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L i f e

m e m b e r s


Ken Alexander • Michael Anderson • John Anton • Ernest Apodaca, Jr. • Pete Baldwin • James Ballard • Leo Balthazor • David Baril • Ron Batz • Randy Beck • F.K. Benbow • David Bennett • Keith Berger • Janet Bowman • Tom Bowman • Dan Bradford • Tish Bradford • Richard Briskin • Stephen Brown, MD • Kurt Buckwald • Mike Burr • Esther Cadzow • John Cadzow • Harry Carlson • Lupe Carlson • Kenneth Carney • Steve Casterton • Joe & Marisa Cerreta • Randy Cherington • Pete Cimellaro

• Steve Clark • Bob Cockrill, Jr. • Todd Coleman • Frank Cooper • Russell Coover •

Lonnie Crabtree • William Cullins • Richard Currie • Patrick Curry • Don Davidson • Kay Davidson • Bill Davis • William Davis • Larry Day • Jim deVos • Steven Dodds • Ron Eichelberger • Sharon Eichelberger • Peter Ekholm • Daron Evans • Tim Evans • David Forbes • Tom Franklin • Douglas Fritz • Will Garrison • Walt Godbehere • Richard Goettel • Carl Hargis • Dan Hellman • R. Todd Henderson • Terry Herndon • Ed Hightower • Paul Hodges III • Mel Holsinger • Scott Horn • Michael

Horstman • Timothy Hosford • Bryan House • Wayne Jacobs • Brian Johnsen • Earl Johnson • Edward

Johnson • Gary Johnson • James Johnson • Richard Johnson • Jim Jones** • Mitchell Jones • Bruce Judson • Sandra Kauffman • Richard Kauffman, Sr. • Jim Kavanaugh • Bill Kelley • Denise Kennedy • Chuck Kerr • Bill Kiefer • Brian Kimball • David Kinman • Peter Klocki • John Koleszar • Charles Koons • Joseph Krejci • Otto Kuczynski • James Lara • Michael Lechter • Jorge Leon • Ruben Lerma • Tim Littleton • Deanne Long • James Lynch, Jr. • Bob Mallory • Don Martin • Gary Matchinsky • Karl Matchinsky • Russ McDowell • Steve McGaughey • Angela McHaney • Kelly McMillan • William Meredith • James Mingus • Matt Minshall • James Mullins • James Mullins • Matt Mullins • Robert Murry DVM • Gregory Naff • Mark Nicholas • Anthony Nichols • Brandon Nichols • Fletcher Nichols • Logan Nichols • Cookie Nicoson • Paige Nicoson • Walt Nicoson** • Kathi Nixon • Mark Nixon • David Nygaard • Donna Obert • Douglas Obert, Sr. • Bob Olds • Martin Paez • Pete Page • Sallie Page • Duane Palmer • Marlin Parker • Don Parks Jr. • Shawn Patterson • Art Pearce • Paul Piker • Forrest Purdy • Jan Purdy • Jim Renkema • Keith Riefkohl • Mel Risch • Travis Roberts • Mike Sanders • Rick Schmidt • Tom Schorr • Scott Schuff • Terry Schupp • Bill Shaffer • Howard Shaffer • Steven Shaffer • William Shaffer, Jr. • Lonzo Shields • Terrence Simons • Charlene Sipe • Robert Spurny • Connor Stainton • Gregory Stainton • Randy Stalcup • Douglas Stancill • Mark Stephenson • James Stewart • Shane Stewart • Vashti “Tice” Supplee • Al Swapp • Debbie Swapp • Dan Taylor • Pete Thomas • John Toner • Corey Tunnell • Bill VenRooy • Rick Vincent, Sr. • Don Walters, Jr. • Bill Wasbotten • Dale Watkins • Jerry Weiers • Dee White • Larry White • Richard Williams • Matt Windle • Cory Worischeck • Joseph Worischeck • Mark Worischeck • Chuck Youngker • Scott Ziebarth

