• Join

    2009 December - Desert Rat - The Premier Hunting and Fishing Blog of the Southwest!

    Archive for December, 2009

    Notable Posts of 2009

    I can’t really say that these are my “best of” 2009, but I did review all of last year’s posts and try to pick out some that were the “best” and some that were the “biggest stories” and some that were just the most interesting for that particular month. There are some good ones here, if I do say so myself!~DesertRat

    January 2009 - My daughter went on her first ever big game hunt - a javelina hunt in Unit 33. No piggie for us that day, but a great day together and some lessons learned too! Read Miky’s Javelina Hunt

    February 2009 - Jaguar Captured and Collared in Southern AZ. This was a big story for a number of reasons!

    March 2009 - Macho B re-captured and subsequently euthanized. A sad continuation from February’s big story. This controversy is still simmering. Read that story HERE.

    April 2009 - My interview with Lennis Janzen of Crooked Horn Outfitters was April’s top post. Lennis and Brenda Negrete over at Crooked Horn Outfitters have been very supportive of the Desert Rat Blog. Lennis helped out by participating in a great interview and supplying some awesome photos as well.

    May 2009 - May was a weird month at Desert Rat, in that it generated 3 entries in this post! First was the “regular” top entry of May - my coverage of the NRA Convention which was held in Phoenix this year. What a great time! Next, my post about booth babes was the top-ranking single-day traffic post in Desert Rat history. A bigger gun blog linked over to my post and “voila” - well over 1000 unique visitors which is a standing record! Finally, another odd record. I reprinted a press release that I had received regarding the Can Cooker and that post has directed a ton of people to my site via Google (and other search engine) searches. Although it has slipped to Number Two (Elite Archery currently leads by 0.6%) for a long time, it reigned supreme. Odd - one vanilla post - and I’ve never even seen a real can cooker!

    June 2009 - For June I selected a “Most significant, but not very noticed” post. Being in the business of Facilities Management, I know what an achievement it is to build a LEED-certified building. Arizona Game and Fish should be extremely proud of their LEED Platinum facility! This press release actually led me to seek out a tour. I toured their great building with two co-workers and gained a lot of valuable info that I can use in my own facilities! Well done, Game and Fish!

    July 2009 - July’s cool post selection was my interview with Dr. Cade Smith, owner of The Claw. The Claw is an innovative product, and a cool company with Arizona roots! You can read that interview HERE.

    August 2009 - Top honors for August go to my interview with Laura Francese. Laura is an amazing lady, being a spokesperson for Martin Archery and a Buffalo Jills cheerleader to boot. She is involved in a number of charities as well. Coincidentally, someone else liked this post too - it got a “Top 50″ mention from another site.

    September 2009 - My post about Trophy’s Steakhouse made my list for a couple of reasons. Number One, it was my first ever attempt at a restaurant review. Next, it is a great restaurant in my town of Queen Creek and I want to do what I can to help them be successful! Finally, Trophy’s is a great public face for hunting, introducing folks to wild game meat while they dine in a classy environment full of awesome big game mounts!

    October 2009 - The Desert Rat Blog reached a personal and professional milestone with the celebration of its 100,000th Visitor! My contests were made possible through the generosity of several companies!

    November 2009 - My choice for November included a relatively insignificant event which was, however, another personal milestone for me. Thanks to Jim Solomon over at Xplor The Outdoors, I made my radio debut! You can read about it, and have a listen HERE. Thanks Jim!

    December 2009 - OK, another odd choice to round out the year. I do receive comments now and then regarding my photography skills. Even I am starting to admit that I am a better photographer than hunter. Anyway, it was a total fluke that I managed to capture an image of a hummingbird in mid-flight. So, not an amazing post by any measure, but a neat photo, nonetheless.

    Thanks again to everyone who has visited my site in the past year - whether you’re a die hard regular, or a drive-by Googler, I appreciate you visiting. Here’s wishing you all the best in 2010!

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 31st December 2009
    Under: Arizona News, General, Hunting, Interviews, Politics and More, Press Releases, Products | No Comments »

    Game and Fish to step up efforts to enforce OHV Decal compliance

    Game and Fish to step up efforts to enforce OHV Decal compliance

    Low participation is hurting program goals and benefits to recreationists

    Citing statistics showing that less than one-quarter of off-highway vehicles in Arizona have the required OHV Decal, Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles announced that the agency’s officers would be stepping up compliance enforcement efforts in the field.

