A duck hunter takes aim
Winter waterfowl hunting opportunities

By Dave Cagle, wildlife program manager, Pinetop region,
Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona is not a high-profile duck and goose magnet like Chesapeake Bay, Klamath Valley or the Mississippi Delta. However, golden opportunities are available across the state for those few waterfowl hunters who do their homework, put forth some effort and are at the right places at the right times. On average, about 5,000 Arizona hunters pursue waterfowl annually, compared to 50,000 quail hunters. Here is a brief description of where and how one might find a golden duck-hunting opportunity in the remaining weeks of this waterfowl season or future seasons:

Arizona has two seasons: one for each of its habitat areas. The mountain zone opened Oct. 6, 2006 and runs through Jan. 14, 2007; the desert zone opened Oct. 20, 2006 and runs through Jan. 28, 2007. Limits are generous this year, with a total of seven ducks and seven geese allowed daily. Check the current waterfowl regulations for more details on species restrictions.

Higher-elevation areas

In the White Mountains area, the higher-elevation waters and created wetlands around Show Low were brimming with duck hunters on opening weekend. Now, as the mountain zone season nears its end, many of those waters are locked up in thick ice, and birds have either moved south or to lower elevations. Depending upon weather conditions, local concentrations of birds can still be found in late season. The Pintail Lake, Redhead Marsh and Jacques Marsh wildlife areas, located near Show Low, often attract ducks throughout the winter. These wetlands were created with treated wastewater effluent originating from the cities of Show Low and Pinetop/Lakeside. The water entering the wildlife areas often provides some open-water situations, even during cold snaps, and ducks can flock to these limited resting and feeding areas.

Other areas to try include Lyman Lake and the numerous stock tanks and natural basins that catch water during previous summer monsoon periods. Above-average precipitation last summer filled many tanks from Show Low north and east toward Holbrook and St. Johns. Ducks can be pursued utilizing decoys on larger bodies of water, or try spot-and-stalk techniques on stock tanks.

Lakes in the Flagstaff area have not fared as well, with Mormon Lake almost dry and many tanks either dry or frozen. Upper Lake Mary is probably the last body of water to freeze in this area, and it can provide waterfowl hunting opportunities throughout the season. Warm periods can also melt portions of other waters, which in turn, bring in wintering birds. Those opportunities can be short-lived, but may yield memorable hunt outings.

Lower-elevation areas

Lees Ferry is a consistent winter waterfowl destination, but requires the use of a motorboat to navigate the Colorado River. This portion of the river attracts many species of puddle and diving ducks. Those hunters interested in a mixed-species bag can end up with seven different species in their seven-duck daily limit. Some species, such as common goldeneye, winter here in large numbers, but are rare or absent in other parts of Arizona. Lees Ferry also provides a unique “cast and blast” opportunity for those pursuing both waterfowl and rainbow trout. Boaters need to be regularly aware of the bottom and rocks when negotiating the river. Water levels fluctuate daily, exposing hazards that were not there a few hours ago.

The western boundary of Arizona along the Colorado River can offer numerous duck and goose hunting opportunities. The bulk of Arizona’s geese spend the winter months on the river. The Cibola, Havasu, Bill Williams River and Imperial National Wildlife Refuges are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are located along the river or its tributaries. The primary management objective of these refuges is to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl. To obtain specific hunting regulations and possibly recent waterfowl numbers, call (928) 857-3253 for Cibola, (760) 326-3853 for Havasu, (928) 667-4144 for Bill Williams River, and (928) 783-3371 for Imperial.

Additional spots to pursue waterfowl include the areas downstream from Martinez Lake south to Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, and Mittry Lake Wildlife Area adjacent to the river. The Gila River, from its confluence with the Colorado River upstream past Tacna, offers good jump-shooting opportunities. Large portions of the river, which is really an intermittent stream here, are accessible by foot, and good numbers of mallard, American wigeon and other puddle duck species can be found in small bodies of open water. The Quigley Wildlife Area, just north of Tacna, allows hunting in the ponds by the bluff, but the food plots are closed to entry to provide resting and feeding habitat for the birds.

Other portions of the Gila River in the Gila Bend area can be accessed, but large sections have been closed by landowners. Taking time to find legal access points is necessary and can be worth the effort, as duck numbers can be locally high along remote sections of the river.

The Salt and Verde rivers and associated reservoirs are other great places to try your luck. Roosevelt Lake annually attracts large numbers of ducks and Canada geese. If birds are moving and your decoys are in the right spot, you can have a tremendous shoot. The Verde River at and above Horseshoe Reservoir winters ducks and a fair number of Canada geese.

Across the desert regions, late-winter duck numbers can soar in areas where one would not think of finding any webbed-footed wildlife. Stock tanks got a boost this summer with the above-average rain that fell across the central, eastern and southeastern portions of the state, and many of those tanks are still holding water. These tanks can attract a large number of birds, especially after winter storms push new migrants into these desert areas. Scouting to find water is essential to be successful. I wore mud on my face during one particular outing after I spent more than 30 minutes stalking up to a tank that the prior year had held water and ducks, only to find no water or birds when I peeked over the dam. This type of stock tank jump-hunting is perfect during a quail outing. Remember, you can only have steel shot in your possession when waterfowl hunting. You can keep lead shot in your vehicle when jumping tanks, or carry number 6 or 7½ steel shot with you to take quail and dove.

The southeastern portion of Arizona also offers localized duck hunting opportunities. The Gila River north and east of Safford can provide high numbers of ducks and possibly geese. Jumping tanks is another productive method to add ducks to the bag.

A good spot to try your hunting luck is the Arizona Game and Fish Commission-owned Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area. This area is widely known for its large number of sandhill cranes, but it is also holding good duck numbers this winter. The wildlife area can be reached by going south from Elfrida about 11 miles on Central Road, turning right (west) on Lee Road, and proceeding about one mile to the wildlife area. Portions of the area are closed to entry to provide crane and waterfowl resting and feeding areas, but hunting is allowed in some locations. Above-average water levels are providing extensive habitat and excellent duck hunting opportunities in the 200-acre “open hunt area” located in the northern portion of the wildlife area. In addition, good dove numbers have been reported in the southeast corner. As a bonus, about 150 snow geese were residing on the wildlife area in mid-December, with a few having been taken by lucky hunters.

An additional duck species you may encounter down here is the Mexican duck, which looks like a dark version of a mallard hen. It’s a rare visitor further north, but is a common resident to southeastern Arizona. If you need more information about Whitewater Draw, contact the wildlife area manager at (520) 642-3763.

Late-season waterfowl hunting is the perfect time to try a new hunting method, scout new areas, take out the bass boat to new waters and adventures, or combine waterfowl with your quail trips. If the hunting gods are on your side and you experience one of those days where everything falls in place, you will have joined the small but dedicated group known as the “Arizona duck guys … or gals.”

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Application deadline for 2007 antelope and elk hunts is Feb. 13
By Rory Aikens, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Bull elkHunters can now apply for the first-ever Arizona draw specifically only for antelope and elk. The deadline to submit applications is 7 p.m. (MST) on Feb. 13. Applications must be received by the Arizona Game and Fish Department by that time; postmarks don't count.

This is the first year with an earlier application deadline for antelope and elk. The idea of having the rescheduled draw is to let hunters know early enough whether they have been drawn for these two popular big game animals, prior to their applying for fall hunts for deer, turkey, javelina, bear and buffalo during the traditional application process in the early summer.

The 2007 Arizona Pronghorn Antelope and Elk Hunt Draw Information booklet is available at Game and Fish offices and license dealers statewide, and online at azgfd.gov.

Applicants can currently apply with paper applications. The department expects the online application option for these hunts to be available by mid-January.

The grace period for the draw will end at 5 p.m. on Jan. 19. During the grace period, if a paper hunt permit-tag application that's manually submitted contains an error, the department will make three attempts within a 24-hour period to notify the applicant by telephone (if a phone number is provided). This allows for an application to be corrected, rather than being rejected from the draw; it also provides an incentive to get your application in early.

Don't forget that hunt-tag fees have increased for 2007. You can find the new fee information in the draw publication for antelope and elk (pages 4 and 5) or in the 2006-2007 Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations - new 2007 fees table (pages 9 and 10).

Here's a tip for your 2007 calendar; mark the second Tuesdays of February, June and October: These are the deadlines for the pronghorn antelope and elk draw; the draw for fall hunts for deer, turkey, javelina, bighorn sheep and buffalo; and the draw for spring hunts for javelina, bear, turkey and buffalo, respectively. The last two deadlines are tentative and require Arizona Game and Fish Commission approval.

Also, for those of you who don't have javelina tags, some 2007 spring javelina tags are still available on a first-come, first-served basis. To find out what hunts have tags left, call (623) 236-7702 or visit the department's Web site at azgfd.gov/draw.

Been hunting? Stories from the field 

The stories from the field in this issue of the newsletter are all about junior hunters. We are always on the lookout for stories about the hunting experiences of adults as well as juniors. If you have a story you would like to share, we invite you to e-mail it to the Hunting Highlights editor. More juniors' stories are in the "junior hunters" section of this newsletter.

Jake Oliver’s first big game harvest
By Jerry Clark, Sierra Vista

Jake Oliver (right) and Jerry Clark, shown with Jake's first elk harvestJake Oliver, 17, of Sierra Vista, was drawn for last fall’s junior elk hunt in Game Management Unit 27. He, his father Mike and I traveled up to Alpine on Wednesday, Oct. 18 to scout the unit before the hunt. After pitching camp, we set up in a large meadow and called for coyotes, with no luck. As the sun began to set, we headed back to camp and spotted a young raghorn bull and a couple of cows. Jake’s excitement grew.

The next couple of days gave Jake a good taste of what hunting in elk country can be like—lots of hiking ridges and meadows in cold temperatures, with only one cow and one bull spotted during that time. For variety, we even broke out the .22 rifles and did some squirrel hunting, although the squirrels were more successful in avoiding us than we were in harvesting them.

Despite feeling under the weather Friday evening, Jake was raring to head out hunting at daybreak Saturday. We loaded on the ATVs and headed toward the ridgeline above the meadow where we had called coyotes two days earlier. We parked the ATVs and headed down toward the meadow.

As we worked our way through the trees, a feeding elk came into view about 150 yards away. Jake and I worked forward to get a clearer view and line of fire. The elk lifted its head, and I could see through my binoculars that it was a cow elk.

I told Jake, “It’s a cow, take it!”

“A cow?” Jake asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Take the shot when you’re ready!”

Jake sighted the rifle and fired. The cow went down. As Jake reloaded, several more elk took off running and headed down the draw. Jake asked if the trail cow was the one he had shot at, because he thought it was limping. I told him no, his was down!

As Jake, Mike and I got to the downed elk, we all celebrated. Jake had harvested his first big game animal. Now the work began.

As we field-dressed the elk, Game and Fish Wildlife Manager Aaron Hartzell stopped by to look at the animal, check the tag, and collect a sample to test for Chronic Wasting Disease. Officer Hartzell discussed each step of the sampling process with Jake, who is interested in becoming a wildlife officer. Officer Hartzell also described the education and training required to become a field officer. He was a great representative of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Jake’s first big game harvest will surely be a great memory for him, his dad, and for me for many years to come.

Caitlin Starks’ elk hunt
By Jay Starks, Phoenix

Caitlin Starks gets her elk in Unit 6AI was really excited when my daughter Caitlin, 16, drew her third youth elk tag in Game Management Unit 6A. I’ve always enjoyed the father-daughter bonding opportunity that presents itself on these trips.

Our family has always done a lot of camping, fishing and other outdoors-oriented activities. Caitlin drew her first youth elk tag at age 10—that was challenging! She was drawn for elk again when she was 14 and harvested her first animal in Unit 27. She has also had four youth deer tags and three general javelina tags.

When school scheduling conflicts threatened to derail this year’s three-day hunt, we were forced to change strategies, reduce the trip to two days, and hunt areas we had never scouted.

Luck was on our side. Caitlin harvested a nice cow elk first thing Sunday morning.

