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

    Archive for July, 2007

    Changing the face of hunter education

    Hmmm.. I have mixed feelings about this. Nothing replaces hands-on training with real-live instructors. On the other hand, is the Hunter Safety Course really a barrier? I’m interested in what the readers think….

    From this article at AzCentral.com by DeWayne Smith, for the Republic. Emphasis mine.

    Hunter-education course in Arizona not user-friendly

    DeWayne Smith
    Special for The Republic
    Jul. 25, 2007 09:30 PM

    Arizona’s hunter-education course used to be 20 hours of classroom study, including a day at the shooting range, and was heralded nationally as the top program for preparing youths (adults as well) on how to hunt safely and learn about the outdoors in general.

    But in this electronic age, the lengthy classroom-style course has been viewed by some as a barrier to recruiting younger hunters into the fold.

    Steve Ferrell, deputy director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, remembers when his family had two false starts in enrolling his son in a class because of heavy family commitments.

    “Arizona is one of four states that still don’t have the education course available for home study or online,” Ferrell said. “We have pared the course down to 14 hours, which has been a point of concern to some of our volunteer instructors.”

    Compared with some states, Arizona is quite liberal as to when kids can hunt big game. They can start as young as 10 if they turn that age by the time they complete the mandatory education course, otherwise they have to wait until age 14.

    “We’ve been graduating 4,000 a year from the hunter-education program, and some states graduate 10 times that many,” Ferrell added. “The national average is 12,000 annually.”

    Ferrell said the barriers to recruitment and retention include costs of participating, changing demographics, confusing and complex hunting rules and regulations, society in general, resistance to change from constituents and agency personnel and limitations of the resource caused by drought and other factors.

    Another item of concern is the opportunity to hunt.

    According to Ferrell, a department survey showed that most hunters simply want to go hunting even when the opportunity to be successful is less. This is something the department is exploring.

    Ferrell said that the department has addressed some areas that should make hunting and fishing more attractive by offering family and super conservation licenses where purchasers can save as much as $50. A major promotion of youth shotgun shooting programs is another successful program and juniors-only hunts are offered.

    “We have been putting dollars into many of these areas, including ramping up our efforts in improving the reproduction of game animal habitat,” said Ferrell. “The timing is right in looking at major changes. We don’t have our backs to the wall yet. But change is never easy.”

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    Posted on 31st July 2007
    Under: General | 3 Comments »

    Hunting Down Cancer

    From Widgeon Wacker over at AZSJ.org

    It’s that time again, check out the lineup for the 2007 HDC Hunts

    What is Hunting Down Cancer?

    Hunting Down Cancer is a fundraising event for the fight against cancer. We will be auctioning off an elk, waterfowl hunts and other related items and again this season all of the proceeds will be benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation www.LiveSTRONG.org . Last year our initial effort raised just under $11,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Go here to see how this money is being used by the LAF… more

    So far this year we will be auctioning off 20 graciously donated waterfowl hunts from the likes of Tom Matthews & Allen Hughes, Fred Zink and Field Hudnall, reining world champion duck caller Jim Ronquest, Tony Vandemore, Tyson Keller, Chris Jones, Nate Caldwell, Jason Connellee, Bill Cooksey, Greg Owens, Rich Good, Michael Weiss, John Beckwith, Jeff Wallis, David Rearick & Mike Bard, Troy Bailey & Sean Evans… and more to come. There will be many more items up for auction including the custom HDC Custom Call Setdonated by Jeff Foiles and Mark Spence.








    WW Out!

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    Posted on 31st July 2007
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General | 1 Comment »

    The Future of Conservation

    The future of hunting and fishing is facing a myriad of challenges, including urbanization, apathetic parents, video games, hunt opportunity, competition for hunting areas, costs (like gas and ammo) and more… At least these folks are trying to figure it all out.

    From AZGFD:

    The future of wildlife conservation

    Focus must be on reversing the decline in hunting and fishing participation

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

    The future of not just hunting and fishing but also wildlife conservation may depend on successfully addressing the continuing declines in hunter and angler participation.

    That was a common message from a panel of experts discussing hunter and angler recruitment and retention during the annual conference for the Western
    Association of Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) in Flagstaff on July 7-12.

