The future of hunting:

Recruitment and retention efforts are crucial

By Rory Aikens, public information officer,
Arizona Game and Fish Department

The concerted effort to increase hunter recruitment and retention in Arizona didn’t happen overnight, but it did have a major point of genesis.

The management shift in Arizona to create more hunting opportunities and to remove existing barriers to participation ties back to a report from the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in 2004, outlining efforts by state wildlife agencies to increase public participation in hunting and shooting sports.

Projections of declining hunters and shooters are disturbing, because these people provide the social, financial and political support for wildlife management in North America.

Arizona Game and Fish Department leaders saw the handwriting on the wall. The legacy of hunting and shooting sports, and the cornerstone of wildlife management, could be lost to future generations if steps weren’t taken.

In September 2004, department leaders decided to create a cross-functional department Hunter Retention and Recruitment Team (HRR Team) that was told to scour the nation, find all the best ideas and practices, then to think innovatively and come up with a game plan for increasing hunter and shooting retention and recruitment here in Arizona.

The HRR Team employed a variety of tools and methods to identify relevant issues and generate concepts that would address the primary objectives it was tasked to address. It took months of hard work, discussion and information synthesis.

The final team report encompassed 178 pages, but the team came up with the following 12 recommendations as the base steps needed:

  1. Construct a comprehensive property management plan for the wildlife area complex that includes Robbins Butte, Powers Butte and the Arlington Wildlife Management Area that promotes small game opportunity and provides a venue for hunter recruitment and retention activities.
  2. Develop a short-term hunting lease program through Landowners Relations designed to obtain access to provide lands for small game hunting opportunities.
  3. Implement enhancements to the department’s hunter education program that promote course convenience and flexibility to customers and that further institute adaptive management evaluation-management practices.
  4. Charter a team to identify improvements in the delivery of hunting information through the annual regulations booklet in a manner that encourages and facilitates use and understanding, especially by new, inexperienced hunters.
  5. Evaluate existing big game draw and hunt structures to maximize hunting opportunity on a sustainable basis.
  6. Institute special licenses that promote participation of new hunters through family-friend social structures that serve to reinforce and support hunting activities.
  7. Incorporate enhancements to the department’s Web page that promote and support hunter recruitment-retention programs and activities.
  8. Create a new hunter recruitment and retention coordinator position in the Information and Education Division to launch and coordinate hunter recruitment-retention programs, activities and promotions.
  9. Establish a full-time shooting range development coordinator position in the Information and Education Division to promote convenient public access to shooting sports and shooting ranges.
  10. Launch coordinated department-wide public information and outreach efforts that promote hunting and otherwise reinforce hunter recruitment-retention efforts.
  11. Update the department’s strategic planning documents to proactively address urban encroachment as it relates to maintain small game hunting opportunities in proximity to urban areas, which advance hunter recruitment and retention efforts.
  12. Conduct periodic reviews of important hunt draw and license sales data and trends and apply adaptive management practices to department hunt recruitment-retention programs as needed.

These recommendations were embraced by department management and adopted by the commission. Since that time, those 12 recommendations have spawned a host of activities, actions, and changes, especially when it comes to traditional hunt structures.

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Junior Hunters:

Genevieve Drachman gets her first mule deer

Submitted by Boyd Drachman, father

The following junior hunter success story is one to make any seasoned hunter smile - what a buck.

Attached are photos of eleven-year-old Genevieve Drachman and her first big game animal, a desert mule deer buck from Unit 33. We found the deer this morning and after a 1/2 mile stalk, Genevieve made a brilliant single shot at 200 yards through the lungs and the heart. The deer traveled only 20 yards after the hit.

When Hunting Highlights asked Boyd for more details about the hunt, he said, "We were kinda hunting whitetail deer, but could not pass this beautiful buck." Boyd continued to share, "Genevieve is on cloud nine!"

We are lucky to live in such a wonderful state with such great opportunities for junior hunters (dad's and uncle's too!).

Arizona's junior hunts are absolutely what hunting is all about!"

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Hunt guideline changes will increase opportunities

By Rory Aikens, public information officer,

Arizona Game and Fish Department

There are some new changes on the hunting horizon in Arizona to increase opportunities to go hunting while also providing quality hunt opportunities at the same time.

After lengthy public testimony, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Aug. 11 approved the 2008-2009 hunt guidelines – including over-the-counter turkey tags for youth in good habitat units – that are intended to aid hunter retention and recruitment efforts in the future by increasing hunt opportunities.

“Big game management and our hunt guideline package have always been well within the biological limitations of the species we hunt. We are not compromising the biology in these recommendations,” Game Chief Leonard Ordway told the commission

These guidelines, he said, will provide more hunters with the opportunity to go hunting, while equitably distributing opportunity among the various seasons and also providing quality hunt opportunities.

