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

    Archive for February, 2007

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

    “Apres moi, le deluge”

    The dust has yet to settle on the Zumbo affair, but to me an even more important (and troubling) component has emerged. All one has to do is visit any hunting-related message board and see the infighting, bickering and outright venom that has boiled to the surface. Boiled to the surface of boards that were, for the most part, in agreement prior to the Zumbo mess.

    I understand what the pro-gun folks are saying. I understand what happens when you relax. I was born and raised in Canada. I have seen first hand how left-leaning city-dwellers can develop policy at every level of government. Policy that is unrealistic, and in fact ridiculous, to most of us.

    I am not going to knock the NRA, nor the work that they do. It is more than important, it is critical. That being said, I’d like to tell a story. When I first moved to the US, I joined the NRA. I was proud of my membership - up until a couple of events occurred. Ruby Ridge and Waco. I recall vaguely a very pro-gun individual (G Gordon Liddy, maybe?) advocating shooting at Federal Agents. Not only advocating, but coaching on how to avoid the body armor. At that time, you see - my father in law was an Immigration Officer. My brother in law was a Customs Officer. Two more brothers in law were Border Patrol Agents. That whole time just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I continued to support the 2nd Amendment and the NRA, but always with a sense of uneasiness.

    The Zumbo affair has brought those feelings back to a degree. Where is the line between advocating not only the ownership of firearms, but the right to do so - and the frame of mind where it is OK to shoot at law enforcement officers, or turn on your friends because even though they believe in the same thing; they don’t believe in it (or demonstrate it) the way you think they should?

    On the other hand, the anti-Gun people are flat wrong. Most of us know that more laws aren’t needed. Bans aren’t needed. Criminals don’t follow the same rules as everyone else. Let’s enforce the laws we have. Let’s punish criminals. I find it odd that the left, who is typically considered to be soft on crime… wants to keep making more laws!!

    The sad thing to me is the way that the “vehement proponents” have turned on their friends (and allies) the “moderate hunters”. Not only is it sad, but I think it is a flawed strategy. What is there to gain by potentially alienating such a large group of “former” supporters? Most of the comments I have heard focused on the public perception. Most hunters know that there is no difference between a Remington 7400 and an AR-15 other than looks. They advocate sensitivity and education as the way to reach the non-hunting and non-shooting population. The pro-gun crowd says “To heck with that, it’s our right, and we’re going to do it.”

    On one message board, the poster made this statement: “I have news for some of you, the more people see something, the more they get used to it.” I wonder if that individual feels the same way about men holding hands in public? How many times have I heard “I don’t care what they do, but I don’t want it shoved in my face?” Ironically, usually from the same folks.

    I can’t even sum up with an opinion. That I didn’t come right out and directly condemn the “other side”, I am sure I will be labelled a heretic, or worse - an anti-gun hippie liberal. That being said, I do believe in the 2nd Amendment. I believe in the work done by the NRA. Is there room for more than one strategy however? Many will say no. “There is zero room for compromise in this war. Give an inch, and they will take a mile. Moderation will not work, only true-blue total conviction in the cause. You are with us, or against us.” Maybe they are right. Long-term, I think the damage not done by Zumbo, but by the ensuing arguments - will take generations to heal. Ultimately, the only ones gaining ground from the quarreling are the antis. The Zumbo posting was the quake - the bickering after was the tsunami.

    I told a friend that this is how I see the arguments…It is sort of like being a firm believer in Christianity, but coming from one of the more “moderate” denominations - there’s something about the evangelists that just make you uneasy, even though ultimately - you believe in the same thing….

