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    2010 June - Desert Rat - The Premier Hunting and Fishing Blog of the Southwest!

    Archive for June, 2010

    Cunningham’s Shooting Range Set to Open

    I’m very excited at the prospect of having a shooting range 5 minutes away from my house! Cunningham’s Shooting Range is set to open July 3rd, and am excited to get in there and get some rounds down range. I have spoken with Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham and I can tell you that they have some awesome plans for the range. Of course, lots of shooting! Activities focused on new shooters, youth and ladies. Classes of various types, for brand-new shooters and experienced people too. The Cunninghams will have sales and rentals of both firearms and accessories. They are reaching out to the community in providing local law enforcement a place to shoot (currently they usually travel to the west valley), and they are also planning to have a section of their facility dedicated to Boy Scout fund-raising activities. They will have a variety of membership options available - you can learn more here: MEMBERSHIPS

    I was lucky in that the Cunningham’s gave me a sneak preview of their range a couple of weeks ago. Chris is an extremely knowledgeable gent, and it is plain to see he is excited, sincere and confident about this venture. There are no holds barred at this range - it is state of the art. Several thousand pounds of special rubber cubes replace the angled plate and sand catches that some us may remember. This material, combined with a highly efficient cooling and ventilation system ensure that there is no lead dust in the air inside of the building. There is a small viewing area for visitors and guests, with lots of lanes and a target retrieval system.

    The Grand Opening is scheduled for this Saturday, the 3rd of July, info below:

    Saturday, July 3rd from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., come hang out with our special guest, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) the man behind the mask, and members of the 501st legion Dune Sea Garrison stormtroopers.

    Come join the fun! There will be raffles, refreshments, and prizes, with proceeds from raffle to benefit the Queen Creek Crime Prevention Posse. Don’t miss your chance to hang out with Chewie!

    The Cunninghams report that the Town of Queen Creek has been very supportive in their efforts. I hope that we can all support the Cunninghams as well, and make their endeavor a huge success. Please, if you can’t make the Grand Opening, make it a point to visit their range in the near future. Also, I hope to have lots of things going on with the Range, moving in to the future, so stay tuned for more!

    18395 S. 186th Way #106
    Queen Creek, AZ 85142
    phone: 480-840-9202

    Hours of Operation

    Monday: 9am-8pm
    Tuesday: 9am-8pm
    Wednesday: 9am-8pm
    Thursday: 9am-8pm
    Friday: 9am-8pm
    Saturday: 9am-8pm
    Sunday: 10am-5pm

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    Posted on 29th June 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Events, General, Press Releases | No Comments »

    Boating Enforcement Activity

    Good news: Few arrested at checkpoint
    But many still cited for equipment shortcomings

    Five law enforcement agencies recently worked together to help provide a safe boating environment for watercraft users along the Colorado River.

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department, Nevada Department of Wildlife, National Park Service, Bullhead City Police Department, and Yavapai County Sheriff’s Department recently conducted an OUI (Operating Under the Influence)/Safety Checkpoint at Katherine’s Landing in Bullhead City.

    Two arrests were made for exceeding the blood alcohol limit of .08, down from nine in 2009, and overall compliance with required safety equipment was 78 percent, up from 73 percent in 2010.

    Velma Holt, west sector supervisor for the Game and Fish Kingman office, believes an outreach effort that has reached 6,000 boaters over the last three years may have played a role in the higher compliance rate.

    “I’m pleased to see more boaters operating with the required equipment,” Holt said. “The regulations are in place for a reason. There are a lot of potential dangers on our waterways, not the least of which is the sheer number of boats using a limited amount of space.”

    Holt also mentioned cold water temperatures, alcohol, and inexperienced boaters as other potential safety issues.

    “Boat Safe, Boat Smart, and Boat Sober,” Holt said, referring to the safety slogan. “Game and Fish also offers free boating education, which covers safety issues, regulations, and the required equipment prior to launch.”

