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

    Archive for December, 2007

    Ramping Up

    Well, I have been offline , for the most part - since the end of November. We’re getting moved into our new home, and should have internet access within a day or two. Hopefully, I can get back into the swing of things quickly!

    Thanks to everyone who has been checking in, periodically.

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    Posted on 31st December 2007
    Under: General | 4 Comments »

    Border Work Dangerous for Scientists

    I hate to keep preaching, but no one seems to “get” how serious the problems are, in the southern border states. I have discussed issues like garbage and walls and political wranglings.

    Our own Coyote John frequently discusses the issue as well.

    Now this article on the AzCentral website : Full Article discusses the perils faced by scientists trying to do their work, along the border…

    Scientists fleeing border, smugglers

    Outdoor studies getting riskier, researchers say

    Chris Hawley
    Republic Mexico City Bureau
    Dec. 27, 2007 12:00 AM

    MEXICO CITY - Biologist Karen Krebbs used to study bats in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the Arizona-Mexico border. Then, she got tired of dodging drug smugglers all night.

    “I use night-vision goggles, and you could see them very clearly” - caravans of men with guns and huge backpacks full of drugs, trudging through the desert, Krebbs said. After her 10th or 11th time hiding in bushes and behind rocks, she abandoned her research.

    “I’m just not willing to risk my neck anymore,” she said.

    Across the southwestern U.S. border and in northern Mexico, scientists such as Krebbs say their work is increasingly threatened by smugglers as tighter border security pushes trafficking into the most remote areas where botanists, zoologists and geologists do their research.

    “In the last year, it’s gotten much worse,” said Jack Childs, who uses infrared cameras to study endangered jaguars in eastern Arizona. He loses one or two of the cameras every month to smugglers.

    Scientists, especially those working on the Mexican side of the border, have long shared the wilderness with marijuana growers and immigrants trying to enter the United States illegally. But tension is rising because of crackdowns on smugglers by the Mexican military, increased vigilance in the Caribbean Sea, new border fences, air patrols, a buildup of U.S. Border Patrol agents and a turf war between cartels.

    Smugglers are increasingly jealous of their smuggling routes and less tolerant of scientists poking around, researchers say.

    Scientists say things have gotten more uncomfortable since 2001, when the United States began fortifying its border after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In 2006, the Border Patrol embarked on a hiring spree, with plans to raise its personnel from 12,000 to 18,000 by the end of 2008.

    Smugglers have responded with violence. Assaults on Border Patrol agents are occurring at a record pace, with 250 attacks reported from Oct. 1 to Dec. 16, an increase of 38 percent over 2006.

    “It’s a war zone out there,” said Mickey Reed, a research technician at the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources.

    As crossing the border gets more difficult, the fees that smugglers charge to guide illegal immigrants through the desert has doubled in recent years, to as much as $3,000 per person, migrants say. At the same time, Mexico has been stepping up highway checkpoints and port inspections, forcing drug smugglers into the wilderness and onto remote beaches.

    To avoid the checkpoints, Mexican drug cartels are moving their marijuana farms northward, from traditional growing areas in Michoacan, Nayarit and Guerrero states to more remote areas in Sonora and Sinaloa states, according to the U.S. government’s 2008 National Drug Threat Assessment.

    Marijuana smugglers, whose cargo is smellier and bulkier than cocaine, are increasingly abandoning the urban border ports of Texas and California in favor of the Arizona-Sonora corridor, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. U.S. authorities seized 616,534 pounds of marijuana in the Tucson Sector alone in 2006, up from 233,807 pounds in 2001.

    Seriously, what’s it going to take for legislators to actually do something effective? This situation is preposterous. I have to take off my shoes and dump out my shampoo at the airport, but the southern borders are wide open. If a poor Mexican family can afford to pay a coyote to bring them across, we don’t think terrorists can??

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    Posted on 27th December 2007
    Under: General | 4 Comments »

    Merry Christmas from The Rat

    Nothing poignant; nothing thought-provoking. Simply a wish, from my family to yours - the peace of the season be with you. Take time to remember our soldiers, sailors, airmen/women and first responders, as well. To you that are away from family - I hope that you get to spend time with all those that you miss now, in 2008.