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    Posted on 28th February 2007
    Under: General | 2 Comments »

    Sure, the statement was dumbo… but he’s still my chumbo

    Well, the internet is swirling with “stuff” regarding the Jim Zumbo crisis. I bet 98-99% of the comments that I have read or heard disagree with his statements regarding the use of “assault rifles”. Ultimately, Mr.Z was surprised that people even use them for hunting, and opined that Game Departments should ban them, for that purpose. Before he even got home from his hunting trip, Mr. Z’s career was circling the drain. His career. Because of a single blog posting that most of us disagreed with. Once Jim saw the firestorm he had created, he reconsidered his comments, and posted - what I felt to be - a gentleman’s apology, and a willingness to learn why so many people love shooting these types of weapons.

    It wasn’t enough though, it seems. The internet armies had mobilized. Ranting and raving from behind their keyboards, people from across the US demanded their pound of flesh. “How dare he?” The situation took on a life of its’ own - these defenders of the 2nd Amendment seemed to overlook the first. People - friends, acquaintances, and internet-toughguys we’ve never met - bicker on the internet all the time. Most are not shy about making statements, or posting opinions - I wonder how many would consider their careers a fair price to pay for making a statement that the rest of us don’t agree with? I wonder how many of those who thumped their chests and gnashed their teeth - who wrote to Zumbo’s sponsors - who spread the word across the net whilst demanding action…. I wonder how many of those folks even spent a fraction of that energy writing legislators about gun-related issues? Or writing to the scads of anti-gun/anti-hunting movie stars, companies, and organizations?

    The mob mentality, along with the speed and ferocity that this situation gathered literally overnight - are scary. People spread the word with the same conviction and speed that they help tell us about rat feces on Coke cans. And how by forwarding this e-mail, Microsoft will send us hundreds or thousands of dollars. Oh - and help us find this missing girl.

    I don’t know Jim Zumbo. I know people who know him, and I suspect that’s about as close as I’ll get. These people tell me that Jim is a good man. That he has done more to promote the sport than hundreds of message board members could accomplish in a lifetime. The guy said something stupid. I do well to make it through a day without putting my foot in my mouth. It hasn’t cost me my career - yet. People should be judged (usually) on the totality of their life’s efforts; not on something hastily tapped into a blog, while on a hunting trip.

    I don’t get corporate sponsorships, and now - am unsure that I ever want any. Zumbo was big enough that I don’t expect he had to knock on many boardroom doors, the past few years, hat in hand - asking for handouts and alliances. 6 months ago, I bet a lot of these execs that dumped him at the first sign of trouble - were peppering Zumbo’s derriere with butterfly kisses in hopes that he would represent their products. The days of loyalty and handshakes are gone, I suspect, and this situation serves only to reinforce that.

    Field & Stream’s David Petzal had some great comments on his blog:

    David Petzal

    What Jim said was ill-considered. He’s entitled to his beliefs, but when a writer of his stature comes out against black guns, it sure as hell does not help our cause.

    Even so, Jim made an immediate apology. He did not equivocate, or qualify, or make excuses. He acted like a gentleman and said he was wrong, and he was sorry. Apparently this is not enough anymore. We now live in the era of one strike and you’re out.

    For 40 years, Jim has been a spokesman and ambassador of good will for hunting. Through his tireless efforts as a teacher and lecturer on hunting and hunting skills, he has done more for the sport than any 250 of the yahoos who called for his blood

    Jim has paid dearly for what he said. He has lost his blog and his association with Remington. Cabela’s has suspended its sponsorship of his TV show; and Outdoor Life has accepted his offer to sever ties. To all the chatroom heroes who made him unemployable, I have a word of warning: You’ve been swinging a two-edged sword. A United States in which someone can be ruined for voicing an unpopular opinion is a dangerous place. Today it was Jim’s turn. Tomorrow it may be yours.

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    Posted on 23rd February 2007
    Under: General, Hunting, Politics and More | 7 Comments »

    Are Conservation Groups “clique-ish”?