Arizona elk society

Thank You Donors Once again, our generous donors helped make the AES Annual Banquet a huge success! They are listed below and on our website. See pages 16-19 for the full Banquet article. A&GTurf Equipment Air ColdSupply AlanKorwin All AroundProducts Al’s Service& Supply AmericanManufacturingLLC Annette& GregNaff AntonSport Arizona Cardinals Arizona CartridgeCompany Arizona Diamondbacks Arizona Elk Society Arizona Game& FishCommission Arizona IceChest Company ArizonaWildlifeFederation ArizonaWildlifeOutfitters Baker PrecisionFirearms BanningMotor Sports Barber’sWesternArt Bass ProShops BeeYourself Bracelets BighornRiver Lodge BonnieWilliams Boone& Crocket Club BrianWaitman BrokenArrowArchery BrownieTroop12 Bucks, Bulls &Beards Outfitters Cabela’s Chappell HuntingProductions Charles Havranek Cherry Creek Lodge Continental DivideKnives CookieNicoson Corky Richardson Cowgirl Crusade Cross CanyonArms LLC CruiseAmerica Crystal Clear Pools Danny Howard Darby MountainOutfitters DavidBaril

DavidManiatis CharitableFnd DebbieSampson DeLaney’s FurnitureAuction DeniseManley DianneDavis DoubleBuckTaxidermy DougParish DrakeCommercial Maintenance Ernest Apodoca Jr Fas-Break Glass Service FNLGroup,LLC Four Peaks Landscaping Fraser Safaris Full DrawGuides & Outfitters Gary & LinMaschner Gary Siegrist GaryWilliams Gear Creationz GeneLeap GeorgeLockwoodStudios GoodmanOutfitters GrandCanyonAirlines GumCreek HawaiianMoon Hays Cooling& Heating HeritageMetalworks HeritagePest Control HighDesert Communications Hualapai Game& Fish Hunt Tek LLC InMemory of DougObert Inyati Bedliners Iron& Antlers JacobMiller Jim& LailaWood JimdeVos JimPaxon JimShelly JoAnneRudolph JoeFoss RifleRange JoeFossTrap& Skeet John& Esther Cadzow

JohnFeurherd JosephKrejci JPCustomCamo JuddWalker KauffmanEnterprises KeepsakeTrophy & Engraving KeithBerger Kenetrek Boots Kodiak GuideService LandmarkValuationServices Layke, Incorporated LMAeroConsulting LongBowNation Lucas Oil Macayo’s Restaurants MarieOrfe Mark & Kathi Nixon McFall Tire& AutoRepair Melisa Perry MileMarker Mount Carmel Safaris NRA- JohnTaglio O’Reilly AutoParts Outdoor RecreationGroup PacificWest Representatives Paul Bunyan’s Firewood, Inc. PaulsonBros. WildlifeStudios LLC Peter Ekholm Phoenix Precast Phoenix Rod& GunClub Phoenix Suns Ponderosa Outfitters Pope&YoungClub PrimeTimeThermographics Purdy inthePines R&BMeats Rainshower Apiaries, Inc Reflections inMetal Regional Pavement Maintenance ReneeMontrachet River RidgeVeterinary Hospital RockinHOutfitters

RonningLandscapingInc Ross Outdoors Ruger Rumors Hair Salon Rut-n-Hard Scott Horn Scott Lanham SetterbergJewelers ShannonSchultz Shelly Hargis Silver Creek Golf Club Southwest Ag. Services SouthWest Ideas Southwest LandAssociates Southwest Outdoors Southwest UrologicSpecialists Sportsman’s Concrete Sportsman’sWarehouse SteveClark SteveLewellan SteveMcGaughey StoveTopGrill SunCountry LawnService SunlundChemical SunriseResorts @Clint Wells SwanMountainOutfitters TheBest of theWest TheOutdoor Trail, LLC ThomasonFamily Insurance Timber Creek Art Works Total Wine& More Universal Lift Systems LLC Uptight Floor Covering VonHanson’sWildGameProcessing Walt Godbehere Weatherby Windmill RanchPhotography/ Country Fotos Yellowhair Buckles

Arizona Elk Society 3

presidents’ message by Steve Clark

The last three months have been a whirlwind of activity for the sportsmen of Arizona. HB2072 was introduced in the Legislature in early January and quickly became the topic of discussion and brought the sportsmen community out in force to oppose. The Arizona Elk Society voted to oppose the legislation and remove all of our affiliation with the group pushing the bill. Sportsmen took to their computers and headed downtown in unison to make sure the bill never saw the light of day.