    While compliance improved and arrests were down, Holt did point out some concerns. A total of 72 citations were issued, 31 of which were for not having a Type IV throwable on board.

    Holt explained these throwable floatation devices are critical because one person jumping in the water to try and save another simply puts two people at risk.

    An additional 15 citations were written for not having a fire extinguisher, 13 for insufficient PFD’s (Personal Floatation Device), four were written for expired registration, four for having a child under 12 not wearing a life jacket, two for possession of drugs and paraphernalia, and one for an overloaded boat.

    “Everyone on the water needs to understand how many scenarios on the water can quickly turn into a life-or-death situation,” Holt said. “If you are going on a boat, take a few minutes to learn what is required prior to launching.”

    For those interested in taking a boating education class, visit the Game and Fish website at www.azgfd.gov/boating.

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    Posted on 29th June 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Fishing, General | No Comments »

    Game and Fish and Alpha Energy cut a “green” ribbon

    Game and Fish and Alpha Energy cut a “green” ribbon

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters on Carefree Highway in Phoenix is now officially partially solar powered. Approximately 20 percent of the power used by the building is being supplied through an array of solar panels on the roof.

    “Being a natural resources conservation organization, using renewable energy sources is very much in line with the goals and mission of the department,” said Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles. “It is especially satisfying for the department to be able to use one of Arizona’s most plentiful resources, its abundant sunshine, to help power our headquarters building and simultaneously save money for wildlife conservation.”

    (Pictured: Larry Voyles, Director, Arizona Game and Fish and Landis Maez, National Sales Director, Alpha Energy cut the green ribbon.)

    When the building was being built back in 2008, a Governor’s directive required that all new state government buildings meet at least the Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating. With the solar array installed and running, the Game and Fish headquarters building now meets the Platinum LEED rating.

    “Working with the Game and Fish Department has been a very good partnership for our company,” said Landis Maez, national director of sales for Alpha Energy, Inc. “Cutting the ribbon with Game and Fish and kicking off the official use of the solar array is a huge milestone for both organizations.”

    According to Alpha Energy statistics, since the system was turned on in September of last year, the solar system has generated more than 187,000 kilowatt-hours. This has prevented the emissions of more than 232,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 384 pounds of nitrogen dioxide and 635 pounds of sulfur dioxide. Those emissions savings are similar to leaving your television on for 1.2 million hours, or powering 1,436 computers and 10 homes for one year, or driving an average passenger car for more than 23 years.

    The grid-tied solar power system consists of 1,092 photovoltaic panels connected to four inverters. A complete web-based interface and weather monitoring system features auto alerts to help ensure optimal system performance at all times.

    For more information about solar power systems, go to www.alpha.com.

    For more information about the Arizona Game and Fish Department, go to www.azgfd.gov.

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    Posted on 28th June 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Press Releases | No Comments »

    Arizona’s only satellite-tracked bald eagle returns to the sky

    Arizona’s only satellite-tracked bald eagle returns to the sky

    After months of rehabilitation and preparation, Arizona’s first adult bald eagle fitted with a satellite GPS transmitter was released June 7 at Watson Lake near Prescott.

    The 7-year-old male was found east of Prescott with a wing injury and elevated lead levels and has spent the last two months being treated and rehabilitated at Wild At Heart in Cave Creek.

    When the bald eagle was found, it was still carrying a transmitter fitted when the bird was a nestling in 2003. The non-functioning transmitter was replaced with a new solar-powered GPS transmitter prior to the release. The transmitter is lightweight and does not interfere with the bird’s flight or activities.

    “This is the first time biologists will have the opportunity to track a non-breeding adult bald eagle in Arizona and learn more about its year-round habits, migrations and possible future breeding activity,” says Kenneth Jacobson, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Bald Eagle Management Program. “Most of our data and information has come from young bald eagles and breeding adults, and we have very little tracking data on adult bald eagles prior to breeding or when they are away from their breeding areas.”

    Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists and rehabilitation specialists from Wild At Heart released the bird.

    Wild At Heart received the bird in March. After recovering from its injuries, rehabilitators there worked with the bird to rebuild muscle strength for flying and ensured it was ready to kill live prey upon release. Now after completing rehabilitation, the eagle was ready to return to the wild and to Arizona’s treasured bald eagle population.

    “It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to work with our national symbol, and it will be even more exciting to be able to follow this bird’s movements through the transmitter data,” says Bob Fox of Wild At Heart. “We are honored to have been able to play a role in returning this bald eagle to good health, so that it could return to the wild population.”

    Delisted nationally and on the verge of being removed from the endangered species list in Arizona, the state had 52 breeding pairs of bald eagles this year.

    The bald eagle population in Arizona has grown nearly 600 percent since it was originally listed on the federal Endangered Species list in 1978, thanks in part to management efforts supported by the Heritage Fund. The Heritage Fund is a voter-passed initiative that was started in 1990 to further wildlife conservation efforts in the state, including protecting endangered species, through Arizona Lottery ticket sales.

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department, a leading partner in recovery efforts for the bald eagle, attributes the success to cooperative on-the-ground management, including monitoring and survey flights; recreational area closures during the breeding season; banding and visual identification; contaminants analysis and a nestwatch program to protect breeding activities. Through the Southwest Bald Eagle Management Committee (SWBEMC), a broad coalition of 23 government agencies, private organizations and Native American tribes, a plan is in place to help ensure the continued success of the bald eagle population in Arizona. To complement the management plan, laws are in place to help abate threats to the population, including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act

    Through its partnerships with other public agencies, non-profit organizations and the science community, the department’s wildlife recovery program aims to prevent species from becoming endangered and conserve them in a more cost-effective manner. State-level involvement provides closer oversight of wildlife species on a day-to-day basis. Specific emphasis is placed on identifying and managing the wildlife and habitat of greatest conservation need, or those species that are no longer abundant and facing increasing threats from habitat degradation, disease, introduction of non-native species and climate change.

    Adaptive management of these species helps ensure their continued presence in Arizona and protects the delicate balance of the ecosystem for future generations.

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    Posted on 27th June 2010
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Game and Fish participates in second annual Operation Dry Water campaign

    Game and Fish participates in second annual Operation Dry Water campaign

    Heavy law enforcement patrol efforts from the tri-state region will remove alcohol-impaired boaters from the Colorado River at the end of the month as part of Operation Dry Water, a countrywide movement that has more than 40 states increasing OUI enforcement and awareness.

    Operation Dry Water is a national campaign that was created to detect and remove impaired boaters from waters across the nation. It is organized by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, and it will focus on enforcing Operating/Boating Under the Influence (OUI or BUI) laws June 25-27, 2010.

    Among the many lakes and rivers across America, one of the most dangerous waterways west of the Mississippi is the Colorado River. The national effort broadens the public safety message and includes interagency OUI checkpoints, saturation patrols and awareness between states like Arizona, California and Nevada that border waterways such as the 233-mile Colorado River system.

    “The Colorado River is a massive undertaking to enforce,” said Kevin Bergersen, Arizona’s boating law administrator. “However, it is important that every agency does their share since a significant number of alcohol-related accidents occur on the Colorado River,” he said. “These checkpoints remove dangerous boaters from the river by enforcing the .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) throughout, making it safer for everyone.”

    The primary purpose of the campaign is to detect boat operators who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and to provide boating safety education and outreach to all boaters. “We want people to be responsible while having fun,” said Bergersen.

    United States Coast Guard statistics from 2008, the latest available, reveal that 17 percent of all boat accident fatalities were a direct result of alcohol or drug use. Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion – “stressors” common to the boating environment – intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some prescription medications

    To find out more about Operation Dry Water and boating safety laws, please visit www.operationdrywater.org, www.azgfd.gov/boating, or www.boatcoloradoriver.com.