Ordway emphasized that the hunt guidelines are not “liberal” in any sense. “These guidelines bring us in line with many other western states with things like buck-to-doe ratios.”

Ordway explained that biologically, the new guidelines won’t substantially change ungulate populations nor will they significantly reduce quality opportunities.

“These guidelines will allow us to put more hunters in the field, which is exactly what scientifically conducted surveys have shown that many Arizona hunters desire. The guidelines also provide for quality hunting opportunities that another segment of the hunting public desire as well,” Ordway said.

“These guidelines will be used by our field biologists when determining the individual, unit-by-unit hunt recommendations that will come before the commission during the next two years,” Ordway told the commission.

The first practical deployment of these guidelines will be for the 2008 elk-antelope hunt recommendations that will come before the commission at its Dec. 7-8 meeting in Casa Grande.

Archery season adjustments
The archery deer seasons in some units will be adjusted to limit archery take to about 20 percent of the total harvest in a hunt unit.

“The specific units are not spelled out in the guidelines, and this confuses some of the public,” explained Big Game Supervisor Brian Wakeling. “The information we shared at public meetings and with the commission was preliminary and probable, but could be adjusted based on collection of another year of data.”

Based on initial analysis of demand and harvest, these new guidelines could result in the following:

  •  Seven units will be placed in the draw for archery (Units 1, 3A/3C, 3B, 7, 12A, 13A, 13B). Unit 13B has never had an archery deer season, but will be added because archery harvest can be regulated by permitting the hunt.
  •  Another seven units are likely to have the December season eliminated for archery deer (17A, 20A, 22, 23, 35A, 37A, 42).
  •  Three units will likely add some January opportunity because they are currently below 10 percent of total take (4A/4B, 8, 9).

Ordway explained to the commission that the guidelines were constructed in such a way that when the archery harvest exceeds demand in a unit, then the archery in that unit will be restricted by shortening the season or limiting archers through the draw process. Prior to this, the only method the agency had to restrict harvest was to place increasing restriction on general season opportunities.

“It’s all about being equitable and fair about available hunting opportunities,” Ordway said.

The changes do not necessarily mean that archers will lose any overall hunting opportunities they have had in recent years, Ordway said, only that there is now a cap so that archery hunters will not affect the hunting opportunities of general season hunters.

Archers may purchase over-the-counter tags to hunt in open units and apply for those units offered through the draw. The one-deer-per-calendar-year bag limit still applies, but archers should not see any reduction in the overall number of days that they can hunt statewide.

“This all means that in certain units where archery demand and harvest is encroaching on general hunt opportunities, archers will have to compete on a level playing field in the draw process for the available opportunities,” Ordway explained.

Ordway also said that despite rumors to the contrary, the department has no immediate intent to put all archery deer hunts into the draw process. “Could this eventually happen many years down the road? I can’t tell you it won’t, but I honestly don’t think it will happen in the short term,” Ordway said.

This isn’t about forcing everyone into a more restrictive draw process, he said, but rather, creating equity and fairness in the process for everyone. “This is essentially the equitable allocation formula developed for the elk draw years ago, and most hunters have been generally comfortable with that system.”

In addition, archery bull elk permits will be offered in standard population management zones during November (25 bull tags each) if not already offered, or in September if not already offered.

White-tailed deer
Five percent of the white-tailed deer permits will be offered in December (rather than 10 percent during the last two years). This is similar in allocation to what was offered in the Region 5 white-tailed deer units until two years ago.

Units 6A, 23, 30B, 31, and 36C were added to alternative units (managed for quality) for white-tailed deer. Buck-to-doe ratios will be managed at 20-30 in these units, and 30-percent of the harvest will be targeted for the December season.

“Our guidelines will maintain some incredible quality hunt opportunities for white-tailed deer in some units, while at the same time creating more hunting opportunities in other units,” Ordway said.

Turkey (over-the-counter junior permits)
Fall turkey seasons will be limited weapon shotgun shooting shot. Surveys show that the vast majority of fall turkey hunters use shotguns, and this change brings the hunt in line with the common practice for turkey hunts throughout the west and the nation.

“Turkey hunting is already very safe, but this makes it even safer,” Wakeling said, adding that this change is supported by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

A significant change for the future will be juniors-only turkey. Units that score as an "A" (excellent) in the habitat-population status matrix will offer juniors over-the-counter permits for spring and fall turkey.

However, hunt units that score as a "B" (good) in the habitat-population status matrix will offer juniors over-the-counter permits for spring turkey.

“This way, if dad, mom, grandpa or whomever gets a turkey tag in the applicable units, they can take the young hunter with them. Or if nothing else, to just take a young hunter out turkey hunting. This really allows families to experience and pass along this valuable hunting legacy,” Wakeling said.