Last year the new Travel Management Plans went into effect in the South Kiabab. We have seen the documents for the Tonto and have appealed some of the U.S. Forest Service decisions. On May 1st the new TMP and map will be released for the Coconino National Forest. They too have closed many miles of roads, restricted off road travel, restricted designated camping rules and areas. Please stop by their offices and pick up a map and rules before you use the Forest. They will be enforcing the new rules.

More recently many of the environmental groups here in Arizona have petitioned the EPA to outlaw lead ammunition. Fortunately that agenda has been shot down again.

Please read the articles about these issues and others in our magazine. Check out the information on our website and Facebook and take a minute to let us know how you feel. Don’t forget we need to hear from you, as members, so that we can make sure we include your voice in our positions.

On the North Rim of the Grand Canyon there is a push to turn 1.7 million acres into a National Monument. Just about every time a President is about to leave office there is a major push by environmentalists to have the President decree more National Monuments and other, not so popular agendas. The propaganda tells the public that there needs to be more land without people to put Jaguars, grizzly bears and wolves. Arizona sportsmen and groups are letting there feeling be known in Arizona and in Washington. Hopefully this agenda won’t get traction. The USFW Service is getting a lot of heat from environmentalist and anti-hunting organizations to put more Mexican Gray Wolves on the ground. They don’t want to wait for the outcome of the new plan that may take years to formulate. Please don’t think the plan will be good for Arizona and its wildlife. The draft documents we’ve seen are scary to say the least.

4 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

On a good note the Arizona Elk Society held its 11th Annual Banquet and raised over $317,000. The article and pictures are in this issue. Work projects and youth camps have started. Come out and help or enjoy these camps. As always the AES provides all the food and refreshments for our camps to make it easy for you to get involved. Check out the calendar on the website. One thing we need to do is communicate more. If you haven’t liked us on Facebook please do. Take some time every now and then and check out what is new on our website. Sign up for our email newsletter. The AES is trying very hard to increase the reach of our group so that we can keep Sportsmen informed. Don’t be afraid to write us and let us know about issues that concern you. We are here for you.

Cover photo: Matt Cooper hunts elk withhis guide KeithNewby intheSanFranciscoPeaks.

In This Issue

President’s Message by Steve Clark............................................................... 4 In Memorium............................................................................................. 6 Aspens in Today’s Forests by Jim deVos..................................................... 7-9 Matt’s tagwas donatedtoHunt of a Lifetimeto grant his wishtohunt elk inArizona. Hunt of a Lifetimegrants wishes for kids withlifethreatening illnesses. Learnmoreat

Braggin’ Board......................................................................................... 11 Wild in the City by Steve Clark................................................................ 12-13

AES Mission Statement

“BB” the Weather Elk by John Koleszar.................................................... 14-15

The Arizona Elk Society is a

11th Annual Banquet by Steve Clark...................................................... 16-19

non-profit 501(c)(3) wildlife organization. Our mission is to raise funds to benefit elk and other wildlife through habitat conservation and restoration and to preserve our hunting heritage for present and future generations.


Late Archery Bull Elk: A Bull Named Gash by Benjamin Alonzo................. 20-22 Torquer Don by Patrick Weise................................................................. 23-29 AES Founding Members............................................................................ 30 Habitat Partners of Arizona...................................................................... 31 Upcoming Events.........................................................................................32

Executive Board

Committee Chairs

President............................................................................ Steve Clark

Banquet.......................Sharon Eichelberger & Cookie Nicoson

Vice President...................................................................Carl Hargis

Grant Writer..................................................................Lin Maschner

Treasurer................................................................... Cookie Nicoson

Membership........................................................................ Dee Long

Secretary............................................................................ Liala Wood

Projects...............................................................................Carl Hargis

Past President................................................Sharon Eichelberger

Newsletter.............................................................Maria DelVecchio Website......................................................................... Leo Balthazor

Board of Directors Ken Alexander, Steve McGaughy, Gary Maschner,

Wapiti Weekend...........................................................Shelly Hargis Scholarship............................................................. Wendy Norburg Director of Conservation Affairs.................................. Jim deVos

Jim Mullins, Matt Mullins, Greg Naff, Megan Naff, Mike Norburg, Rick Schmidt, Tom Schorr, Bill Walp

You may send a message for any officers, board members or committee chairs to Arizona Elk Society 5

in memorium Eugene Dightmon

Lt. Col. Fred Creceluis

with Ariz. Elk Society! AES members take a hands-on approach with our field projects important to wildlife and habitat. Please consider joining us for one or more projects each year. We work with many other great organizations in our effort to involve our youth – tomorrow’s wildlife and habitat stewards. You will find yourself working sideby-side with people who have big hearts and little fear of getting dirty...for the sake of wildlife. Check us out!