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    Posted on 26th June 2010
    Under: Arizona News, Fishing, General, Press Releases | No Comments »

    Check out the Fresh Air Fund

    I was approached by the Fresh Air Fund and asked to promote their cause this summer. Poking around their site, it looks like a great organization. Those of us who grew up in rural areas can’t imagine what it would be like to grow up in a big city, and to have never ventured out to the “fresh air”.

    Spokeslady Sara Wilson let me know that they have had a donor agree to match donations until the end of June. Of course, they will take donations year round, but a donation now will effectively be a “double-donation”.

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    Posted on 26th June 2010
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Happy Father’s Day!

    This is a reprint from a newspaper column I wrote a few years ago. Happy Father’s Day, Dad and Gramp - I wish I was closer.

    My passion for hunting and fishing is a direct result of excursions with my Dad and Grandfather, when I was young. Granted, Gramp was never a hunter, but an avid fisherman. Dad enjoyed fishing also, and I think it was fair to say that he did hunt, although I can’t remember him enjoying it as much as he did fishing. It’s funny, the things that stay trapped in your memory banks. When I recall fishing trips with my Dad and Grandfather, I always seem to remember the same “scenes”. I remember fishing along the Clearwater Stream. In those memories are the smell of Gramp’s menthol cigarettes, and Dad’s cigars. Somehow, I always enjoyed the smell of their smoke, mixed with the fresh air. I don’t think that one is allowed to fondly remember tobacco smoke, these days… I remember the Shiktehawk Stream, nestled between the watershed of the mighty St. John River, and that of the Miramichi River. I remember being old enough to wade by myself, and how absolutely frigid the water was. I remember Gramp and Dad being ahead of me, around a bend, and being terrified because I was “by myself”. I remember Gramp and Dad teaching me how to flyfish, when I got older. A skill that, although a little rusty these days – I never lost. I recall a “big” trip, where we went to Mount Carleton – the highest in New Brunswick, and fished Nictau Lake. On that trip, I drank black coffee from a thermos, ate corned beef sandwiches with hot mustard, and fished from a boat extensively – a first for me. We even visited the Ranger’s cabin at night, which was close to our campsite. Some of these sights, smells, and sounds are still with me like they just happened yesterday. I want to thank my Dad and Gramp for what they gave me – memories, their time, and camaraderie. All of which helped lay the foundation for the day when I would have a child. My memories of time with them help remind me to make time for my daughter – so that she can have memories someday too. Memories of her first fish, seeing her first bear or moose, or memories of the first time she wasn’t scared of being in the woods. Happy Father’s Day, not just to all fathers and Grandfathers, but especially to my Dad and Grandfather also. I hope that all of our memories haven’t yet been made, and there’s still a few trout and corned beef sandwiches out there, with our names on them.. If you are a Dad or Granddad, make some time for your kids. It will affect them for the rest of their lives.

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    Posted on 20th June 2010
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Father’s Day Indeed

    OK, I know I re-post this every year. I’m a sap. Maybe I’ll write a new one next year. Love you, Baby Miky.

