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    2007 January - Desert Rat - The Premier Hunting and Fishing Blog of the Southwest!

    Archive for January, 2007

    American Idol - the Field Edition

    OK, I admit it. I’m like a lot of other Americans in that I like to watch American Idol. I know a lot of people hate it, and a lot are indifferent. There’s sure a lot of people tuned in though. Talking to people, most of us like the same thing - the people who can’t sing, getting reamed by the judges. It’s like watching a train wreck. Every time this show is on, I ask my wife “Do these people not understand that they can’t sing? Do they really think that they sound good?”

    Then I wonder to myself “What is a person to do, when the thing that they love, they aren’t very good at?” Hmmm…. now I can relate a little. You see, I love to hunt, but am reaching the conclusion that I’m not very good at it. Now I know what you’re saying.. “Oh, keep at it” “That’s why they call it hunting” “Geez, Marshall - don’t give up”. Well, I’m not giving up, per se. Just admitting to myself that, for a bunch of reasons, I may not be very good at this. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a big deal. It just means that I have to keep reasonable expectations for myself. Maybe re-align my priorities. For example, I’m a decent writer, and think I have a knack for photography - with some work and training. That’ll get me out too. If I take

    To my friends - I’m not reaching out for a pep talk LOL. Just thinking. Surely people have run into situations where they love something, but just aren’t very good at it. Then what?

    Maybe I should take up singing…..

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    Posted on 31st January 2007
    Under: General | 1 Comment »

    Bass in the snow

    Ahhh.. reminds me of home

    Volunteers catch smallmouth bass for Apache Lake despite snowstorms
    Neither rain, nor sleet, nor blowing snow deterred dedicated anglers trying to catch smallmouth bass at Roosevelt Lake on the weekend of Jan. 20-21 for transfer to Apache Lake to help this struggling but popular fishery.

    “Our smallmouth bass transfer project was held last weekend in spite of the inclement weather. We had a total of eight volunteer anglers and contributions from two tournaments—Saguaro Saguaro Bassmasters and American Bass Association—to catch fish for our transfer effort,” said Jim Warnecke, the Mesa regional fisheries program manager.

    There were seven smallmouth bass over 16 inches and two less than 13 inches caught, for a total of nine bronzebacks that found new homes in Apache Lake on Sunday during a snowstorm.

    The fishery at Apache Lake was severely crippled by golden alga blooms the past several years. Biologists said that for some unknown reason, golden alga takes a toll on smallmouth bass populations. Apache Lake has long been considered Arizona’s premier smallmouth bass fishery.

    “The Game and Fish Department will continue to explore acquisition of fingerling smallmouth bass to stock into Apache Lake, although initial costs of over $3 each for 50,000 fish needed for the lake seems cost prohibitive,” Warnecke said.

    Exploration continues for spawning our own fish, he said, but space in the hatchery and getting enough brood stock to carry off the effort continue to be of concern.

    “We’ll continue to keep the angling public in the loop as we progress. Scuba surveys are set for the end of March to look at fish use (all species) in our newly constructed habitat at Apache Lake,” Warnecke said.

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    Posted on 30th January 2007
    Under: Arizona News, Fishing | No Comments »

    What does the future hold for Arizona’s bald eagles?

    I found this article pretty interesting. There is no question that AZGF makes monies available for non-game species. Whatever the path taken, let’s hope it’s the best one for the eagles…

    From The Arizona Republic

    Bald eagles’ future in flux
    New agreement spells out treatment of birds on or off endangered list

    Kate Nolan
    The Arizona Republic
    Jan. 27, 2007 12:00 AM

    A 20-year-old eagle named Liberty perched motionless on a stick, his predator eyes lasered on an unlikely scene.

    A few dozen humans led by Delmar Boni, a traditional healer of the San Carlos Apaches, were acting out an eagle dance, flapping their arms, dipping at the knees, not looking very much like the state and federal officials, naturalists and members of the press they were.

    The occasion was a meeting this week at the Phoenix Zoo, where Duane Shroufe, director of Arizona Game and Fish Department, signed a new agreement that spells out how Arizona bald eagles will be handled, whether or not they lose their endangered-species protection as expected in February. The dance was part of a ceremony to honor the bird as officials discussed its fate.

    No one would argue that the destiny of the North American bald eagle hasn’t changed.

    The national bird was on the fast track to annihilation by pesticides in the 1970s, was placed on the endangered-species list and in 1999 the federal government proposed delisting it because its numbers had grown so much under the federal protections.