    “Our officers will be issuing citations to off-highway vehicle users who don’t have the required decal on their OHV,” said Voyles. “The program has been in effect and public education efforts have been ongoing for over a year now. The compliance rate is very disappointing, given the benefits the program would provide to recreationists.”

    Voyles likened the “user play, user pay” program to wildlife conservation, where hunters and anglers pay for wildlife conservation through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses. “Rates for hunting license compliance exceed 95 percent,” said Voyles, “Hunters and anglers have demonstrated their commitment to wildlife conservation for decades.”

    As for OHV Decal compliance, Voyles stressed, “Arizona Game and Fish officers have unequivocally demonstrated their ability to achieve compliance through aggressive law enforcement. All OHV users should expect more special OHV law enforcement operations throughout the state beginning in January and going on through this spring until compliance numbers show a dramatic increase.”

    “The Department has worked with a number of organized OHV groups who all supported this legislation. They have a right to expect the same level of compliance and commitment from all OHV users,” said Voyles.

    The OHV Decal program took effect Jan. 1, 2009 and requires the annual purchase of a decal for any off-highway vehicle designed by the manufacturer primarily for use over unimproved terrain and weighing 1,800 pounds or less. This includes most ATVs, side-by-sides (utility vehicles), dirt bikes and some sand rails.

    The benefits of the OHV Decal program include information and education efforts, facility development and maintenance, maps, signage and reduced wildlife habitat impacts.

    Other projects that are being funded through the OHV Decal program include the new OHV Laws and Places to Ride booklet that is an ongoing joint venture between Arizona State Parks and the Game and Fish Department. A continued grant program to help clean up and restore riding areas and new informational outreach items like riding area maps will be created in the future.

    The OHV Decal costs $25 and is good for one year from the date of purchase. The Motor Vehicle Department will not be sending renewal notices, so it is your responsibility to make sure your vehicle is in compliance. Officers will be citing vehicle owners who fail to display the OHV Decals soon, so avoid a costly citation as these field renewal notices are sure to cost considerably more than $25. The OHV Decal can be obtained at any MVD office, MVD third-party service provider, or online at www.servicearizona.com.

    For more information about the OHV Decal program or OHV use in Arizona, go online to www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

    Sorry, but I have predicted here in the past that the only way this problem will get resolved is for law enforcement to get mean about it. In much the same way that you and I are hunters, but the people that shoot signs are not; it is my opinion that that vast majority of people riding quads out there just don’t know. They probably just don’t care either. Half of them are on State Trust Land and other places they’re not supposed to be anyway. They are going to ruin it for the people using OHV’s responisbly. ~DesertRat

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 30th December 2009
    Under: Arizona News, General, Hunting, Press Releases | 1 Comment »

    Very cool video of an elk crossing

    At first you think “Ho hum - some elk crossing a road”. The thing is, they keep coming and coming and coming. Very cool video originally posted by my friend Dan over on the AHT Forums. Dan posted:

    My Mom recently sent me this in an email. Pretty awesome to watch. Here’s the message that’s being forwarded with the video link.(Dan)

    Teresa Binstock in Colorado Mts.
    Saturday I drove from my house to Estes for a Holiday sale. On my way down the Forest service access road I pulled up behind a car with his flashers on and witnessed this most amazing elk migration. I was sorry I didn’t bring my camera….but luckily one of my neighbors’ daughter, Carrie Briscoe, did and made this recording. There were only 3 or 4 cars at this place at this time. I was lucky to be in one of them!!

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 30th December 2009
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Game and Fish Needs Help To Solve Poachings

    Geez, I hate poachers. Methinks mandatory jail time, restitution and lifetime revocation of license is appropriate, even for first-time offenders. These people are not hunters, in any sense of the word. They are thieves. If you made a mistake and shot a spike during cow season, man up and do the right thing~DesertRat

    Bull elk poached near Williams

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for the public’s help in gathering information about a spike bull elk that was shot and left to waste sometime during the evening of Dec. 10 and the morning of Dec. 11, near the east side of the Williams airport.

