Make the introduction:

Take someone small game hunting

By Doug Burt, public information officer,
Arizona Game and Fish Department

Do you remember when you first went hunting? I think most of us do.

Do you remember who took you? Absolutely, it is a life-long lasting impression.

Introducing someone new to hunting and the outdoors is a rewarding and worthwhile effort. Additionally, many recent studies show that natural outdoor activities improve health, fitness, attention span and focus, and teach a respect for natural resources and our environment.

Wildlife habitat, publicly accessible open spaces, and interest in hunting continue to decline due to increased urbanization and a growing technology-dependent population.

But there’s hope. At nearly 12.5 million strong nationally, hunters have the ability to control their future. If every sportsman were to introduce just one new person a year, hunters' voices will be heard into the future.

Sometimes, making that introduction is as simple as asking children, family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers if they would like to tag along. Starting with the basics, just like we all did, is a great place to begin:

  • Camping trips and family outings. These are ideal opportunities for kids and outdoor recreation newcomers to see, touch and experience the outdoors.
  • Wildlife watching and identification. This can be fun for all ages, whether visiting wildlife refuges, parks, ponds, the desert, or just about anywhere.
  • Hiking or geocaching. Exploring the outdoors with technology is a great activity for tech-dependent kids and their parents.
  • Teach them to shoot. BB guns, .22’s, shotguns and archery offer a great way to teach marksmanship and safety; shooting ranges and youth programs are available to introduce newcomers in a controlled, teachable situation.
  • Hunter education. Suggesting a hunter education course is a great way to have experienced, knowledgeable instructors teach a newcomer. Courses are available online, too.

After covering some of the basics, the next step is to get out hunting. Small game hunting offers a superb entry-level opportunity. Equipment needs are simple, and equipment is easy to borrow or obtain. Seasons are long, bag limits are generous, and small game species make excellent table fare.

Many seasoned sportsmen have cut their teeth on hunting squirrel, rabbit, dove, quail, pheasant and even ducks.

There is nothing better than to see the smile on a young or new hunter's face when they hit their first game bird on the wing or carry a cleanly harvested squirrel or rabbit. It is a life-long lasting impression for them and you!

For more information on programs that help introduce people to hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation, visit these Web sites:

Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunter Education

Arizona Archery in the Schools Program
Take Me Fishing

Step Outside
Trailblazer Adventure Program
Geocaching

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2007 deer and elk outlook

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

Getting ready to head out for your fall deer or elk hunt? Here are our regional forecasts for these species.

Deer
From a statewide perspective, white-tailed deer fawn recruitment remained similar to last year's level, whereas mule deer fawn recruitment dropped a little. Both remained within the range in which deer populations tend to remain stable, and deer hunting opportunities should be similar to last year. Summer precipitation, although not tremendous, did provide good green up throughout much of the state in late summer, and healthy deer herds and antler growth should be found statewide. Buck-to-doe ratios have been increasing for both mule and white-tailed deer over the past two years, so more bucks may be available. Don't expect to be overrun with deer, but experiences should be similar to the last two years.

Regions I through IV are known mainly for mule deer and provide good hunting opportunities for this species. Even with recent improvement, Region IV mule deer tend to be in low-density herds, so plan to wear out the seat of your pants while using binoculars rather than wearing out boots while walking to be successful. This can be an important strategy regardless of where you hunt, but is more difficult in forested habitat. Don't be afraid to use those boots to get you off the beaten track, but rely on optics once you get there. Mule deer numbers in Regions V and VI are also stable to slightly increasing.

Regions V and VI have the most popular white-tailed deer units, and glassing is essential for finding these elusive ghosts. Sustained fawn recruitment from last year should translate into more young bucks this year. Look closely: Many “skin heads” turn out to be young bucks on further scrutiny. Regions I and II have lesser-known but excellent white-tailed deer hunts. Areas recovering from recent fires can be productive, especially near steep terrain and canyons that white-tails seem to favor.