    But since then, its fate has seemed forever up in the air, as various government bodies, from U.S. Fish and Wildlife to the federal courts, weighed the mountain of comments and legal actions that have resulted from the proposed delisting. A court in Minnesota ordered the feds to decide by Feb. 16 whether to delist the eagle.

    In Arizona, conservationists have sued to have the southwestern bald eagle viewed as a special case that can be listed on its own. more…

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    Posted on 30th January 2007
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General | No Comments »

    Mussels on the march

    From AZGFD. Hopefully boaters and others will do their part and follow the precautions listed. Though I doubt it…

    Invasive mussels found at CAP intakes on Lake Havasu
    Officials fear the invasion could spread to the interior of Arizona

    PHOENIX – Divers have found quagga mussels at the Central Arizona Project (CAP) intakes at Lake Havasu earlier this week and officials fear this invasive mollusk could spread into central Arizona lakes.

    The CAP canal is one pathway for these mussels to spread into central Arizona, but these aquatic invaders could also hitchhike on boats coming from the Colorado River lakes that have already been infested.

    “Quagga mussels could spread into Lake Pleasant, if they haven’t already. These prolific invaders pose a significant, multi-million-dollar threat to our lakes, rivers, streams and water systems,” says Larry Riley, the fisheries chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

    The CAP canal provides water to the interior of Arizona and stretches into the Phoenix and Tucson areas. Lake Pleasant on the northern edge of Phoenix is filled each year with Central Arizona Project water.

    Efforts are underway to examine this long canal stretching across the state to determine if these mussels have established themselves.

    Bob Barrett, a spokesperson for the Central Arizona Project, emphasized that quagga mussels do not pose a threat to the public health or to the water supply. “We’ll do whatever it takes to keep the water flowing. If they begin to build up, we’ll scrape them off.”

    During the last two weeks since their discovery at Lake Mead on Jan. 6, quagga mussels have been confirmed at lakes Mohave and Havasu, including adjacent to the structure that pump water from Havasu to parts of southern California. The invasive mussels have also been found at a fish hatchery in Nevada that provides trout to Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. Fish deliveries from that hatchery have been suspended until new procedures are in place to avoid the spread of these mussels.

    The Dreissena species of mussels, which includes two closely related mussels, the zebra and quagga, are less than an inch long, but are extremely prolific. A single one of these mollusks is capable of producing up to a million microscopic larvae in a year.

    Quagga mussels can be found at much lower depths than zebra mussels, which is not good news for the deep reservoirs often found in the West. These rapidly-spreading invaders can clog pipelines; damage machinery, such as boat engines; harm fishery resources and befoul bodies of water with waste. In time, they can permanently alter a lake’s ecosystem.

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department, National Park Service, California Department of Fish and Game and the Nevada Division of Wildlife are urging boaters and other water recreationists to take positive action to avoid spreading this aquatic invasive species. Boaters (including personal watercraft, canoe and kayak users), divers and anglers should take the following precautions:

    Drain the water from your boat motor, livewell and bilge on land before leaving the lake.
    Flush the motor and bilges with hot, soapy water or a 5-percent solution of household bleach.
    Inspect your vessel and trailer, removing any visible mussels, but also feel for any rough or gritty spots on the hull. These may be young mussels that can be hard to see.
    Wash the hull, equipment, bilge and any other exposed surface with hot, soapy water or use a 5-percent solution of household bleach.
    Clean and wash your trailer, truck or any other equipment that comes in contact with lake water. Mussels can live in small pockets anywhere water collects.
    Air-dry the boat and other equipment for at least five days before launching in any other waterway.
    Remove any mud or vegetation from your boat or trailer – mussels can hide and hitchhike in this material.
    Do not reuse bait once it has been in the water.
    Clean sensitive gear (diving and fishing gear) with hot water (140 degrees F) or a soak in warm saltwater (1/2 cup of iodized salt per gallon of water) and air-dry before use elsewhere.
    These small invasive mussels, which originally came from Eastern Europe, have been causing multimillion-dollar problems in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin. The Colorado River is 1,000 miles farther west than any previously known colonies of these mollusk invaders.

    For additional information on this aquatic invader and others, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department Web site at azgfd.gov, protectyourwaters.net, 100thMeridian.org, and the U.S. Geological Survey Web site.