6 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

Aspens in today’s forests by Jim deVos, AES Director of Conservation Affairs

Aspen trees on the Colorado Plateau are not faring well and natural resource managers are trying desperately to reverse a decades-long decline for the species. Before we get into the why for the decline, lets take a quick look at the ecological role that aspen played Dusky Grouse by Dennis Garrison for in our forests when USDA Forest Service they were more prevalent. One of the key issues is that the presence of aspen provided a measure of diversity that is important for wildlife and in reducing the intensity of wildlife. A study in British Columbia found that aspen groves provided important habitat for 55 mammal species and 135 bird species. Also, aspen provide cavity nests for a wide variety of species. Again, in British Columbia, a study to find how important aspen were to cavity nesting species found that 95% of the cavity nests were found in aspen trees while this species comprised a mere 15% of the trees in the forest. In forests in the American Southwest, over 40 species of birds were found to nest

in cavities in aspens. This is an important consideration when you look at several studies that suggest that for bird species that don’t make their own cavity nests, suitable nests are limited in conifer-dominated forests

Aspen also play an important role in providing forage for a wide variety of wildlife species. Studies in Arizona documented that forage production is 10-15 times greater in aspen groves than in the adjacent conifer forests. The forage provided by aspen is important to a great number of species. For example, blue grouse (now called dusky grouse) Arizona Elk Society 7

will eat the tender leaves found on aspen. For mule deer, elk, and other grazing mammals, the leaves provide an important source of nutrition in late summer and fall. For some wildlife species, the buds

on aspen trees provide and important food source in winter. Suffice to say, many wildlife species use aspen for food, at least seasonally, and some yearlong, making the presence of aspens a benefit for wildlife. One of the interesting facts about aspen is that it is one of the most widely distributed tree in North America but has become the focus of controversy in many places in the Intermountain West due to declines in distribution and vigor, and lack of recruitment of new sprouts. To understand, let’s take a look at some of the factors that are believed to be at play in the decline of this important component of the ecosystem. First, aspen is what is called an early succession species or one that recovers quickly from major disturbances such as fire or timber harvest. As an example, after a fire where the adult trees are damaged or killed, the extensive root system remains viable and new sprouts shoot up almost immediately after the fire goes through the area. It is this sprouting that is the most common form of tree reestablishment although under ideal conditions, seeds can sprout and form new trees, but again, this requires ideal conditions.

As with most species that are early successional by nature, they depend on some type of habitat disturbance for survival. At one time, forest fires were the prime disturbance factors and we know that Smokey the Bear says that only you can prevent forest fires and prevent we have, in spades. In fact, we have been so successful that humans have changed the fire regime in our forests from frequent, low intensity fires to huge fires such as the recent Wallow fire. As a consequence, the lack of disturbance that fosters aspen sprouting has allowed a type conversion through much of the Intermountain West with conifers now being the dominant tree in many places. The conversion to a pine forest has a couple of negative impacts to aspen sprouting. First, the dense overstory formed by conifers shades the ground and makes it difficult for the sun loving aspen to flourish. Dense pines also shade the ground and make it difficult for herbaceous growth (the plants that deer and elk eat) to do well in today’s forests. Recall that earlier I said that aspen clones produce 10-15 times the forage for wildlife that adjacent conifer dominated forests grow. 8 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

Unfortunately, there are other impacts to aspen that are reducing their presence in forests. One such challenge is what is termed “Sudden Aspen Decline” or SAD. In the last decade, huge tracts of aspen covered forest have suffered from this problem. Although the exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, there are some factors that seem common to impacted areas. Aspen are a thin-barked tree and prone to both disease and insect damage, but healthy trees are pretty resistant to death from these factors seeming to suggest that clones that succumb to this disease are stressed. One of the stressors that likely affect aspen in Arizona is the long-term drought conditions that have gripped the state for the last decade. This coupled with warmer winters seem to have been favorable to insect survival and has likely exacerbated the problem of disease and insect infestation in dryer areas. From what I have seen in our state, aspen clones in the higher, moister mountains have done better than those in lower, warmer areas.

Two foot Aspen shoot growing near the point of origin of Wallow Fire. Green in the black. This photo and next by US Forest Service, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Suffice to say, there are a lot of reasons why we want aspen in our forests, some of them related to wildlife values and some related to human values. Who doesn’t get a thrill from seeing the golden hue of aspen on a hillside during fall? Now, lets get to the crux of the current controversy over the decline in aspen. While there are a lot of impacts and forest conditions that make aspen recovery difficult, one of the most controversial issues is that elk and deer like to eat aspen and some researchers suggest that these wildlife species eat essentially all of the sprouts that do grow after disturbance. Further, until the rate of herbivory is reduced, aspen recovery will be very difficult if not impossible.

wildlife species that depend on and use aspen will be better off. Towards that end, the AES has worked on or provided funding several projects to benefit aspen (and other broad-leafed tree species) recovery.

The AES has taken the position that aspen decline is a reflection of unhealthy forest conditions that have little similarity to forest conditions that support widely distributed healthy aspen clones. We also have stated that while it is clear that elk do eat aspen sprouts, it is unacceptable to focus aspen regeneration efforts solely at elk reductions. Lets make the forest healthy and all the

The Forest Service has a large-scale project on Hart Prairie and the AES helped fund a portion of the project, which will benefit aspen regrowth. We have also obtained a grant to clean some water tanks out to increase capacity to help distribute elk into areas away from riparian corridors to help reduce browsing on broad-leafed plants. AES has also been working to help repair some of the fences that have been placed around aspen clones to keep grazers away from the trees. We are also actively involved in a working group that is looking at a number of questions related to aspen response to the massive Wallow fire. One of the key questions that the group is looking at is if these largescale fires allow enough aspen regeneration to occur to where grazers can’t get on top of the aspen production and large stands of aspen are allowed to grow. At this time, we are planning to help AZGFD personnel establish and monitor around 300 photo points in areas burned by the Wallow fire so we can keep track to determine if and at what rate aspen regenerates and is used by elk. Scale is an important issue when we talk about forest health and this is true also of aspen recovery. From the Arizona Elk Societies’ perspective, to effectively manage aspen regeneration will take a whole-forest effort that returns our forests to more open, natural condition.

Arizona Elk Society 9

2nd Annual

White Mountain Trophy Elk Contest Awards Banquet and Outdoor Rendezvous

Saturday, April 28, 2012 Springerville-Eagar

Photo: Marc Zebell - Z’s Photography

• Schedule of Events •

OutdOOr EXPO and VEndOrs – All Day MOuntain Man CaMP – Sponsored by the Arizona ATV Outlaw Trail Jamboree – All Day Elk sCOring COntEst – Sponsored by Arizona Elk Society – All Day drinks aVailablE all day Sponsored by White Mountain Sportsman’s Club 8:00 a.m. arChEry shOOt Sponsored by Booga Red’s Restaurant & Tequila Red’s Cantina Entry Fee: Adult Men & Women (18 and over), $20.00 Youth Boys & Girls (17 and Under), $10.00 Pee Wee Boys & Girls (10 and Under), $10.00 8:00 a.m. dutCh OVEn COOk-Off Sponsored by Cowboy Up Hay & Ranch Supply Entry Fee: Single Pot $10.00; Three Pots $25.00 Categories: Main Dish, Breads, Desserts Dutch Oven Cooking Class – Free to Public

Elk shEd sCOring COntEst

Sponsored by White Mountain Sportsman’s Club – 9:00 – 3:00 p.m. Entry Fee: Any One Antler $10.00; Any Two Antlers $20.00 Bring in any Elk shed picked up in Arizona Game & Fish Region 1 and New Mexico Units per 2011 Trophy Elk Contest. Scoring will be done according to Trophy Elk Contest Rules by Trophy Elk Contest Scorers. 1st, 2nd & 3rd Place Winners announced at Trophy Elk Banquet.

12:30 p.m. dutCh OVEn tastEr’s tablE lunChEOn $5.00 per plate 1:00 p.m. dutCh OVEn COOk Off WinnErs annOunCEd 3:00 p.m. aMatEurs Only Elk bugling COntEst Sponsored by Dream Mountain Outfitters Entry Fee: Adult Men & Women (18 & Over),$20.00 Youth Boys & Girls (17 and Under), $10.00 Pee Wee Boys & Girls (10 and Under), $10.00 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. WaynE CarltOn huntEr sPECialtiEs sEMinar Sponsored by EDAC 6:30 p.m. Pit bbQ dinnEr One free dinner ticket for each registered participant – additional dinner tickets available at the door - $20.00 each; seating is limited – reserve your tickets now. 7:00 p.m. aWards banQuEt & rafflE tiCkEt draWings One free Raffle Ticket to each registered participant; additional raffle tickets available for $1.00 each with purchase of dinner tickets only.

all WhitE MOuntain trOPhy Elk COntEstants Must bE PrEsEnt tO Win Visit our website at: for updates. for information concerning the Outdoor rendezvous and reserve your dinner tickets, please contact dorlene Maloy @ (928) 333-5569 ext. 7833 or Vendors Welcome

sPECial thanks tO Our sPOnsOrs 10 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT for APACHE COUNTY

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Thes e from pictures were past hunt Doug provided b s y Stanc ill.

Mike and me on an antelope hunt in Wyoming, 2009, unguided

, unt rifle h e t a l , l ul Mike’s b ided 011, ungu 2 , 10 it un

My gran dson J effery looking Stancil at his l Dad’s p 18B, un ig, 2011, guided unit deer hunt, 2012 San Carlos ore around 111, buck should sc unguided

Show it off – send your submissions to Steve Clark at Arizona Elk Society 11


archer y


animal i.d. knot tying

12 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

Last Nov. the Arizona Elk Society volunteers spent a day with the Girl Scouts of the Arizona Cactus-Pine troops and other Girl Scouts from Arizona. 63 girls came to our Wild in the City one day camp to learn about wildlife, fishing, archery and more. The girls had a great time. Wild in the City is our day camp started to introduce kids to the outdoors, conservation, hunting and fishing. This year’s events consisted of fishing, archery, wildlife identification, knot tying, survival key chains and wildlife track making and identification. This is an event that the AES would like to have at least 3-4 times during the year. The event is held at the Ben Avery Shooting Range on Carefree Hwy. They have a great activity center with an indoor archery range and pellet gun range as well as lots of room for other events. As usual we had great volunteers that took as much time as they needed to make sure the kids learned safety and had a successful time. Joe in archery spent one on one time with all the girls to make sure they were hitting the targets, Bob and his helpers at

CITY 2011 the fishing pond made sure every girl caught fish. John and Joan Toner dazzled the girls with wildlife stories in the wildlife identification class and many more volunteers did a great job. By the Way AES member and volunteer Bob Olds, his son and friend Andrew came all the way from Temecula, Ca. to volunteer. If it’s for the kids Bob is usually here to help. No camp day would be complete without the sponsors that make great things happen. Cabela’s and the AES made sure that every girl went home with a new fishing pole. The fishing pond and equipment was made possible by a grant from Arizona Game and Fish. Cabala’s’ also had other give-a-ways and coupons for all the girls. We also had items donated by Rob at Trailhead Outdoors Archery Shop, thanks Rob. Without the help from the volunteers and sponsors the Arizona Elk Society would not be able to reach out to as many kids as we do throughout the year. Thank you all for everything you do and thank you to all the girls and their parents that provided us with smiles of happy girls. Thank you to Annette and Sheree for taking care of all the logistics.

by Steve Clark

track mak ing

archer y


knot tying

Watch the Arizona Elk Society website, Facebook and email newsletter for upcoming events and work projects.