    “This year’s WAFWA conference theme, hunter and angler recruitment and retention, comes at a crucial time in our history,” said Arizona Game and Fish Director Duane Shroufe, current president of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

    As the Western states urbanize, Shroufe said, participation in outdoor recreation in general, and hunting and angling in particular, is falling. “Whether we call it a crisis or an opportunity, what wildlife managers do in response will shape the future of conservation in North America.”

    The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, also discussed a wide range of other issues and topics during its annual conference. WAFWA members represent an area covering nearly 3.7 million square miles of some of North America’s most wild and scenic country that is inhabited by over 1,500 premier wildlife species.

    The panelists for the plenary session included:

    * Shane Mahoney, an internationally acclaimed biologist and writer who is renowned for chronicling the history of North American conservation.
    * Rob Keck, the chief executive officer for the National Wild Turkey Federation.
    * Rob Sexton, the legislative liaison for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.
    * Steve Williams, the president of the Wildlife Management Institute, a non-profit conservation organization headquartered in Wash., D. C.
    * Dr. Delwin E. Benson, a professor of wildlife biology at Colorado State University.
    * Gordon Batcheller, a wildlife biologist for the New York State Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources.

    The panel of experts shared a common thread in their talks — hunters and anglers are the core of wildlife conservation, but society as a whole is mostly unaware of the role that hunters and anglers play.

    “Hunters are really the unsung heroes of conservation,” Rob Keck said. “At best, the contributions we as hunters have made to conservation are ignored.”

    Keck said hunters and state agencies “need to sell the sizzle” of conservation. “We need to put a light on hunters and what they do. It’s time to raise the posture of you the hunter in local communities.”

    Shane Mahoney said that most people are unaware of the fact that the United Nations and the World Wildlife Fund have identified hunting as one of the great conservation tools open to mankind.

    “Hunting is finally being recognized as not just one, but the only conservation tool that is working,” Mahoney said, adding that there is a need to establish a context in society where hunting is viewed positively.

    “It’s all about relevance. It’s not whether hunting is right, it is whether it is politically and socially relevant,” Mahoney said.

    Steve Williams, the former director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also warned that after a 40-year decline in participation, hunters and anglers are on the verge of becoming politically irrelevant.

    Rob Sexton provided a sobering observation. “Hunting won’t die because there aren’t any of us, it will die because we don’t matter any more,” he said. “Politics is a game of numbers, and we are recruiting hunters at the lowest rate in 30 years. We are at the edge of a demographic cliff.”

    Sexton said that agencies need to resist the urge to over-regulate and create barriers to participation, such as having age limits on hunting big game. Sexton said it’s not enough to allow youth to hunt small game, because 86 percent of all hunters are big game hunters. “If you are going to empower folks to hunt, why just empower rabbit hunters?”

    Sexton said some states are looking at creating an apprentice hunting license where a young hunter may hunt big game such as deer under the supervision of an adult prior to taking a hunter education course.

    “Most minimum age laws came about 30 years ago. We wanted to assure America our sport is safe. Those laws are no longer relevant,” Sexton said.

    Rob Keck said too many states are letting age restrictions create barriers to participation. “Now we are looking at trying to tear those walls down,” he said. “Who knows better when a child is ready to hunt, the government or the parent? It’s time we wake up and let the kids smell the gunpowder.”

    Statistics show that age is not the factor in hunting accidents. “The swimming pool next door is more of a safety issue. Supervised young hunters have a tremendous safety record,” Sexton said.

    The panelists stressed that so many interests compete for the time and attention of today’s youth that waiting until they are older to recruit them means they might not get recruited at all.

    Gordon Batcheller, a wildlife biologist in New York, said his state has a minimum age of 16 to hunt big game, which means a parent might get to hunt deer with a son or a daughter for just a couple of years before they leave home.

    Batcheller said the opposition to changing the laws in his state didn’t come from the media or from anti-hunters, it came from hunters themselves, and the bottom line was that the adult hunters didn’t want to lose their hunting opportunity to the younger hunters. Batcheller said adult hunters need to ask themselves what they are willing to sacrifice to secure the future of hunting for their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond.

    Dr. Delwin Benson said it is necessary to recruit youth into hunting at a young age, but there are a lot of activities competing for their time, and the time of the parent. “What happens when a kid’s time gets taken up? What affects our children affects us too.”

