Dove season opens this weekend
Dove hunters breathe a sigh of relief when major storm doesn’t materialize

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

Hurricane Dean didn't blast into Arizona last week as originally anticipated, and die-hard dove hunters breathed a sigh of relief. Such storms can prompt a lot of white-winged doves to begin their annual migration south right before the opener.

The dove season (Sept. 1-15) opens on Labor Day weekend this year.

Biologists with the Arizona Game and Fish Department said the abundant summer rains throughout much of Arizona and the associated green-up in the deserts will likely result in the morning dove population being more dispersed this year.

“On the plus side, it means you will have the opportunity to find doves away from the major concentrations of hunters,” said Mike Rabe, the department’s migratory bird biologist.

New year-long season on Eurasian collared doves
A big change this year is the newly-created year-round season (with no limits) on the Eurasian collared doves. The Eurasian collared doves are larger than both the mourning and white-winged doves. The year-round season commences with the opening of dove season on Sept. 1, 2007 and continues 365 days through Aug. 31 of 2008.

“The Eurasian collared doves are basically bonus birds for the bag and table. This species of dove provides great shooting and very good eating,” said Randy Babb, a department biologist in the Mesa Regional Office.

Eurasian collard dove numbers seem to be increasing steadily on the east side, Babb said, and he expects hunters to be see more of them in their bag each season if the trend continues.

Be aware of your hunting areas
As usual, the ever-evolving challenge facing dove hunters again this year is finding agricultural areas to hunt around the metropolitan areas that haven’t been turned into subdivisions or shopping malls.

Changing land uses create another compelling reason to pre-scout or otherwise be familiar with where you’re going. “That maize field you hunted last year may be a subdivision this year, or be right next to one. Good places to hunt are as much a moving target as the doves themselves,” Babb said.

Expect some of the nation’s best dove hunting
Although this is not expected to be a banner dove year by our state’s standards, Arizona will still provide some of the best dove hunting in the nation. One of the telltales for the quality of Arizona’s hunt is the number of dove hunters who flock to this state from California, even though Southern California itself provides some of the nation’s better dove hunting opportunities.

Once again this year in Arizona, it will be half-day hunts (mornings) for adult hunters in the southern zone (desert areas). Arizona’s continued great dove hunting opportunities are a direct result of that more conservative half-day hunting regime for adult hunters.

Opportunities for junior hunters – a great introduction for young people
Don’t forget that youth can hunt all day during the early season. The full day hunt for juniors allows young hunters to go dove hunting after school, even though it looks like the participation in recent years has been pretty low.

“Do your kids a favor and get them out in the afternoons when the doves are going for an evening drink or back to roost. It’s a good time to help those young hunters fine tune their wing-shotting skills,” said Babb.

See the article in this newsletter about some junior hunt opportunities .

Mourning dove wings needed
Dove hunters should keep in mind that Arizona is cooperating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in collecting mourning dove wings from hunters this year. Randomly selected hunters will be asked to save one wing from each dove during the first week of the season and mail the wings – postage free – to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hunters may also be contacted in the field and asked to contribute wings.

Data from the wings will be used to estimate annual productivity of the dove population, and will eventually be used in helping to establish hunting regulations.

Don’t forget that hunters age 16 and older of dove and band-tailed pigeon (as well as coots, snipe, and common moorhens) must purchase a $4.50 Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp for the 2007-2008 season. The stamp validates a hunting license for the federal Harvest Information Program.

By the way, don’t forget there is a late season from Nov. 23, 2007 to Jan. 6, 2008. This season is becoming increasingly popular with hunters. “I like the late season best. The air temperatures are cooler and the best hunting is in the afternoons. It’s really a pleasant hunt,” Rabe said.

For more information, check out the dove regulations at azgfd.gov.

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Fitting a shotgun
Reprinted courtesy of Hayley Lynch, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Free "First Shots" classes teach sporting clays fundamentals.Dove season is here, and any hunter who has emptied several boxes of shells to get their daily limit knows how important good technique is to a successful day afield. But one thing many shooters don't consider is the crucial element of gun fit.

Many shotgunners don't know that the factory stock on their new-in-the-box smoothbore probably doesn't fit. They struggle with a stock that is too long or too low, and a gun that smacks of recoil as a result. This is because stocks are made for the "average" shooter, and many of us don't fit the mold.

There are several adjustments you can make to your existing gun, without shelling out thousands of dollars for a custom-built stock. Two of the most important adjustments are to the length of pull and drop of comb.