Arizona Elk Society 13

“BB” the Weatherelk by John Koleszar

“This whole winter was a little on the weak side and those rains last monsoon season sure pushed up a lot of green that I munched on all through the winter.” 14 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

“BB” finally gave me a call about a week ago and I agreed to meet with him on the outskirts of Show Low. The meeting took place just before daylight in one of the areas where we had met before. I arrived in the dark and worked my way up over a small hillside that was covered with junipers and all kinds of thick scrub trees and manzanita. After hacking my way to the top of the hill, I moved down to a natural bench that was perfectly positioned halfway down the back side. I looked for “BB”, but there was no sign of my long-time friend. As the gray light began to filter through the trees, I heard the light tread of something working up from the drainage below. In the half light I made out the unmistakable body of “BB”. He had obviously lost his antlers some time ago because his new growth had already started. He grunted a greeting and said, “Damn boy, I could smell you a long way off this morning; glad to see I haven’t lost my touch. There is no way that you could sneak up on me today.” I tried to give the impression that I could care less, but I had to get in a few digs. “BB” I said, “if I wanted to sneak up on you, I would have come around the other side and worked my way upwind of you. Besides, this is not even close to a hunting season, and you my friend hardly qualify as a bull based on that salad on top of your head.”“BB” tried to look offended for a moment and then started that darn chuckle of his. “Yep, I lost those bad boys about a month ago and I doubt any shed hunter will find them this year. I tossed both of them off on a steep hillside coming up from a nasty canyon. Each one landed in a clump of manzanita trees and even I could hardly see them after they fell off. I do think that this year will be my best ever for antler growth though. Look how many different nubs I have already.” I was a bit impressed. His tops were coming in just fine and the mass was certainly incredible. I had seen a few bulls the previous week in the Payson area and they still had on last years’ headgear. They were of course, smaller than “BB” by far, but still, he was so far ahead of them that I had to agree. This could be his year for record growth. I sat on an old stump and started asking some pertinent questions. “Okay “BB”,

what will make this a good year for growth?”“BB” thought for a moment and then turned serious. “Well” he said, “If the water supplies hold out and if there is a decent amount of feed that will grow in, I’ve got a little hidey hole that is way out of the way and I won’t be pushed around by campers and hikers. This whole winter was a little on the weak side and those rains last monsoon season sure pushed up a lot of green that I munched on all through the winter. I hardly had to travel at all to get a good feed on and that makes all the difference. I think I’m just healthier this spring than I have been in many a season.” I thought about the dire warnings for fire that had already pushed across the weather forecasts and I asked “BB” about the long term drought conditions. “Hell son, I’ve lived almost my whole life in this so called drought. That fire last year, while doing a lot of damage to humans’ buildings, did a heck of a lot of good for wildlife. The burn turned out to be big enough to clear out a lot of areas that had no growth potential, and it was wild enough to jump over some areas so we still have some cover to hide out in. The deadfalls will keep a lot of folks away from some of the areas that could prove to be dangerous.” I thought about what had happened just 10 years earlier after the Rodeo Chedeski fire and I had to nod in agreement. The Forest Service has closed a lot of roads, eliminated overnight camping in most of the areas and wildlife had absolutely thrived year after year. Once the roads were re-opened, the campers had come back en masse and the results were predictable. Bulls like “BB” had taken off for safer pastures, some on the reservation and some had traveled long and far to get where there was more protection. “BB”, I asked “How have the rest of the herds done so far this winter?”“BB” gave me that sly grin of his and said “Well, let’s just say that we didn’t have to charge down into Springerville or Eager for a decent meal, and almost all of the herds I have seen look to be in great shape. I passed over 10 different bachelor bull groups to get to this meeting and almost all of them were doing just fine. The only factor that we have to worry about is snow or rain. It has been dryer than normal, but I can tell in these old bones that we will be having at least one more blast of winter before this is through.” I wondered about the ability to forecast based on his body. My knee was absolutely killing me and I too thought that maybe we were in for one more blast of winter. I wished “BB” Photos this page and previous page inset: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest well and got a promise to meet again in 3 months. We decided this time to set the date while we were still together. He had his tInephone and I had my iPhone. We set the dates, gave a 1-day alert and he meandered back into the impenetrable hillside as I hiked back up and over to my vehicle.

“That fire last year, while doing a lot of damage to humans’ buildings, did a heck of a lot of good for wildlife. The burn turned out to be big enough to clear out a lot of areas that had no growth potential, and it was wild enough to jump over some areas so we still have some cover to hide out in.”