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

    Ahhh.. diversity

    Outdoor writing is my passion, and I would love nothing more than to be a Boddington, or Robb, or Hines - hunting all over North America (and beyond) - and getting paid to write about it! That being said, I write in other genres as well. The Ruxted Group is an extremely interesting and experienced panel that addresses much of the myth and misinformation that pervades Canadian Society, especially when it comes to military matters. You can read more about Ruxted and who we are here

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    Posted on 30th July 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »

    News from the AES

    From our e-newsletter:

    Elk Hunting Clinic, August 4th MORE INFO

    AES Annual Meeting - Aug 4th

    Sat. Aug 4th - 6:30pm Arizona Elk Society Annual Meeting at El Zaribah Shrine Auditorium 552 N. 40th St. Phoenix. The AES invites all its members and any public interested in learning about the AES to our Annual Meeting. Only members may vote on Board Members. This is a short (approx. 2.5 hr meeting.) meeting that will include free hors d’oeuvres for the attendees and information about past accomplishments and future plans.

    After the official portion we will hold our INSTANT WINNER RAFFLE. This is a raffle of products and prizes including RIFLES where if you purchase one of the INCENTIVE TICKET PACKAGES OF $100, $250, $500 or $1000 you will INSTANTLY WIN:

    * $100 package buyers receive an AES Logo Knife
    * $250 package buyers receive an AES Logo 2 Knife & Saw in leather case
    * $500 package buyers receive a RUGER 10/22 RIFLE
    * $1000 package buyers receive a Weatherby Vanguard RIFLE

    AES Hauls 100,000 Gallons of Water in Unit 9

    On July 16th the Arizona Elk Society started hauling water to wildlife catchments in Unit 9. The Tusayan area catchments were running low on water and G&F needed assistance to keep water in the tanks. The AES hired a truck and driver and averaged hauling a little over 11,000 gallons a day to get some water in all the tanks. After the first few days of catching up we finally got ahead and were able to top of many of the smaller tanks and getting more water to the larger tanks. On Monday July 23 the area received over an inch of rain and we suspended the water hauling. In total we hauled over 100,000 gallons of much needed water to the area.

    Unit 9 Water Catchment Project

    Volunteers Needed!!!!!!
    Unit 9 Water Catchment Project, Aug. 24-26 This project will repair an old concrete catchment by replacing the concrete with three new fiberglass storage tanks and a new drinker. Barbed wire fence surrounding the catchment will be replaced with a new pipe rail fence. One or two welders are needed. There will be no drinking water or toilets available. Road access, if dry, is good for all types of vehicles and trailers. If roads are very wet, high clearance vehicles and/or 4WD will be needed. The Arizona Elk Society will be providing meals and refreshments for Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner and breakfast on Sunday. This project may be canceled on short notice, due to forest road closures. All volunteers must RSVP so they can be informed of updates or cancellation. To RSVP and for additional information, contact Greg Stainton (602) 999-5855 or gstainton3@cox.net.

    AES Inducted into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame

    The Arizona Elk Society will be Inducted into the Arizona Hall Of Fame on August 24th, 2007.
    The Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation is honoring the Arizona Elk Society as well as Paul Berquist, Representative Jerry Weiers, Tom Mackin and Beth Woodin.


    We Have Many Upcoming Events!!!!
    We are always looking for new volunteers. The AES is made up of volunteers dedicated to Elk and their habitat as well as preserving our hunting heritage and encouraging our youth to enjoy the outdoors.
    If you would like to be involved in our work projects, youth events, fundraising events or any other part of the Arizona Elk Society please reply to this newsletter and get your name on our lists of volunteers. The AES holds meetings throughout the year and has a large committee that works on events and the banquet year round.

    Some of the things we are looking for during the year are;

    Banquet Donations, Hunts and related products including cash donations to underwrite rifles and other product.
    New Volunteers to assist at events and work projects.
    We always need fresh Elk Sheds for displays and Banquet Items.

    Upcoming Events and Important Dates

    Mark Your Calendars
    OCT 18, 19, 20, 21 - AES JUNIOR HUNT ELK CAMP

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    Posted on 29th July 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Controversy swirls around the “Droptine Bull”

    Late this week, the message boards lit up with rumors that a great bull had finally been harvested (legally in season with an auction tag) and then promptly confiscated by AZGFD. The bull’s picture had been popping up in previous weeks, across the net. He sported an amazing droptine, and he generated a lot of discussion.