    Arizona has a bunch of groups that do fantastic work for both hunters and wildlife. That being said, my experience (so far) has been that if you don’t fit into their member “mold”, then they might not really welcome your help. Because of my personal situation, I can’t travel at all, and even making meetings is challenging. That being said, I have offered my help to several organizations, and find - quite frankly - that it is like pulling teeth. A person shouldn’t have to beg to volunteer their time for a worthy cause. Granted, I know what most of these groups need is troops - worker bees - boots on the ground. If a person can’t provide that, then what?

    Sorry, I love to go to the auctions/fundraisers, but you won’t see me at many of those either. I make it to one every couple of years. With tickets at 100 bucks or so a pop (or 50, or 70, or whatever) I can’t make it to a lot of those. I KNOW the money does good work; I just can’t swing it that often.

    It’s often said that a few people in these organizations do the bulk of the work. Maybe that’s because they hesitate to let anyone else in to the “inner circle”. I just think that these organizations should be scooping up potential volunteers - along with whatever they are willing to bring to the table. If you don’t have a need for someone to write press release, or edit articles - just say so. Don’t ignore their inquiries. Or think of something else they might be able to help with.

    The cries of “we don’t have enough people” are starting to ring hollow, for me.

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    Posted on 18th February 2007
    Under: Conservation Groups, General | 3 Comments »

    New Bill targets OHV users

    New bill would generate millions of dollars for OHV management

    A bill that would raise more money for law enforcement, trail development, mitigating for damage and other costs associated with the management of off-highway vehicles in Arizona has passed its first hurdle at the state Legislature. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission commends the Arizona House of Representatives Natural Resources and Public Safety Committee for this week’s passage of House Bill 2443. If passed by the Legislature, this bill would not only increase funding for OHV programs, but it would also cut registration fees for thousands of people who enjoy off-highway vehicle recreation in the state.

    The off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation bill, sponsored by Dist. 12 Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, was introduced to address the expanding popularity of OHV activities in the state. OHV recreational use has increased by roughly 350 percent since 1998. During this time, funding for off-highway vehicle recreation has grown by an average of only about 4 percent, not keeping pace with the dramatic increase in OHV recreation in Arizona.

    House Bill 2443 provisions include:

    Additional funding to bolster resources for OHV management in key areas, including off-highway vehicle facilities, access, law enforcement, education and safety.
    New laws that will better protect Arizona’s natural resources from inappropriate use of OHVs.
    Improved safety standards, including a requirement for individuals younger than 18 to wear appropriate headgear.
    An annual flat fee that replaces the Vehicle License Tax for the registration of all-terrain vehicles. This would:
    Reduce costs to consumers.
    Allow for “street legal” registration at no extra cost.
    Include all-terrain vehicles (ATV), all-terrain cycles (ATC) and utility vehicles (UTVs).
    A dedicated funding source for OHV enthusiasts to protect opportunities to ride in Arizona for generations to come.
    “The commission applauds the Arizona Legislature Natural Resources Committee for its commitment to protect Arizona’s natural resources,” said Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Michael Golightly. “The expansion of the state’s OHV fund would provide much-needed financial support for state agencies, user groups and local governments to protect wildlife habitat, while providing safe OHV recreation opportunities. Many OHV enthusiasts, sportsmen and wildlife conservationists appreciate this opportunity for Arizona to benefit from House Bill 2443.”

    Members of the Off-highway Vehicle Legislative Workgroup, comprised of OHV recreationists and outdoor user groups, land management agencies, county and local governments, and Arizona Game and Fish, worked together with Rep. Weiers to develop House Bill 2443.

    “As a sportsman, I am very happy there is a piece of legislation that addresses the OHV issue,” said John Koleszar, a member of several conservation groups. “It addresses habitat preservation and law enforcement, as well as funding for trail development.”

    Apache County ATV Roughriders President Hank Rogers added, “This bill is an excellent opportunity to elevate the issue of dedicated funding for OHV management, and to point out the need to fund proactive trail development and educational opportunities and outreach.”

    To read the full text of House Bill 2443, visit the Arizona State Legislature Web site at azleg.gov. Also, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site, azgfd.gov, for more information on the bill and to sign up for OHV updates.

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    Posted on 18th February 2007
    Under: Arizona News | No Comments »

    Decision delayed to remove bald eagles from endangered list

    From The Verde Independent…

    Staff Reporter

    Bald eagles will remain on the federal list of threatened and endangered species for at least another four months, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

    The announcement was made last week, after the service reached a court-approved agreement to delay the decision until no later than June 29.

    According to the public affairs department, “The additional four months will give the service time to complete additional analyses related to the final rule, and put in place management guidelines and procedures that will make it easier for the public to understand ongoing Bald and Golden Eagle Act protections — ensuring that eagles continue to thrive once delisted.”

    Raptor Management Coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department Jamey Driscoll believes the eagles will be delisted.

    Once delisted, bald eagles will remain protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These acts prohibit killing, selling or otherwise harming eagles, their nests or eggs, according to the fish and wildlife service.

    The bald eagle was officially declared endangered in 1967.

    Driscoll said the banning of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in 1973 was the most significant reason the birds have recovered.

    According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, DDT is a pesticide once widely used on agriculture to control insects. That pesticide would seep into waters and contaminate fish. The eagles would then eat the fish. DDT caused thin and/or incomplete eggshells, thus causing a massive reproductive decline. DDT is still used in some countries.

    The original deadline to make a decision weather to remove the eagles was to be this Friday.

    *The best place to see bald eagles locally is in the Verde Canyon, along the river between Beasly Flats and the Perkinsville Ranch. Driscoll said it is “almost guaranteed” bald eagles can be spotted around lower Lake Mary and Mormon Lake areas in Flagstaff during this time.

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    Posted on 18th February 2007
    Under: Arizona News, General | No Comments »

    Bikers can help wildlife

    Harley or crotch-rocket, you can help. I must say, it seems that bikers are involved in a ton of great activities

    Help sick and injured wildlife by taking a ride

    What better way to spend a Sunday than on the back of a motorcycle enjoying Arizona’s landscape, all while benefiting sick and injured wildlife? Riders are invited to participate in the family-friendly “Bikers Soar for Wildlife Poker Run” on Feb. 18. The fundraiser helps with the care and rehabilitation of animals at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, and is hosted by the Wildlife Center’s Auxiliary.

    “This ride is a wonderful way to enjoy a day with your family in Arizona’s great outdoors and help raise money for wildlife rehabilitation,” says Sandy Cate, coordinator of the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center. “The whole family is sure to have fun with a variety of activities, including the poker run, plus wildlife exhibits, a live band and a raffle for prizes.”

    Riders will enjoy 120 miles of scenic Arizona, beginning at Hal-O-Penos Mexican Café at 3575 W. Northern Ave. in Phoenix and ending at Pioneer Living History Village at 3901 W. Pioneer Road in Phoenix. Pioneer Living History Village is a reproduction of an old Western town from the 1800s. Throughout the route, riders will stop at designated locations to collect a playing card, with the best hand of five cards winning a prize at the end of the ride. Even the non-riders in the family can partake by joining riders after 1 p.m. to enjoy the activities at the final destination.

    The tax-deductible cost to participate is $20 per rider or $30 per rider and passenger, with a ride pin and lunch provided to all registered riders. A reduced pre-registration cost is offered through Feb. 1, and the first 500 registrants will receive a free event T-shirt. Registration begins at 8 a.m. on the day of the event. For more information and to pre-register, visit the Wildlife Center’s volunteer auxiliary Web site at azwildlifecenter.org or call (623) 587-0139.

    Founded in May 1983, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center treats more than 1,000 sick and injured animals annually, and provides wildlife education to local schools and outreach to community groups. The center’s mission is carried out with a small budget from the state’s Heritage Fund, making fundraising an important contributor to the care of the animals.

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    Posted on 1st February 2007
    Under: Events, General | 1 Comment »