    The animal was shot with a .30 caliber rifle and left in an area south of Pronghorn Ranch Road and east of the airport in the southeast portion of Game Management Unit 10. This is approximately 3 miles north of Williams and 3 miles west of Hwy 64.

    Department officials suspect that this incident may have been a mistake made by someone possessing a cow elk tag for this hunt area, but officials still need to speak with those involved.
    The shooting of this bull is considered a game law violation and did occur during a legal cow elk hunt season that started Dec. 4 and ended Dec. 13.

    “This could be a case in which someone helps turn this wrong into a right, but we need to speak with those involved,” says Wildlife Manager Mike Rice. “As with many poaching cases, we need help from the public. Someone may have been in this area recently and may have seen or heard something associated with this case.”

    Anyone with information about this incident can call the department’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll free at (800) 352-0700. Callers may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,350 for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s). All calls may remain confidential upon request.

    Information needed in deer poaching

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for the public’s help in finding a poacher that killed a large antlered mule deer buck sometime during the week of Dec. 14. The poaching occurred on the Arizona Strip, which is in northern Arizona along the Arizona-Utah border.

    Evidence discovered during a field investigation shows that the deer was shot in the head, which was then removed and hidden in a nearby tree. The poacher only removed some of the meat from the carcass and left the rest to waste. There were no deer hunting seasons open at the time the poaching occurred.

    “This is a blatant example of poachers’ disrespect for wildlife and the laws and seasons that are established to protect our wildlife resources,” says Wildlife Manager Luke Thompson. “We need help from the public in catching the poacher. Maybe you were in the area recently or recall hearing about this large 34-inch-wide mule deer buck. Please remember, poaching of wildlife is considered stealing from our wildlife resources.”

    Anyone with information about this poaching can call the department’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll free at (800) 352-0700. Callers may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,250 for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s) in this case. All calls may remain confidential upon request.

    To learn more about Operation Game Thief and other pending cases, visit www.azgfd.gov/thief.

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 30th December 2009
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Desert Rat Makes A “Top 50″ List

    I want to thank Dayne Shuda over at Hunting Business Marketing for including my interview with Laura Francese in his list of Top Hunting Blog Posts of 2009. What a cool honor! I was included with an impressive list of other outdoor websites including Michael Waddell, The Hunter’s Wife, Bowhunting.com, Cabela’s, Base Camp Legends and more!

    Of course, I’d like to thank Laura as well for participating - she’s awesome! Interviews are one of my favorite things to do here at the DRB. If you’d like to see more, you can jump right to all of my interviews by clicking here : Desert Rat INTERVIEWS.

    Thanks again, Dayne!

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 28th December 2009
    Under: General | 1 Comment »

    Season’s Greetings From Desert Rat

    Thought I would pop on and just say that I hope you are all having a great Christmas and wish you all the best in the New Year! We’re all sick in the Desert Rat household, but we’re hanging in there! This is the first Christmas in recent memory that I didn’t get a single item that was hunting- or fishing-related! That’s OK though, I love everything and my friends and family are very generous.

    I’m off this coming week. No hard and fast plans but I do hope to get out with my bow for a day or two - maybe I’ll find a big buck!

    No real New Year’s resolutions for me either - I kind of stopped doing those. I’ll just do the best I can, with what I am dealt, as the new year unfolds!

    Wishing all of the Desert Rat readers the best of the season…..

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 27th December 2009
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Moose Milk and Other Favorites For Your Holiday Parties

    A repost from 2 years ago. Enjoy! ~DesertRat

    Not that I am advocating the consumption of strong liquor, but…. I know that during the Holidays many of you like to entertain. Here are some great punch recipes, associated with my military background. These recipes were all pulled from the message board Army.ca

    Artillery Punch

    1 qt strong black tea
    1 qt rye whiskey
    1 bottle red wine
    1 pint Jamaican dark rum
    1/2 pint brandy
    1 jigger benedictine herbal liqueur
    1 pint orange juice
    1/2 pint lemon juice

    Combine all the ingredients in a large punch bowl with a block of ice. If found too dry, sugar syrup may be added. Decorate with twists of lemon peel.

    and another..