    Here he is, in the center of this photo, which was posted on MonsterMuleys.com by member “HuntScout”
    Droptine Bull

    Although lots of message boards are chattering about this, the best threads I found were on MonsterMuleys.com Especially interesting was this thread In the thread are photos showing AZGF’s “seizure tag” on the bull’s antlers. Supposedly at issue was whether the initial shot at the animal met the legal “1/4 mile from a dwelling” criteria”.

    After a great deal of tit-for-tat, Stan (AZ402) a well-known Arizona Guide (and one of those internet “friends I haven’t met yet”) posted this rebuttal.

    In part, he states

    Obviously the Droptine bull was harvested Thursday morning, 7-25-07. It is a tremendous and unique bull no doubt.

    I can say that there were many extra steps taken in the planned hunt of this bull. The finder was given a rush guides license so he could be properly paid for his services. There was supposed to be dialogue between him and his neighbor about the upcoming hunt. The guides wanted permission from surrounding property owners. Apparently that conversation never took place between the “Finder” and the neighbor. Unfortunately the expiring bull laid down on the adjoining property.

    Before the first shot ever took place two guides/outfitters ranged the nearest occupied structure at a little over 500yrds. The shot was taken and like I mentioned, the bull headed for the next property to lay down.

    The guides and hunter were instructed or asked by the game wardens, to move and finish the bull off. This did put them close to the house but presented a safer angle for the shot.
    It’s no secret now that the bull was subsequently confinscated by our AZGFD game wardens. This came into play after the warden and a guide walked into the “approximate” area of the shot. The warden came up with a range under ¼ mile from the structure. It’s very easy to lose some yardage in a large meadow with no concrete spot as to where the first shot came from. Like I mentioned both guides that were with the hunter had ranges over 500yrds.

    I’ll take the credibility of where my first hand knowledge came over anyone’ at anytime.

    All of this will play out in the near future and everyone can judge from there. Just as the guides tried to take as much precaution as possible; the wardens did as well. I’ll be very surprised if anything comes of this. The hunter and guides were able to take field photos and get the great bull to the taxidermist.

    There was only one citation written and I’m sure it’ll be fought and rightly so. No guides were issued any citations by the AZGFD.

    Let’s hope that all of this fizzles out and that it ends up being, indeed - a legal harvest of an amazing animal.

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    Posted on 29th July 2007
    Under: General | 3 Comments »

    Outdoor Dreams

    Looks like HOAL isn’t the only game in town - Outdoor Dreams seems like a neat program as well. What a cool story!

    LINK to story

    Ridin’ on a dream
    By Mark Hynds, Staff writer

    Sometimes, dreams do come true. For 15-year-old Drake Mote, it was all about timing.

    The Bowersville teenager has a pituitary carcinoma, or brain tumor. He has endured 55 radiation treatments and started chemo therapy on June 13.

    Back in March, at the former Exxon station on Reed Creek Highway, Craig Fulghum, a law enforcement officer for the Department of Natural Resources, was heading into the store when he passed a man who seemed irritated about something.

    “I ran into this guy and he just seemed upset about something,” said Fulghum. “I asked him if he needed help and he told me the story.”

    The story was about Drake. The man was a co worker of Drake’s father, Len, at the Department of Transportation. He explained to Fulghum that Len’s son had been diagnosed with cancer and that the family was having a hard time, both emotionally and financially.

    “He was looking to try and help them out,” said Fulghum. “Give them something positive.”

    Talk about timing. Along with his duties at the DNR, Fulghum is a member of the Outdoor Dreams Foundation team. Outdoor Dreams is an organization, in the mold of Make-A-Wish, that grants hunting, fishing and other outdoor dreams for young people 21 and under who have life-threatening illnesses.

    They had a banquet scheduled for that Friday night at the Bethany Baptist Church and Fulghum told the coworker to invite Drake and his family to come.

    “They were the first ones there,” said Fulghum. “We met the family and they were all real sincere.”

    The only issue was that Drake doesn’t hunt or fish. But, he loves to ride all-terrain vehicles.

    “It’s not catching or shooting something, but it’s definitely outdoors,” said Fulghum. And the dream was born.

    So, on June 2 Drake, his father, Len, his mother, Andria sister, Taylor and brother, Zac, piled into a church van donated by Flat Shoals Baptist Church and driven by another local Outdoor Dreams team member, Steve Shaw, and took off for the Atlanta airport.