National surveys indicate that when youth can experience such positive hunts with their family, they are much more likely become life-long hunters.

Fall javelina tags will be offered to juniors-only and occur during the juniors deer hunt time frame.

“This change will allow youth to hunt javelina and deer together during the fall, creating a valuable learning experience for the young hunters and a lot of fun for the family,” Ordway said.

This change in the fall javelina structure will help families maximize their time in the field “In these days of increasing gas prices and dwindling free time, it can be very important for families to better capitalize on their opportunities and recreational dollars,” Ordway said.

Other units in the state that have juniors deer hunts may offer juniors javelina seasons during the fall.

The guidelines also offer 10 percent of the total number of javelina tags authorized during a given year to junior hunters.

Finally, hunt success has been added as a management guideline for javelina, with a target of 20-25 percent.

Small game
Small game and fall turkey seasons will begin one week earlier (less chance of conflicting with the opening of deer seasons). Fall turkey seasons will remain one week long.

Squirrel season has been extended to run through year end, and in Units 31 and 33 in southeastern Arizona (sky island country), tassel-eared squirrel seasons will run yearlong.

“We really wanted to maximize the fun that small game hunting opportunities provide to our hunt public,” Ordway said.

National statistics show an overall decrease in small game hunters.

“With our abundant small game hunting opportunities in Arizona, we have a real opportunity to reverse that trend. We are even stepping up our efforts to conduct small game camps for new hunters, and those new to the state, so more people can learn to enjoy the tremendous small game opportunities across the state from quail and dove to squirrel and waterfowl,” Ordway said.

Other new guidelines

  • Buck-to-doe management guidelines have been shifted to 10-20 for mule deer and 15-25 for white-tailed deer.
  • Bull-to-cow management guidelines have been shifted to 15-25 for elk.
  • Bighorn sheep management guidelines have been adjusted to target the harvest of 15-25 percent of the Class III and IV rams.
  • Annual female harvest limits have been added to bear hunts and will be approved by the commission in the season-setting process of commission orders. These have already been established for spring 2008 and will appear in the spring hunt booklet.

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Been hunting? Jimmy Herman has, and he's hooked

By James Herman, father, Kingman

The following is a thank-you letter, sent by a father of two, to Hunter Education Instructor Cliff Saylor, about a family's trek on a juniors only elk hunt, shortly after completing the hunter education course. This is another example of how education programs and the outdoors build great relationships.

Cliff, we just got back from Jimmy’s elk hunt – he didn’t get one – but everything else was perfect.

We saw elk consistently throughout the hunt – at least twice a day everyday.

Jimmy didn’t get a shot off – the first few times he stood in awe and didn’t even move the gun. Several of the others just happened too fast.

The best couple of times, he didn’t have a clean shot because of the way they were grouped up. I don’t think I’ve seen as many elk in all my elk hunts as we saw this weekend.

We had Mike carry an empty .22 just for practice. They were both flawless as far as safety and gun handling. They’d pass the guns back and forth, going over and around obstacles. They kept them pointed in safe directions without being told. Jimmy took his shells out before I had to remind him. He never pulled the hammer back until he was on target (I wasn’t sure I’d remember to remind him to do it, so I was very impressed). It was great! The phrases “in our hunter’s safety course” and “Cliff said” came up frequently all weekend.

They were still excited about the hunt this morning. I mentioned that we should probably put scopes on their .22’s and do more rabbit and squirrel hunting to get them used to drawing on a target and shooting. They asked me to get that done this week so we can go Saturday morning. I’m pretty sure this hunt hooked them for good.

Thanks for everything, your class played a big role in their excitement and behavior this weekend.

Jim, Jimmy, and Mike Herman

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Hunters comprise multi-faceted public

By Rory Aikens, public information officer,

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona's hunters do not share a uniform view of what hunting opportunity should be.

An online survey and a telephone survey of recent hunt applicants conducted for the Arizona Game and Fish Department by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Virginia, last year showed that the majority of this state’s hunters just want to get a hunt-permit tag, especially for elk, and the quality of the animal is not a major concern.

But another segment of the hunting public is very interested in managing for conservative, quality hunts.

The challenge facing the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department is to achieve that delicate balancing act and provide opportunities to meet the desires and needs of all hunters. It’s not an easy balancing act, but it does require quality information to achieve with any degree of success.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission invited the director of Responsive Management, Mark Damian Duda, to meet with them in a work session during its summer meeting in Flagstaff to discuss the survey, its methodology, its validity, and its applicability to wildlife management in the state.