Regardless of where you were drawn this year, know the boundaries of your unit. Check your tag to be certain of the area for which you were drawn. Every year a few hunters mistakenly assume they were drawn for their first choice when they were actually drawn for an alternate unit, but don’t find out otherwise until they get to camp, or, worse yet, until a wildlife manager checks their harvested deer. It can be an expensive mistake. And don’t forget to sign your tag.

Elk
Although fall survey data is preliminary, many areas are reporting good calf numbers and favorable bull-to-cow ratios. Elk habitat that suffered from fires two to five years ago is producing good herbaceous vegetation as a result of summer rains. In addition to recruitment, favorable forage conditions are also good for antler development. There have already been many reports of 400+ bulls harvested during the 2007 archery hunts, and several impressive photographs are circulating through e-mail.

People with antlerless tags often have bigger challenges during hunts than do bull hunters. It always seems that just before the season, you cannot walk through the woods without stumbling over cow elk and their young, but shortly after the season begins, they disappear like water vapor. I've told many a hunter that it is only sporting for the Department to inform the elk of season dates, and they seem to take notice. In my experience, it can be productive during antlerless hunts to work small openings in the forest during midday, especially in later seasons, as elk seem to adjust to hunters' typical patterns of being out early or late in the day and sleeping at midday.

Regions I (Pinetop) and II (Flagstaff)
Wildfires did not play a large role this year. Older burned areas are going to be attractive to elk. Elk often respond to early accumulations of snowfall by moving to lower elevations, but a single snowfall event will not immediately drive all elk out of an area. Rainfall and snow can cause unfavorable road conditions. Always try to minimize the impact you have on primitive roads.

Region III (Kingman)
Elk populations have been productive and wide-ranging. Much of the elk habitats are large landscapes with interspersed pinyon-juniper woodland. These animals can be highly mobile and may seem to vaporize once hunts begin. Being in the field early and late can be important, but don't forget midday, especially later in the hunt. This strategy can be critical regardless of your unit and region.

Region V (Tucson) and Region VI (Mesa)
Although Region V has elk hunts in Units 28 and 31, these areas are managed for elk at low densities. These can be tough hunts in nontraditional areas. You may need more than your share of good luck to be successful. Region VI elk populations are doing well. Units 22 and 23 continue to be good producers of quality animals.


Virtually any unit in Arizona has the potential to produce a record-book bull. To make the most of your opportunity, be certain that your rifle is shooting accurately before you get to the field. Judging distances can be more challenging with elk hunting than with virtually any other hunt. Distances in forested habitat just seem closer than they really are; you expect long distances with pronghorn or deer hunting, but mistakes that change the outcome of a hunt are easy to make when pursuing elk.

Hunters can help monitor for chronic wasting disease

By Tom Cadden, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is again asking for hunter assistance this season in monitoring for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a wildlife neurological disease that is fatal to deer and elk.

The disease has not yet been found in Arizona, but it is in three neighboring states—Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. The department needs 1,800 deer and elk heads this hunting season to test for presence of the disease.

You can assist by bringing in the head of your recently harvested deer or elk to any Game and Fish Department office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Place the head in a heavy plastic garbage bag for delivery, and keep it cool and out of the sun. If the weather is warm, it is best to either bring in the head within a day of harvest or keep it on ice in a cooler before delivery.

To better assist the surveillance efforts, you will be asked to fill out a form with your drop-off. Please include the following information: county, game management unit in which the animal was harvested, hunt and permit number, and an address and phone number where you can be reached. If this information is not provided, the department will be unable to test the sample.

You will be notified of the test results by postcard within six to eight weeks. There is no charge for the testing and notification.

Currently, there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk for humans.

The department has been conducting surveillance using hunter-harvested deer and elk since 1998. Test samples from more than 8,300 animals during that time have found no evidence of CWD.

The department also has had rules in place since 2002 restricting the movement of captive deer and elk into or within the state, and subjecting those animals to marking and reporting requirements.