    “I was the only one who had ever flown before,” said Andria, Drake’s mother. “My husband’s greatest fear is flying.” Other than a bumpy ride from Denver to Cody, it was an easy trip.

    Their final destination? The 23,000-acre Fiddle Back Ranch in Meeteeste, Wyo., 30 miles south of Cody.

    But for Drake, it was the four-legged animals that brought the greatest pleasure.

    “He’s not a hunter but he loves to look at animals,” said Andria. “Every time we saw something, he would yell ‘mama, look at that.’ I thought for sure by the end of the week, he would stop, but he was just so excited.”

    He saw antelopes, elk, buffaloes, deer, and nine baby coyotes. And, Drake’s favorite, a moose.

    “I’ve always wanted to see a moose,” he said. “And we were able to get pretty close, since the older ones are more docile. They really had huge racks.”

    And it wouldn’t be trip to a ranch without a little work. One of the Hagen’s “neighbors” had cattle that need to be branded. So the gang hopped on their ATV’s and rode across thousands of acres to the 91 Ranch next door.

    “I got to wrestle cows,” said Drake. “It was a lot of fun and my pants’ pockets were full of dirt when we got back to the cabin.”

    “They branded 152 cows that day,” said Andria. “Zac would hold the front and Drake would hold the back.”

    “They just jumped right in,” said Duaine. “All the locals were real impressed with how friendly Drake and his family were.”

    And while the trip may be over, the friendship between Drake and the folks at Outdoor Dreams is just beginning.

    “We’re here for the long haul,” said Shaw. “We will support them and help them any way we can. We don’t just send you on a trip and then walk away.”

    Andria sees that first hand.

    “They call and check on him once a week,” she said. “He went for his first chemo treatment on Wednesday (June 13), and they called to see how that went.”

    And that’s how it works with Outdoor Dreams.

    “They told me Drake’s a member for life,”said Andria. “That means a lot to me as a mom.”

    Read the full article at the link at the top

    For more information about the Outdoor Dreams Foundation, contact Brad Jones at 864-260-9786 or e-mail outdoordreams@charter.net. You can also check out their Web site at www.outdoordreamfoundation.com.

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    Posted on 26th July 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Predators Killing Pets

    Amazing. Half the people in the state are crying when AZGF sanctions the killing of predators (i.e lions); this family is outraged because AZGF won’t do anything (i.e. “kill”) about the coyotes…. Go figure

    From AZ Central (original article from AP) Coyotes

    Trying to suppress tears, Debbie Thompson recalled how precious Sarina, Casey and Hannah were to her family.

    “Everybody loved our dogs,” she said. “They were very sweet puppies. We never left them alone.”

    Through a doggie door and into the fenced backyard of Thompson’s north central Mesa home in Hermosa Groves was as far as Sarina, a toy poodle, her son, Casey and Hannah, a Shih Tzu, would wander.

    But that was far enough for their attacker, believed to be a coyote, which killed the dogs last week.

    “My husband found them dead Friday morning,” Thompson said.

    I called the Arizona Game and Fish Department and one of their representatives said there is absolutely nothing they can do. I was livid. I asked, ‘So what are you going to do, wait until kill a small child?’”

    Now, I have pets, and surely I would be upset if little Tank the Chihuahua became a coyote-kebab. On the other hand - really - what does this lady expect AZGFD to do? Post snipers on the street corners to shoot every ‘yote that wanders into town limits? Maybe foot-hold traps in every alley. Nothing like trying to fish Muffy out of a #2 coilspring… Maybe AZGF should mobilize, and fan out into the desert - with the soul purpose of eradicating every coyote in a 5-mile radius. Oh boy, the greenies would have a hey-day with that…

    The dogs were among six household pets fatally attacked in the north central Mesa neighborhood by one or more coyotes during the last two weeks, said Randy Babb, a biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

    “We feel pretty strongly that it’s a coyote,” he said. “The whole way its unfolding sounds very much like coyotes. They’re very intelligent and very adaptable. They are animals that know exactly what they need to find pets. That means pets unattended. They do very well in these urban areas.”

    Babb said four dogs and two cats were killed in the neighborhood since July 8 but the game and fish department won’t trap or destroy the coyotes believed to be responsible for the deaths unless they attack or stalk humans.