    Fathers Day, Indeed

    Every year, when Father’s Day rolls around, the mushy poems, odes, and tributes spring up all over. Heart-wrenching stories will fill our e-mail inboxes. The department stores will tell us that if we really love our Dads, we will buy that tie, those golf clubs, or even that snazzy jet-ski. Don’t get me wrong – I like a tribute to Dad as much as the next person. It’s just that – well, why don’t people make that much fuss about their Dad’s the rest of the year? Especially if on any other day, it wouldn’t be expected, and stands a much better chance of being a pleasant surprise. My Dad is about 3500 miles away. I haven’t seen him in about 3 years. My Grandfather is about 3500 ½ miles away – I haven’t seen him in 8 years. Visiting is a major logistical exercise, but I think of em both a lot. I miss them a lot, too – and I’m not just saying that because I know they read my articles. We just aren’t a particularly affectionate family – I think they know I love them. I feel like they love me too. We just don’t have a need to prattle on about it, or to set aside a special day, once per year, to reassure each other. It’s just the way we are. They know, I know. We all miss each other, and always hope that the cards will allow for another fishing trip or two. Nuff said. The menfolk in my family aren’t big on Oprah, I guess. We’re not in touch with our sensitive sides.
    If anything, I think we should have “Being a Father” Day. In my mind, it is inferred that the current holiday is all about “having a Father”. You don’t have to “do” anything to have a Father – so why should we have a special day to remind us, that we have one?? On the other hand, being a Father – now there’s something to be commemorated! Now, some Dads make it look easy, but for most of us, I think it is an undertaking with an awesome amount of responsibility. It appears to me, however that some Dads don’t treat it like it is. And that is a crying shame. I’m not trying to judge, but when I weigh my observations against my own feelings, there is a real big gap sometimes. Children drowning in pools – what’s up with that? Or dying in parked cars. Or kids looking like .. well, not looking like young ladies, when they are at the mall. Or not being polite. Or not being respectful and kind. Maybe a day every year to remind Dads just how important they are in the lives of their children would be more productive than a day to phone our own Fathers, that know we love them anyway…

    Just over 7 years ago, my life changed forever. Mikaela was born. She arrived via C-Section, and I had to wait just on the other side of a solid door. I heard her cry. The nurse brought her out, all covered with yucky stuff, wrapped in a little white, striped blanket – and handed her to me. I was petrified. My eyes welled up. So powerful was the moment – that I was now responsible, forever, for this little being – the gravity of it was overwhelming. I’ve been scared ever since. Scared that I don’t read to her enough. Scared because I’ve put off teaching her to ride a two-wheeler. Scared because I get mad and holler at her sometimes. Scared when I haven’t heard her for a few minutes. Scared because she was just there a second ago, and now I can’t see her. Scared because I’m too strict. Scared because I’m not strict enough. Scared that if she’s this stubborn now, what the heck will she be like when she’s 14? Scared that I don’t spend enough time with her. Scared that she won’t be a responsible parent. Scared that she won’t recognize the value of hard work. And integrity. And kindness. And honesty. Scared that she’s not really “just going through a phase”. Scared that the decisions I’ve made for our family have been the wrong ones. Decisions that have resulted in her not meeting her Great-Grandparents in Canada yet. Or her Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins. Scared that the decision to home school her was not the right one. Scared that the “Cat’s in the Cradle” song will play out in my own life – I’m too busy today, she’s too busy tomorrow. Now, granted – most of us make these decisions all the time. I think what is important is not what our final decisions are, but that we recognize the gravity enough to worry about them. Some never make them. Some never seem to worry one way or the other. Others seem to make them flawlessly, and make the whole “father thing” look easy.

    So, in that context – maybe it’s not such a wild idea for us to change Father’s Day from what it is now to a day where we reflect on being Fathers. Maybe if there are Dads among us who think that being a Father is no big deal, they could take one day per year and just worry. They could reflect. They could take stock of how they are doing. They could ponder on what needs a little polish, when it comes to fatherhood. They could really notice their children, and wonder how they are going to turn out. I get the impression from experienced (retired) fathers that if you put a lot of heartache and effort into the task now, the pain and frustration softens with age. Much like Boot Camp, which is a terrible trial at the time, but years later, you only seem to remember the good times. I mean really, if one day a year isn’t too much to reflect on having a father – could it be that big a deal to take that same day, and reflect on being a father?