Here are some guidelines for hunters when out in the field:

  • Don’t harvest any animal that appears to be sick or behaves oddly. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 1-800-352-0700 if you see an animal that is very thin, has a rough coat, drooping ears and is unafraid of humans.
  • When field-dressing game, wear rubber gloves and minimize the use of a bone saw to cut through the brain or spinal cord (backbone). Bone out the meat. Minimize contact with and do not consume brain or spinal cord tissues, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.
  • If you hunt in another state, don’t bring back the brain, intact skull or spinal column. It’s OK to bring back hides and skull plates that have been cleaned of all tissue and washed in bleach.
  • Taxidermied heads, sawed-off antlers and ivory teeth are OK to bring home.
  • If you intend to hunt out of state, contact the wildlife agency in the area you intend to hunt. Several states have regulations on carcass movement.

Learn more about chronic wasting disease at these Web sites:

Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Been hunting? Nolan's first buck

By Don Martin, outdoors writer, Kingman

One of my passions is helping youngsters as they experience the many facets of recreation in the great outdoors.

In December 2006, I had the opportunity to assist a young man from Paso Robles, California on his first-ever mule deer hunt.

Nolan Martinez is 15 years old and had waited for many years to go hunting in Arizona.

Like many young men who are in high school, besides sports and girls, Martinez likes to hunt. His favorite hunting partner is his father, Jim.

I had met Jim a number of years ago, and he explained that while he wanted his son to experience hunting out of state, he was active in sports and his availability to go hunting was limited.

Jim looked over the Arizona hunt regulations and noticed that there were several deer hunts that were offered to juniors during the time that kids were out for Christmas break.

So Nolan applied for one of the juniors-only deer tags that were offered in several units in Mohave County. Due to the rule that restricts nonresidents to no more than 10 percent of the tags, Martinez was unsuccessful in his quest for one of these tags for four years.

In 2006 the Arizona Game and Fish Commission went to standardized seasons for juniors, and most of the juniors-only deer hunts were moved into earlier time frames. However, there was still one hunt that kids could participate in that wouldn’t require them to miss any school or sports activities. That hunt was the juniors-only muzzleloader hunt in Unit 16A (Hualapai Mountains).

Nolan applied for just that hunt in 2006, and this time Lady Luck smiled. Nolan drew tag number one.

I got a call from Jim in July saying that Nolan had drawn the tag, and I quickly volunteered to help out on the hunt. Also volunteering to help out on the hunt would be my good friend and hunting partner, Jay Chan.

I told Jim that the best time to hunt would probably be during the time frame of Dec. 26-31. I felt that the bucks would be in rut and that most of the other kids who had drawn tags for the hunt would probably be done.

Jim agreed to the hunt dates, and in the pre-dawn darkness on Dec. 26, Jay and I met the Martinez’s in Yucca for the start of the hunt.

That morning we got lucky when I spotted a wide, but young 3 x 3 buck that was trailing a doe and a yearling near a desert waterhole. We were able to get to within 86 yards of the buck. Nolan had a solid shooting rest, but I told him to pass, as I wanted him to see more of the unit and hopefully more bucks.

The southern end of the unit doesn’t hold a lot of deer, but with some judicious glassing they can be found.

As it turned out, it was just before dark before I located a large herd that was feeding at the top of a mountain. Turned out to be about 15 deer in the group, and with them were three bucks.

Two of the bucks were young, but one showed the signs of having been around for many years. His head was blocky and snow white, and his 27-inch-wide rack showed evidence of why he might have been the big buck of the mountain. Part of his main beam on the left side was broken off from fighting. As it was, he was now a 4 x 2, but plenty good for Nolan to try for.

As Jim and Nolan headed up the mountain, Jay and I watched and I filmed the stalk. Though the big buck never saw the hunters, he pushed his harem of six does over the top of the mountain before Nolan could get into range.

The next day we were back in the same general area when Jim spotted a doe on the skyline. On the hillside below her were a yearling and a huge 3 x 3 buck! I estimated that this buck had a rack that was 29 inches wide. His points were all tall and the rack was mahogany colored and well defined.