    Meanwhile, AZGF suggests the following:


    Common throughout Arizona, coyotes tend to travel and hunt alone or in pairs, but they can form groups where food is abundant.

    Their diet includes fruits and vegetables, pet food, small wild and domestic animals, snakes, lizards and garbage.

    If you see a coyote near your home, don’t ignore it. This may cause it to lose its fear of people, which can lead to aggressive behavior. To discourage a coyote:

    • Make loud noises.

    • Shout and bang pots and pans or rattle empty soda can with pebbles in it. Wave your hands or sticks and brooms.

    • Throw small stones or cans.

    • Spray the coyote with a hose.

    • If an animal refuses to leave, use a commercial repellent like Mace.

    More on the link at the beginning of the post…

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    Posted on 25th July 2007
    Under: General | 1 Comment »

    Beef of the Week

    OK - new feature. 100% free to my fans. I’m going to try and post a topic, once a week regarding a pet peeve, or some other stupid thing that really grates my cheese, so to speak. It probably won’t have anything to do with hunting. OK, once in awhile it might. Not usually, though. They will be random thoughts that usually hit me in my hour and a half commute to or from work.

    So - my beef this week - razor blades. Yeah, razor blades. Why in the heck are they so expensive? I have a heavy beard - I haven’t found a suitable electric razor yet; disposables are a joke. Right now I am using a Fusion. Blade cartridges are like 6 bucks a pack!! That sucks. Seriously.

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    Posted on 25th July 2007
    Under: General | 2 Comments »

    Skinny Moose to Support HOAL

    Several months ago, I became active with the Arizona Chapter of Hunt of a Lifetime. This organization provides hunts and fishing trips to children with life-threatening illnesses. I was so excited that I began some discussions with the Skinny Moose Media owners Steve and Tom Remington about helping HOAL out on a National level.

    Along comes our new National Marketing Director, John Stabley. Coincidentally, I made a post regarding some hunting opportunities that the Arizona Chapter had available. John saw that, and immediately wanted to do something to help HOAL. He took the bull by the horns, and engaged Steve and Tom in some further discussions regarding HOAL, and how we could help. Net result? Skinny Moose Media and US Hunting Today is donating about $14000 in advertising to HOAL. Their organization will be promoted throughout our network. I think we will be investigating further ways to help as well. Bravo to Steve/John/Tom

    John managed to chat with HOAL President Tina Pattison - you can read the interview and more about HOAL here

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    Posted on 24th July 2007
    Under: Conservation Groups, General | 3 Comments »

    Taking Good Trophy Photos

    This is a great bit of advice from Doug, who goes by “Red Rabbit” on most of the AZ Message Boards… In the moment of excitement, some planning and thought can help you create nice photos that will last a lifetime..

    Taking Trophy Photos of Your Coues Buck

    You have spent months preparing for the hunt. Spend just a few extra minutes to take some quality trophy shots to preserve the moment.

    You want to feature the animal and you, the hunter, in a pleasing manner. Mostly, you will want to showcase your trophy, so get him prepared.

    Prepping the animal:

    Move the deer to where you want to take the photo. Atop a small rise will allow him to be skylined in a photo taken with a slight upward angle. Consider any background you may want in the photo.

    Wipe off any blood around the mouth, nose and body. Use water, TP, or carry some Wet Wipes for this purpose. You may need to put some toweling way up the nose so it doesn’t show to stop any blood drainage. Wiping the bloody areas with dirt and brushing the dirt off may help. Cover any visible wound with foliage or rocks, or turn the animal so the exit wound is on the off-side.

    Tuck the tongue back in the mouth, or use your knife and cut it off.

    Fold and tuck the legs under the body and keep the animal upright, not laying on its side.

    Cover any blood on the ground that will be in the photo with dirt, rocks, grass.

    Body Positioning:

    Having the antlers show against the sky or clouds will highlight them. Antlers will also show up well against a grassy hill. Don’t choose a tree for a background whose branches will camouflage the antlers. You will most likely want the deer’s body sideways to the camera.

    You can sit behind the deer so only your upper torso is visible, or sit next to the buck’s head. Sit with your legs folded and tucked also, rather than sprawled.
    To highlight the antlers and put focus on the deer, have your head below the antler tops or the same height as the deer head.
    You can have equal billing with the deer if you have your head even with the antlers.