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    Posted on 29th January 2007
    Under: Arizona News | No Comments »

    Idaho Wolf Tag $26.50

    If they are de-listed, they are de-listed. Manage them like any other big game population…

    The full story as posted in the King’s Outdoor World Blog: King’s

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    Posted on 29th January 2007
    Under: Conservation Groups, General | No Comments »

    Maybe next year, you can hunt elephants in Zambia

    Seems like a logical step to me. If the herd is healthy, most biologists recognize hunting both as a population management tool,
    and as a way to remove animals becoming problems in populated areas. From I.P.A. Manning’s Zambian Conservation Blog:


    Zambia Ministry of Tourism lobbies USA to allow elephant hunting

    Zambia lobbies US over elephant trophy hunting

    From BWALYA NONDO, Nevada, USA

    The Daily Mail 27 January 2007

    ZAMBIA has launched a campaign to lobby the United States government to recognise elephant trophy hunting as key to the conservation of the earth’s largest mammal. The American government does not allow its citizens to participate in elephant safari hunting in Zambia, and advances the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banning, dealing in ivory among others, as the reason for its position. Zambia has since met the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Services authorities to argue that increased quotas for trophy hunting in selected areas with trans-boundary elephant populations, was necessary. These areas include the Zambezi valley, where the elephant population was shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zambia considers a quota of eight for the Lower Zambezi, far below the limit settings recognised for elephant trophy hunting quotas. More at the link posted above..

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    Posted on 29th January 2007
    Under: General | 1 Comment »

    We want more opportunities (?)

    Well, the results from an AZGF have been released, and as expected, are causing a mini-furor. Before their poll was even closed, hunters were complaining about the methodology, skewed lines of questioning, available answers, etc. The general consensus was that the poll was administered in such a way to create the results that AZGF was looking for. Debates are swirling on the message board, and it seems most are not happy.

    To me, the more serious ramifications of this are less apparent. The effect of having hunters turn on each other. When you start talking about a) removing tags b) removing opportunity c) meddling with dates d) “adjusting” management goals; the discussions can turn nasty. The one that really gets my goat? When hunters start talking about eliminating the hunters that aren’t “serious”. Those comments are so ludicrous that they are practically inarguable. Aren’t we trying to recruit new hunters? Aren’t we trying to grow our ranks? Who the hell decides what is “serious enough”? If I don’t spend enough time afield, apparently I’m not serious. If I don’t kill enough game, I’m not worthy to be considered a “real hunter”? If I think tags are getting too expensive, my opinion doesn’t count? If I don’t spend enough money on gear? If I don’t scout enough? If I don’t have a big 4×4? Where does it stop?

    I am muy guilty of not being involved enough. Hunters need to stop slamming other hunters, and focus their attention on the State, the Commission, and the processes that generate the rules and policies. Enough, already.

    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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    Posted on 28th January 2007
    Under: Arizona News, General, Hunting | 1 Comment »

    Big Game Super Raffle is back

    Want a chance at 9 year-round dream hunts?

    Can you imagine hunting desert bighorn sheep in Arizona any time you want for an entire year? Or maybe you would like a year-round tag for elk, antelope or mule deer?

    Nine lucky hunters are doing just that as the winners of the first-ever Arizona Big Game Super Raffle. With a little luck, this coming year it could be your turn for a dream year-round hunt.

    Super raffle tickets for the 2007-08 hunts are on sale now. You can purchase raffle tickets for antelope, black bear, buffalo, Coues whitetail, desert bighorn sheep, elk, javelina, mule deer and turkey (Gould’s or Merriam’s). Tickets range from $5 to $25. To purchase a raffle ticket or find out more information, visit arizonabiggamesuperraffle.com. Keep in mind that all of the ticket forms must be received by June 25, 2007, and the drawing will be held on July 7.

    Along with the nine big game tags, you can also purchase raffle tags for a Swarovski optics package. One lucky person will win all of these: 15×56 binoculars, 10×42 EL binoculars, STS-80 spotting scope, 4-12×50 riflescope, LG laser rangefinder and an outdoorsman’s tripod. This package retails for more than $8,000. It’s tough to imagine another piece of optical equipment that a Western hunter might ever need. The money raised through this package is used to offset the costs of conducting the raffle.

    Also, new for 2007’s super raffle drawing is a caribou hunt incentive raffle valued at $6,500 that has been donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse.

    Each person who purchases the complete ticket raffle package – one for each species plus the Swarovski raffle ticket ($150 total) – will have a chance to win a six-day caribou hunt for two animals in Quebec with Safari Nordik.