Jim and Nolan set out to follow the buck as he slowly walked over the hill with his nose to the ground, following the obviously hot doe. Then the weather turned nasty and it started to rain, sleet and snow on the hunters.

The pair never saw that buck again.

Later in the day I found a buck we named the “Regression Buck.” This old timer had all of the classic signs of an old deer. He had a sway back and a big belly. His neck was swollen and his body size was absolutely huge! He sported a set of chocolate-colored antlers that had just two points on each side. Though the rack wasn’t wide, the antlers were tall and heavy.

Once more, Jim and Nolan headed out. They got close, but a yearling doe that wasn’t seen by the hunters gave away their position, and the buck ran off unscathed.

On day three we moved around to the east side of the Hualapais. As dawn broke, the wind was blowing hard out of the north at 20-30 miles per hour.

We got lucky when I spotted a single buck walking up a long ridge. This mature 4 x 4 sported a rack that was about 26 inches wide. He had heavy, deep front forks, and curiously, he was by himself.

Jim and Nolan were able to locate this buck later on in the morning, and while the young hunter got a shot, unfortunately the buck was not taken.

On day four it dawned cold and clear, and the wind wasn’t blowing. A perfect day for deer hunting.

A trip up a canyon produced a sighting by Jim of a wide 3 x 2 buck that again was off by himself. Jim and Nolan once more gave pursuit, but the buck gave them the slip.

Later that morning they spotted a herd of deer, and with them was another wide 3 x 2 buck. They watched until the buck bedded down and slowly started to move towards him. Then a helicopter that was doing aerial deer surveys came by and spooked the herd. Talk about bad luck.

Later that day, with sunset approaching, Jim spotted a large herd of deer. With them was a large, mature 4 x 4. The hunters tried to slip up on the herd, but the animals spotted the movement and ran over the ridge.

A short time later the hunters got a break when they spotted several more deer, including another 4 x 4 close by in a thicket of trees. The range was just 70 yards when Nolan settled the sights of the White muzzleloader on the 3½-year-old buck.

At the shot, the buck dropped in his tracks and the young man’s quest for a mule deer was over. This buck was indeed a fine representative of the species and one that we were all proud that Nolan had taken.

The great outdoors in Mohave County once again produced a life-long memory for a fine young man who had worked hard to bag his first mulie buck.

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High country gem: Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area

By Tom Cadden, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Nestled in the shadow of Escudilla Mountain a few miles south of the eastern Arizona town of Eagar, the Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area is a special high-country destination that can be enjoyed by hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers and others who love the outdoors.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department acquired the 1,362-acre property in 1993 when it purchased the White Mountain Hereford Ranch. The area was renamed the Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area two years later.

The area boasts a combination of grassland, pinyon-juniper woodland, and riparian habitat, making it home to a diversity of wildlife species. Elk are found here throughout the year, with fall and winter the best times to see them. Waterfowl are readily seen during fall and spring migration periods. The area is used by a variety of raptors, including ospreys, hawks and golden eagles, and nesting birds such as rufous and broad-tailed hummingbirds, Lewis’ and acorn woodpeckers, and mountain bluebirds. Other wildlife to look for are gray fox, striped skunks, badgers, coyotes, mule deer, Merriam's turkey, pronghorn antelope, and a variety of ground squirrels, chipmunks and bats.

“Since acquiring the property, the department has steadily enhanced its habitat values and attractions for visitors,” says Bruce Sitko, information and education program manager for the Game and Fish Pinetop region.

A small visitor center, a series of hiking trails complete with interpretive signage and wildlife viewing sites, and a day-use picnic area offer the public the opportunity to learn more about Arizona’s unique wildlife and their habitat needs.

The public is welcome to hike, bicycle or horseback ride on the property. The four hiking trails range from easy to moderate in difficulty and take visitors to wetlands, meadows, old homesteads and scenic vistas. The longest is a 2.5-mile loop. Several wildlife viewing points are located on the trails, including one on the High Point Trail Overlook, which has a 20x spotting scope for locating wildlife in the surrounding forest and meadows.