    You can enhance the size of the antlers and head by sitting further back behind the body, and using a closely placed camera with a wide angle and high f-stop setting (ala Chuck Adams).

    Having the head pointed directly at the camera will accentuate the rack’s width, but may hide some points. A slight quartering turn will show the points better. Have the head level or tilted down slightly. Having the head tilted back will hide the rack and make one look up the nasal passages.

    Hold the deer’s head up with one gentle hand. If possible, hold behind the neck or offside jaw base to hide your hand, or under base of the chin. Try not to have a mangle hold on the antler beams.

    Remember the rule of thirds. Don’t center the deer exactly in the center of the photo.

    Smile! Look at the camera or admire the deer.

    Camera Positioning:

    The camera should be near eye level with the deer. Have the photographer kneel or lie low, or use a tripod.

    Taking photos from above the deer and hunter, with the photographer standing, diminishes the stature of you and the deer. Too much of an upward angle by taking the picture from well below is undesirable also.


    Morning or evening lighting provides great lighting for warmth, color and detail. Midday sunlight gives poorer colors, harsher shadows and will wash out detail. Use a fill flash during midday. A polarizing filter will help eliminate glare that hides color and detail, and make the sky appear a darker blue.

    A fill flash will help illuminate the shadows in the deer’s and your faces. Tilt your cap back a little to help eliminate shadows. The flash will make the deer’s eyes glow bluish green. A set of glass eyes from a taxidermist or a piece of electrical tape will stop this possessed look. A fill flash in the middle of the day will also highlight you and the deer by illuminating you. Take some photos both with and without a flash.

    Be sure the sun is not casting any shadows from the antlers across your face, or your shadow upon the deer’s head. Be aware of the shadow cast by the photographer or tripod.

    Camera Settings:

    Using the aperture priority mode, set the aperture to a low f-stop, like 2.8 Or use the portrait setting which usually chooses a wide aperture. This will give a shallower depth of field. The background and foreground will be out of focus, and this will draw the viewer to the sharply focused deer and you.

    Choosing a high f-stop like f-16 will give a greater depth of field and allow both the deer and background to remain in focus.

    Focus the camera on the deer’s eyes, as you would on a person’s eyes for a portrait shot. Zoom in so you and the deer fill the frame. You can crop excess fore and background and then enlarge on the computer, but photo quality will be sacrificed.

    Set the digital camera’s picture quality to its highest setting. If you are still using film, choose a film with a low ASA like 64 or 100 for finer detail, better color saturation, and less grain.

    Use a partial flash setting, rather than a full flash setting if you can, so detail and color are not washed out. The flash is to just fill in the shadows.

    Use a polarizing filter to reduce glare and enhance colors.

    Use a tripod to get a steady camera.

    Use a remote shutter to allow you to have the proper position. A self timer may not give but a few seconds to scurry into place.

    Utilize the white balance setting to match the sun, shade, clouds or snow.

    Other Tips:

    Remove blaze orange as it will mess with exposures and the bright color will attract the photo viewer’s attention away from the deer.

    Pull or bend over any grass that sticks up in the way between the camera and your and the deer’s heads. Bend down next to the camera and look for obstructions.

    If you forgot your camera in your pack, or had no time right before nightfall, set the deer up outside of camp the next morning and take some good photos. A head and cape on a rock or log can still make a good photo.

    To highlight your rifle, hold it in your hands, across your arm, or lay it against the deer’s body. Don’t have the muzzle pointing at you, even if it is unloaded (and it should be at this point). Don’t lay the rifle across the antlers like in a gun rack.

    Please, no tailgates, tree hangings, garage floors, hanging tongues, or blood. Don’t sit on the animal.

    Look at various quality hunting magazines like Eastmans, Muley Crazy, Trophy Hunter and look at the good and the bad of photos and get some ideas.

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 23rd July 2007
    Under: General | 1 Comment »

    What a great story

    CouesWhitetail.com is a great site that I visit daily. There are some cool folks on there, and I’m always finding neat posts. Here is a thread about someone helping out an elk that was badly dehydrated and stuck with no shade.

    Too often people see hunters as Neanderthals. Most of us love wildlife, and do what we can to help the animals that we respect so. Most of us are involved with volunteer projects, conservation groups, etc. The non-hunting public rarely hears about all of the good things!!

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 20th July 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »