'll remember the scouting, hard work, cold weather, hearing other shots being fired, and ultimately the animal he collected. The time we spent together hunting on this trip is also something I'll also always treasure. In addition, this turned out to be the only animal our family harvested this year, and it is still providing for us.

This year we were blessed with tags again! Not only did Jacob draw another juniors' hunt cow tag, but Jeremy (now 14 who collected his first cow two seasons ago) drew one of the coveted September rifle bull tags in 5BN, and ironically both my brother Don and I also drew September archery bull tags in 5BN to go along with the 5BN September archery cow tags that three of Don's children (Candra, Jonathan, and Margo) drew. We feel as though we won the lottery, big time. We can hardly wait!

I might note that it's been 15 years since Don has drawn a bull tag, so he's very pleased. Personally, I've drawn two bull tags (both archery) in the past 14 years (including this year) and share his enthusiasm.

If you have a "Junior hunter's" story you would like to share, please email a picture, story, name and city with subject title "Junior Hunters" to:
HuntingHighlights@azgfd.gov

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Turkey hunters: Check road conditions
Snow conditions, road closures may hinder some spring turkey hunters
By Doug Burt, public information officer,

Arizona Game and Fish Department

photo by C. McCotterArizona Game and Fish Department officials advise spring turkey hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts that the snowpack is still significant in some higher elevations and many state highways and forest roads in prime turkey country are closed or impassable due to snow or muddy conditions.

Check for the current closures before going.

Higher-than-average winter snow and rainfall has resulted in the Arizona Department of Transportation and the National Forest Service to continue some winter road closures, many of which access traditional turkey-hunting areas. A number of popular routes of travel in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Kaibab and parts of the Coconino National Forests are closed due to unsafe travel conditions, and to prevent road damage and damage to meadows and sensitive habitats from off-road travel.

Closures may affect Game Management Units 1, 3B, 4A/B, 5B, 6A, 12A/B, 13A/C and 27. The state highways and forest roads of concern are SR67, SR261, SR273, FR113, and many forest roads south of Flagstaff through the Lake Mary and Mormon Lake corridor.

Juniors-only spring turkey hunters can be affected the most by these closures, with the season beginning Friday, April 18. The general spring turkey season starts the following Friday, April 25, and warming weather conditions could allow more roads to be opened. The majority of these popular hunts take place in the northern part of the state on the Mogollon Rim, the White Mountains and on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

“Despite these conditions in some areas, sportsmen will find there is still plenty of country in which to find turkeys. But plan for nighttime and early morning temperatures to be below freezing, and dress appropriately,” department spokesman Bruce Sitko says. “Also, because of the potential for getting stuck and poor weather conditions, leave a detailed itinerary with a family member or friend, including specific hunting and camping sites and an arrival time back home.”

Big Game Management Supervisor Brian Wakeling offers these tips to young hunters: “Gobblers are often moving up in elevation pursuing hens. The hens are often feeding on fresh green growth that is beginning to flourish as snows recede. Gobblers may be found along the receding snow line, and it doesn’t require slogging through deep snow with a four-wheel-drive truck or OHV to access them.”

Sitko strongly encourages drivers not to attempt going around barricades or locked gates. “Not only have many people already gotten themselves stuck by doing so, they can also be cited,” he said.

Contacts for the latest updates on road closures and conditions are:

Arizona Department of Transportation, 5-1-1 or (602) 712-7355
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, (928) 333-4301
Coconino National Forest, (928) 527-3600
Kaibab National Forest, (928) 635-8200

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Fall draw for hunt permit-tags
By Rory Aikens, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

You will be able to start applying for the permitted fall hunts for deer, turkey, javelina, bighorn sheep, and buffalo once the completed regulations are posted online, typically by the end of April. Printed copies of the regulations should be available around the second week of May.

The anticipated deadline day to submit for those fall big game hunt-permit applications is Tuesday, June 10 (the second Tuesday of June). The date will be confirmed at the April 19 commission meeting.