The visitor center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, from mid-May until the beginning of October. Even when the visitor center is closed (as it is now), visitors can explore the grounds.

Hunting is allowed on the property in season.

To get to the Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area, take U.S. Highway 180/191 south from Eagar towards Alpine. At the signs on top of a mesa two miles from Eagar, turn off on an improved dirt road and drive five miles to the property. Park your car at one of two designated areas.

For more information, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/wildlife_area_sipe.shtml

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Have some small game fun this year

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

If you're getting ready to head afield, be sure to take advantage of the small game hunting opportunities that Arizona has to offer.

The outlook for tree squirrels and rabbits is promising, the late dove season (opens Nov. 23) ought to be a ball, and you can add Eurasian collared doves (year-round season) to the bag.

Although the overall quail outlook is "less than optimal," southeastern Arizona is looking good for Mearns', Gambel's and scaled quail. You might be able to triple-up this year.

Also consider mixed bag hunts, or cast-n-blast expeditions to maximize your recreational time and dollars. For instance, if you are going after tree squirrels, take along the fishing pole for some high country trout. Or, look for pockets of quail hunting in the foothills when you fish central Arizona lakes such as Roosevelt.

Once seasons are underway, try hunting desert stock tanks for quail, rabbit, dove (opens Nov. 23) and waterfowl (mountain zones opened Oct. 5 and desert zones opened Oct. 19).

Read the full small game forecast report on our Web site:

www.azgfd.gov/h_f/small_game.shtml

Be sure to check the appropriate hunt regulations for season dates, open areas, methods of lawful take, bag and possession limits and other useful information prior to going afield.

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Junior hunters: Alex Martinez's first game animal
By Mike Martinez, Arizona hunter, USFWS biologist

My son Alex harvested his first game animal in February 2007 at the age of 12. He used a Henry lever-action .22-caliber rifle to take a cottontail rabbit in the hills of the Verde Valley in central Arizona, while accompanying me and his grandfather on a javelina hunt.

Alex was the only successful hunter in the group. He was very excited about his harvest and enjoyed helping cook and eat the rabbit.

Alex developed his interest in hunting from me bringing him along on deer hunts. While out in the field, we would spend extra time watching does or coyotes to help pique his interest. He is excited about the opportunity to join us during the antlerless elk season.

 

I'm a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and have conducted wildlife presentations for Alex's classes throughout his school years. He has a strong academic interest in conservation biology and says he wants to be a marine biologist or herpetologist. He will certainly be part of Arizona's hunting future.

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Snipe hunting: It’s not just a practical joke
By Tom Cadden, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Have you ever wondered how many beginning campers have been duped into participating in a “snipe hunt?”

The ritual goes like this: The unsuspecting newbie is told about a unique bird called a snipe and is given some ridiculous method of catching it, such as running around the woods with a bag while making strange noises or banging sticks. The practical joke leaves the recipient red-faced and his pals with a good laugh.

Many Arizonans, including some hunters, might be surprised to know that snipe not only exist, but offer some enjoyable, sporty hunting opportunities.

Snipe, photo courtesy of B. Griswold, DVM

“Snipe are one of the most overlooked game birds in the state,” says Randy Babb, information and education program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Mesa region. “They flush similar to quail, and their zig-zag flight patterns make for a challenging target.

Snipe prefer marshy habitats along rivers and lakes and will also use flooded agricultural areas. Birds can often be spotted by the hunter prior to entering an area by glassing the water’s edge with binoculars.

Babb advises hunters to check snipe habitat often, as the birds tend to suddenly appear and disappear in the feeding areas.

“Snipe offer a great ‘extra’ for duck hunters,” says Babb. “After a morning duck hunt, hunters should walk the nearby marshy areas or other flooded vegetation. If you prefer to jump-shoot ducks, snipe are common visitors to stock tanks.”

The season dates for common snipe this year are Oct. 5 through Jan. 13 in the mountain zone, and Oct. 19 through Jan. 27 in the desert zone. You must have a valid Arizona hunting license and an Arizona migratory bird stamp. For more information on open areas, bag limits and other regulations, check the Arizona Waterfowl and Snipe Regulations on the Department’s Web site, or pick up a copy at department offices.

Snipe are classified as an upland game bird, and steel shot is not required for hunting them.

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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.

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 (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.

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Vol. 3 No. 6 October 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

1-866-903-3337

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.


Fall waterfowl, quail seasons are underway

Waterfowl - Opened Friday, Oct. 5 in the mountain zone and Friday, Oct. 19 in the desert zone. Please refer to the 2007-2008 Arizona Waterfowl and Snipe Regulations for season dates and other information. As a reminder, a federal and state duck stamp are required as well as nontoxic shot to legally harvest waterfowl.

Quail and tree squirrels - Season for Gambel's and scaled quail and general tree squirrel opened Friday, Oct. 12. Mearns' quail season does not open until Nov. 23. Other huntable small game include rabbits, offering a great opportunity for a mixed bag.

Other opportunities:
Blue grouse, chukar partridge, band-tailed pigeons as well as Eurasian collared doves. Check current regulations for season dates, hunting areas and bag limits.

www.azgfd.gov/rules


Camps teach small game hunting basics to youths and novices
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is partnering with several organizations to offer introductory hunting camps for youths and adults who want to learn how to hunt small game in Arizona.
Participants will learn information on firearm safety, hunting opportunities, game care, and archery instruction. There will also be hands-on hunting opportunities with experienced mentors.

Several camps have already been held. The next one will be a Dove/Quail/Rabbit Camp on Nov. 30-Dec. 2, at Robbins Butte Wildlife Management Area (west of the Phoenix Metro Area). The camp is sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Chandler Rod and Gun Club and is for youths age 10 and older, and adults. Youths must be accompanied by an adult. Cost is $40. Registration is required. For more information or to download a registration form, visit:

www.azgfd.gov/smallgamecamps


NRA Foundation grants benefit young shooters

Grant funds awarded earlier this year by the Arizona Friends of NRA (National Rifle Association) and the NRA Foundation are being put to good use to benefit and promote youth shooting opportunities in our state. The three grants are being used to purchase shotguns, target throwers and seven DryFire target simulators (a unique electronic indoor training system) for the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) statewide.

For more information about the Arizona Game and Fish Department SCTP, visit our Web site at:

www.azgfd.gov/sctp

For more information about NRA Foundation grants, visit

www.nrafoundation.org


Online hunter education course is popular

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


Designed to accomodate 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:

www.hunter-ed.com/az

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.

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.

Happy hunting and be safe!


Ben Avery switches to winter hours

The Ben Avery Shooting Facility Main Range, archery ranges, and the Ben Avery Clay Target Center changed to winter hours of operation for the public on Oct. 15. The new hours 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.

 

"The winter hours are designed to give the recreational shooting community the most opportunity for best quality shooting times during the shorter days of the winter months," says Ben Avery Range Manager Marty Hererra.

 

For more information on the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, visit:

www.azgfd.gov/basf

or contact (623) 582-8313.

For more information on the Ben Avery Clay Target Center, visit:

www.azgfd.gov/ctc

or contact (623) 434-8119.


Hunters asked to meet wildlife conservation challenge

Game and Fish encourages participation in voluntary non-lead ammunition program
Hunters in Arizona are proving to the critics that voluntary efforts to conserve endangered wildlife do work. In only two years, hunters have helped achieve a 50 percent reduction in the amount of available spent lead ammunition in the California condor’s range. While the numbers indicate a good start, Arizona Game and Fish is encouraging more hunters to participate in the successful non-lead ammunition program.

Lead poisoning has been identified as the leading cause of death in endangered condors and the main obstacle to a self-sustaining population in Arizona. Studies show that lead shot and bullet fragments found in game carcasses and gut piles are the main source of lead in condors. Since condors are group feeders, several birds can be affected by feeding off of one carcass or gut pile containing lead fragments.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, and its partners, the Arizona Deer Association, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Antelope Foundation, Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, and the Arizona Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, ask hunters to continue sportsmen’s proud tradition of wildlife conservation by using non-lead ammunition in condor range.