    The other day at work, I was having a particularly daunting day. I was in an irritable mood (hard to believe, I know), had a flu bug thing dragging me down, and half the factory seemed to be in my face. It was one of those days where, if you could, you’d pack your stuff up, and walk out the door for good. Anyway, the smoke seemed to clear for a few, and I plopped down at my desk, and noticed my message light blinking, on my phone. After punching in the code, I heard my daughter’s sing-song voice over the speaker. “Ummm, Hi Dad, this is Mikaela. So how are things going over there? I miss you, Dad. I just wanted to call and see how things are going. Love you. Bye.” Once in awhile, just for a second, I stop worrying so much, and notice just how proud I am, to be her father. I don’t tell her that enough. I’ll have to remember to do that, on Father’s Day.

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    Posted on 20th June 2010
    Under: General | No Comments »

    Artist Could Use Some Help

    A couple of years ago, I made a post about artist Ryan Jacque. Now, I can’t even remember where I ran across his work, just that I was struck by it, and wanted to spread the word about his incredible talent. Well, today I heard from him, out of the blue. A couple of months after my post about his work, Ryan was seriously injured in a fall from a treestand (November 2008). Ryan let me know that he is just now getting things back on track with his recovery. As it turns out, Ryan didn’t want anything, he just wanted to say thank you for making the post about his art.

    Anyway, I can only imagine what being out of commission for a year and a half does to your life, your family, your psyche. If any of you are regular or even occasional purchasers of fine art, I would ask that you check out Ryan’s work. Honestly, it is amazing. I’m sure a bump in his sales would be a blessing right about now.

    For some real inspiration, you can read about Ryan’s injury and journey to recovery here : RYAN JACQUE

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    Posted on 19th June 2010
    Under: General, Interviews | No Comments »


    I’ve received some traffic regarding my post about the trash on the southern border. Here are some more photos.

    AZ Hunters Who Care

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    Posted on 15th June 2010
    Under: Arizona News, General, Politics and More | No Comments »

    Wildlife group threatens suit against feds to protect jaguar

    “Wildlife group threatens suit against feds to protect jaguar”. Of course they do. Because they’re all about the lawsuits. They’re all about their politics. They’re all about preservation (denial). Funny they’re not trying to sue anybody over the tons of trash being left along the southern border. Or the roads and trails being carved into the southern desert. I’m sure they will oppose completion of the fence as well. Hypocrisy at best.

    Read the full article here: LAWSUIT.

    A wildlife group is gearing up for a fight to force the federal government to better protect jaguars, although the big cats have virtually disappeared from the country.

    The Center for Biological Diversity wants the Wildlife Services division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop the trapping, snaring and poisoning of nuisance predators that could result in the killing or endangering of jaguars and ocelots in the Southwest. Spokesman Michael Robinson said the group is concerned about anti-predator efforts in Arizona, New Mexico and possibly Texas.

    “They’re not targeting jaguars, but if they’re setting up a snare for a mountain lion, there’s a chance a jaguar could end up in that snare,” he said.

    A lawsuit could come as soon as mid-July. At the end of April, the conservation group gave the government 60 days’ notice of its intent to sue. William Clay, Wildlife Services’ deputy administrator, replied on May 14, saying Wildlife Services had “reviewed your comments and will take them into consideration.”

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    Posted on 14th June 2010
    Under: Arizona News, General | No Comments »

    Taser International sees new opportunities in wildlife control

    Of course, PETA is already flapping their collective gums about this.

    You can read the full article here on AzCentral.com : Taser Stun Gun Targets Wildlife

    Taser and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are testing the guns on distressed or aggressive wayward animals, including moose, bears and deer. Officials say the devices are successful because animals recover more quickly from an electric shock than the more traditional darts containing narcotics.

    But animal-rights activists question the stun guns’ safety and say the Tasers cause the animals overwhelming pain. Instead, they argue that loud noises such as horns and whistles can be used to run animals off.

    “Don’t tase me, human!”

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    Posted on 13th June 2010
    Under: General | No Comments »