Duda told the commission that Responsive Management has conducted hundreds of such surveys in 30 or 40 states during the past 20 years. “We have no dog in this fight. We just use scientifically sound methods to gather information.”

If the Arizona survey had shown anything different than all the other surveys across the United States, Duda said, there might be some reason to question the validity. It did not. “The surveys show the same pattern here in Arizona that we are seeing across the country.”

Duda said he understands the dilemma facing the Game and Fish Commission in Arizona. “Bottom line, you are confronted with how to please two divergent publics or markets. It’s not an easy decision facing you.”

Duda said there is one public of avid, knowledgeable hunters who care deeply about the state’s wildlife, and who are tremendous supporters of the department and its mission, and who can wield a lot of power in the process. “They are at the higher end of the hunting spectrum. They want trophy animals. They are the well-informed and influential minority.”

Then there are the average hunters who are the silent majority. “The surveys show that most hunters just want the opportunity to hunt. Harvesting a quality animal is not at the top of their list.,” Duda said. “I am not making any value judgments. That’s just what they do and what they want. This is really not an issue of surveys, but what different markets want.”

For us as researchers, Duda said, it is a relatively easy process to get the answers. “For you as decision makers, it is a difficult process. I can’t tell you what decisions to make, only what the valid surveys show in the marketplace. Our role is to simply gather the information.”

Duda explained that in conducting the surveys, his company used the multiple satisfaction approach where the respondents make choices or rate what is most important to them.

The respondents are simply provided a list, and they choose from that list on what is most important to them. Most Arizona hunters overwhelmingly chose the opportunity to go hunting as most important, and rated harvesting a quality animal quite a ways down the list.

Duda said there are some who will not like a survey just because its results are contrary to deeply held belief systems, such as a survey Responsive Management did in Maryland, where 75 percent of the residents said they support hunting. “There was only one question on the survey that an animal protection group liked.”

“We’ve seen it time and again. These questions that support our views are valid and those questions that don’t support our beliefs are not valid,” Duda said.

All surveys are designed to do is reflect the varying opinions in the marketplace. “One of my professors said that science seeks questions, policy demands answers. Seeking the questions was the easy part of this. You face the tougher task,” Duda told the commission.

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Junior hunters:
Samantha Parrish, successful elk hunter

By Larry Parrish, father

The following is yet another great success story sent by a proud father. Larry Parrish wanted to thank Samanatha's hunter education instructor, Cliff Saylor, for teaching her how to be a true steward of the land. Cliff, you are doing an outstanding job with these young hunters.


Cliff here is a picture of Samanthas first big game animal!

She did very well and I was surprised at how calm she stayed during the whole thing.

We made a stalk onto this cow and had to crawl about 60 yards to get a good clean shot on it.

It took 2 shots to get it, but she placed both shots perfectly.

Thanks to you for teaching her good ethics and sharing your stories because it was the hunt of a lifetime for her and me!

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Ride responsibly when using OHV's
By Jim Harken, public information officer,

Arizona Game and Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds all hunters to be cautious and courteous when using off-highway vehicles out on a hunt.

The best advice for OHV users is simply:

“Walk while you stalk.”

Get out to your location early and walk so that you don’t interrupt other hunters or scare away game with machine noise.

Many hunters have complained that after a long hike to their favorite hunting spot and a good stalk on their game, their animal is scared away at the last minute by someone crashing through the area on a loud OHV.

Be sensitive by trying to only use your OHV to retrieve your harvested game. Here are some good rules of thumb to follow when out on the hunt:

  •  Minimize impact to wildlife and other hunters by staying on roads and trails.

  •  Always make sure that the area you go into is open for OHV use. There are many seasonal closings of areas, so make sure they are open before you leave.

  •  Keep the noise level down by making sure your muffler is in good working order.

  •  Use extra caution when fording wash areas or streams. Use the 90 degree approach, and cross at the approved trail crossing only.

  •  Watch for hunters on foot and respect their right to be in the same area.

  •  Carry out everything that you carry in, don’t litter and keep Arizona beautiful.

  •  Only use your ATV for recovery of harvested game or to get to your location.

The department wants this to be a very successful hunting season for all hunters. Safe and considerate OHV usage is a step in the right direction.


Stay on Roads and Trails!

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Game and Fish conducts historic 100th bighorn sheep translocation.

Program restores bighorn sheep to their historic habitats
By Doug Burt, public information officer,

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona's bighorn sheep population received a boost in November when the Arizona Game and Fish Department, along with vital assistance from the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Yuma Proving Ground, and Bureau of Land Management, conducted its 100th capture-translocation.

The translocation program, celebrating its 50th year, aims to restore or enhance bighorn sheep populations in their historic habitats. The result of this logistically challenging and laborious process is to secure a valuable natural resource that benefits all Arizonans.