    Merry Christmas.

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    Posted on 24th December 2007
    Under: General | 2 Comments »

    Geo-caching Class

    Something cool at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum - one of my favorite local attractions!
    From my friend Paul Wolter:

    Geocaching Class
    Feb. 10 (Sunday) from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

    Catch on to the adventure of “geocaching” — an outdoor treasure-hunting
    activity where the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) to find
    a “cache” (usually a logbook and trinkets). In this introductory class, you
    will learn how to get more out of your GPS, learn about geocaching clubs and
    websites, and get a chance to navigate through the Arboretum for geocaches.
    Join local geographer, instructor, and geocache explorer Peter Marckmann for
    this exciting class! Cost to enroll is $20 for Arboretum members, $27.50 non-
    members. Call 520-689-2723 or email jana@cals.arizona.edu

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    Posted on 19th December 2007
    Under: Arizona News, Events | 2 Comments »

    Re-introduced Mexican Wolves Vanish

    Interesting stuff. We all know how controversial, and sometimes unpopular, this program has been…

    Full story, by Ed Park (Predator Xtreme) found here.

    New Mexico Reintroduced Wolves Vanish < BACK
    Ed Park

    One of the small packs of reintroduced Mexican gray wolves has disappeared from New Mexico. This Durango wolf pack, consisting of two radio-collard adults and one without a collar, was an important part of the wolf studies because the genetic makeup of one, the Alpha male, contained all three Mexican gray wolf lineages.

    That Durango wolf pack has been a problem. Ranchers in New Mexico’s Catron County have suffered livestock losses, and in July U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials killed the Durango pack’s Alpha female, a few days after she killed a cow and a calf, following a history of preying on cattle.

    Officially, state and federal researchers are puzzled about the disappearance of the Durango wolf pack, but off the record they are aware that their disappearance is highly suspicious. Officially nobody is saying this is vigilante justice, but it would be highly unlikely for two radio collars to malfunction at once, and all three wolves to simply vanish.

    I have no more of a way of knowing than anyone else, but I do have the privilege of guessing out loud, and the circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the Durango pack fell victim to “Triple-Sh Management” – Shoot, Shovel and Shut up.

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    Posted on 18th December 2007
    Under: General | 1 Comment »

    Game and Fish Awards

    Congratulations to all! What an impressive list of people and organizations!

    From AZGFD:

    Commission awards recognize conservation stalwarts

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department is pleased to announce the recipients of the 17th annual Arizona Game and Fish Commission Awards. The awards honor individuals and groups that have contributed to Arizona’s wildlife resources and the mission of the department.

    Award recipients are recognized for their achievements in 11 categories and will be presented their awards at the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s Meet the Commission banquet on Jan. 19, 2008. This year’s awardees are:

    Youth Environmentalist of the Year: Travis Bickford. Bickford has spent countless hours volunteering with many conservation groups, including the Arizona Elk Society and the National Wild Turkey Federation. He has also been a 4-H camp counselor and coached the White Mountain Scholastic Clay Target Program and Round Valley Junior Shooting Sports.

    Media of the Year: The Outdoor Wire. This five-year-old publication is the brainchild of editor and publisher, Jim Shepherd. While attending a SHOT Show, Shepherd saw a niche to use the Internet to disseminate timely information about the outdoor industry. The Outdoor Wire has become one of the premier online outdoor news publications in the country.

    License Dealer of the Year: Del Rey Western Outdoor. This family-owned license dealer outlet has been in service to the Arizona Game and Fish Department since 1998. Attention to detail and good customer service are the hallmarks of this service-oriented business.

    Conservation Organization of the Year: Arizona Hunters Who Care. Started in 2002 by a group of 15 bowhunters concerned about trash buildup in several border hunt units, this organization, lead by the efforts of Lance Altherr, conducts clean-ups involving more than 300 volunteers from local sportsmen’s groups and organizations.

    Outdoor Woman of the Year: Linda Dightmon. For the past eight years, Dightmon has been the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program coordinator for the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF), introducing other women to outdoor programs and instilling conservation into their lives. She also serves as the editor of the AWF magazine.

    Conservationist of the Year: Lorri Gray. Gray is the regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region and previously served as the program manager of the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Program, a multi-agency program providing Endangered Species Act compliance for 41 entities in Arizona, California and Nevada and six federal agencies.

    Environmentalist of the Year: Timothy Talbott. Talbott became chair of the Phoenix Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in 2006, reorganizing the chapter and raising more than $40,000 in the process.

    Volunteer of the Year: Rene Dube. Dube’s efforts to develop a solid volunteer base for wildlife restoration projects have earned him Volunteer of the Year honors with both the Arizona State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Coronado Natural Resource Conservation District. He is also a lead instructor in Arizona’s Scholastic Clay Target Program.

    Wildlife Habitat Stewardship Award: Bob Fletcher. Co-owner and president of the T Link Ranch, Fletcher has worked with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to provide permanent access easement across his property, ensuring habitat improvement projects on the ranch and recreational access to thousands of acres of public land beyond the ranch.

    Educator of the Year: Mike Trimble. A biology teacher at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Trimble developed a year-long study program, called the Arizona Trail Project, where students conducted a snapshot analysis of an outdoor site to study soil and water and the impact that wildlife and humans have on their area.

    Awards of Excellence
    - Clifton Ranger District. The district has worked cooperatively with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and other stakeholders to design and implement landscape-scale habitat improvement projects.

    - Don Farmer. Farmer has worked tirelessly since 2004 to get the Arizona Legislature to commit to making the Arizona Heritage Fund bigger, better and voter protected.

    - Old Pueblo Trout Unlimited. The chapter has worked tirelessly toward its mission to “conserve, protect and restore Arizona’s trout fisheries and their watersheds in addition to North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.”

    - Jimmy Unmacht. A sophomore at Sandra Day O’Connor High School in Phoenix, Unmacht caught his first fish at age 7 and harvested his first dove at 8, beginning his extensive involvement in wildlife conservation and outdoor enjoyment.

    - Jordan Azlin. Azlin developed 50 wildlife escape ramps that continue to benefit game and non-game species, as well as provide benefits to livestock operations in southeastern Arizona. The project helped Azlin achieve scouting’s highest award, the Eagle Scout.

    - Brian Dolan. A past president of the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Dolan has played a key role over the years in the organization’s efforts to enhance habitat, develop watering holes, and improve sheep populations by transplanting sheep back into historic ranges.

    - Andrea Nesbitt. Nesbitt has worked for wildlife for many years, starting as a volunteer at Liberty Wildlife, and for the past eight years serving as a volunteer at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center.

    - Kenny Wilkins. Wilkins has been an Arizona Game and Fish Department registered volunteer since June 2006, donating time to help with raptor surveys. He is also a volunteer with Liberty Wildlife, where he assists in raptor rehabilitation and release.

    - Thomas Slaughter. Slaughter has dedicated countless hours, personal resources and energy into passing on the hunting heritage to youth and other non-typical user groups. He is one of only two Arizona Game and Fish Department Level 3 shotgun coaches in Arizona.
    “The commission is pleased to honor and give thanks to these individuals and organizations for their ongoing commitment to helping wildlife, habitat and outdoor recreation in Arizona,” says Game and Fish Commission Chairman Michael Golightly. “With partners like these, we will continue to lead the nation in efforts that will benefit our children and generations to come.”

    Award presentations will be made during the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s annual Meet the Commission Awards Banquet on Jan. 19, 2008, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel 2532 W. Peoria, Phoenix, AZ, 85029 (602) 943-2341. The event begins at 5:30 p.m.

    Each year, the evening brings together hundreds of people who share a strong and personal interest in wildlife while providing an opportunity to meet the Game and Fish Commission.

    Individual tickets are $50. Tables of 10 are $480 -a discount of $20. Organization sponsorships are available for $550 and include a table in the organization’s name, a program ad, and five banquet tickets for the organization. Another five tickets will be donated, in that organization’s name, to award recipients and guests.

    For more information or to obtain a reservation form, visit www.azgfd.gov or contact Marty Fabritz at (623) 236-7281.

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    Posted on 17th December 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »

    First-ever “Pronghorn Overpass”

    Another cool project, from AZGF:

    1st-ever pronghorn overpass considered

    News Media
    Dec 11, 2007

    Biologists capture pronghorn using helicopters
    To possibly create 1st-ever overpass for these speedsters

    “Helicopter 11, this is GF 874. We have four pronghorn spotted about two miles away. Make a 90-degree right turn and they will be in your 12-o’clock position,” said Arizona Game and Fish Department research biologist Norris Dodd over the handheld radio while gazing through his powerful spotting scope.

    Dodd was guiding the helicopter during a pronghorn antelope capture effort on Dec. 6-7 along the Highway 89 corridor north of Flagstaff, as part of research efforts that are paving the way for what will likely be the first-ever pronghorn overpass in North America when this popular highway is widened in the future.

    The helicopter located the targeted antelope herd that was grazing in the high grasslands of the Wupatki National Monument north of Flagstaff. The chopper swooped down and the chase was on. And it wasn’t a slow chase. Pronghorn antelope are the fastest mammals in North America – these speedsters can reach speeds up to 60 mph.

    With the helicopter flying just above the racing herd, the door gunner stood on the skids, eased forward in his sturdy harness and waited for the perfect shot with the net gun. The shot rang out and the weighted net was propelled by a .308-caliber cartridge over the speeding doe.

    The helicopter did a quick turn, flared, and landed. The spotter in the front assumed his other duty – being a “mugger.” He quickly exited the bird with the shooter close on his heels to help. The two biologists worked quickly but delicately to subdue the antelope struggling in the net. They put blinders on the doe and it calmed down significantly.

    With their hearts still pounding in their chests from exertion and excitement, the biologists – Carl Lutch and Larry Phoenix – methodically took various bodily fluid samples, gave the pronghorn a shot of antibiotics, and fitted it with a radio telemetry collar so its movements can be tracked during the upcoming 365 days. Then with wide smiles of satisfaction, the biologists released the young female so she could rejoin the herd.

    One down and 15 more to go…it was not just another day at the office.

    The biologists were capturing 16 pronghorn antelope along 18 miles of the Highway 89 corridor through the Antelope Hills area. The antelope were fitted with radio telemetry collars as part of an ongoing pronghorn movement research study being conducted by Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists.

    These biologists are tracking pronghorn movements to advise the Arizona Department of Transportation on how best to help these pronghorn herds when Highway 89 is widened in the future. Highway 89 is the primary route providing motorists with access to popular recreation areas north of Flagstaff and into Utah. It is also a major highway artery for the Navajo Nation. This highway across the high plains of the Colorado Plateau north of the San Francisco Peaks will only get busier in the future.

    The goal is to meet the needs of motorists in the future while lessening the impact to antelope movements. Biologists are confident it can be done, but there are no guarantees when dealing with the first-of-its-kind overpass. What is currently envisioned is a wide, naturally vegetated overpass across U.S. 89 to facilitate pronghorn movement across this increasingly busy highway corridor.

    Although such highway crossing projects have been instituted for other animals, such as underpasses for elk along Highway 260 along the Mogollon Rim, no such project has been instituted for antelope.

    The Game and Fish Department is also working with ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration on a bighorn sheep overpass along the realignment of Highway 93 near Hoover Dam. There is a successful large wildlife overpass in Canada near Banff, Alberta that is used by various species, such as elk, deer, and bear.

    “Wildlife passage structures have shown tremendous benefits in promoting passage for a variety of wildlife species,” said Dodd, the biologist who is leading the research team effort on the high grasslands of Arizona.

    Why all the concern about pronghorn movements?

    Pronghorn antelope are a species of special concern in Arizona. Historically, this state probably had more than 45,000 pronghorn roaming its abundant grasslands. Those numbers had plummeted to well below 8,000 but we currently have around 11,000 remaining in Arizona. The grassland habitats themselves have been significantly reduced over time.

    These high grasslands are disappearing at an alarming rate for a number of reasons, such as human development and woody-plant encroachment. The grassland habitats remaining are often fragmented by such man-made obstacles as roads and fences. Increasing fragmentation raises concerns that isolated pockets of antelope might lose genetic viability.

    These amazing speedsters are on a man-caused crash dive that has been exacerbated by drought. Scientists are striving to at least slow down this unwelcome juggernaut.

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    Posted on 16th December 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Sting Nabs Poachers

    Great news from AZGFD:

    Multi-agency sting nabs bear poachers, uncovers alleged killing of stray horses

    News Media
    Dec 12, 2007

    PINETOP, Ariz. – An extensive multi-agency undercover operation led by Arizona Game and Fish Department law enforcement officers has resulted in 16 suspects being charged with more than 60 wildlife violations and one suspect facing six felony charges involving killing of stray horses on U.S. Forest Service lands near Show Low.

    Game and Fish Department officers expended more than 2,000 hours in the operation, ultimately charging multiple suspects with the unlawful take of nine bears, two elk, four mule deer and one Coues white-tailed deer. To date, 11 individuals have been convicted of 18 offenses. Most of the wildlife violations are classified as Class 2 misdemeanors, each punishable by up to four months in jail and a $750 fine, if convicted.

    Eleven of these suspects now also face potential hunting, fishing and trapping license revocation and/or civil assessments by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Civil assessments reimburse the state of Arizona for the loss of wildlife resources. The minimum assessment value set by statute is $1,500 for each bear or deer and $2,500 for each elk.

    During fall 2006, covert officers from the Game and Fish Department’s Special Operations Unit partnered with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent in an undercover project named Operation Bear Bones to target illegal bear hunting activities in the White Mountains. As the number of suspects and scope of illegal activities grew, department officers enlisted the assistance of additional agencies having appropriate jurisdiction and expertise, including the Arizona Department of Agriculture, USDA Forest Service, and Wildlife and Recreation Division of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

    During the course of the investigations, Game and Fish Department officers also identified one of the suspects as allegedly being involved in the unlawful killing of livestock (six horses).

    “Stray horses located in southern Navajo County on lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service most likely originated from the adjacent Fort Apache Indian Reservation during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002,” says Zeke Austin, special investigator for the Arizona Department of Agriculture. “When the boundary fence burned during the fire, horses had unrestricted access to Forest Service lands. Unlawful killing of livestock in Arizona is a serious crime, whether ownership is known or unknown, punishable as a Class 5 felony.”

    Jim Hinkle, law enforcement program manager in the Game and Fish Pinetop office, says, “The motivation for shooting the horses appears to be to use them as bait sites to attract and illegally kill bears. Several of the bears unlawfully taken were pursued off of horse carcasses.”

    Hinkle commends the investigators and officers involved with Operation Bear Bones. “They worked long hours gathering, organizing and examining huge amounts of evidence, conducted extensive interviews and worked in close coordination with other agencies and prosecutors to ensure that these violators of Arizona’s wildlife resources were brought to justice,” he says. “The results of this project speak for themselves and demonstrate the value of covert operations and agency cooperation in apprehending game thieves.”

    To report information on poaching or any other wildlife violation, please call the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700. Caller identities may remain confidential upon request and are eligible to receive a reward upon the arrest of the violator.

    To report abuse, cruelty or unlawful killing of livestock, please call the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Animal Crimes Hotline at 1-800-294-0305.

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    Posted on 15th December 2007
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Public Land Recreation Fees?

    Here is an interesting website rearding the movement(s) afoot to institute usage fees on public lands.

    Some of the skinny, pulled from the above site:

    3) FLREA passed Congress with inadequate debate, input, or process
    Note that when FLREA became law it was not voted on separately in the House of Representatives and was not introduced in, did not have hearings in, and was not approved by the Senate, but instead was attached to the omnibus spending bill, H.R. 4818, by the 108th Congress, as an appropriation rider.
    “A law that criminalizes access to public lands by the citizens who own them and pay taxes for their support would never pass muster in an open public debate. Slipping it in as an appropriations rider, by a congressman with no federal public lands in his district, was a despicable abuse of the legislative process.” — The late Robert Funkhouser

    4) The American Recreation Coalition, corporate involvement, and privatization
    “ARC members have a very strong interest in fees at federal recreation sites and played a key role in the creation of the National Recreation Fee Demonstration Program.” — Christine Jourdain, board of directors of ARC

    The American Recreation Coalition has played a prime role in creating and pushing Fee Demo and FLREA. The coalition is composed mostly of private corporations that make money off public lands recreation. Fees are a foot-in-the-door for privatized facilities such as campgrounds, as well as creating a consumer based recreation experience on public lands. Turning public lands into motorized, developed playgrounds where Americans are used to spending money is the key motivation behind ARC and other corporate involvement.

    The Forest Service and other agencies are forced to play into this juggernaut. Outsourcing of management and privately run campgrounds and facilities are already more common then you might think. What we’re already seeing:

    1) Public facilities being privatized
    2) Forest recreation being commercialized
    3) Recreation fees increasing
    4) Cheap labor replacing USFS labor
    5) Still more concessionaires being solicited

    On a similar, related note - POMA (of which I am a member) will be testifying before congress regarding fees charged to the media while photographing on public lands:

    POMA Chairman to Testify Before Congress

    JOHNSTOWN, Penn. — With resounding membership support, Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) Chairman Steve Scott will represent POMA as he testifies before Congress on Dec. 12, 2007.

    During his comments, which will become part of the Congressional Record, Scott will express concerns to the Committee on Natural Resources about the costs of land-use fees charged to the media when photographing on public lands.

    More than 95 percent of POMA members, who responded to a query about whether or not Scott should testify on behalf of POMA, agreed with Scott’s position on the issue and requested that he testify for the organization.

    The full hearing, beginning at 10 a.m. Dec. 12, will be Webcast live on the committee’s Web site http://resourcescommittee.house.gov. (See hearing announcement below).

    POMA members may also review and print Scott’s complete testimony on the POMA member Web site. The document will be posted after the live testimony is completed on Dec. 12.

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    Posted on 15th December 2007
    Under: General | 1 Comment »

    Accommodations At The Range

    A great initiative from AZGFD:

    One-of-a-kind trap and skeet field “welcomes” wheelchair patrons

    News Media
    Dec 13, 2007

    One-of-a-kind trap and skeet field “welcomes” wheelchair patrons

    PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department hosted a dedication ceremony on Dec. 11 to unveil a unique trap and skeet field that’s specially designed to accommodate clay target shooters who must use wheelchairs.

    The ceremony was held at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center in north Phoenix. Members from the Arizona Paralyzed Veterans of America (AZPVA) were on hand to test out the new field.

    “The designs of traditional trap and skeet fields pose challenges to wheelchair-bound shooters. Narrow walkways and raised concrete shooting pads on a dirt field create significant uneven surfaces and navigational obstacles,” says Marty Herrera, range manager for the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. “Shooters end up spending more time and energy moving from station to station than shooting and enjoying the game.”

    That all changed when the Arizona Game and Fish Department remodeled a dilapidated field at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center to accommodate shooters who use wheelchairs.

    After consulting with Guerry Dalrymple, disabilities service manager for Chase Field and US Airways Center, a plan was created to take the remodel one step further. Rather than just creating wider shooting pathways, a remodeling team from the Ben Avery Clay Target Center agreed to pave the entire shooting field – much like a basketball court.

    The team used standard colored concrete to fill in what would be the dirt field area. All the regulation lanes and shooting stations were done in an accenting color dyed concrete. Red concrete represents the trap lanes, while maroon concrete was used to indicate the skeet stations. The end result is a very smooth surface that is very easy for wheelchair mobility and clearly identifies where to shoot from.

    “This is a great example of what can be accomplished to make a trap and skeet field wheelchair accommodating. I encourage you to do more just like it,” says Dalrymple.

    “When I drove up and saw this – my jaw dropped. I’ve shot all over the country and nowhere have I seen this,” says Gordon Moye, vice president, Arizona Paralyzed Veterans Association (AZPVA). “You’ve started something to be used throughout the country.”

    “Ben Avery and the staff have outdone themselves with this new design, and I’m once again very excited to come out and spend time at the shooting range,” says Dennis Olp, AZPVA member and hunting and shooting enthusiast. “I can’t say enough about this new trap and skeet range, and I will definitely let all groups I’m affiliated with know about this.”

    The new field is not just restricted to shooters using wheelchairs. It is a multi-use field for all patrons.

    The Ben Avery Clay Target Center is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85086. It is just behind the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s main headquarters off Archery Drive. The facility has 18 trap/skeet fields and two sporting clays courses. To schedule a shoot or tour the range, contact Tom McMahon at (623) 434-8119 or e-mail tmcmahon@azgfd.gov.