It turned out the elk was part of a Game and Fish radio-collaring study, tracking the frequency with which elk cross I-17. Dan Caputo, the wildlife manager in Unit 6A, met us in the field and helped us recover our elk meat and the collar. The ride with Dan proved to be an enjoyable and educational experience for us. He represents the Game and Fish Department well and helped make our short hunt much more memorable.

Caitlin has always been interested in animals, science and the outdoors, but even I have been somewhat (and pleasantly) surprised that she likes to hunt. She talks about being a veterinarian and has been a teen volunteer at the Phoenix Zoo for the past four years. Who knows, she might pursue a career with the Arizona Game and Fish Department!

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Free seminars teach firearm safety, target-shooting 

"First Shots" handgun classes offered Feb. 9-11 at Ben Avery Shooting Facility
By Tristanna Bickford, hunter recruitment and retention coordinator, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Free "First Shots" classes offer an introduction to recreational handgun shooting (photo courtesy of NSSF).Are you interested in learning about recreational handgun shooting and firearm safety, but don’t know where to start?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is partnering with the National Shooting Sports Foundation to offer a welcoming introduction to the safe, recreational use of handguns. First-timers, novices or experienced shooters wanting a refresher are welcome to attend a free four-hour “First Shots” class.

Each class covers the rules and regulations of handgun ownership, instruction in firearm safety, and information on shooting sports opportunities. Participants will also have the opportunity to try hands-on shooting in a safe environment on the shooting range, supervised by qualified instructors.

Classes will be held at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix on the following dates:

  • Friday, Feb. 9 – 5 to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 10 – 8 a.m. to noon
  • Saturday, Feb. 10 – 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 11 – 8 a.m. to noon
  • Sunday, Feb. 11 – 1 to 5 p.m.

The class is free, but pre-registration is required. To register, please e-mail Tristanna Bickford at tbickford@azgfd.gov or call (623) 236-7241. Please provide your contact information, and indicate which class date and time you would like to register for.

The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd. in Phoenix (enter from Carefree Highway just west of I-17).

For more information about the First Shots program, visit the First Shots Web site at firstshots.org.

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Big Game Hunter Survey: Arizonans look forward to more 
opportunities to hunt

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

A newly released independent study shows Arizona hunters feel having more opportunities to hunt is more important than hunt quality or the outcome of the hunt.

“This agency has always prided itself on providing hunters with the highest quality hunting experience it can,” says Arizona Game and Fish Department Deputy Director Steve Ferrell. “However, hunt demand now far exceeds hunting opportunities. This survey provides us with another perspective for use in our management efforts so they may address our customers’ expectations.”

The two-part independent study was conducted for the Arizona Game and Fish Department by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Va., to determine Arizona hunters’ attitudes toward the state’s big game hunter permit tag draw, as well as hunting participation, hunting characteristics, and attitudes toward hunting.

Responsive Management, which is an internationally recognized public opinion and attitude survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, conducted the study via an Internet survey of hunters who applied for an Arizona big game hunt permit tag for fall 2006, plus a telephone survey of those who didn’t respond to the Web survey. The entire study can be accessed on the department’s Web site by clicking here.

“Of the 13 different factors related to the hunting experience, getting to go hunting ranked the highest in importance among respondents,” says Mark Damian Duda, the executive director of Responsive Management. “Most people also said having more frequent opportunities to hunt big game is more important than actually harvesting a trophy animal.”

Duda says the surveys show twice as many hunters would be willing to accept lower hunt success rates, if it meant they would be drawn and have an opportunity to hunt more often.

Of six different factors related to a successful hunting experience, having the opportunity to hunt ranked the highest in importance among respondents, closely followed by spending time with family and learning to hunt and develop skills, with majorities rating each of these factors as extremely important. Harvesting a trophy animal ranked the lowest in importance, according to the study.

Department officials say the study is important in helping the agency to best meet the needs and desires of its customers both now and in the future, and the study results also have implications for another critical area—hunter recruitment and retention.  “Opportunities to hunt, including increased chances of success in the big game hunt permit-tag draw, are important to hunter retention,” say big game applicants.

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Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo to be held
March 31 and April 1

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

This year's Outdoor Expo will offer a wide range of hands-on activities, demonstrations and workshopsOutdoor enthusiasts: Mark your calendars! You won’t want to miss this year’s Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo, being held Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix.

Formerly known as the Shooting Showcase, this year’s event is expanding to include a wide range of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, archery, off-highway vehicle recreation, boating safety, camping, live wildlife exhibits and more.

You can attend educational workshops, view demonstrations, and visit with sportsmen’s/conservation groups and commercial vendors in our exhibitors’ tent.

You'll still have the same opportunity to experience hands-on recreational shooting on the range as in past years, including the chance to try out various specialty shooting disciplines (cowboy action, black powder, rifle and pistol silhouette, and more) hosted by local shooting organizations.

The Scholastic Clay Target Program Sporting Clays State Championships will be held at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center on Saturday. The Archery in the Schools  Program State Championships will be held at the Ben Avery archery ranges.

Vendors and sportsmen's/conservation groups interested in exhibiting at the Outdoor Expo can obtain more information by clicking here or by calling Tristanna Bickford at (623) 236-7241.

The Outdoor Expo is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission and parking are free. Trolley transportation is provided throughout the 1,690-acre complex for all activities. The Expo entrance at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located off Carefree Highway, on Long Shot Lane, about 1/2 mile west of I-17. For more information, visit azgfd.gov/expo or call (623) 236-7241.

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Junior hunters

Baylee Hirschi’s first deer
By Monica Hirschi, Phoenix

Baylee Hirschi and her dad, Koal, with Baylee's first deerBaylee Hirschi, 10, of Phoenix, comes from a hunting and outdoors-oriented family. She has camped with me and her dad, Koal, on family hunts since a very young age.

Hunting has always brought us together as a family. We typically don’t take vacations to places like Disneyland. Our vacations are often dictated by the draw results of the Western states. Most of the family members have drawn tags in Arizona over the years.

Baylee got her first opportunity to hunt deer last fall in Game Management Unit 31, north of Klondyke. The hunt wouldn’t have been possible without Arizona’s law allowing a parent or guardian to transfer a tag to his or her child. Koal, Baylee and I all put in separately in the hope one of us would get a tag so Baylee could hunt. Neither Koal nor Baylee were drawn, but I was. I went to the Game and Fish office in Phoenix and transferred the tag to Baylee.

Opening day, Nov. 10, was a tough one for Baylee. We didn’t see any deer, and she came down with her sister’s flu. The next day she was feeling well enough to head out into the field for the afternoon. It wasn’t long before we saw a buck. Koal reminded Baylee where she needed to aim. He calmly told her to just hold on and squeeze steady while firing. Baylee has been shooting since she was 5 years old, so accuracy wasn’t our concern. We just wanted to steady her nerves because she was really excited.

Baylee took her shot from about 160 yards—and made it count. The buck went down immediately. We gave Baylee a hands-on lesson in field-dressing and skinning the animal.

The hunter education course requirement for young big game hunters was a blessing in reaffirming the beliefs and practices we try to teach our children. Arizona is one of the few states where people can teach their children by actual field experience at such an early age. We appreciate the efforts from dedicated volunteers like Baylee’s instructor, Cliff Saylor, who helped so much in reinforcing those ethics in Baylee.

The Herndon “quail kids”
By Dan Herndon, Peoria

Garrett Herndon (left) and Courtney Herndon on last fall's quail outingQuail hunting, like many other outdoor activities, is a great get-together opportunity for my family. I took my children, Garrett, 12, and Courtney, 8, out on opening weekend of the 2006 quail season.

This is Garrett's first season with his single-shot 20-gauge. He had five birds under his belt in the early part of the season. Courtney enjoys getting out with me and Garrett for the hiking and fresh air. Courtney has an additional fondness for quail, as she was born on opening day of quail season in 1998.

Garrett also enjoyed his first dove season this year with a shotgun. He enjoyed full limits three straight days, along with dad. You can imagine the busy kitchen. Garrett is also looking forward to joining me on future deer and elk hunts.

The kids are avid hunters, archers, anglers, campers and off-road dirt bike/ATV enthusiasts. They come by their love of the outdoors naturally, although my wife and I are their major influences. Enjoyment of outdoors activity has been a tradition passed down through both sides of the family. My father and uncles had me out as soon as I could hold a .22 single-shot, and my grandfather used to be an NRA instructor years ago in California. On their mother’s side, their grandfather and uncle are avid waterfowlers and serve as committee members for Ducks Unlimited.

My wife and I take the kids hiking, biking and fishing each summer in places like Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott or the Mogollon Rim. Last summer we offered the kids a week-long amusement park vacation to Orlando, Fla. They declined, requesting we spend our vacation camping in the Flagstaff area. We must be doing something right.

As a side note, I would like to thank Carl Lutch, wildlife manager in Game Management Unit 7. While on my Unit 7E cow elk hunt this fall, I found a bull rack. Carl took time from his busy schedule to check it out for me and approve my taking it home. The Game and Fish Department is often seen just as an enforcement agency, rather than ambassadors of our public wildlife resources, and I deeply appreciate Carl’s time and his courtesy in answering our numerous questions about various species and the unit.

Small game camps a big success 

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

Participants at the Vincent Ranch small game camp pose for a photoThe Arizona Game and Fish Department partnered with the Chandler Rod and Gun Club and American Fire Equipment to conduct two successful weekend camps introducing small game hunting skills to Arizona newcomers.

More than 25 campers attended the squirrel hunting camp at the Vincent Wildlife Area near Heber on Nov. 3-5, and nearly 50 people took part in the dove/quail/cottontail camp at the Robbins Butte Wildlife Area near Buckeye on Dec. 1-3.

Participants had the opportunity to experience three hunting sessions, archery lessons, survival demonstrations, hunting dog demonstrations, and great food. Basic shooting and hunting skills were taught to those who were first-time hunters. The participants all received tips to help make the transition to hunting in our state as easy as possible.

“These camps were good models for similar activities we’d like to offer to beginning and novice hunters in the future,” says Tristanna Bickford, hunter retention and recruiting coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “They offer great potential for introducing juniors and beginners to hunting and outdoor skills.”

Mike Rabe, the Arizona Game and Fish Department's migratory bird program supervisor, mentors two young hunters at Robbins ButteMany of the participants were young people accompanied by a family member. Dodi Ely of Buckeye brought her 16-year-old niece, Natalie Wilder, to the Robbins Butte camp.

“Natalie was shopping for some outdoor gear and got excited when she saw the flyer in the store for the camp,” says Dodi. “She had done some squirrel hunting when she lived in California, so she called me at work and said, ‘Let’s go!’”

John Florentine of Pinetop brought his 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, to Robbins Butte. “I was the only one in my family who liked to hunt when growing up,” says John. “I’ve made an effort to focus more of my time with family, and this sounded like a great opportunity for me and Hannah to do something we’d both enjoy.”

John and Hannah were very enthusiastic about their experience at the camp. “The  expertise of the mentors was impressive; the staff and volunteers were friendly and helpful; and the campfires at night were great fun," says John. "We are better ‘new’ hunters as a result of this experience, and we look forward to future programs the department offers.”

Game and Fish staff coordinated the camps, assisted the campers, and provided hunting mentors. American Fire Equipment provided hunting licenses, appropriate stamps and food for the participants. The Chandler Rod and Gun Club provided breakfast and lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday for both camps, and also provided volunteers to assist the campers and serve as hunting mentors.

“We’re strong supporters of events that give people the opportunity to experience outdoor activities,” says Randy Krecklow, president of the Chandler Rod and Gun Club. “Our club is family-oriented, and a lot of our kids came out to help. This is a great concept.”

Information about future camps and other activities will be posted to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's e-newsletters and Web site at azgfd.gov as details become available.

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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, 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 azgfd.gov/volunteer.

Alamo Lake Cleanup, March 3
Volunteers will help clean up litter around the lake from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Alamo Lake State Park, northwest of Wickenburg. Please R.S.V.P. to Stewart Kohnke at skohnke@azgfd.gov or (928) 684-3763.

Adopt-A-Ranch Project: Riparian Restoration at Griffin Ranch, April 7
Volunteers will help restore riparian habitat on the ranch, near Globe. The event is sponsored by the Arizona Predator Callers. To sign up or for more information, contact Troy Christensen at tchristensen@azgfd.gov or (623) 236-7492.

Adopt-A-Ranch Project: Boquillas Ranch Cleanup, June 23
Volunteers will help clean up wildlife habitat and remove litter from the ranch, near Seligman. The event is sponsored by the Mohave Sportsman Club. To sign up or for more information, contact Troy Christensen at tchristensen@azgfd.gov or (623) 236-7492.

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 Sandy Reith at (623) 236-7680.

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Vol. 3 No. 1 Jan. 2007
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:
October 2006

August 2006

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, 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.

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

Make your reservation for the Commission Awards Banquet

You can still make a reservation for the Arizona Game and Fish Commission's annual awards banquet being held Saturday, Jan. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Glendale Civic Center, 5750 W. Glenn Drive, Glendale. The banquet recognizes individuals and organizations that have contributed to Arizona's wildlife resources and the mission of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Individual tickets are $50. Tables of 10 are $480—a discount of $20. Reserve a spot now for this enjoyable evening that honors your fellow supporters of wildlife conservation. For more information or to obtain a reservation form, click here or contact Marty Fabritz at (623) 236-7281.

Arizona Big Game Super Raffle
Give yourself a chance at one or more hunts of a lifetime in Arizona. This is the second year for the Arizona Big Game Super Raffle, a collaborative effort between the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and several sportsmen’s groups, which raises money to benefit this state's big game species. The commission sets aside one tag per big game species each year for the super raffle. These super raffle tags include antelope, black bear, buffalo, Coues whitetail, desert bighorn sheep, elk, javelina, mule deer and turkey (Gould's or Merriam's). All the proceeds raised from raffling each tag are used to benefit that particular species.

All the super raffle tags are for special season dates, and each hunt is 365 days, starting Aug. 1, with very few limitations on hunting areas. The cost of the raffle tickets ranges from $5 to $25, depending on the species. The deadline to purchase a raffle ticket is June 25, 2007. A public drawing will take place in July 2007, and the time and place will be announced at a later date. You can obtain ticket order forms at arizonabiggamesuperraffle.com.

Couple assessed $16,000 for poaching trophy elk and deer

A Show Low couple convicted of multiple violations relating to the poaching of a trophy-class elk and mule deer became the first violators to feel the effects of two new laws on the books. The laws allow the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to impose longer revocation times for repeat unlawful take offenders and seek increased civil assessment amounts for the take of trophy-class animals.

John D. Polzin was civilly assessed a total of $16,000: $8,000 for the loss of one 6x6 bull elk and $8,000 for the loss of one 7x5 mule deer buck. To quantify the loss of these trophy animals to the State of Arizona, the Game and Fish Department enlisted the help of an official appraiser.

In addition, the Game and Fish Commission revoked the hunting, fishing and trapping privileges of John Polzin for 10 years and Shelly L. Polzin for five years. The Polzins must also successfully complete an Arizona hunter education course before having their license privileges restored in this state.

The Game and Fish Commission's action in the Polzin case would not have been possible without newly bolstered wildlife laws sponsored by Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, which the Arizona Legislature passed and Gov. Janet Napolitano signed in May 2006. These new laws, which took effect in September 2006, allow for enhanced revocation periods based on the number of convictions an individual has for unlawfully taking or wounding wildlife, and increased civil assessments for the take of trophy-class animals, as defined in the new legislation.

Under the new law, the Game and Fish Commission may permanently revoke a person's hunting privileges upon a third conviction for unlawfully taking or wounding wildlife.

Access to Clay Target Center has been rerouted
Customers of the Ben Avery Clay Target Center and Ben Avery archery ranges are advised that the Archery Drive access road at Carefree Highway is now closed due to construction of the new Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters. The closure is expected to remain in effect during the construction process through late 2007.

Clay Target Center customers can access the center from Carefree Highway by turning onto Long Shot Lane and following the signs on Calle Silhouetta and Archery Drive to the center. Click here for a copy of a map. Archery customers can continue to access the main Ben Avery Shooting Facility entrance (just west of I-17) and pay at the Main Range office before heading over to the archery ranges. There is no exit to Carefree Highway via Archery Drive.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Deluxe
The Arizona Wildlife Federation is sponsoring its second annual Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) winter workshop Feb. 2-4, 2007 at Saguaro Lake Ranch. The historical resort-style retreat located in the Tonto National Forest in the heart of the Arizona Sonoran Desert will feature fishing opportunities, field archery, natural history of the desert, canoeing/kayaking, Dutch oven cooking, and sessions on hunting desert critters like javelina and Coues deer. For those who feel the need to explore, there will be hiking, photography and horseback rides for everyone. The cost is $420, which includes a horseback ride, instruction, use of equipment, deluxe lodging and meals Friday evening through noon on Sunday. Details of class descriptions and registration materials can be found at azwildlife.org, or call (480) 644-0077.

Archery fundamentals class for juniors

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will conduct a three-segment archery fundamentals class for young people ages 8-18 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. The 90-minute segments will be held Feb. 10, 17 and 24. Equipment will be provided. Limit is 24 students. To register, contact Denise Raum at draum@azgfd.gov or (623) 236-7567.

Application deadline for shooting range development grants is Jan. 16
Shooting clubs, sportsmen’s groups and government agencies involved in the development, improvement or maintenance of public shooting ranges are reminded the deadline for applying for shooting range development grant funds from the Arizona Game and Fish Department is 5 p.m. Jan. 16 (extended 24 hours due to department offices being closed on Jan. 15 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). For more information or to download an application packet, click here or contact Anthony Chavez, statewide shooting ranges administrator, at (623) 236-7395 or aechavez@azgfd.gov.

Don’t miss out—order your 2007 Arizona Wildlife Calendar today

It’s not too late to order the spectacular 2007 Arizona Wildlife Calendar—a limited number are still available from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. For only $3, the calendar offers beautiful photos of Arizona's wildlife chosen from more than 300 images submitted by customers to the Game and Fish Department’s calendar contest. The calendar also includes key wildlife events and approved hunting dates. To get your calendar today, just stop by any Game and Fish office or order online at azgfd.gov/magazine

Subscribe to Arizona Wildlife Views magazine
When you hear the nickname “Mr. Arizona,” do you picture a muscle-bound body builder winning a state title? Then you might be surprised to learn that “Mr. Arizona” was the nickname given to Bob Beasley, one of Arizona’s first game wardens. He earned it with his Old West cowboy demeanor, skill as a horseman, and love of wildlife and working in the outdoors.

In the January-February issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine, read about Bob Beasley and the Beasley family. 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!

Game recipe
Continental wild duck

From Almost All Things Edible (the Arizona Game and Fish Department cookbook)

2-4 teal
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sherry
1 clove garlic, minced
2 slices fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp. Chinese 5 spices

1-2 onions
1/2 cup water
4 tsp. water
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 green onions, chopped

Clean and dry ducks. Combine soy sauce, sherry, garlic and ginger root. Marinate duck in mixture for two hours at room temperature. Remove ducks from marinade and save marinade. Place half an onion in each duck cavity. Place ducks on rack in roasting pan, and sprinkle them lightly with Chinese 5 spices (if not available, use celery salt). Place ducks in preheated (350 degrees) oven and roast for 25 minutes. Then broil for an additional five minutes.

While duck is cooling, add 1/2 cup water and cornstarch dissolved in 4 tsp. water to marinade, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and stir until marinade thickens. Serve over duck and sprinkle with chopped green onions. For larger ducks (mallard, etc.), increase roasting time to 40 minutes and broiling time to seven minutes. Serve with plain or Chinese fried rice.

For more great game recipes, purchase Almost All Things Edible. Visit azgfd.gov/publications for an order form.

Dates to remember
Jan. 26: Juniors-only spring javelina opens.
Feb. 9: HAM spring javelina opens.
Feb. 13: Application deadline for elk, antelope.

Feb. 23: General spring javelina opens.
March 9-11: International Sportsmen's Exposition, Glendale, Ariz. (visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department exhibit area).
March 23: General spring bear opens; archery-only spring bear opens in some areas.

March 31 and April 1: Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo, Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

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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 more than $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.