Thirteen desert bighorn sheep, 11 ewes (females) and two rams (males), were captured on the Yuma Proving Ground near Martinez Lake, north of Yuma, on Friday and were released in the Big Horn Mountains, about 90 miles west of Phoenix, on Saturday.

"These captures and releases are part of a long effort to bring these magnificent animals back from the brink of extirpation and restore them to their historic habitats," says Brian Wakeling, big game supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

In the late 1800s, bighorn sheep were eliminated from a large portion of their range as a result of exposure to disease and unregulated hunting. In 1893, the Territorial Legislature passed a five-year moratorium banning all hunting of bighorn sheep, yet populations continued to decline. By the 1950s, bighorn populations in Arizona had dwindled significantly, and some feared they might be lost forever.

In 1953, Arizona established regulated hunting of bighorn rams as a way to raise awareness and generate funding for research and management efforts needed to fully recover desert bighorn sheep populations. Special interests groups, hunters, biologists and conservationists rallied together in this effort – an effort that continues today.

The department conducted its first translocation in 1957. Since that first event, the department has moved close to 1,800 animals within Arizona. Today, mostly due to translocation efforts, Arizona’s bighorn sheep population is just over 6,000. Additionally, through the program, two species of bighorn sheep call Arizona home - the desert bighorn and Rocky Mountain bighorn.

The department’s program has also supported other western states, sheep restoration efforts by transplanting 81 sheep to Colorado, 58 to New Mexico, 36 to Texas and 46 to Utah.

"The endeavor to restore the populations of these superb animals over the decades has been a classic cooperative effort between many partners and volunteers," says Wakeling.

To assure the health of the animals, retired veterinarian, Clancy Gansberg, volunteered his time, much like he has done for over 20 years. Personnel from Liberty Wildlife were also on hand to assist in the safe processing of animals. Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters was contracted for the highly technical process of locating, capturing and transporting sheep from mountainous and rugged terrain.

Restoration efforts have involved enhanced land use planning, interagency cooperation, water developments, conservation hunt strategies, translocations, habitat studies and mitigation, and many hours of volunteer support.

Additional Arizona desert bighorn sheep information is available at the Department’s Web site at

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

Canyon Lake Fish Habitat Enhancement Project
This project involves the construction of fish habitat to benefit largemouth and smallmouth bass, sunfish, catfish, crappie, as well as provide fishing “hotspots” for the angling public. The work will utilize wooden pallets, cement blocks and juniper trees to build “pisces pyramids” during a scheduled 50-foot drawdown of the lake. Volunteers will help load and transport materials to work sites around the lake via boats and construct habitat units on the dry lakebed at pre-selected sites. Work hours will be from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. during the work dates. Volunteers are asked to bring their own gloves, beverages, meals and appropriate clothing to suit the winter weather and must schedule work dates by calling the habitat project coordinator. Dates are
Nov. 17 – Dec. 16, (Friday-Sunday weekend days) at Canyon Lake, Palo Verde Recreation Site, located 32 miles east of Mesa on Highway 88 (Apache Trail). Contact Habitat Project Coordinator Natalie Robb at (480) 324-3541 or by e-mail at Or contact Arizona Game and Fish Department volunteer coordinator Les Bell at (623) 236-7680.

Black-footed ferret spring spotlighing project

The Black-footed Ferret Project is planning another large spotlighting effort for the nights of March 20-24, 2008. Please sign up early, as space is limited and people had to be turned away last event.

Requirements for spotlighting:

  • stay attentive from sunset to sunrise.
  • carry up to 30-pound backpack for two-hour durations
  • use or learn how to use a GPS unit

What is involved?
Spotlighting involves the use of high-powered lights to locate and identify black-footed ferrets. Once a ferret is located, a trap is set in the burrow. When the animal is caught the ferret is delivered to a process trailer. This will allow the team a once in a lifetime opportunity to view a ferret up close while the biologists processes the animal. The animal’s health will be assessed and a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag inserted subcutaneously. PIT tags allow us to individually identify animals upon recapture. The ferret is then released into the same burrow where it was trapped.

Gear can be a limiting factor for the number of people that may attend, if you have any of the following, please bring it for your use:

  • Headlamp or flashlight (these will not be provided)
  • GPS unit
  • Pen (to record data)
  • Compass (to record direction that trap is set)
  • Binoculars
  • Appropriate clothing **
  • High clearance vehicle, 4x4 (mileage is tax deductible)

** Multiple layers are best, as March nights can be cold, but you will warm up while backpack spotlighting. Raingear is highly recommended. Also, be sure to bring plenty of snacks and water. Snacking throughout the night will help you to stay awake.