However, be sure to mark May 29 on your calendar in big bold letters – after that date, application mistakes can be costly.

Here’s why.

If you apply for fall big game hunt-permit tags and make a mistake on your application prior to May 29, the department will attempt to contact you three times within a 24-hour period (if a phone number is provided) and provide you the opportunity to correct the mistake. It’s like having a built-in “Make A Mistake Free” card – at least to a point.

This grace period was created years ago in part to encourage folks to apply early, but also as part of the department’s ongoing customer service improvements.

The word is getting out. During the recent 2008 elk-antelope draw, 27,206 applicants took advantage of the grace period. Compare that to the 2007 elk-antelope draw, where there were 5,715 applicants who applied prior to the grace period ending.

There aren’t many times in life you get the opportunity to make a mistake without having it cost you (sometimes big time). So, don’t miss out.

As a reminder, the online application process will not be available for the fall draw. Applications must be submitted by mail only. Remember, postmarks don’t count.

Volunteer opportunities for hunters 
By Les Bell, volunteer coordinator,
Arizona Game and Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s volunteer program provides opportunities for volunteers to participate firsthand in managing Arizona’s wildlife resources. Our goal is to provide you with a congenial and cooperative atmosphere where you can build relationships with staff and other volunteers, as well as gain knowledge about Arizona wildlife and wildlife management. We recognize that your time is important and strive to provide rewarding and educational volunteer experiences.

We’ve listed some opportunities in which you may have an interest. To learn about other opportunities or to submit information about a project that would benefit from our volunteers, check our volunteer page at www.azgfd.gov/volunteer.

Immediate until completed - Database entry Bat Project, North Phoenix
The candidate will report to AGFD Phoenix headquarters and be responsible for data entry of Legacy reports into AGFD Bats database. Knowledge of Microsoft office (Word, Excel), understanding of mapping and TOPO is a plus; Database entry experience desired but will train. Contact: Nancy Renison, bat biologist, at NRenison@azgfd.gov, (623) 236-7529.

April 1 – October 31
Summer Host - Tonto Creek Hatchery, Payson
Wildlife area hosts live on site, assist with facility maintenance and interact with visitors. Additional duties include providing change for feed machines, cleaning visitor restrooms, and other duties as needed. Hosts are on duty from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and on weekdays when there are large groups of visitors. Host should have good communication and interpersonal skills, enjoy talking with different types of people, be able to provide excellent customer service, and accept and follow supervision/instruction from hatchery employees. Accommodations along with fresh water, electrical, propane and septic are provided. To provide references and be interviewed via phone, contact Les Bell at (623) 236-7680 or lbell@azgfd.gov.

Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Page Springs Wildlife Area Trail Maintenance
Volunteers assist with trail maintenance, using hand tools such as rakes, shovels and clippers. This is a cooperative project with the Northern Arizona Audubon Society. Contact Les Bell at lbell@azgfd.gov or (623) 236-7680.

First and third Thursday every month, 7-10 p.m. - Volunteer Shotgun Instructor or Range Officer for Women's Shooting Program
Volunteers will instruct women of all ages in the shotgun shooting sports. Coaches will assist beginners in shotgun shooting form and skill. Range Safety Officers will watch over range and ensure safety among all participants. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. Shooting experience, basic knowledge of firearms and firearms safety, and some teaching/public speaking experience desired, but not required.Benefits to volunteers include free shooting at the main range and discounts at local sporting goods locations. Contact Ben Avery Shooting Facility at (623) 582-8313.

Year round - Range Safety Officers at Ben Avery Shooting Facility
Responsibilities include checking the safe condition of customer firearms, observing participants while they are shooting on the range, maintaining safe operation of the shooting line, and providing superior customer service by answering customer questions about firearms. Contact Les Bell at lbell@azgfd.gov or (623) 236-7680.