Length of pull is the distance from where your shoulder touches the stock to where your finger touches the trigger. Most shotguns are made with a factory length of pull between 14 and 14 ½ inches. This might be just right for some, but is often too long for many women or shorter men, not to mention youth shooters. On the other hand, the factory length of pull may be too short for taller shooters with long arms.

To determine whether your shotgun fits, bend your arm in a right angle then put the stock in the crook of your elbow. Lay the stock sideways along your forearm with your hand flat. Now line up your index finger with the trigger. The trigger should hit the first joint of your index finger, just below the finger tip. If this joint extends beyond the trigger, you may need a longer stock. If it falls short of the trigger, you may need a shorter stock. This test will give you some idea of your correct length of pull.

Small adjustments can be made by buying a thinner or thicker recoil pad. Slip-on recoil pads are less expensive than those that screw into the end of your stock. Large adjustments, however, may require cutting the stock down or adding spacers.

Gunsmiths often charge by the hour for stock work. Getting a gun stock cut runs $100-$200 or more depending on the gunsmith. Spacers cost $8-$10 each but must be ground to fit the stock. This will cost you about $50. Don't forget to ask around the shooting range - many shooters have stock fitting experience and may be able to do the work for you.

The next measurement to check is the drop of comb. With a properly adjusted shotgun stock, you will naturally look straight down the barrel whenever you bring the gun to your shoulder.

The comb drop is the vertical distance from where your cheek rests on the stock - the "comb" - to the sight plane or rib of the gun barrel. Drop is a crucial measurement because it directly affects your line of sight. If the comb of your gun is too low, you will see the back of the gun's rib rather than straight down the top of the barrel. You'll have to lift your head off the stock to see, sacrificing accuracy as well as comfort when the comb smacks your face after a shot.

Adjusting drop can be easier than adjusting length of pull. While some shooters have adjustable combs installed - allowing them to move the top of the stock up and down and even side to side - you can fix this problem cheaply. A few thin layers of closed-cell foam on top of your existing comb, fastened with good-quality double-stick tape can "build up" your stock for under $10. Add more layers, or take them off, until you can see perfectly down the gun's rib when your cheek is planted firmly on the comb. You should see nothing but the sight bead at the end of the muzzle - add layers until you can see it, and take a layer off if you can see the rib itself. A piece of suede or neoprene on top of the closed-cell foam helps if you don't like the look of the foam or want greater comfort.

Many other adjustments, from major to minor, can make your shotgun fit better. But adjusting the length of pull and drop are good first steps. You'll know you're closer to a perfect fit when you bring down more birds with fewer shells.

Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day 
Public invited to attend free events in Arizona Sept. 17-22

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

People with an interest in wildlife, conservation and the great outdoors are invited to attend several activities in Arizona celebrating National Hunting and Fishing Day, which is Sept. 22.

The free events will provide the opportunity for people of all experience levels to learn about or enhance their knowledge of the great outdoors and outdoor recreation pursuits.

Phoenix-area events include a “Get Outside” Outdoor Recreation Expo at Tempe Town Lake from 7-11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 22. The event will offer a free fishing clinic, introduction to archery, live wildlife exhibits, hikes on riparian trails, canoes/kayaks and boating safety information, camping information, and general information on hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation. Other area events include free seminars on small game hunting on Sept. 18, and on deer ecology and biology on Sept 20, both held from 7-9 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops at 1133 N. Dobson Road, Mesa.

Tucson-area events include free seminars from 7-8 p.m. each evening from Sept. 17-21 at the Tucson Sportsman’s Warehouse store at 3945 W. Costco Drive. Topics include fishing in Arizona, deer ecology and biology, reptiles of Arizona, women in the outdoors, and a special kids’ night out. A free outdoor mini-expo will be held Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Tucson Sportsman’s Warehouse parking lot, with exhibit booths, free food and an opportunity to talk with experts on hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.

Kingman area events include a Game and Fish booth at the Wal-Mart, 3396 N. Stockton Hill Road, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 20, and at the Kmart, 3340 E. Andy Devine Ave., from 1-4 p.m. on Sept. 21. Visitors can obtain information on where to hunt and fish, regulations, Arizona wildlife, and Game and Fish programs. A department representative will be on hand to answer questions.

National Hunting and Fishing Day was established by Congress in 1971 to recognize hunters and anglers for their contributions to wildlife conservation.

More than 100 years ago, hunters and anglers were among the first to realize that expanding civilization and unregulated market hunting were causing serious wildlife population declines, threatening the sustainability of many species. The efforts of hunters and anglers to change that situation helped pave the way for today’s science-based systems of wildlife management, where regulated hunting/fishing and habitat management programs have restored and maintained sustainable wildlife populations for all to enjoy.

Today’s wildlife conservation efforts are funded primarily by the more than $1 billion annually that hunters and anglers spend on license fees and excise taxes on sporting equipment. These monies support wildlife conservation programs, habitat acquisition and outdoor recreation opportunities in Arizona and throughout the country.

For a complete list and description of activities, visit www.azgfd.gov. For more information about National Hunting and Fishing Day, visit www.nhfday.org.

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Been hunting? Kyle Stevens' 2007 javelina hunt 
By Jim Sively, hunter education instructor, Scottsdale

We now have three grandsons of hunting age, and all of them enjoy camping out and hunting as often as possible. All have completed the Hunter Education course, and Kyle Stevens, our oldest at age 14, is already an accomplished wingshooter. He has one juniors-only deer hunt under his belt, and in 2005 he joined other young hunters in Unit 6A for the juniors-only elk hunt. Kyle saw lots of elk and even got a shot, but missed. He hopes to draw a permit again this year.

In February, Kyle (along with his brother Joel and cousin Ty) headed out for his third javelina hunt in Unit 24B during the juniors-only season. His third time was “charm”, as the saying goes, and Kyle tagged his first head of big game – a nice javelina boar. His success in harvesting the pig was certainly a highlight, but some other crazy happenings contributed to making this a memorable hunt. Read on and see what I mean.

My wife and I overslept on opening morning and awoke to a loud knocking on our trailer door. Kyle was outside with a pained look on his face, which I took as an indication that he was ready to get on with the hunt. Instead, he announced that the permit-tags had been left at home. Kyle and his dad made the 100-mile round trip back to Phoenix to fetch them and were back around noon. Now the hunt could begin.

No pigs were found opening day, but grandson Ty arrived Friday evening to witness the second crazy event. A dog had arrived in camp and seemed to like our company. When my son (Ty’s dad) retired to his tent that evening, he found the dog in his bed enjoying the warmth of the sleeping bag. The intruder was evicted without incident and left us the next morning. 

All three boys hunted Saturday, and the pigs eluded us again. At noon, it was my wife’s turn to provide another "unique" event. She took a drink from her cup, then she screamed and spewed out a mouthful of tea. A bee had also been enjoying the tea and got into her mouth. I had to pull the stinger from the end of her tongue. We males all got into trouble for not showing sufficient remorse over the unfortunate incident.

With little success in finding the pigs, the Saturday evening campfire discussion focused on plans for wrapping up the hunt with a short foray Sunday morning. Suddenly, my son called for quiet and said that he heard a strange noise nearby. Flashlights were fetched, and there stood a javelina about 20 yards from the campfire. It ran off immediately, and we all had a good laugh about hunting far and wide while the pigs were in our camp all the time!

Next morning, Kyle and I were up early and hunting the brushy creek bottom around camp. As soon as the sun hit a nearby ridge, I saw a herd (sounder) of pigs feeding. Kyle used shooting sticks to steady his rifle but missed on his first try. The pigs didn’t go far, and Kyle made his second try count with one shot at about 50 yards. He didn’t hesitate getting his hands dirty with field dressing and insisted on carrying the javelina back to camp without my help. The javelina was taken within 150 yards of our camp.

This was a great family outing and one that we’ll certainly remember. Kyle will turn 15 in November, and he drew a permit-tag for the mid-October juniors-only cow elk hunt in Unit 6A.  I will be with him on that hunt also.

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Juniors dove hunts: Introduce youngsters to hunting 
Opportunities in southwestern Arizona Sept. 2 or Sept. 8-9 at Robbins Butte

By Rory Aikens and Tom Cadden, public information officers, Arizona Game and Fish Department

When thousands of doves and scores of young shooters and their mentors come together at juniors dove hunts, the end result is a lot of fun for everyone involved. Here are a couple of opportunities for juniors.

Southwestern Arizona, Sept. 2

Two juniors dove hunts are being offered in southwestern Arizona on Sunday, Sept. 2. One will be held at Curry Farms near Yuma. Registration begins at 2 p.m., hunting will take place from 3-6 p.m. The event is free to all Arizona hunters age 13 and under. Sponsoring organizations are the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club, Yuma Women’s Reel & Rifle Club, Curry Farms, Sprague’s Sports, the Southwest Arizona Habitat Partnership Committee, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. For more information, contact George Reiners at (928) 726-0022.

The other will be held at Texas Hill Farms near Tacna. Registration begins at 3 p.m. Hunting will take place from 4-7 p.m. The event is open to hunters age 17 and under. There is a registration fee of $5 to cover the cost of food and beverages. Sponsoring organizations are the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Texas Hill Farms, the Southwest Arizona Habitat Partnership Committee, and the S.C. Braden Scholarship Fund. For more information, contact Debbie Hovatter at (928) 210-7304.

Robbins Butte (near Buckeye), Sept. 8-9

When, where and who: The Arizona Game and Fish Department is working in cooperation with the Chandler Rod and Gun Club to conduct the annual Robbins Butte Youth-only Dove Hunt on Sept. 8-9 at this remarkable 1,681-acre wildlife area located in one of the largest surviving mesquite bosques along the Gila River.

Directions: Take I-10 west, and then turn south on Highway 85 (toward Gila Bend). The Robbins Butte Wildlife Area is located just off Highway 85 seven miles south of Buckeye (cross the Gila River and look for the wildlife area signs on your right).

Why: It’s an annual treat for all involved. During the first of these annual hunts, one young girl made a comment that shows how much this hunt can mean to a youngster: “I out-shot my brothers. It was more fun than Disneyland.”

Check it in, check it out: Young hunters (through the age of 17) and their mentors are asked to get there by around 4:30 a.m. to check in – it’s first-come, first-served for the available shooting stations. Should there be more young hunters than shooting stations available (hasn’t happened yet), there will be a drawing at 4:45 a.m. Don’t be late. All young hunters are required to check out as well.

Breakfasts await: There is an excellent reason to check out – a sumptuous breakfast with bodacious amounts of pancakes and sausages will be cooked up by the dedicated sportsmen of the Chandler Rod and Gun Club. The breakfast has become as much a tradition as the youth dove hunt.

Star Wars picture opportunity: The Robbins Butte manager, Phil Smith, has arranged to have Chewbacca, Princess Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker (his dogs) for a photo opportunity and paw autographs for any Star Wars fan to enjoy. “Phil is one of our charter members and he is devoted to putting a smile on a child’s face,” said Eddy Corona of the Chandler Rod and Gun Club.

But that’s not all. Jim Lindsey from Lindsey Trucking Inc. will have his latest “Rock Crawler” on display.

What to shoot: Participating youngsters can bag mourning dove, white-winged dove and collared dove. The bag limit is ten (10) dove per day; no more than six (6) may be white-winged dove. The collared dove bag limit is unlimited.

What to wear: Wearing hunter orange is not required but is recommended. If you are 14 to 17 years of age, you are required to have a hunting license and an Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp. Anyone under 14 can hunt without a license when accompanied by an adult with a valid Arizona hunting license and migratory bird stamp (each adult can bring up to two young hunters age 14 and younger).

How long can you shoot? Shooting hours are from 5:35 a.m. to noon. “Bring plenty of shotgun shells, water, sun block, snacks, something to sit on, bug repellent, a hat or cap, shooting glasses, a camera and more shot gun shells. Oh, and please pick up your trash,” said Corona.

What parents should wear: Parents, you will be retrieving the downed dove, so wear comfortable shoes and dress accordingly (wearing hush puppies is optional).

“I would encourage parents to bring their kids out and enjoy what the outdoors has to offer. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (480) 529-8340,” said Corona.

Hay wagon transportation: Transportation to and from the shooting stations will be provided via hay wagons. Breakfast will start around 6 a.m. and be served until around 11.

Chance to win a shotgun: Raffle tickets will be sold on both days, and the winner can leave with a Remington 870 Youth Model 20-gauge shotgun provided by the Chandler Rod and Gun Club along with Bear Mountain Inc. It’s possible there will be a second gun to raffle as well.

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Junior hunters: The Willand family goes rabbit hunting
By Michael Willand, Goodyear

What better way to introduce youth to hunting and the great outdoors than taking them rabbit hunting?

Kids have short attention spans, so they tend to get bored and lose interest on hunts with long days spent glassing or sitting in stands or blinds. Rabbit hunting is a great way to energize young hunters and introduce them to the basic fundamentals of hunting.

Rabbit season is year round and statewide. And rabbits are literally everywhere. With the abundance of game available, youngsters can hone their skills at “spot and stalk” and making the all-important shot under the excitement of the moment.

I took my sons Christian, 8, and Michael, 10, to Game Management Unit 10S over the Memorial Day weekend. We had a great time hunting rabbits. The smiles on their faces were testimony to their pride from their harvest.

My sons are shooting a Mossberg Plinkster 702 semi- automatic. They wanted a firearm with light weight and balance. They could hold and aim it on their own in a proper standing posture, without the aid of shooting sticks. We kept the open sight to keep it light, and also so they could practice the basics first.

My sons became interested in hunting out of my passion for the sport. I was eager to introduce them to hunting, and one day I took them along on an archery hunt in Unit 42. They loved it so much that I had to think of a way to allow them to hunt as well. I wanted to prepare them for big game when their time came, and we all know that watching is not nearly as much fun as hunting and taking your own game.

If you want to give a youngster an enjoyable outing and teach him or her skills in the field, definitely head out for some rabbit hunting.

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What is Wildlife Worth?

By Pat Barber, law enforcement program manager, Arizona Game and Fish Department

There has been some recent discussion and confusion in some corners of the state in response to recent changes to the Game and Fish statutes relating to civil assessments imposed by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

Arizona Revised Statutes Title 17-314 allows the commission to bring civil action against an individual for unlawfully taking, wounding, killing, or unlawfully in possession of wildlife, and to recover minimum sums of money for damages. These actions are taken during public commission meetings, and this is the process by which wildlife violators are compelled to reimburse the state for the loss of wildlife associated with their unlawful activities.

New poaching penalties legislation
The statute was revised during the 2006 legislative session to increase the minimum sums that can be sought by the commission. This new legislation, which also increased the length of time a wildlife violator could have his or her license revoked, was called the “Anti-Poaching Bill”, and enjoyed support of many Arizonans.

Under the old statute the minimum sums ranged from $10 for each nongame bird or game fish to $750 for each buffalo, elk, bighorn sheep, eagle or endangered species. The ranges under the new statute are $50 for each small game or aquatic animal to $8,000 for each “trophy” animal or endangered species (see comparison chart below).

Old A.R.S. 17-314 (1985)

New A.R.S. 17-314 (2006)

       

Type of Animal

Minimum Amount

Type of Animal

Minimum Amount

Each turkey or javelina

$150.00

Each turkey or javelina

$500.00

Each bear, mountain lion, antelope or deer

$450.00

Each bear, mountain lion, antelope or deer other then trophy

$1,500.00

Each buffalo, elk, bighorn sheep, eagle, or endangered species

$750.00

Each elk or eagle, other then an endangered species

$2,500.00

Each Beaver

$75.00

For each predatory, fur-bearing, or nongame animal

$250.00

Each goose or raptor

$40.00

For each small game or aquatic animal

$50.00

Each duck, small game animal or small game bird

$15.00

For each trophy or endangered species animal

$8,000.00

Each nongame bird or game fish

$10.00

 

 

What is a “trophy” animal?
What some people have taken exception to is how we define a trophy animal worthy of an $8,000 civil assessment. Some have complained that we use the term “trophy” to describe animals that are nowhere near the trophy books (Boone and Crockett or Pope & Young), or they comment that a certain rack would never get $8,000 at an auction and that we are being unfair. This confusion is partly a result of the differences between a “plain language” definition and a “statutory” definition.

A “plain language” definition is a definition that is generally accepted by most people and is similar to a dictionary definition. When dealing in the legal world (statutes and rules), the statutory definitions take precedence and are often different then the “plain language” version of like phrases.

A good example of these differences is the use of the term “take” in the Game and Fish statutes. The dictionary definition of the word “take”, much like the plain language definition is, “To get into one’s possession by force, skill, or artifice” (American Heritage Dictionary). The statutory definition of “take” in A.R.S. 17-101 is, “’Take’ means pursuing, shooting, hunting, fishing, trapping, killing, capturing, snaring or netting wildlife or the placing or using of any net or other device or trap in a manner that may result in the capturing or killing of wildlife.” The statutory definition of “take” has been explained to quite a few individuals who wondered why they were cited for unlawful “take” of wildlife when they never actually killed anything. The statutory definitions allow legislators to clarify their intent when they pass laws.

As it relates to civil assessments and “trophy” animals, the Legislature clearly defined what is considered a “trophy” animal in statute. In A.R.S. 17-101, the statutory definition of a trophy animal is established as:

  • A mule deer buck with at least four points on one antler, not including the eye guard point.
  • A whitetail deer buck with at least three points on one antler, not including the eye guard point.
  • A bull elk with at least six points on one antler, including the eye guard point and the brow tine point.
  • A pronghorn (antelope) buck with at least one horn exceeding or equal to fourteen inches in total length.
  • Any bighorn sheep.
  • Any bison (buffalo).

The statute is not saying a small 6x6 set of elk antlers scoring 200 inches should be included in the trophy books, and it is not asserting this animal’s antlers would raise a lot at an antler auction. What the statute is saying is that the loss of this animal is worth at least $8,000 to the State of Arizona.

Antlers or horns can have value and are often sold. They have medicinal value in some parts of the world and can be sold for this purpose. They are often collected, sold, and then used to create artwork that is sold again. Their greatest value, however, is achieved through the sale of large or unique antlers or horns to “trophy” collectors (this use of “trophy” is the plain language definition).

Examples from the Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Assets Program include a mount of a 6x6, 400 class bull elk that sold for $17,000 in 2005, and a 12x13, 245-inch mule deer skull that sold for $22,000 in the spring of 2007.

While some antlers and horns can be sold for a lot of money, antlers that generate this much money are the exceptions rather then the rule. The 200-inch elk antlers mentioned above would typically sell for less then $500 at a typical assets auction. So, how can an animal be worth more then the value of its antlers or horns?

Other aspects of “value”
The Arizona Legislature, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, and many members of the public understand that the value of a set of antlers or horns is just one small part of an animal’s total value. When the new civil assessment statute went into effect and it became clear that there was some confusion regarding the value of wildlife, I was asked to do some research to explain more fully what an animal is worth.

Antlers and horns are tangible parts of wildlife that have value and can be reduced to possession by an individual. Another tangible component of wildlife that has value is meat that a person could possess had they legally harvested an animal. It is possible to determine some minimum level of value for an animal. Game meat is sold in some markets, but the value based on these market prices may be misleading because what are usually sold are the prime cuts, and the per-pound prices include the cost of processing the meat.

If we look in the available literature and determine the average size of a given animal (the 6x6 bull elk, for example), and subtract the weight that would be lost after the animal is field dressed, we could establish the typical field-dressed weight of an animal. If we then multiply that by the prices for wholesale beef, we would get an approximate value of around $750. This would likely be a conservative estimate, as most people would assert that wild elk meat is worth more then beef.

The value of wildlife-related activities
Additional values can be assigned based on data developed through surveys administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that evaluate what people typically spend during wildlife-related activities. This is a legitimate aspect of value to the state, in that these expenses represent what is put into local economies as a result of wildlife-related recreational activities.

For instance, using the bull elk example, the survey indicates that hunters in Arizona spent an average of $142.50 per day while hunting (adjusted for inflation from 2001, when that particular survey was conducted). Multiply this by the number of days the average bull elk hunter spends in the field (4.9 days) and we determine a legal hunter would have put about $700 dollars into the state economy if this bull was still alive and available for hunting.

This survey also gathered information on what people spend while viewing wildlife. The average person spent $88 per day (adjusted for inflation) viewing wildlife. If the 6x6 bull resulted in 15 days of viewing, it would represent approximately $1,315 that would go into the state’s economy.

In addition to the tangible, quantifiable values, there are other “intrinsic” values that are real but difficult to put a dollar figure on. Is there additional value if the animal is taken from an area where there is a very high demand for hunt opportunities? What about the value to the health of the population and its future reproductive potential? Was the animal from a population that resulted from a transplant or served as a source for a transplant to another area? What about the impact to property values in the area, the animal’s importance to the ecosystem, the importance of the population’s genetic diversity, the cultural/religious value?

Some surveys have indicated that citizens who do not even participate in wildlife-related recreation assign a lot of value to simply knowing a wild animal is there. All of this is lost by the state and its citizens when an animal is unlawfully taken.

Special tags: Another indicator of value
One final indicator of what an animal might be worth, based on very real market data, can be found in the Special Big Game Tag program. Each year as many as three Arizona permits for most species of big game are auctioned or raffled. Money generated from this program must be used to benefit wildlife, and this surely influences what people are willing to pay, but it is also a clear indication of what an individual is willing to pay for an opportunity to hunt big game animals in Arizona.

In the case of bull elk, this figure has ranged from $100,000 to $137,500 over the last five years. In all cases where special tags have been issued, this data indicates people are willing to spend significantly more for the opportunity than the $8,000 minimum civil assessment established by A.R.S. 17-314 for “trophy” animals (see table below).

 

Elk

Mule Deer

Whitetail Deer

Desert BHS

Rocky Mountain BHS

Pronghorn Antelope

Black Bear

Javelina

2002

$100,000

$80,000

15,000

120,000

 

51000

1,100

800

 

 

$102,000

13,500

 

 

39000

 

625

2003

$137,500

$100,000

16,000

105,000

 

40000

510

400

 

 

$118,000

15,000

 

 

65000

 

401

2004

$85,000

$126,000

16,000

65,000

 

59000

1,280

1,000

 

 

$123,000

9,500

 

 

67500

 

1,300

2005

$130,000

$134,000

16,000

199,000

 

43000

1,700

600

 

 

$135,000

19,000

 

 

39500

1,600

1,200

2006

$125,000

$100,000

24,000

165,000

$111,000*

65000

1,500

1,300

 

$135,000

$142,000

21,000

 

 

61000

3,300

1,100

Avg.

$118,750

$116,000

$16,500

$130,800

$111,000*

$53,000

$1,570

$873

In conclusion, when someone looks at a set of antlers and says they are not worth the amount of the civil assessment imposed on an individual, they are probably right. But the Arizona Game and Fish Commission is not seeking damages for the loss of the antlers; the commission is seeking damages for the loss of the animal from the state and its citizens. In Arizona, wildlife is highly valued, and the commission is seeking recovery for that value.

Arizona is getting a “liberalized” waterfowl season 

AZ waterfowlers are getting 107 hunt days

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

Arizona hunters are getting a “liberalized” waterfowl season of 107 hunt days for 2007-08 thanks to a decent overall waterfowl breeding season in North America, despite the fact that much of this state’s waterfowl habitats continue to be affected by long-term drought.

New this year is a liberalization of the canvasback bag limit. The limit on canvasbacks has increased from one to two birds per day for the 2007-2008 season.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Aug. 11 approved the waterfowl hunting package recommended by department biologists. Once again this year, the seasons in Arizona will be split between a mountain zone and a desert zone.

Waterfowl biologist Mike Rabe explained that ducks and geese arrive earlier in the mountain areas of the state and leave as the waters freeze, but typically don’t come to the lower elevations until later in the fall when the temperatures are more temperate. Therefore, he said, utilizing mountain and desert zones offers hunters the opportunity to hunt when the birds are in those respective areas.

For general ducks and geese, the mountain zone will open Oct. 5, 2007 and continue to Jan. 13, 2008. In the desert zone, the season will open Oct. 19 and close Jan. 27.

Juniors-only hunters get a slight increase in opportunity this coming season. For the mountain zone, the juniors-only hunt is set for Sept. 29-30, and in the desert zone, for Feb. 2-3, 2008 (before and after the general seasons respectively).

Arizona waterfowl hunters this coming season will have available the following daily bag limit: sevens ducks (including mergansers), with no more than two female mallards, two redheads, one pintail, three scaup, and two canvasback.

For geese, the limits are four white geese (snow, including blue and Ross’ geese) and three dark geese (Canada and white-fronted).

Rabe said the state’s wetlands, which includes lakes, rivers, marshes and stock tanks, is still being affected by drought when the waterfowl season commences; it will not only affect the availability of waterfowl habitat during migration, but will directly influence waterfowl abundance and hunter participation.

“It’s a wait-and-see proposition each year in Arizona when it comes to waterfowl,” Rabe said. “Who knows what kind of waterfowl hand Mother Nature will deal us this year.”

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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.

Perry Mesa Fence Modification, Oct. 20
This project will be held at Horseshoe Ranch north of Phoenix. Volunteers will be modifying a fence on the north end of Perry Mesa (movement corridor to the Cornstalk Flat area). The fence is currently a six-wire barbed fence with a bottom wire about 8 to 10 inches above the ground. The Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be supplying the materials. We will try to get a couple of miles done if we have enough volunteers. The Arizona Antelope Foundation is coordinating this project. The AAF will provide a free steak dinner to all volunteers on Saturday night. For more information, please visit www.azantelope.org or contact Scott Anderson at (480) 213-1611.

Volunteer Shotgun Instructors or Range Officers for Women's 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 (2-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 6:30-9 p.m. (exact times are yet to be determined and will be posted on the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site). The program will be held at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center; entrance is about 1/2 mile 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 at (623) 236-7680.

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Vol. 3 No. 5 Sept. 2007
In this issue:


News and notes

Hunters can apply for spring 2008 hunts
Hunters can now apply for the 2008 spring hunts for javelina, turkey, buffalo and bear. The spring regulation supplement and application forms can be downloaded from the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at azgfd.gov. The printed version of the spring supplement and form will not be available at license dealers in the state until early September.

The online application process will not be available for the spring 2008 draw. All spring hunt-permit applications will have to be mailed or hand-delivered to department offices. The deadline to apply for the spring hunts is Oct. 9 (the day after Columbus Day, a state holiday).

New introductory hunter education course can be taken online or in classroom
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has rolled out its new “introductory” hunter education course that can be taken either in a classroom setting or by independent study online over the Internet. Both the classroom and online formats require students to demonstrate proficiency and pass an exam during a field day with certified instructors to complete the course.

The new course, consisting of either 7-10 hours of classroom or self-paced online study, along with a 4- to 5-hour field day, was developed as a convenient alternative for beginning hunters who either don’t have the time to take the traditional 20-hour basic class.

For information on all of Arizona’s hunter education course offerings, visit azgfd.gov/education and click on the hunter education link.

Game and Fish headquarters to move in October
The Arizona Game and Fish Department will move its Phoenix headquarters from the current Greenway Road location to a new energy-efficient facility on the southwest corner of the Ben Avery Shooting Facility property in mid- to late-October.

The new address will be 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086. The facility will be located about 1.5 miles west of the I-17 and Carefree Highway interchange. The main phone number will remain (602) 942-3000. All other direct phone numbers and extensions for employees and work units will change.

The new headquarters will include consolidated, modernized office space, expanded meeting facilities (including a 200-seat auditorium), a climate-controlled warehouse, laboratories, and a vehicle maintenance facility.

For more information, visit azgfd.gov.

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-DEER (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.

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 1/2 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.

Hunters drawn for hunts in condor range will receive more information by mail on how they can help. For more information on non-lead ammunition and a list of the available calibers, visit azgfd.gov/condor.

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 kids
An organization that fulfills terminally ill children’s dreams of going on a big game hunt is seeking kids to match with several hunting opportunities 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.

HOAL AZ is currently seeking children to match with several available hunts in Arizona: five for bull elk and one each for pronghorn antelope and bear. An ibex hunt in New Mexico is also available. These are all exciting hunting opportunities that adults would love to have.

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 have a minor child age 10-17 (or know of another child) with a life-threatening illness who would like to go on an HOAL 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.

President issues executive order promoting hunting
An executive order issued on Aug. 16 by President George W. Bush will spell more hunting opportunities and enhanced conservation efforts, according to the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. 
 
The order, entitled “Facilitation of Hunting and Wildlife Conservation,” directs federal agencies that manage public land, outdoor recreation and wildlife management to:

  • Address declining trends and implement actions that expand and enhance hunting opportunities
  • Consider the economic and recreational value of hunting
  • Manage wildlife and habitat in a manner that expands and enhances hunting opportunities
  • Work collaboratively with states to manage wildlife in a manner that respects private property rights and state authority over wildlife
  • Establish goals with the states to foster healthy game populations

“This executive order is a great milestone for sportsmen and wildlife conservation,” said Bud Pidgeon, president and CEO of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. “It clearly demonstrates that the President understands the unbreakable bond between successful wildlife conservation and hunting--that sportsmen are the key to abundant wildlife and habitat.”

Maricopa County seeks input on Table Mesa Road closure
On July 1, the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and Bureau of Reclamation began enforcing the restriction on motorized vehicle use in the Agua Fria conservation area at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. They said that the decision to enforce Park Rule R-107 was made to ensure public safety and to protect the conservation area.

Currently, the agencies are preparing a long-term plan for the area and would like to hear from community members who recreate there. If you would like to be a part of this effort, please plan on attending one of the upcoming public meetings listed below: meetings listed below:

  • Thursday, Sept. 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
    Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant
    41402 N. 87th Avenue, Peoria
    (602) 372-7470
  • Wed., Sept. 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
    Desert Outdoor Center at Lake Pleasant
    41402 N. 87th Avenue, Peoria
    (602) 372-7470
  • Monday, Sept. 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
    Albins Civic Center
    19005 E. K-Mine Road Center,
    Black Canyon City
    (623) 374-5234

Nominations sought for annual Game and Fish Commission awards
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is seeking nominations for its annual Commission awards.

Nominations may include individuals, organizations, clubs, foundations or government agencies. The submission deadline is Friday, Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. The categories are:

  • Award of excellence
  • Youth environmentalist of the year
  • Outdoor writer of the year
  • Media of the year
  • Conservation organization of the year
  • Conservationist of the year
  • Outdoor woman of the year
  • Environmentalist of the year
  • Volunteer of the year
  • Educator of the year
  • License dealer of the year (new category this year)

For additional descriptions of the award categories or an award nomination form, click here.

Outdoor Hall of Fame inducts five new members
Five new members were inducted into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame at the Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation's annual Outdoor Hall of Fame banquet on Aug. 24. The four individuals and one organization were honored for outstanding contributions and service that have benefited Arizona's wildlife and their habitats.

This year's inductees are:

  • State Representative Jerry Weiers
  • Beth Woodin
  • Paul Berquist
  • Tom Mackin
  • Arizona Elk Society

For more information on the honorees’ accomplishments, click here.

The Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame was established in 1998 by the Wildlife For Tomorrow Foundation to honor those who have made significant and lasting contributions to benefit Arizona’s wildlife and the welfare of its natural resources.

 

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!

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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

 

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.