To sign up for the spotlighting event or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact


Volunteer shotgun instructors and range safety officers for women's shotgun shooting program
Volunteers will instruct women of all ages in the shotgun shooting sports as prescribed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Coaches will assist beginners in shotgun shooting form and skill. Range safety officers will watch over the range and ensure safety among all participants. Instructors will teach, and assist in teaching, or proctor the hour-long introductory class. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and participate in a free-of-charge Shotgun Instructor Certification process (two-day class). It is desirable, but not necessary, that instructors have shooting experience, basic knowledge of firearms and firearms safety, and some teaching/public speaking experience. Benefits to volunteers include free shooting at the main range and discounts at local sporting goods locations. The women's shotgun shooting program will be held the first and third Thursday of each month from approximately 7-9:30 p.m. The program is held at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility main range (range time is held at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center). Entrance is just west of I-17 (Exit 223) on Carefree Highway. For more information, contact (623) 582-8313.

Range safety officers needed 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. Volunteers shoot for free at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, located just west of I-17 and Carefree Highway in north Phoenix. Contact Arizona Game and Fish Department Volunteer Coordinator Les Bell at (623) 236-7680.

Vol. 3 No. 7 December 2007
In this issue:

News and notes:

Successful archery deer hunters
must report harvest

All archery deer hunters are reminded that they must contact an Arizona Game and Fish Department office in person or by telephone at:


Report within 10 days of taking a deer unless the deer has been checked through a mandatory hunter checking station.


Please report your harvest to help us collect this important data. Hunters who fail to comply with this rule will be cited by the department.

2008 antelope and elk draw approaching

Hunters are reminded that there's a draw for 2008 pronghorn antelope and elk hunt permit-tags.

The application deadline should be Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008. (pending commission approval)

The antelope and elk draw process is in its second year for these hunts. This third draw process was added to let hunters know earlier if they have been drawn for these two popular big game animals.

Antelope and elk drawing information and regulations should be available on the Department’s Web site by mid-December 2007.

Printed copies of the regulations should be available at license dealers and department offices statewide by mid-January 2008.

The department will only be accepting paper applications for this draw. Applications will be accepted in person at department offices, or by mail as soon as the regulations are available, to:

Arizona Game and Fish Department

P.O. Box 52002

Phoenix, AZ 85072-2002

There is no online application option for the 2008 antelope and elk drawing.

Javelina hunt permit-tags
still available

There are still plenty of left-over tags remaining for the spring 2008 javelina season. At the time of this writing, all hunt types are available, including general, HAM, archery-only and juniors-only tags.

A 2008 hunting license is required to apply for a tag. Licenses can be purchased from a department office, license dealer, or apply for one at the same time as your tag - just be certain to fill out all the required information as well as include the additional payment fees.

First-come, first-served tags are available by mail only. Fill out a standard hunt permit-tag application and mail it to:

Arizona Game and Fish Department

P.O. Box 52002

Phoenix, AZ 85072-2002

For the most recent list of remaining tags available, visit:

Season dates and hunting opportunities

This time of year offers ample opportunity to get outdoors and do some hunting. Small game hunters can fill their bag with multiple species. And big game hunters will be taking to the field as well. Here is a list to help hunters procrastinate on the holiday tasks for one more weekend, or two.

Note: If you plan on hunting small game into the New Year, be certain to get your 2008 hunting license. Hunting licenses are valid through the calendar year - not the hunting season.


Quail season for all three species, Gambel's, scaled and Mearns', is open through Feb. 11, 2008. The daily bag limit is 15 birds of which no more than eight may be Mearns' quail. Hunting quail is an incredible way to enjoy the Arizona desert at both high and low elevations. A general hunting license is all that is required for legal harvest.


Late season dove began the day after Thanksgiving and runs through Jan. 6, 2008. The bag limit is 10 birds. Also, new to the regulations this year are Eurasian collared-doves. There is no limit and they can be hunted year-round. A general hunting license and an Arizona migratory bird stamp are required.


Rabbits offer year-round hunting opportunity and make a great winter dish. Some hunters avoid these critters during the summer months due to heat concerns, making the winter months the best time to hunt these difficult targets. Rabbit hunting is a great way to introduce someone new to hunting. The bag limit is a liberal 10 rabbits per day. Hunting with a shotgun, rimfire or centerfire (some restrictions) is permitted and offers a variety of hunting scenarios, from glassing and long-range shooting to stalking and flushing. A general hunting license is all that is required for legal harvest.

Note: Use disposable gloves when cleaning rabbits.