April 15 to ongoing - Upper Verde River Wildlife Area Host, 8 miles NW of Chino Valley
Host should enjoy talking with different types of people, be able to provide excellent customer service, and accept and follow supervision/instruction from manager. Host duties include interacting with visitors, picking up litter, cleaning visitor restrooms, and other duties as needed. Knowledge of birding and Arizona wildlife is a plus. Applicants will need to provide references and will be interviewed via a phone interview with manager. Contact Les Bell at lbell@azgfd.gov or (623) 236-7680.

April 26 & 27 - Paria Point Wildlife Catchment Redevelopment, north of Flagstaff and west of Page
Volunteers and equipment will be helicoptered to and from the staging area/ camping area each day. Redevelopment includes taking apart the existing wildlife catchment and fence, cutting some trees, digging with a shovel, cutting pipes and other materials, and building a new wildlife catchment. Contact Sophia Fong, 12B wildlife manager at (928) 645-6843, or email SFong@azgfd.gov.

May 2, 3, 4 – AGFD Turtle Trapping, Papago Park / Phoenix Zoo
The pond in the park is full of exotic turtles, and in an effort to eradicate them or from expanding into nearby waterways, we will be trapping turtles and removing all female turtles. The removed turtles will be turned over to Phoenix Herpetological Society so they can be placed into responsible homes. Contact Audrey Owens at (623) 236-7504, or e-mail aowens@azgfd.gov.

May 17 & 18 – Arizona Antelope Foundation fence project, Flagstaff
Volunteers will be removing the pasture fences and maintaining the allotment boundary fence on the Lake Mary Allotment. A free steak dinner is provided for all volunteers on Saturday night. Contact Henry Provencio at (928) 214-2436, or e-mail hprovencio@fs.fed.us.

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Vol. 4 No. 1 April-May 2008
In this issue:

Ah, spring is here - now what?

Reaching out

Hunting outlook: Spring turkey forecast 2008

Junior hunters: Matt Misetich, late season deer

Gould's turkey thrive

Junior hunters: Jacob Dufek, juniors' cow elk success

Turkey hunters: Check road conditions

Fall draw for hunt permit-tags

Volunteer opportunities


Ask a wildlife manager:
Is it legal to hunt turkeys using electronic calls and decoys in Arizona?

National Wild Turkey Federation Photos

Answer: Provided by Brian Wakeling, Big Game Management Supervisor.

"Yes, it is legal to use decoys as well as electronic calls when hunting turkey.

As per rule R12-4-303, Unlawful Devices, Method, and Ammunition, since the use of electronic devices or decoys not specifically addressed as prohibited, the use is acceptable.

There are a number of different electronic calls and decoys available on the market today. However, many turkey hunters prefer to use traditional mechanical or mouth calls to enjoy the unparalleled experience of luring in a wary spring gobbler."

If you have a question about hunting or fishing laws, rules and regulations or just an ethical situation, please email your question to:
HuntingHighlights@azgfd.gov.
Use Subject title: Ask a Wildlife Manager


Great wildlife TV programming for the family
Arizona Wildlife Views TV airs on KAET-TV at 4:30 p.m. on Sundays and other channels statewide

There are only three shows left in this season's Emmy-award-winning Arizona Wildlife Views TV. The show is produced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department to help teach Arizonans about the outdoors and wildlife around them as well as to inform about practices and techniques used to conserve Arizona's wildlife resources for generations to come.

Final shows will include these segments. If you can't wait, click on the link to watch online.

Show 11 - April 20
Hunting and Fishing Day, Scholastic Clay Target Program and Bob Hirsch Tribute

Show 12 - April 27
Disabled Youth Hunt, Ash Creek Fish, Quagga Mussel and Tarahumara Frog

Show 13 - May 4
Emmy winners show: Over the years Arizona Wildlife Views has been honored with 13 Emmy awards. This episode will highlight some of those stories.

If you missed an episode, to see previous seasons, or for more details about the department's television show, visit:
www.azgfd.gov/TV


Craig McMullen named 2007-08 Shikar Safari wildlife officer

Craig McMullen, Region VI Payson Wildlife Manager Supervisor, was recently selected for the 2007-08 Shikar-Safari Wildlife Officer of the Year award.

McMullen, a 15-year veteran, is a leader in law enforcement, wildlife management, habitat improvement, is extremely active within his local community, and is the designated lead for the department’s Hunting Heritage Workgroup focused on improving hunter recruitment and retention.

“I am very pleased to be joining the ranks of so many other fine wildlife managers that have received this prestigious award before me,” stated McMullen of his award notification.

The Shikar-Safari Club International was founded in 1952 for the purpose of advancing knowledge concerning wildlife of the world. Each year one officer from each of the 50 states is honored for service during the previous year that shows outstanding performance and achievement among the state agency’s sworn law enforcement personnel.

The letter of recommendation for McMullen’s nomination is impressive. Examples of some of his accomplishments include:

  • Over 550 citations for resource violations in his career, nearly 100 of these cases specifically for big game violations.

  • Under his supervision, Region VI has been one of the largest participants / recipients, engaged in the department’s stewardship program.

  • Orchestrated an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Star Valley Council and Arizona Game and Fish Commission to allow hunting within the Star Valley city limits.

  • Single-handedly generated a department staffing report and recommendations on hunter ethics that were ultimately incorporated in the hunt regulations.

  • "No matter what the assignment, the department has complete confidence that Craig will carry it out with dignity, vigor, precision, tact, and with a clear unobstructed view of the ultimate goal of carrying out the department’s mission."

This award will be presented to Craig by the Shikar-Safari Club International at the April 19 Commission meeting at the Phoenix headquarters on Carefree Highway and I-17. Congratulations Craig!


Game and Fish Commission meeting information

The next Arizona Game and Fish Commission meeting will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 18-19 in Phoenix at the department headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway. The public is welcome to attend. Items on the agenda include but are not limited to:

Friday (starts at 8 a.m.): Executive session, Teaming with Wildlife Act of 2008, Information and Education branch activity briefing, hearings on license revocations and violations.

Saturday (starts at 8 a.m.): Statewide shooting range briefing, 2008 fall hunt application schedule recommendation, proposed commission orders for 2008-09, 2009-10 hunting and trapping seasons (see following article on hunt recommendations), director's 2008 goals and objectives, discussion on future direction of the new Commission’s Conservationist Committee.

The May Commission meeting will be in Prescott May 16-17.

Agenda and location will be posted to the department's Web site. Go to www.azgfd.gov/commission then click the "commission agenda" link on the left.


The 2008-09 proposed hunt recommendations are available for review

Remember that the Arizona Game and Fish Commission will be setting the 2008-09 hunting and trapping commission orders (main regulations) for big game and small game hunting seasons (deer, turkey, javelina, bighorn sheep, buffalo, bear, mountain lion, quail, grouse, pheasant, chukar, squirrel, rabbit, and fur bearing and predatory animals) during its Saturday, April 19 meeting.

Some of the changes proposed for this year include:

  • Deer: Permit-tag required for some archery-only hunt units

  • Turkey: Fall hunts are limited weapon - shotgun shooting shot only

  • Turkey: Juniors-only nonpermit-tag (aka over-the-counter) hunts available

  • Javelina: Fall hunts switching to juniors-only, hunt permit-tag required (draw)

  • Tree squirrel: Longer general season, added two new hunt seasons in units 31 and 33

The complete proposed recommendations are available for review on the department’s Web site. Click here to download the PDF.


Snowpack and soggy soil,
please stay on roads and trails

By Jim Harken, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish

The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds all shed antler hunters, turkey hunters and those scouting for upcoming hunts to stay on roads and trails this season.

Shed hunting is a popular activity of looking for the antlers that have fallen off or been shed from game animals. Most animals shed their antlers in the spring and spend the summer and fall seasons growing a new set of antlers.