    Served by the Officer’s Mess of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada:
    ATHEL BROSE (loosely translated “nectar of the gods”

    1 lb honey 2 1/2 c steel cut oats (NOT rolled)
    2 c. water
    1/2 gallon scotch

    Mix all ingredients( but scotch), warm gently on low heat only until blended. Remove from heat, let cool and stir in scotch. Allow mixture to soak overnight w/ secure cover. Strain oat mixture from liquid and discard (or use for bread). Place liquid in glass jar and swirl (or roll) daily for 2-4 weeks.Several months if you can stand it ! Try not to open the container as you go to keep contaminants out.
    The longer you wait the smoother it gets! Strain one last time and serve to all!

    How about some “moose milk”?

    Moose Milk

    40oz Lambs Dark Rum
    40oz Kahlua
    40oz Vodka
    4L Vanilla Ice Cream (the good creamy expensive kind)
    4L eggnog

    Mix all together, breaking up the ice cream a bit. Sprinkle nutmeg on top if you so desire. Stir occasionally as the ice cream starts to melt. Enjoy!

    Bull’s Milk???

    Both the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess and the Officers’ Mess of The Lincoln and Welland Regiment serve versions of “Bull’s Milk” or Moose Milk on New Year’s Day. There are at least two recipes:-

    Hot version. Heat slowly until warm:
    • 80 oz Dark Rum
    • 40 oz Brandy
    • 40 oz Rye Whisky
    • 12 qt Egg Nog

    Cold version. May be kept cold by adding a block of ice after mixing:
    • 120 oz White Rum
    • 26 oz Brandy
    • 26 oz Kahlua
    • 3 or 4 gal Ice Cream (Chocolate, Vanilla or Neapolitan)
    • 2 or 3 gal Milk or Egg Nog
    • 1 qt Whipping Cream
    • dash Vanilla Extract
    • dash Nutmeg

    Not so sure about this - not for the faint of heart:


    What you need.

    - 1 very big pale, or small garbage can ( clean ), or crock pot - and a ladle
    - depending on the size of bucket used, buy about 4-5 frozen fruit punch mix - throw it in
    - buy lemons, and limes, and strawberries etc and cut up and put in the bucket
    - add about 1 bottle vodka, 1 bottle white rum, 2 bottles tequila ( basically whatever you want ) ( bottle generally 40 pounder)
    - Stir up until the boat gas eats away at your ladle
    - serve to a friend first and watch for negative effects. Usually let the “lab rat” sit for 5 minutes. If all checks out, go nuts. Enjoy the evening.

    The fruit adds flavour, but also when all the booze is gone you can eat the alcoholic fruit, that way when your wife/girlfriend asks you if you actually ate anything healthy at the party ( or does that just happen to me? ) you can say “yes dear, i had fruit”

    and finally…. “Windex”

    Windex” (later named “Prop Wash” by a rigged vote in the mess, damn those Air Force rotters … !)
    - one part vodka
    - one part white rum
    - two parts Parfait D‘amour (a blue-coloured licquer by Marie Brizzard)
    - dilute with Seven Up to suit your taste … while your taste buds are still functioning … (supposedly, 7Up is better than Sprite)
    - makes a delightful, uniquely-coloured drink that will lift floor tiles (yup - I wouldn‘t make that one up) and will leave a mildly radioactive glow on your glassware (which we discovered at our wedding reception … )
    - Theyd serve it to unsuspecting guests, and when they‘d ask about the blue colour we‘d explain that we‘d used Melita coffee filters and Windex … whereupon their faces would turn a shade of blue to match the drink!

    Enjoy. I’m not responsible for you not drinking responsibly

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 25th December 2009
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Christmas Eve 1881

    Sent to me from my old friend (and Battery Sergeant-Major) Glenn McLean of Canterbury, NB. A nice story. ~DesertRat

    Christmas Eve 1881

    Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from

    It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

    After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t
    worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what..

    Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unl ess we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Pa pulled
    the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said.”Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would
    be a lot bigger with the high side boards on. After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?” You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight.. Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

    Yeah,” I said, “Why?” “I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for an other armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. “What’s in the little sack?” I asked. Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”

    We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes
    and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

    We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is
    it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”

    Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat
    at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

    “We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

    “We brought a load of wood too,Ma’am,” Pa said. He turned to me and said,
    “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.

    My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

    I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long
    time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

    In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

    Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

    Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

    At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if
    he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away..

    Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say , May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”

    Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

    I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

    For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle
    that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

    God bless you!


    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 24th December 2009
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Commission opposes wild horse and burro amendments

    Another case where emotion trumps logic. That, and the “cute” nature of burros, and the romantic image of wild horses. Kudos to Game and Fish for thinking clearly. Damage by these creatures to the environment has been clearly documented. Folks need to educate themselves on issues like this. ~DesertRat

    Commission opposes wild horse and burro amendments

    The Arizona Game and Fish Commission OPPOSES passage of either the House or Senate versions of the Restore Our American Mustangs Act (ROAM), because of their potential adverse impacts to wildlife and habitat.

    The U.S. Senate is currently considering the Restore Our American Mustangs Act (ROAM), which would amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. An amended version of this bill (H.R. 1018) passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 17, 2009 and was sent to the Senate. Both the versions of the legislation (H.R. 1018 and S.1579) are currently assigned to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and await possible consideration.

    The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted at its Sept. 11 meeting to OPPOSE both the House and Senate versions of this bill because provisions in the bill would expand wild horse and burro populations to all public land and greatly complicate management of wild horse and burro herds. Expanding management of free-roaming horses and burros to all public lands will have devastating impacts to the long-term sustainability of the public’s wildlife resources and habitat.

    In a Sept. 30 letter to Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, the commission expressed concerns about the following provisions in the bill:

    1. Removing the restriction on limiting wild horses and burros to areas where they were found in 1971. This would lead to a massive range expansion with widespread direct and cumulative impacts to wildlife resources. Currently, the Wild Horse and Burro Program is underfunded and understaffed. Any significant increase of acreage or animals would limit personnel and funding solely for purposes of crisis management – such as responding to lawsuits for damage to wildlife habitat. Under this scenario, wild horse and burro populations, costs, and resource impacts would spiral out of control.

    2. Requiring that the acreage available for wild and free-roaming horses and burros shall never be less than the acreage where they were found when the Act was passed in 1971. Due to resource conflicts, many of the areas where wild horses and burros were found in 1971 were not designated as Herd Management Areas and were managed for a zero population level. This provision of ROAM alone would instantly increase the acreage available for wild horses and burros by more than 13.7 million acres.

    3. Requiring the BLM and United States Forest Service (USFS) to exhaust all practicable options before capturing and removing wild horses and burros. This would delay necessary removal operations, slowing down an already cumbersome removal approving process. Also, managers may be reluctant to push for removals until resource damage is obvious. With a population growth rate of 15-20%, wild horse and burro populations can double in 4-5 years. In our fragile southwestern habitats, an overpopulation of horses and burros can quickly lead to habitat and watershed degradation.

    4. Limiting the amount of time captured burros and horses can be held in corrals and holding facilities to 6 months. Due to inadequate adoption demand, and with few other options available, many wild horses removed from the range because of overpopulation would likely have to be returned to the overpopulated range after 6 months - or they may have to be transported to a different range, expanding the distribution of the animals, the associated costs, and the habitat damage.

    5. Requiring the identification of new rangelands and sanctuaries – or exclusive use areas – for wild horses and burros. This directive would elevate the importance of one species above all other species that use the range, severely impacting the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s ability to manage wildlife populations. It is also inconsistent with the multiple use mandates in the Federal Lands Management Act of 1976.

    6. Revoking a provision that allows the BLM to destroy old, sick and lame animals; and excess horses and burros for which an adoption demand does not exist.
    This would increase costs of holding and long-term care, which would decrease the availability of funds for removals and surveys. Due to limited funds and holding facilities, managers would have to return more animals back onto the range - exacerbating resource damage.

    7. Allowing the BLM and USFS to relocate wild horses and burros to public lands where they did not exist before the Act. This would have the effect of increasing and spreading the impacts to wildlife habitats, but it may be the land managers’ only recourse given the restrictive provisions in these measures for controlling wild horse and burro populations. Relocating wild horses and burros will only transplant the problem and could increase the problem beyond the Wild Horse and Burro Program’s ability to control it. This would lead to extreme, and geographically expanding, population growth and habitat damage.

    8. Requires that an adoption demand exists prior to capturing wild horses and burros. Over the years it has been demonstrated that there is not sufficient adoption demand to keep up with wild horse and burro population growth. This provision would cause wild horse and burro populations to remain on the range at levels beyond its ability to support them and the wildlife that depend on the same resources.