Copper bullets offer hunters superior knock-down power, are less toxic, and do not fragment like lead ammunition. More than 90 percent of hunters agree that non-lead bullets perform as well as, or better than, lead bullets on game. The majority of hunters on the Kaibab Plateau and Arizona Strip have used non-lead ammunition to help condors since 2005, although expanded adoption of the successful effort is needed to further reduce lead exposure and mortality in the birds.

The condor is the largest flying land bird in North America. The birds can weigh up to 26 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 9.5 feet. Condors were first reintroduced in Arizona in 1996, and they now number 57 in the state. Visitors at the Grand Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs may be able to observe the birds, especially during the spring and summer.

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

www.azgfd.gov/condors


Read about bighorns in the next issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine

Arizona’s bighorn sheep herd had dropped to just 1,000 sheep in 1950, when a group of concerned hunters and biologists stepped forward to speak on behalf of this magnificent animal.

Now, after dozens of translocation projects, the herd is holding steady at just over 6,000 animals. Read the history of bighorn sheep translocations in the November-December issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine.

Subscribe now, and you’ll also learn delicious ways to cook those “odd” cuts of meat, from the neck to the heart … and so much more.

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. Call today!


State Route 273 road construction could affect some hunts in Unit 1

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Springerville District, advises hunters, anglers and other forest users to be aware of ongoing travel restrictions on Forest Road 113, also referred to as State Route 273.

The stretch of road from Crescent Lake westward to the forest boundary located east of Sunrise Park on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation is currently under reconstruction. Due to construction activities, much of this stretch will be closed for the next several months. The Springerville Ranger District, in cooperation with the department, is working with the contractors to ensure safe access is provided through portions of this route to forest users.

During the next few months, the portion of the road between Crescent Lake and Gabaldon Campground will be open from 6 p.m. on Thursdays until 6 a.m. on Mondays for all user access. The road section between Gabaldon Campground and Winn Campground will be opened during the same time period, Thursdays through Mondays, when weather conditions permit safe travel without concern for adverse driving conditions due to a wet road surface. Currently, wet and muddy road conditions along this section prevent safe vehicle travel by the public.

In addition, the Springerville District will be providing foot and horse access into the Mt. Baldy Wilderness Area via foot-traffic-only crossings located at the intersection of Forest Service Road 112 and State Route 273 and Forest Road 87 and State Route 273. The east portion of the Mt. Baldy Wilderness Area may also be accessed from the Burro Mountain area off Forest Road 116.


Hunt of a Lifetime needs volunteers: guides, outfitters, sportsmen

Hunt of a Lifetime (HOAL), an organization that fulfills terminally ill children's dreams of going on a big game hunt, seeks assistance from guides, outfitters and sportsmen for upcoming hunts.

 

HOAL AZ is currently seeking caring sportsmen to donate their time, gear, food, and general hunting services to "make a difference in these youngsters' lives by making their dreams come true". Help is needed scouting hunt areas, guiding, packing, and general outdoor assistance is needed for an upcoming elk and deer hunt in Arizona.

 

Hunt of a Lifetime (HOAL) is a national nonprofit organization that provides hunting and fishing opportunities for children with life-threatening and terminal illnesses. Since Arizona passed legislation in 2005 to make big-game permit transfers possible, the Arizona chapter (HOAL AZ) has sent 14 youngsters on 16 hunts.

 

When a youngster is accepted to take part, he or she receives a total hunt package including equipment, transportation (air and ground), a guide/outfitter, lodging, meat processing and delivery, as well as taxidermy and delivery of their mount at no cost. Also, one parent can accompany the young hunter.

 

If you are available to assist these extraordinary children on an upcoming hunt, contact Arizona Ambassador Terry Petko by phone at (602) 689-9524 or by e-mail at tpetko@hoalarizona.org. For more information, visit:

 

www.hoalarizona.org

 

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Send us your stories and questions!

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


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 $5.6 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