“Just like during the hunting season, we ask that you ’walk while you stalk’,” says Joe Sacco, off-highway vehicle law enforcement program manager. “The department recommends that you ride your vehicle on the trails to the area where you think the antlers are, then pack them out to your machine and drive them home on the roads.”

Damage to areas where cross country riding occurs can take more than 100 years to recover, especially if the area where you go cross country is wet. Those tracks can be seen by other users as an open invitation to unknowingly ruin a pristine recreational area.

A new illegal trail can cause a lot of problems for wildlife that live in that area. The noise could cause animals to leave their regular habitat, anything that drops off of a machine could be eaten by the animals leading to unnecessary death, or someone could have a negative interaction with a very unhappy or startled animal. Minimizing impact on habitat is a key to successful wildlife conservation.

NATURE RULES
Stay on Roads and Trails!


Great photos, stories, news and views
Arizona Wildlife Views Magazine

If you’re not a subscriber, here is just a taste of what you have been missing: using trail cameras, hunting tips, fishing tips, important dates, department news and announcements, elk hunting and draw odds, owls of Arizona, and much more.

Each 40-page issue of this award-winning magazine offers stories about Arizona wildlife and outdoor recreation, illustrated with gorgeous full-color photography.

The official magazine of the Arizona Game and Fish Department is published six times a year. Subscribe for just $8.50 a year by calling:

(800) 777-0015, or go online at
www.azgfd.gov/magazine
and click on the link “subscribe or give a gift subscription online”.


Attention: Wingshooters, leave a wing on

Don't be in a hurry to put your shotgun away. Eurasian collared-doves were added to the 2007-2008 regulations. The season for these larger doves is open all year-round. Bag limits are unlimited, offering wing shooting opportunities every day of the year.

In addition to leaving one feathered wing attached, you will also need a 2008 hunting license. The migratory bird stamp is not required to harvest Eurasian collared-doves.

While this is a great way to keep your wing-shooting sharp and your dogs retrieving skills polished, there is real potential of shooting the wrong species out of season.

Mourning doves do not completely migrate out of our state and can be present in similar hunting areas. Hunters will need to have excellent in-flight identification skills to confidently harvest the correct bird.

Here are some distinctive features of the Eurasian collared-dove compared to mourning doves to help you make the proper identification.

White-winged dove (left), Euraisan dove (center), mourning dove (right). Photo by Dave King
  • Size: Larger than a mourning dove (closer to a white-winged dove in size)
  • Color: Light pale-grey; mourning doves are darker grey / brown
  • Tail: Square blunt tail; mourning doves have pointed tails
  • Wings: Dark primary wing tips; mourning doves are mostly gray.
  • Head: Thin black collar around top and down the sides of neck; mourning doves do not have a collar (however, this is not always present or noticeable in flight)

Have fun, network, learn - online

Why take hunter education if it's not mandatory? There are many good reasons. You will learn:

  • hunting techniques
  • hunter responsibility and ethics
  • how firearms work
  • firearm safety and use
  • wildlife identification
  • wildlife conservation and management
  • survival and first aid
  • make new friends with similar interests

Designed to accommodate today's busy schedules, online classes are still focused on making you a safer and more knowledgeable hunter. Attending a field day is still a requirement of the program.

"The comment we hear most is that the course offers flexibility for people with busy schedules, but still provides the value of the interactive field day.” says Ed Huntsman, department conservation education coordinator.

One student's father says, "My son just turned 10 and was able to do the online course and field day, and still make his hunt."

Another participant stated, "I had been trying for a long time to find a course (traditional) I could work around my schedule. Doing it online was great."

Although it is not mandatory for adults to attend the class to hunt in Arizona, it is highly recommended. However, if you are planning on hunting in another state, please check with that state well in advance to see if proof of hunter education is required, as the Arizona program is recognized by all other state agencies

Youth ages 10 through 13 who wish to hunt big game, turkey, javelina, deer, elk, etc., must have a hunter education certification in addition to the licenses and tags required.