    The commission believes that a more effective strategy to manage wild horse and burro populations is to adequately fund the current Wild Horse and Burro Program. The current Act, if adequately funded, has built-in checks and balances to prevent overpopulation and reduce resource damage on the range. It would be much more cost effective to increase funding for the current program than to expand the distribution of wild horses and burros, which would increase adverse impacts to natural resources.

    * Copy of the commission’s letter to Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl [PDF, 40kb]

    Testimony from Arizona Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles to House Natural Resources Subcommittee

    In March 2009, Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles told a congressional committee that the ROAM bill (H.R. 1018) could result in adverse impacts to wildlife and habitat, as well as to the horses and burros the legislation seeks to further protect. He offered several recommendations on ensuring a viable future for each.

    * Written testimony provided to House Natural Resources Subcommittee [pdf, 43kb]

    Background on wild horse and burro management

    The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, as amended by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and the Public Rangeland Improvement Act of 1978, directs the protection and management of wild horses and burros on public lands.

    Responsibility for protecting, managing and controlling wild horse and burro populations on federal lands falls to the Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service.

    For information on the wild horse and burro program and related management issues, visit the BLM’s Web site at www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro.html and click on the “Information Center” link in the box at the right.

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 24th December 2009
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General, Politics and More | No Comments »

    Arizona State Parks Closing

    Arizona State Parks to close - Contact The Arizona Governor TODAY - Today is tha last chance to save the Arizona State Parks

    John Wright • Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 8:36 am

    A bill passed this week by the Arizona legislature will lead ultimately to the closure of all state parks, according to the Arizona State Parks Foundation, including those along the Colorado River such as Buckskin Mountain, River Island, Cattail Cove and Windsor Beach.

    The bill cuts more than $9 million of Parks funds, leaving the agency with only about $10 million in its 2010 budget. That’s less than 30 percent of the agency’s normal funding and not enough to continue park operations beyond this fiscal year. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona legislature are seeking $205 million in cuts to mitigate a deficit estimated to be $1.5 billion. The Foundation says the proposed cuts to State Parks would provide just 4 percent of their goal, while shutting down the Park’s annual contribution to the Arizona economy of more than $266 million (much of which is generated in busy parks like those in the Parker area).

    The cuts will force major reductions in Parks staff and closure of more than half of the State’s 30 parks this fiscal year. The resulting loss of Park revenue is projected to leave the Parks System with no money to start the next fiscal year, July 1, 2010. The next step would be to shut down the entire system and dispose of Parks properties, returning most of them to their original owners.

    The Foundation’s website now contains an “urgent call to action”, saying:
    If legislatures could keep parks open to Arizonans through 50 years of prior downturns, wars, gas crises and political turmoil, surely current lawmakers can find the revenues to do so–especially given the great economic value, popularity and intrinsic worth of our state parks. If you or your children wish to ever visit such extraordinary places like Kartchner Caverns State Park, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park or Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, you must act today. It is our last hope.According to the Foundation, the last hope for keeping State Parks open is a line-by-line veto by Governor Brewer of the Parks cuts in the bill. They are appealing to the Governor to do this and ask that the public do the same.

    Go To Arizona State Parks Foundation To Learn The Facts

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 23rd December 2009
    Under: Arizona News, Conservation Groups, General | 1 Comment »

    Applications being accepted for 2010 Arizona elk, pronghorn hunts

    Applications being accepted for 2010 Arizona elk, pronghorn hunts

    Regulations and forms now available at www.azgfd.gov/draw

    The regulations for Arizona’s 2010 elk and pronghorn antelope seasons are available online at www.azgfd.gov/draw, and hunters interested in obtaining a hunt permit-tag via the draw process can start applying now.

    Applications must be submitted to the Arizona Game and Fish Department by U.S. mail to P.O. Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052 or hand-delivered to any department office by Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010 by 7 p.m. (MST) – postmarks do not count.

    Hunters are reminded that a 2010 hunting license is required to apply. Department officials encourage hunters to get their license before applying for an elk or antelope hunt permit-tag if they wish to do any other hunting in early 2010. Licenses purchased through the draw process will not be mailed out until after the draw is completed.

    Those who submit an application that is received by Jan. 21, 2010 (the end of the “correction period”) will receive up to three calls from the department in a 24-hour period if an error is found on the application. If the applicant is reached by phone, the department will try to help fix the error to prevent it from being rejected.

    Arizona Game and Fish Department officials said printed copies of the regulations and application forms should be available at license dealers across the state in early January 2010.

    The Arizona Game and Fish Commission set the 2010 elk and pronghorn antelope hunt orders during their regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 5, authorizing a grand total of 952 pronghorn and 26,702 elk permits.

    There were a couple of changes made to the proposed recommendations during the meeting for both elk and antelope.

    Unit 19B antelope hunters can be thankful for an agreement arranged by Commissioner Robert “Robbie” Woodhouse with the Chino Grande Ranch that will continue to allow hunters access on the ranch during the 2010 season. Closure of the property to the public would have resulted in a reduction of 45 antelope permits in the unit.

    “We are very glad that Chino Grande Ranch decided to keep their property open to sportsmen,” said Commissioner Woodhouse. “This is a great example of how teamwork and cooperation can resolve an issue. Open communication and cooperation between the commission, department, sportsmen, and landowners are critical to preserving our hunting heritage in Arizona.”

    Sportsmen are reminded that access to private land is a privilege, and their conduct and behavior can have an effect on their ability to hunt in these areas in the future.

    Unit 1 elk hunters will see an increase in the number of available antlerless permits compared to the proposed recommendations in an effort to stabilize that growing herd. One hundred and forty more permits will be available in this unit through a number of hunts.

    An agreement with the Hopi Tribe will allow 2010 antelope and elk hunters from the general populace access to sovereign Hopi Trust Lands within Units 4A, 5A, and 5B. Through the agreement, a proportion of the available permits will be exclusively for Hopi tribal members.

    To learn more about the big game draw lottery process, bonus points, and available leftover spring javelina hunting permits, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw.

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 22nd December 2009
    Under: Arizona News, General, Hunting | No Comments »

    New state record striper caught during major winter storm

    New state record striper caught during major winter storm

    Angler reels in a fishing bonanza at Lake Pleasant

    While most people were huddled indoors out of the torrential rain on Dec. 7 while a major winter storm pummeled the state, John Davis was enjoying a fishing bonanza at Lake Pleasant, including landing a new inland state record striped bass.

    “I’ve never experienced anything quite like it, they were hitting topwater all day long in the rain. It was really something,” Davis said.

    Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say John’s monster striper weighed in at 28.58 pounds and measured 45.7 inches long. He caught the behemoth on a Zara Super Spook, which is a topwater lure.

    What’s more, he was the only angler out there braving the storm, and reaping the benefits.

    John said the behemoth striper actually hit the lure twice without being hooked, but came back a third time. John was amazed he could even land the fish – it ran like a runaway freight train, tearing off line and it took him some time to subdue the giant.

    Davis would like to have the striper mounted, or at least have a replica of it created.

    Davis, a Phoenix resident, routinely fishes Lake Pleasant, but said he has never seen such phenomenal topwater action before. “The stripers were in a feeding frenzy in Humbug Cove. I was getting multiple hits on my topwater lures, all day long. It was amazing.”

    John said that sometimes it rained very hard, but the wind didn’t blow, so it wasn’t too bad out there. “Actually, it was kind of nice.”

    It’s always nice when you hit the jackpot. John caught and mostly released around 50 stripers during his rain-soaked, day-long fishing bonanza.

    Game and Fish biologists said research studies at Lake Pleasant have shown that the majority of striped bass congregate in the northern coves during winter, especially over submerged creek and river channels.

    “The striper fishing at Lake Pleasant has really taken off the past several years. In fact, the striper bite last winter was pretty remarkable – anglers were routinely catching dozens of fish. It looks like we are off to a good start again this winter,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.

    Lake Pleasant has not always had stripers, but it is the only lake in the state with white bass. However, when the Waddell Dam was raised in the early nineties, Central Arizona Project water from the Colorado River began being pumped into this popular desert reservoir on the Agua Fria River. Eventually, striped bass from the Colorado River got into the lake.

    Follow me on CamoSpace

    Posted on 21st December 2009
    Under: Arizona News, Fishing | No Comments »