The juniors hunt at Robbins Butte is a great opportunity to mentor young hunters.
The sounds of opportunity at Robbins Butte

By Phil Smith, Robbins Butte Wildlife Area manager,
Arizona Game and Fish Department

Desert sounds are heard here. Coyotes howl just before there is any evidence that dawn is breaking. Cicadas buzz, crickets chirp, and screech owls, barn owls and great horned owls all add their two cents’ worth to the quail calls, all signaling the start of a new day.

The doves begin waking and calling, and in a short time they are drowning out the other sounds of the wild. The eastern horizon turns lighter, as gray shadows begin taking the shape of the mesquite, palo verde, ironwoods and the thick salt cedar. It’s almost time for the morning flight to begin and the skies to become busy with the little rockets we call mourning and white-winged doves.

Places like this are treasures because there are fewer of them than there used to be near our urban areas. Housing projects have gobbled up feeding and roosting habitat for many species of wildlife, and changes in the cattle and farming industries have led to fewer grain fields. The changing landscapes make us appreciate even more the special areas such as Robbins Butte, about 40 miles west of Phoenix along the Gila River.

A special place

The Robbins Butte Wildlife Area is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and managed by the Game and Fish Department. The area has mesquite bosques, desert areas and agricultural lands to grow food crops in, providing ideal habitat for wildlife, and opportunities for hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts. Dove hunting is very popular for hunters of all ages here, and many young hunters through 17 years of age will enjoy the annual juniors-only dove hunt held each September. While enjoying the fast-paced action, some hunters may not fully appreciate the unique place they are visiting.

A great deal of work goes into the area. Field work begins in the fall to provide the next year’s crops of grains and standing cover for doves, quail and rabbits, to name a few of the small game species available for hunting. Ponds are maintained and filled through the furnace-like heat of summer, keeping the small game, songbirds, raptors, deer, javelina, reptiles and other wildlife thriving. Volunteers come out to help with many different projects, such as drinkers, mapping, trails, tree planting and nest boxes. The birds nest all spring in the Gila River bottom. Doves fly out each morning to the nearby deserts and grain fields to feed and then drink from the many ponds located throughout the 1500-acre area, before heading back into the trees for afternoon or night roosting. Crops are mowed and the grain is knocked down for easy feeding.

Juniors-only hunt

One of the highlights of the season at Robbins Butte is the juniors-only dove hunt, this year held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2 and 3. This is truly a unique opportunity to take a kid hunting and serve as a mentor. Much of the Robbins Butte area is closed to hunting during the early dove season except for this event.

The juniors hunt is open to anyone 17 years of age and younger. No advance reservations are required, but young hunters and their mentors need to be at Robbins Butte by 4 a.m., which is when shooting stations will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Volunteer hunter education instructors will be on hand to assist. Youths from ages 14-17 must have a valid hunting license, and those age 16 and older must also purchase an Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp.

Stations are marked and cleared to help ensure safer shooting, and hayrides to and from these stations are provided. The Chandler Rod and Gun Club will serve a hot, wholesome breakfast of pancakes, sausage and juice, and some of the kids will enjoy more fun this weekend than they’ll have the rest of the year.

The young hunters wage friendly contests, the girls revel in outshooting the boys, and everyone can smile about it. The moms, dads, grandparents, uncles or friends who provide transportation, moral support and, hopefully, some retrieving, feel like kids again, knowing they are providing a great opportunity and passing on our hunting tradition to young people.

For these two days, the sound of laughter, the buzz of excitement, and the whoops and hollers from the kids who make great shots all overwhelm the usual desert sounds. I find these to be good things, and for these two days I don’t miss the desert sounds.

As the excitement slows just a little, kids and adults will share stories, watch many types of wildlife, and hopefully realize there are many more opportunities to be enjoyed in the upcoming months at the Robbins Butte Wildlife Area.

Other opportunities

Outside of the juniors hunt, there is a portion of Robbins Butte that is open to general hunting during the early dove season. Please read the 2006-2007 dove hunting regulations for more information about the boundaries. Following the early dove season, the majority of the area is open to hunting for all and provides great times for people of all ages to enjoy. Many families come out regularly to enjoy the rabbit, dove and quail hunting, wildlife watching, or photography opportunities.

As the wildlife area manager at Robbins Butte, I enjoy meeting and seeing the young hunters and families that make the Robbins Butte Wildlife Area a part of their lives. Many get involved as volunteers through the department’s volunteer program and help make more opportunities available. I look forward to seeing you out here.

The Robbins Butte Wildlife Area is located southwest of Buckeye, about 40 miles west of Phoenix. Take I-10 to Highway 85, drive south on Highway 85 about eight miles, and follow the signs to the west for Robbins Butte. For more information on the juniors hunt or the Robbins Butte Wildlife Area, contact Phil Smith at (602) 290-2237.

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Hunting outlook: dove, archery deer and pronghorn
By Mike Rabe, migratory game bird supervisor, and Brian Wakeling, big game supervisor, Arizona Game and Fish Department
Map of regions

Dove outlook
Overall, expect a good dove opener this year and a normal to above-normal season. Over most of the state, expect the early dove hunt to be good in areas where food is available for doves. Because of relatively poor seed crops resulting from the dry winter in the northern desert, it was thought doves would probably be more concentrated than they were last year. However, the good summer rainfall has resulted in abundant seed crops and more available water sources in the desert, which should provide more dispersed hunting opportunities in central Arizona. Hunters should still expect to see decent concentrations of doves in the agricultural areas. Early scouting to find where the doves are feeding will pay off on opening day. Be careful before returning to traditional areas outside of metro units, because many agricultural areas are being developed and are no longer suitable for dove hunting. There are still lots of good choices, but check first.

Desert roosting or loafing areas such as mesquite or tamarisk thickets, particularly close to water sources, can offer good shooting. White-winged dove reproduction appears to be excellent in the central deserts. Whether this will pay off in the bag will be determined by how many of these birds are still in the state in early September, because their migration to the south is typically underway at that time.

White-winged doves are somewhat larger than the more widespread mourning dovesHere are the regional outlooks for dove hunting:

Region III
Good numbers of doves are reported in the Mojave Valley, along the Colorado River, and in the Hualapai Valley north of Kingman. Scout washes near water sources early in the morning and stake out spots where doves fly to water and food from roost sites. Many areas of this region offer excellent hunting opportunities and have little hunting pressure.

Region IV
Dove hunting will be best in agricultural areas planted with small grains, like wheat or safflower. Because of the dry winter this past year, there was little food in the desert for doves, and they will likely concentrate in the agricultural valleys. Areas like Wellton and the Mohawk Valley will yield good hunting in 2006, as well as around Yuma. Hunting should also be good this year around Salome and Aguila.

Region V
Dove populations are about average throughout the region. Large populations of birds have dispersed into the desert during the monsoon season, requiring some preseason scouting to locate them. Once found, these populations should provide good shooting. Remember, hunting is prohibited within the limits of any town or city, and some cities have annexed additional areas. You have the responsibility of ensuring that your favorite area is still open to hunting, so check with the city or town in the area for their current boundaries.

Region VI
Many areas in the east and north valleys are no longer accessible to dove hunting due to housing developments and annexation. The best opportunities exist in the agricultural areas near Stanfield, Maricopa and Casa Grande. West of the Phoenix metro area, near Buckeye down to Gila Bend and along the Gila River, should also provide good opportunity. There are numerous feedlots in these areas, some of which permit dove hunting. Always ask first before hunting on private land, and be sure to keep your hunting area clean (pick up spent shells and any other litter, and clean your birds at home). The Arizona Game and Fish Department's Robbins Butte Wildlife Area also offers good opportunities to harvest doves with their numerous agricultural fields that are open to public hunting.

Archery deer outlook
Statewide, deer fawn recruitment increased for both white-tailed deer and mule deer for a second year. As with last year, more yearling bucks (spikes and forkhorns) should be available than in the recent past. Don’t expect droves of deer, but you should note a moderate improvement in numbers. Although recent rainfall events have been beneficial for much of the state, last winter was among the driest on record. Antler development will benefit from the recent rains, but early nutrition is important as well. Early nutrition is dependent on winter precipitation patterns. In other words, don’t hold your breath waiting for the big one.

The good monsoonal rainfall we’ve received so far this year will result in dispersed water availability and lots of green-up. The deer will not be as concentrated around isolated pockets of water and will forage if the distribution of water remains favorable for deer. Finding a good place to sit and wait may be difficult, although daily activity patterns are rarely abandoned entirely by deer unless substantially disrupted by some event. Take lots of ice and be prepared to deal with meat and capes in warm weather during early hunts.

Remember that successful archery deer hunters, including Kaibab archery hunters, must contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department in person or by telephone at 1-866-903-3337 within 10 days of taking a deer. Failure to report your harvest may result in a citation.

Here are the regional outlooks for archery deer hunting:

Regions I and II
Water is not likely to be a problem this year, so water hole sitting may be less successful. Spot-and-stalk hunting may prove a good alternative approach. Unit 3C is improving in the aftermath of the Rodeo-Chedeski fire, and deer sightings seem to be increasing in Unit 27. The Kaibab is always popular, but overcrowding complaints are common.

Region III
December archery deer hunts should be good for spot-and-stalk hunting. Because of the summer monsoon activity, water sources may not be a strong attractant, making deer harder to find.

Region IV
Southwestern deserts can be difficult to hunt. Nevertheless, big bucks are taken annually in this area of relatively low deer density. A little extra effort may be needed to make your hunt successful.

Region V
Compared with long-term averages, rainfall remains less plentiful in this region than in the other regions, and populations have responded less favorably. However, this is the main white-tailed deer region, so patient spot-and-stalk hunters can be successful.

Region VI
Hunt success has been high in Units 22 and 23 during the last two years. The Willow fire area continues to improve and may prove helpful to white-tailed deer hunters. The Cave Creek Complex fire impacted a large area last summer, but few animals will abandon this area. Recently burned areas can be quite a draw to foraging deer, especially following rainfall and green-up.

Pronghorn outlook
Although pronghorn survey results have yet to be fully compiled, preliminary indications suggest that fawn recruitment this year will be below last year's. The dry winter of 2005–2006 failed to produce adequate early spring green-up that provides important cover and nutrition to young fawns. The summer monsoon has been favorable, and last year had better fawn survival. This should mean there will be more young bucks and a few older, wiser ones in the herds this year.

Pronghorn hunting seasons usually have warm weather, so hunters lucky enough to draw a permit should be prepared to care for meat and capes in less-than-favorable conditions. Pronghorn lose fur easily, especially in warm weather, so packing your harvest out will require care.

Many pronghorn experts insist the key to pronghorn hunt success is pre-season scouting. Pre-season scouting can play an important role in locating and identifying the animal you plan to harvest. Hunts are often over in a very short time. But remember, you may not be the only hunter pursuing that animal. Hunters are often judged by the ethics they display when they don't know anyone else is watching.

Regardless of which region your permit is in, pronghorn may not show much affinity to water sources this year. Hunt in areas with a diversity of broad-leaved herbaceous plants, as this is their primary food. Watch for green areas.

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Spring big game hunt draw changes 
Expect paper application process, increased opportunity for turkey hunters

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

In order to provide the best possible customer service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is going to offer only paper applications for its upcoming spring 2007 big game hunts.

The department contracted with an outside vendor to process computerized applications during its last draw, and the department is unhappy about the quality of the vendor’s performance.

“We want to exceed our customers’ expectations,” says Richard Rico, the assistant director of the department’s special services division, which runs hunt draws. “Even though we had draw results to applicants in a timely fashion, we still don’t feel that things ran smoothly enough. We don’t want our customers to be disappointed again.”

During the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s August meeting in Flagstaff, commissioners voted to use a paper-only application process for the spring 2007 big game hunts. This will eliminate the problems experienced with the recent online applications. Hunters can begin applying for the spring hunts by using the regulation information that’s posted at the department’s Web site at

The deadline for submitting spring hunt applications is Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. At that time, all applications must have been received at department offices; postmarks don’t count. Big game hunt applications are available at hunting license dealers. They can also be printed out from the department’s Web site at and then mailed in or brought to any Arizona Game and Fish office.

“Applicants might also want to take advantage of our application grace period,” says Rico. “If you apply by Sept. 22, and we find any errors in your application, then the department will try to contact you three times within a 24-hour period to notify you, so you can fix the problem in time.”

Also, spring hunt applicants can look forward to a record number of much-desired spring turkey tags. The commission approved an increase in the number of turkey tags to provide more hunter opportunities, while still maintaining a biologically sound turkey population.

The commission also set the spring hunt seasons for turkey, buffalo, javelina and bear at its August meeting.

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Junior hunters: first dove hunt  
By Breann Shelley, Goodyear

Breann Shelley went on her first dove hunt with her dad John last year.I was only 10 years old when I went on my first dove hunt last year. My dad and I had to wake up at 4 a.m. It was hard because I was tired, but I wanted to go!

At the Robins Butte Wildlife Area, the weather was overcast and cold early, but it warmed up when it was time to shoot. It took a while before I had a good chance at a dove, but I didn’t give up. Finally, I got one. My dad was so proud of me. It was a white-winged dove, and he has never even gotten a white-winged dove before!

A wildlife biologist taught me some information about the dove I harvested. He showed me the primary feathers. He also showed me the differences between adult and juvenile birds.

We headed out of the field and had a delicious pancake and sausage breakfast. Volunteers from the Chandler Rod and Gun Club made the breakfast.

I had a great time, and so did my dad. Like father, like daughter. I suggest that you go dove hunting with your dad sometime! Maybe we’ll see you out there this year.

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Use your OHV responsibly during hunting season 
By Ian Satter, public information officer, and Joe Sacco, OHV law enforcement program manager, Arizona Game and Fish Department

With the advantages that off-highway vehicles (OHVs), specifically all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), provide during hunting season, more and more people have been using them in recent years. Because ATVs are easier than walking, can access terrain that most vehicles can’t, and can assist in the retrieval of game, they can be highly useful to hunters across Arizona.

It’s important to remember to ride responsibly any time of the year, but particularly during hunting season. Below are a few pieces of information that will prove helpful this season.

Rules and Regulations

In Arizona, it is illegal to hunt from any vehicle. OHV rules and laws designate:

  • No one may use a motor vehicle to assist in the taking of wildlife (except as permitted under the Challenged Hunter Access Mobility Permit, A.R.S. 17-301B).
  • An off-highway vehicle may only be used as a means of travel and NOT as a hunting aid.
  • Cross-country travel is not allowed in most areas, unless you are picking up legally taken big game. (Some areas do not allow even that.)

If you see anyone hunting from an ATV, call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700.

Impact on Habitat

One of the key concerns regarding OHV use is the potential impact to wildlife habitat. Most OHV users are responsible riders who recognize the impacts their activity can cause, and they voluntarily take steps to reduce those impacts. Unfortunately, a few individuals improperly use OHVs by creating new roads and trails in areas that were previously roadless. In fact, some current roads and trails in inappropriate locations were created by OHVs driving off-road. This practice creates a track that others will follow, starting an illegal user-created road or motorized trail. Some user-created trails access the same location that an existing, legal road does. This can lead to the displacement and disruption of game and the destruction of natural resources, such as vegetation and soils.

Disadvantages to OHVs?

While OHV use is on the rise, there are also disadvantages to using these vehicles in relation to hunting. The noise and smell of an ATV can alert game animals, causing them to avoid the area. Many species of wildlife have negative (flight or fight) reactions to approaching noises, including OHVs. Also, other hunters in the area that do not use OHVs might be resentful of game being scared away by motorized vehicles.

Here are some guidelines to minimize OHV impact on wildlife habitat and ensure a good relationship with fellow hunters:

  • Make yourself aware of vehicle regulations for the area in which you are hunting.
  • Stay on existing roads and trails. You can minimize impacts on wildlife by staying on designated roads and trails or in special use areas. Wildlife will avoid or adapt to trail corridors.
  • Have respect for other users. Slow down or stop your ATV when you approach riders on horseback, so you don't spook the animals.
  • Limit your use of ATVs in wet areas or during wet conditions. Turning a meadow into a mud bog reduces forage, resulting in higher mortality for wildlife.
  • If your OHV does not fit on the trail, don't widen single-track trails by forcing your vehicle down the trail.

Additional Equipment and Safety

When heading out to hunt this season, prepare your ATV with the following: (1) a winch that can pull between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds; (2) a cargo box or bag that attaches to the front or rear racks to protect your gear from harsh weather conditions; (3) a game cart to haul game back to base camp; and, (4) a gun scabbard to secure your gun safely and securely as you travel to and from your hunting destination.

When carrying a rifle or shotgun on an ATV, it should be unloaded and firmly attached to the vehicle. It is unsafe to carry a rifle or shotgun mounted on the handlebars, because a rifle mounted on the handlebars might be longer than the width of an ATV and stick out over the sides. This increases the chance of having the rifle hit something, such as a tree, causing the driver to lose control.

For more information on OHV rules and regulations, safety and OHV areas, visit

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Pheasant hunting in Arizona
By Tom Cadden, public information officer, and Bob Henry, Yuma regional game specialist, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona's shotgun pheasant hunts occur near the Yuma area.Are you looking for a different and challenging type of small game hunt in Arizona? You might want to consider a pheasant hunt in the southwestern part of our state.

Pheasant hunting options are far more limited in Arizona than in Midwestern states. Our pheasant populations are largely confined to agricultural areas having relatively high humidity, such as near citrus orchards in the Yuma area. Pheasants have always been considered a specialty game bird in Arizona and are taken by a relatively small number of hunters, who either obtain one of the limited hunt permits periodically available, or who hunt with falcons or with a bow and arrows.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department in the past has tried to introduce pheasant populations in suitable river valleys in other parts of the state, but those efforts had limited success, and the department ceased the program in 1973.

Pheasant biology
Pheasants are large, striking birds, particularly the males. A rooster will acquire a harem of from one to three hens, with mating commencing in early April. By mid-May, most of the hens are nesting and of no further interest to the rooster, and he will abandon his territorial patrols by the end of the month. The peak of hatching is during the last week of May, the most arid time in Arizona, which is one of the reasons why pheasants have had difficulty becoming established in the state. After only about two weeks, the youngsters are capable of flight and remain with the hen for only another two months or so before making their own way in the world.

Types of hunts
There are three types of pheasant hunts: shotgun, archery-only and falconry-only. The shotgun hunts are limited to the Yuma Valley area in Game Management Unit 40B. They are spread out over five separate weekends from September through November, with the first being a juniors-only hunt. Permits for these shotgun hunts are issued through a special draw; only 30 permits are issued for each hunt. Successful applicants are actually issued two tags, as there is a two-pheasant bag limit.

The archery-only and falconry-only season dates run from Oct. 13, 2006 through Feb. 12, 2007. Archery-only pheasant hunts are challenging and are open statewide except in national wildlife refuges, Mohave County park lands, or as otherwise specified in the hunting regulations. Falconry-only hunts are specialized hunts requiring a sport falconry license. More information can be found in the 2006-07 Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations.

Hunting pheasants
Pheasants need cover for roosting, so the best place to find them is in or around citrus orchards or nearby wheat stubble or cotton fields. Hunters find that they will flush more birds by walking slowly and quietly, working back and forth across the field. This forces the bird to either flush or run ahead of the hunter. Pheasants are known for their running ability, so a group of hunters will often utilize a “blocker” stationed at the end of the field. The presence of blockers forces the birds to hold tighter, giving both walkers and blockers more shooting action. Dogs are useful in hunting and retrieving pheasants.

Hunters should be aware that much of the land in the Yuma Valley area is privately owned, but most of it isn’t posted. Please treat it with respect.

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Small game hunting camps offered for new residents

By Tristanna Bickford, hunter retention and recruitment coordinator,
and Mark Zornes, small game biologist, Arizona Game and Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering two special opportunities for new residents to learn about Arizona’s diverse wildlife and small game hunting opportunities. Individuals and families who have lived in Arizona five years or less are invited to attend one of two small game camps this fall and winter.

The camps will cover a variety of topics:

  • Safe and effective hunting methods for a variety of Arizona small game animals
  • Field care of game meat
  • Cooking tips
  • Biology of species
  • Hunting ethics

Hunts will occur during morning and afternoon hours, and camp participants will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of mid-day activities, from 3-D archery, to tracking and trailing, to wildlife identification, and more.

Evenings will be spent around the campfire sharing good food, good times, and of course, tales of the day’s hunt and hunts from the past. Participants will be exposed to the camaraderie that develops at hunting camps and will be introduced to local members of Arizona’s hunting community. Those attending can expect to come away with lasting relationships and the knowledge that they are active participants in nature and natural processes.

Two camps are being offered:

  • Squirrel Camp – Nov. 3-5, 2006 at Vincent Ranch near Heber. Participants will have the opportunity to hunt squirrels and learn about wildlife and habitats of Arizona’s higher elevations.
  • Dove/Quail/Cottontail Camp – Dec. 1-3, 2006 at Robbins Butte west of Phoenix. Campers will have the opportunity to hunt dove, quail and rabbits while learning about other small game animals.

Meals will be provided for participants, as will firearms and ammunition (you’re welcome to bring your own firearms if you are so equipped).

For more information on the small game camps, contact Tristanna Bickford at (623) 236-7241 or, or check the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at this fall.

Conservation spotlight 

Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club
By Jonny Fugate, legislative liaison

How did your group get started?
About 70 years ago, it is said that a group of local farmers in Yuma County got together to have a “Big Bass Fishing Derby” and a "Big Deer Contest” amongst themselves. From those beginnings, the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club (YVRGC) became incorporated in 1939 and began expanding its activities, both for the membership and the community. The club added a fishing derby for fathers and their kids and a river cruise for physically challenged children, and those events, along with the big bass derby and big deer contest, have occurred annually for more than half a century.

What is the purpose of the YVRGC?
Since 1936, the purpose and mission of the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club has been:

  • The conservation of wildlife, habitat and natural resources.
  • Education of the public to include conservation issues and firearm safety.
  • Support of the second amendment of the United States Constitution.
  • Provide recreation and organized activities to members and the public and participate in charitable and other community services activities, especially those related to conservation and sportsmanship.

What does the YVRGC do?
The YVRGC now holds over 28 events annually. Along with our events, the YVRGC has become a very dedicated conservation partner with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, working to ensure that wildlife, wildlife habitat and wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation remain as the department's major management focus. The YVRGC has aggressively assisted the department with many wildlife conservation activities, especially providing water for wildlife. In southwestern Arizona, our goal is to assist and support the department in redevelopment of more than 100 existing water catchments over the next decade to ensure that wildlife, particularly mule deer, has water to drink. Since 1995, the YVRGC has assisted the department in construction of over 30 new catchments in Region IV, which have operated basically maintenance-free and required very minimal water hauling, if any. Due to these efforts, the YVRGC is now honored to be an affiliate member of the Arizona Deer Association and looks forward to assisting ADA in accomplishing their mission of enhancing habitat for deer in Arizona.

The YVRGC is also very involved in the hunter education program, holding at least five classes per year. The class size is 30 students per class and free to all participants.

While the conservation spotlight is shining on YVRGC, what would you like to say?
In support of wildlife conservation in Arizona, the YVRGC has always been very politically involved at the local, state and national levels. Because of attempts by some groups to reduce and/or eliminate wildlife management and wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation, the YVRGC continues to aggressively protect this heritage for all children and their children. We have become a strong voice for the sporting community, ensuring that sportsmen and women across Arizona have the right to enjoy the outdoors. The YVRGC is well respected by the federal land managing agencies, as well as the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

How many members do you have?
Today the YVRGC is over 500 members strong.

How can people reach you?
You can contact the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club via e-mail at or by U.S mail at P.O. Box 6500, Yuma, AZ 85366. Our monthly meetings are the first Wednesday of every month at the American Legion Post 19, 2575 W. Virginia Dr., Yuma.

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Volunteer opportunities for hunters 
By Sandy Reith, 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, and 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 below that we think you might find interesting. To learn about other opportunities or to submit information about a project that would benefit from our volunteers, check our volunteer page.

Ongoing project: rebuilding water catchments in Game Management Unit 9
Volunteers are needed to help rebuild a number of water catchments in Game Management Unit 9 to raise the storage capacity from 2,000 gallons to 20,000 gallons. Work will include lots of manual labor plus some welding and fiberglass work. Department employees will oversee the projects. We will camp near the work site. Work will be conducted on the following weekends: September 9-10, October 7-8 and October 14-15. If volunteers can work during the week, we may be able to arrange a work schedule. Contact John Goodwin at the Arizona Game and Fish Department Flagstaff regional office by phone at (928) 774-5045 or by e-mail at, or contact Arizona Game and Fish Department Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Reith at (623) 236-7680.

Ongoing project: habitat restoration for pronghorn and grassland birds
Volunteers will be using loppers and hand saws to thin juniper south of Mormon Lake at Mud Lake, on Forest Road 82 (Kinnikinick Lake Road). Dates are Sept. 23 and Oct. 14, both at 8:30 a.m. Contact Rick Miller ( or Andi Rogers ( at (928) 774-5045, or contact Arizona Game and Fish Department Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Reith at (623) 236-7680.

Ongoing project: 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. Contact Arizona Game and Fish Department Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Reith at (623) 236-7680.

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Vol. 2 No. 4 Aug. 2006
In this issue:

Manage your account:
Follow the link below to unsubscribe from this mailing, to change other account subscriptions or to change your e-mail address and contact information. Edit your account.

Visit the archives:
June 2006

April 2006

February 2006

December 2005

October 2005
August 2005

Send us your stories and questions! We welcome mail from readers and will try to feature the following in each issue:

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 hunter's story 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 junior hunter’s story 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.

Hunter education
Hunter education classes are 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!

News and notes

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest work projects will affect some fall hunt areas

Sportsmen drawn for big game permits in Game Management Units 1 and 27 this fall are advised to be aware of two large-scale work projects being conducted by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF) that will affect access to some hunt areas and close others, say Game and Fish Department officials.

In Game Management Unit 1, from Aug. 14 through Dec. 31, 2006, the Springerville Ranger District is realigning and reconstructing State Highway 273, beginning at the forest boundary near the Sunrise ski area and extending to Highway 261 at Crescent Lake. Hunters should check the Game Management Unit 1 hunt information on the department’s Web site for information on road, trail and campground closures during this time.

In Game Management Unit 27, the Clifton Ranger District will conduct a prescribed burn in the Chitty Creek area, below the Mogollon Rim. The burn, planned for 14,000 acres, is scheduled to begin during the last week of September and will continue for more than three weeks, weather and conditions permitting. The burn is a habitat enhancement project that is supported by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The window to conduct critical prescribed burning for this type of habitat enhancement unfortunately coincides with some fall hunts. This regrettably poses an inconvenience to some hunters during the burn period, but the long-term benefits can be tremendous to wildlife. Hunters should check the Game Management Unit 27 hunt information on the department’s Web site, or check with the Alpine and Clifton Ranger District offices, for information on road and trail closures. Also check local trail kiosks for signage and fire notices.

Successful archery deer hunters must report harvest
All archery deer hunters are reminded 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.

“The archery report-in process is crucial in helping us collect accurate archery deer harvest data so we can make sound wildlife management decisions,” says Game Chief Leonard Ordway. “Please report your harvest to help us collect this important data.”

Archery deer hunters who fail to comply with this rule could be cited by the department.

Dove opener is Sept. 1: Summer rains have changed the dove-hunting picture

The abundant summer rains have altered the dove-hunting picture for the Sept. 1-15 season, especially in central Arizona.
The good summer rainfall has resulted in abundant seed crops and more available water sources in the desert, which should result in providing more dispersed hunting opportunities in central Arizona. Hunters should still expect to see decent concentrations of doves in the agricultural areas. But there are now opportunities to hunts doves in the less congested desert areas as well.

Don’t forget that the bag limit is 10 mourning and white-winged doves per day in the aggregate, of which no more than six may be white-winged doves. In the southern zone, adult dove hunters are relegated to half-day hunting (mornings) while youth can hunt all day.

There is also something new this year: you can now legally hunt Eurasian collared-doves and the limit is 25 per day. Eurasian collared-doves are larger than both the native white-winged and mourning doves. These exotic invaders have a black collar on the top part of the next, pale gray coloration, and dark primary feathers. These doves are an introduced species to this hemisphere that have recently expanded their range into Arizona.

Roadless area comment deadline is Aug. 31

How would you like roadless areas on Arizona’s national forest lands to be managed? The deadline for submitting written public comment is Aug. 31. Comment can be submitted by e-mail to or by U.S. mail to Arizona Game and Fish Department – WMHB, Attn: Roadless Area Comment, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000.

The input will assist Gov. Janet Napolitano and the Arizona Game and Fish Department in developing Arizona’s petition to the USDA Forest Service, requesting specific management requirements for some or all of 1.2 million acres of inventoried roadless areas in six national forests in Arizona.

The department has been conducting the public input phase of Arizona’s petition process since late June. Thirteen public meetings were held statewide in July and August, and written comment will continue to be accepted through Aug. 31.

For background information on roadless area management and the state petition process, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department Web site at or the USDA Forest Service’s Web site at

Public input sought on Game and Fish strategic plan

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking comment from the public on the draft “Wildlife 2012” plan, a strategic plan that will guide how the agency manages wildlife, certain recreational opportunities and its own operations for the next six years.

The draft document is posted for review on the department’s Web site at Six public meetings will be held around the state in September to provide an overview, and written comment will be accepted until Oct. 6.

The plan outlines priorities and strategic goals affecting four areas: wildlife management, off-highway vehicle recreation, watercraft recreation, and department administration.”

For more information or to see the schedule of public meetings, visit

Game and Fish to assume operation of Ben Avery Clay Target Center in September

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has announced plans to assume operation of the Ben Avery Clay Target Center after the current lease arrangement with a private operator expires on Sept. 17.

The Clay Target Center provides a recreational venue for skeet, trap and sporting clays shotgun shooters and is on the property of the 1,600-acre Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix. The Ben Avery facility is owned by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and administered by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“We’re very excited to have this opportunity,” says Dana Yost, the department’s assistant director for information and education. “The Clay Target Center has a significant role to play in recreational shooting and in development of our youth programs, such as the Scholastic Clay Target Program.

The Clay Target Center is expected to remain open during the transition to department management. The first day the center is expected to be open under department management is Sept. 20. More information and updates will be posted on the department’s Web site at

New season of "Arizona Wildlife Views" television show debuts Sept. 5
The 2006 season of the "Arizona Wildlife Views" television show is just around the corner. The first show will air at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, on KAET-TV, channel 8, in Phoenix, and at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24, on KUAT-TV, channel 6, in Tucson. The 13-episode season will continue to air on KAET-TV in Phoenix at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 4:30 p.m. Sundays, and on KUAT-TV in Tucson at 6 p.m. Sundays. The award-winning show is produced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and includes segments on wildlife, fishing, hunting, boating, off-roading and many other subjects. For a schedule of topics each show will cover, visit the department's Web site at

Super raffle raises half-million for wildlife

Nine lucky winners have hunt-permit tags of a lifetime, as the first Arizona Big Game Super Raffle raised more than a half million dollars for wildlife conservation in the state. The winners of these prized commissioner’s hunting tags with year-long season dates were drawn from a drum in a special ceremony on July 8.

The big game super raffle is a new concept, not just for Arizona, but for the nation. For years, two commissioner tags were set aside per big game species in Arizona, and they were auctioned off or raffled by individual sportsmen’s groups to raise money for wildlife. A third tag per species was created last year by the state Legislature. Several sportsmen’s groups then joined together in a unique collaborative effort to market these nine new commissioner tags via a super raffle.

These dedicated sportsman-conservation groups sold 42,606 raffle tickets for the nine available commissioner tags and raised a total of $514,055. Every dollar raised goes directly to wildlife and wildlife management for the particular species. For more information and a list of winners, visit

Subscribe to "Arizona Wildlife Views" magazine
The Hirsch family has successfully field-dressed more than 60 deer, elk, antelope and javelina in the last 50 years. Learn their secrets in the September-October issue of “Arizona Wildlife Views” magazine. 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 by gorgeous full-color photography. Call today!

Game recipe
Dove Sherry Roast


  • 8 doves
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • Parsley to garnish

Split doves and dredge in flour, salt and pepper mixture. Heat cooking oil to 350 F and braise doves lightly. Place doves and excess cooking oil in roasting pan with cover and add chopped onion and water. Bake at 350 F for four minutes or until tender. Baste often and add sherry during final minutes of cooking. Add parsley as garnish. Makes four to six servings.

Dates to remember
Sept. 1: General dove season opens (north and south zones, see 2006-07 dove and band-tailed pigeon regulations); archery-only deer season opens in most areas (see 2006-07 Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations).

Sept. 8: General pronghorn and muzzleloader pronghorn seasons open in many areas; see 2006-07 Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations.

Sept. 22: Correction period ends for spring 2007 big game draw applications.

Oct. 10: Application deadline for spring 2007 big game hunts for turkey, javelina, buffalo and bear (must be received by the department by 7 p.m. MST; postmarks don't count). Paper applications only; there is no online application process for these hunts.

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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 2004, that meant over $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.