For more details visit:
www.hunter-ed.com/az.

Remember our safety phrase:
T.A.B. + 1

T = Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
A = Always point your muzzle in a safe direction.
B = Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
+1 = Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

Happy hunting and be safe!


Attention: Kaibab varmint and turkey hunters, you can help

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is encouraged by the growing participation rate of hunters using non-lead ammunition during the 2007 fall hunting season.

Surveys show that more than 80 percent of hunters took measures last year to reduce the amount of available spent lead ammunition in the California condor’s core range versus 60 percent in 2006.The commission recently agreed to continue the department’s voluntary lead reduction program aimed at protecting Arizona’s endangered California condor.

The department, and its partners, are encouraging hunters to continue sportsmen’s proud tradition of wildlife conservation by using non-lead ammunition in condor range in Game Management Units 9, 10, 12A/B, and 13A/B.

Going into the spring season, turkey and varmint hunters are encouraged to either switch to non-lead bullets or to remove entrails (gut piles) from the field and turn them into department check stations.

For more information on non-lead ammunition and a list of the available calibers, visit: www.azgfd.gov/condor


1 lucky raffle ticket!

Manuel Ybarra from Queen Creek purchased one raffle ticket from the department's Asset Sale at the International Sportsman's Expo on March 9 and was present during the drawing - winning him this beautiful bighorn sheep mount.

Dollars raised from the department's asset sales and auctions are used to purchase equipment and specialized training to assist officers to more effectively perform their duties in protecting Arizona's wildlife resources.

To learn more about the Wildlife Assets Program, visit: www.azgfd.gov/assets
or call (623) 236-7303


 

Need more Hunting Highlights?

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www.azgfd.gov/h_f/highlights.shtml


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Quick resource links:

Rules and regulations

Big game draw info

Where to hunt

Hunter education classes

Fishing page

Ben Avery Shooting Facility

Ben Avery Clay Target Center

Wildlife and Conservation page

Frequently asked questions


Wildlife's answer to 911
Report Wildlife Violators

OPERATION GAME THIEF is a public awareness program that allows people to call in on a toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to report wildlife violations. Poaching is serious business in Arizona. There are only 156 commissioned officers in the Arizona Game and Fish Department and many of these officers only do enforcement part-time. The department relies on the honest citizens of the state to assist in the reduction of wildlife violations.

Poachers are thieves and they are stealing Arizona’s most precious natural resource—its WILDLIFE! It doesn't matter if you hunt or fish in our great state, wildlife is here for ALL of us to enjoy. The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief Program is asking that you report any suspicious activity to the department. You can do this by either calling our toll-free hotline at 1-800-352-0700, or filling out as much of the information as possible (all fields are optional) on the link to the online form below.

We will keep your report CONFIDENTIAL upon request, and REWARDS of $50-$1,000 may be offered in certain cases. Eligible cases will pay rewards upon the arrest of the violator.

OPERATION GAME THIEF
1-800-352-0700
24 HOURS A DAY

Or report a violation online at:

www.azgfd.gov/ogt_form.shtml


Thank you hunters!

Arizona’s rich outdoor heritage is enjoyed by all, thanks to hunters like you, whose purchase of hunting equipment supports wildlife management and habitat enhancement in the Grand Canyon State.

When you purchase a rifle, ammunition, archery equipment and other sporting gear, you pay a federal excise tax and import duties.

Since 1937, this money has been collected by the federal government and redistributed to the states using a formula based on hunting license sales and the state’s land area.

In 2006, that meant more than $6.5 million for game management in Arizona.

This money paid for game surveys, hunter education classes, wildlife water catchment construction and wildlife research, among other projects.

Hunters like you are part of the largest and most successful wildlife conservation programs in the world… Thank you.

federalaid.fws.gov