    About skeet and trap shooting: Skeet and trap were created to offer sportsmen a sport to sharpen wing-shooting skills during the off-season of hunting. Clay targets are presented in a variety of flight paths and shooters change positions from where they shoot from, creating an exciting challenge. Both skeet and trap are recognized disciplines of the Olympics.

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    Posted on 14th December 2007
    Under: General | 2 Comments »

    A Fantastic Charity

    I have a soft spot for our servicemen and women. I stumbled across this charitable organization that is just getting off of the ground. Camp Patriot is an organization that is taking on a huge endeavor - they are building a lodge in Montana that will accommodate veterans that have suffered life-altering injuries during their service to the country. I have taken a personal interest in the Clark’s cause, and have offered to donate my services assisting with writing and editing tasks. I’m also going to hit up Steve and the entire Skinny Moose Network to help out where they can.

    Here is their Mission Statement:

    Mission Statement
    Camp Patriot exists to take disabled U.S. Veterans on outdoor adventures.

    Today, there are over 2.3 million disabled Veterans in the U.S. These brave Veterans sacrificed much in order to ensure our safety and freedom. The number of disabled men and women Veterans is growing with each day the war on terror continues. All of these Veterans had dreams about the future, but many of those dreams were lost due to injuries suffered in the line of duty.

    Outdoor activities that they hoped to do in the future have vanished due to their disability. We want to thank these veterans by showing them that with the right help they can again enjoy the great outdoors.

    With the construction of a first-class lodge outside of Libby, MT, we will be able to accommodate up to 20 Veterans per week. There will be no cost to the Veteran. We will provide a range of outdoor activities, and will be equipped to accommodate Veterans with an array of disabilities.

    A message from their founder, Micah Clark:

    Founder’s Message
    Dear Friend, Veteran, American Patriot, we are attempting to provide a great gift for those Veterans among us that have paid a tremendous price for our freedom.
    These disabled American Veterans have provided us protection from terrorism, oppression and tyranny. Consider for a moment the world outside these United States and you will understand what I mean!

    How can we ever repay an American Veteran who has endured so much personal loss while defending our great Nation? Sadly, the answer may simply be that we will never completely be able to repay the Veterans that have sacrificed so much.

    However, we can say, “Thank You for Your Service!”

    We are Camp Patriot and we need your help in saying “Thank You” to the millions of disabled American Veterans.

    Camp Patriot is a non-profit 501(c) 3 Corporation. We will be bringing disable American Veterans to the great State of Montana for outdoor adventures of their choosing. However, outdoor adventures are just some of the activities we provide disabled U.S. Military Veterans at Camp Patriot.

    A simple monetary “Thank you for your service!” could help us go a long way, and bring us closer as a nation in repaying these great Patriots for their service and sacrifice.


    Micah Clark
    Executive Director / Founder

    Here is their contact info:

    Contact Info
    Phone Numbers:
    Mobile: (509) 392-1015
    Office: (406) 293-4376 HERO

    E-mail: inquiry@camppatriot.org

    Office Address:
    417 Mineral Ave, Suite 7C
    Libby MT 59923

    Mailing Address:
    PO Box 627
    Libby MT 59923

    They are also running a raffle to help raise money for their group. For twenty bucks, you could win a log home, a hunt with Jim Shockey, or one of several great prizes.

    C’mon fellow bloggers, let’s spread the word!

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    Posted on 14th December 2007
    Under: General | 2 Comments »

    An Update

    Some of you may have read my mysterious post about moving. The “rest of the story” can be found here.

    Well, we’re doing OK. The girls are going nutty with no internet and only limited TV. The good news is only a couple weeks and we’ll be in our new house. Woo hoo!!!

    Anyway, I have managed to get a post on here and there, over my lunch break. Tonight, I am at a coffee house with internet access, and have stocked up the ol blog for the next week or so.

    Thanks to those that have stuck around, when the pickins were slim. I hope to back up to “full strength” by the New Year.

    Until then, have a very Merry Christmas. Don’t forget about the folks serving our country, and our communities. God Bless.

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    Posted on 13th December 2007
    Under: General | 2 Comments »