    Included in this hunt package is a scoped firearm, air travel from any city in the continental United States to Quebec and $500 cash for trip incidentals. The trip includes fishing at no additional charge. You can even add a bear hunt at the outfitter’s standard rates. By the way, you can purchase as many “all 10″ packages as you like and will receive one caribou hunt raffle ticket for each complete package purchased.

    While this is an opportunity to win one or more dream hunts and superb optical equipment, it is also about raising money for wildlife conservation efforts. This past year, the super raffle raised a half-million dollars for wildlife conservation activities. The rule authorizing the super raffle requires that all the money collected per species be spent for that species.

    In fact, the super raffle was launched in 2006 as a way to raise substantial money for wildlife habitat work in Arizona while at the same time give all hunters an opportunity to participate. After a decade of prolonged drought, exploding human population and budget challenges, landscape-wide project work is critical to the future of big game species.

    When you purchase a super raffle ticket, Arizona’s big game species win – and you might, too.

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    Posted on 28th January 2007
    Under: Arizona News, Events, General | 1 Comment »

    Outdoor Expo coming this spring

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

    Outdoor enthusiasts: Mark your calendars! You won’t want to miss this year’s Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix.

    Experience the great outdoors at the Expo, formerly known as the Shooting Showcase. It has expanded 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 have the opportunity to experience hands-on recreational shooting on the range, including specialty shooting disciplines (cowboy action, black powder, rifle/pistol silhouette and more) hosted by local shooting organizations.

    The Archery in the Schools Program state championships will be held Saturday on the Ben Avery archery ranges, and the Scholastic Clay Target Program’s state sporting clays championships will be held at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center.

    Vendors interested in exhibiting at the Outdoor Expo can obtain more information at azgfd.gov/expo.

    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. The Expo entrance at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located off Carefree Highway, 1/2 mile west of I-17. For more information, visit azgfd.gov/expo.

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    Posted on 28th January 2007
    Under: Events, General | No Comments »

    Beginner’s Shooting Seminars

    Another great program

    Free seminars teach firearm safety, target-shooting fundamentals
    “First Shots” classes offered at Ben Avery Shooting Facility Feb. 9-11

    When it comes to learning about recreational target shooting and firearms ownership, newcomers can be intimidated by not knowing how or 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 one of several free “First Shots” classes offered Feb. 9-11 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix..

    “The First Shots class is a great opportunity for beginners to learn about recreational target shooting and to give shooting sports a try on the range,” says Tristanna Bickford, hunter recruitment and retention coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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

    Classes are offered 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 tbickford@azgfd.gov or call (602) 789-3241. Please provide your name and contact information, and indicate the class date and time for which you would like to register.

    The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd. in Phoenix. To get there, take I-17 to the Carefree Highway exit. The shooting facility entrance is off Carefree Highway, about ¼ mile west of the exit.

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

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    Posted on 28th January 2007
    Under: Arizona News, General | No Comments »

    Who are the real turkeys here?

    These guys should be charged with being stupid, not with animal cruelty. They didn’t think word of this would get out? They didn’t ponder how it might look to the general public? Amazing…

    (Lancaster) — The Lancaster County District Attorney’s office has charged a Manheim-based hunting club with animal cruelty. The Elstonville Sportsmen’s Association is accused of using live turkeys tied to hay bales as targets in an archery contest last September. The group is also charged with offering live animals as prizes in some contests. The officer who recommended the charges said it was the “most gutless act of cruelty” he’d ever seen.

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    Posted on 28th January 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Woman Saves Husband From Mountain Lion

    No doubt, she’ll be sanctioned and hassled by PETA-types for hurting that poor creature.

    From Fox news:

    Wife Saves Husband From Mouth of Lion With Log

    Friday, January 26, 2007


    SAN FRANCISCO — All she had was a pen, a tree log and a desire to save the man she loves.

    Wildlife officials are crediting Nell Hamm with saving her husband Jim’s life by clubbing a mountain lion that attacked him while the couple was hiking in a California state park.

    The couple, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month, were hiking in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park when the lion pounced.

    Nell Hamm said she heard a ‘horrible plea for help’ and when she turned around, she saw her husband in the mouth of the lion. So she picked up a nearby log, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and used it as a weapon.

    “I just picked it up and started hitting the lion and hitting him hard but he wouldn’t even flinch. He wouldn’t let go,” Nell told FOX News Friday morning as her husband recovered from a torn scalp, puncture wounds and other injuries on his arms, legs and hands.

    “I just kept hitting him and hitting him and Jim was coherent through the whole thing,” she said. more

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    Posted on 28th January 2007
    Under: General | 1 Comment »