Waterfowl - ducks and geese

Waterfowl season in Arizona is broken into two zones - mountain and desert. Both are currently open. The season closes in the mountain zone on Jan. 13, 2008, while the desert zone is open through Jan. 27, 2008. Cool weather in the northwest is beginning to move birds into our state and hunting should pick up. Although traditional duck hunting requires much investment, stock tank jumping can be very productive and fun. Bag limits vary by species and gender, so please refer to the 2007-2008 Arizona waterfowl and snipe regulations for details and identification tips. A general hunting license, federal duck stamp and state duck stamp are required. Non-toxic shot is also required for the take of all waterfowl.


The 2008 spring javelina season is approaching. Hunting javelina does require a big game hunt permit-tag. Successful applicants should have received their tag by now. There are a number of left-over tags available on a first-come, first-served basis (see article above). Javelinas are a great introduction to big game hunting during a beautiful time of the year. Archery-only season runs Jan. 1 - 24, 2008. The Juniors-only season runs Jan. 25 - Feb 3, 2008. Beginning in February are the HAM (handgun, archery, and muzzleloader) hunts and general season hunts.

Deer - mule and whitetail

Winter deer season will begin Dec. 14, depending on your hunt permit-tag and game management unit. There have been a number of positive reports from the early season. Archery-only season runs from Dec. 14 - Jan. 31, 2008. (A 2008 tag is required to hunt deer in 2008. Over-the-counter tags are per calendar year - not hunt season) The general rifle season runs from Dec. 14 - Dec. 31. 2007. Over-the-counter archery tags are still available and can be purchased from any license dealer or department office statewide.


Elk hunting is one of the most desirable hunts in Arizona. The winter elk season started Nov. 23 and runs through Dec. 30, depending on your hunt permit-tag and game management unit. Hunting elk in northern Arizona offers some of the most majestic hunting scenarios in the world. Be certain to plan ahead for foul weather and always be safe.


For those fortunate few, 20 permits, that drew tags, buffalo seasons starts Jan. 1, depending on the unit you were drawn for. Don't forget to clear out some freezer space.

For more hunting information, dates and regulations, visit our rules and regulations web page for PDF downloadable documents at:

Upcoming Game and Fish Commission meeting

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will be meeting on Dec. 7 and 8 in Casa Grande at the Holiday Inn Casa Grande, 777 N. Pinal Ave.

Some of the agenda items include:

  • Shooting range update
  • Acquiring the Alma Richardson Property
  • Hunting agreements with the Town of Buckeye & City of Star Valley
  • Hearings on violations and infractions
  • Ben Avery Shooting Facility master plan
  • Consideration of proposed Commission Orders: 3 (pronghorn antelope), 4 (elk), and 26 (population management) for 2008 hunting season.

For a list of all the agenda details and meeting start times, click here, to visit the Commission web page.

The next commission meeting will be Jan. 18, 2008 in Phoenix at the new department headquarters at:

5000 W. Carefree Hwy

Phoenix, AZ 85086

Meet the Commission Awards Banquet

The annual "Meet the Commission Awards Banquet" will be held Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008 at the Crowne Plaze Hotel 2532 W. Peoria, Phoenix, AZ 85029, (602) 943-2341 at 5:30 p.m.

The awards banquet gives the Commission an opportunity to recognize outstanding Arizonans that have contributed significantly to the welfare of Arizona's wildlife and the mission of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The 2007 Commission Awardees are:

Award of Excellence
Clifton Ranger District
Don Farmer
Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited
Jimmy Unmacht
Jordan Azlin
Brian Dolan
Andrea Nesbitt
Kenny Wilkins
Thomas Slaughter
Youth Environmentalist of the Year
Travis Bickford
Media of the Year
Outdoor Wire (Jim Shepherd)
Conservation Organization of the Year
Arizona Hunters Who Care (Lance Altherr)
Conservationist of the Year
Lorri Gray
Outdoor Woman of the Year
Linda Dightmon
Environmentalist of Year
Timothy Talbott
Volunteer of the Year
Rene Dube
Educator of the Year
Mike Trimble
License Dealer of the Year
Del Rey Western Outdoor
Wildlife Habitat Stewardship Award
Bob Fletcher

Congratulations to all of those who were awarded and nominated. This award is a great honor and is a small way of showing our appreciation for all you do for Arizona wildlife and its natural resources.

If you are interested in attending or

sponsoring a table, contact:

Marty Fabritz,

executive staff assistant / ombudsman at:

(623) 236-7281

Become a certified referee

for skeet shooting events

The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Arizona Skeet Shooting Association (ASSA) are launching a new course to train and certify field referees for skeet shooting throughout the state.

The new two-hour certification course, Skeet Referee 101, will consist of a specially produced training video, classroom instruction and the National Skeet Shooting Association referee test. Cost will be $10, which will include the National Skeet Shooting Association test submission fee. Certification is good for 2008.

“This is a revolutionary new program, not only for Arizona, but for the rest of the nation,” said ASSA President and course co-creator, Woody Wilson. “Refereeing a skeet event is more than just pushing buttons. With the new Ben Avery Clay Target Center now on line, our goal is to bring more major registered skeet events to Arizona. One of the most important factors in attracting those events is the quality and professionalism of our field referees.”

The first course session will be offered at the Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters building on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008, from 1-3 p.m.

To register for the course and test, call or email Ashley Lynch, shooting sports coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, at:

(623) 236-7305, or e-mail

Applicants are asked to leave their name, address and phone number, and they will receive a free copy of the NSSA Referee Handbook to study prior to the session.


Ladies outdoor skills workshop, in bed and breakfast comforts, Jan. 25-27

The Arizona Wildlife Federation’s third annual “Becoming an Outdoors Woman Deluxe” workshop will be held Jan. 25-27, 2008, at Saguaro Lake Ranch on the banks of the Salt River near Saguaro Lake. The program begins at noon on Friday and ends at noon Sunday.

This venue is perfect for the lady who likes a little extra comfort with her outdoor experience. The ranch is a family-owned bed and breakfast with lots of amenities.

The workshop offers general knowledge classes and outdoor activities. New classes for 2008 include boating sessions on Saguaro Lake, edible and medicinal desert plants, and geocaching. Other classes include outdoor photography, fly-fishing, birding, Dutch oven cooking, and canoeing. There will be evening activities with campfires and entertainment.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Deluxe is a partnership effort between the Arizona Wildlife Federation, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Safari Club International, PSE/Browning, Arizona Audubon, and many local clubs and organizations.

The fee is $420 for the entire weekend and includes all meals, lodging, instruction, use of equipment and a trail ride. Sign up early - the workshop is limited to 40 participants.

For more information visit:
or call, (480) 644-0077

Online hunter education course is popular

Preliminary data shows Arizona's new online hunter education course is alread popular and growing in attendees.

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.

For more details visit:

Traditional classroom courses are still offered and scheduled throughout the year in many locations around the state. This list is updated weekly, and new classes are being offered all the time.

If you are planning on hunting in another state, please check with that state well in advance of your hunt to see if proof of hunter education is required.

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!

Ben Avery winter hours

The Ben Avery Shooting Facility Main Range, archery ranges, and the Ben Avery Clay Target Center winter hours of operation for the public are:


  • Monday - Closed

  • Tuesday - Closed

  • Wednesday - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Thursday - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Note: The main range may close at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday evenings of each month, depending on turnout for the Annie Oakley Sure Shots women's program) 

  • Friday - 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Saturday - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Sunday - 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.


For more information on the

Ben Avery Shooting Facility, visit:

or contact (623) 582-8313.

For more information on the

Ben Avery Clay Target Center, visit:

or contact (623) 434-8119.


Game and Fish encouraged by expanded hunter participation in voluntary lead reduction program

Hunters in Arizona are proving to the critics that voluntary efforts to conserve endangered wildlife do work. So far this year, 80 percent of hunters have taken measures to reduce the amount of available spent lead ammunition in the California condor's core range. Hunters have either switched to non-toxic copper bullets or, they are removing intrails (gut piles) from the field and turning them into Department check stations.

For more information on non-lead ammunition and a list of the available calibers, visit our condor page:

Read about elk drawing odds in the next issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine

Can’t wait to apply for a 2008 elk or antelope tag? The January-February issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine can give you a head start on the new year with game specialist Rick Langley’s feature story, “Maximizing Your Odds for Drawing an Elk Permit.”

Subscribe now, and you’ll also be among the first to hear the talk “At the Tailgate.” That’s our new department, written by Operation Game Thief coordinator Gene Elms. He’s got great conservation stories to share, but you’ll only be in the know if you subscribe.

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

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



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We welcome mail from readers and will try to feature the following in each issue, as available:

Been hunting?
Do you have a photo and story you’d like to share about your recent hunting trip? We’d like to include one or more stories in each issue of Hunting Highlights. Send your picture and a brief story to the Hunting Highlights editor.

Junior hunters
Do you have a photo and story about a youth hunt (your own or that of your child or grandchild)? We’d like to share one or more junior hunter stories in each issue of Hunting Highlights. Send your picture and a brief story to the Hunting Highlights editor.

Conservation spotlight
Are you excited about the mission and activities of your wildlife conservation organization? In the Conservation Spotlight, our readers will share your excitement. To get your group into the spotlight, e-mail the Hunting Highlights editor.

Ask a wildlife manager
Is there something you’ve always wanted to ask a game warden? All questions are fair game in this periodic feature. If you’ve got a question for our wildlife managers, e-mail the Hunting Highlights editor.

Hot links

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.


Or report a violation online at:

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.