As I was driving back from our get together, the radio broadcast a weather bulletin. A large weather front was going to be coming in on Saturday night with snow at higher elevations and rain throughout the state. The weather was expected to bring heavy snows and would last at least 2-3 days. With “BB” having such a big ego, I figured the next meeting would have him sending a resume down to the valley for a weatherelk job. Regards from Show Low…”BB” and JK Arizona Elk Society 15

$1000 in Cash

The Balloons are Ready

Mark Guerena Wins the $750 Scholarship

The Banquet Buckle

Kianna Martinez Sang the National Anthem

This year’s Arizona Elk Society 11th Annual Banquet was held on March 24th to a sellout crowd. Over 700 people were on hand to help raise money for wildlife habitat and youth programs across Arizona. As the final results showed, the Banquet was a great success. We were able to net over $317,000 for wildlife, wildlife habitat and the youth of Arizona! The AES was very fortunate to have some great Arizona 16 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

The Banquet Puppy

Commissioners Big Game Tags including the Elk Tag, Buffalo Tag, Antelope Tag and the Turkey Tag. For the first time ever, the Arizona Elk Society partnered up with the Hualapai Indian Reservation to auction their exclusive Bull Elk Tag for 2012. The Arizona Elk Tag sold for a whopping $131,000. The Buffalo Tag set a new record at $20,000. The Hualapai Bull Elk Tag went for $51,000. All of the money raised by the auction of the tags goes back to Game and

Rifle Winner

The Bistro Table Ladies Banquet Rifle, Cross Canyon Arms Grand Canyon Model

Banquet Rifle Buyer Joan Toner receiving recognition for her 22 years of dedication to the AES. From John Toner (not pictured).

Dan the Auctioner Selling the Buffalo Tag – New Record $20,000 Dollars

Dillon Hancock, Winner of the $1000 Scholarship

Part of the “Wall of Guns”

Fish to be used in the Habitat Partnership Committees (HPC) program for on-the-ground habitat projects and other projects benefitting the species the tag was for. Other highlights of this years’ Banquet were the Banquet Rifle which was a Cross Canyon Arms, .300 Tejas Grand Canyon Model with a Huskamaw Long Range Scope, John Toner Custom Banquet Knife, our Banquet Buckles by Loren Yellowhair, an original painting by George

Raffling the Roses

Lockwood and many other traditional Banquet items such as the Ambassador Safe from Cabela’s, Camping Package from Cabela’s and other donors, Youth Package donated by Bass Pro Shops, Gift Cards and Rifles donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse and much more. Over 70 guns were raffled off during the night. There were many happy winners in the crowd. Live auction items included many hunts, fishing Arizona Elk Society 17

Rifle winner

The VIP Table

The Roses

The VIP Table

Enjoying Dinner

trips, pack trips and more from guides and outfitters throughout the U.S. Many thanks to those donors especially Pat Tabor of Swan Mountain Outfitters, Dave Holbrook from Rockin H Outfitters, Mike Horstman from Horstman’s Kodiak Guide Service and many others. We want to thank all of the Banquet attendees for their support of the Arizona Elk Society and our mission. 18 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

Without your support, we wouldn’t be the organization we are today. The other important group to thank are our dedicated volunteers. For three months, they worked their hind ends off generating ideas and plans for this night of fun. Over 70 volunteers stepped up to help set up the Banquet and to make it the best in Arizona. Thank you to

Thank You Banquet Committee!

Thank You to All of the Banquet Donors!

all the red shirts that helped out. Another group that deserves a special recognition is our Corporate Table Donors. Thank you for believing in the AES enough to support our Banquet. There are so many people to thank for helping the AES– the list of our generous donors and some of the special items and hunts are posted on our website. We will have

many of the pictures on the website as well so check it out and see if you are there. It was great to see all the supporters including many that have been with us for years and other new ones in the crowd. Mark your calendar for next year’s Banquet. If it is anything like this year’s, you will have to get your tickets and tables early. Arizona Elk Society 19

Late Archery Bull Elk:

Friday 11/11/11 was a unique date and the beginning to a very special hunt. In the spring I found myself standing outside of my undergraduate biochemistry class, placing call after call to AZ Game and Fish Draw HOTLINE, after a receiving several texts saying results were out. After who knows how many calls, I found out I had been drawn for one of 25 bull elk tags in the November archery hunt. I was happier than I ever thought I could be. (LITTLE DID I KNOW!!!) Half a year later I found myself trying so hard to focus on studying for the final in my graduate level biochemistry class, because of the opportunity that awaited me on the other side of that test. After I bubbled in the answer to the last question on my scantron, I ran down, turned in my test and ran out the door to my car. I packed all the camping gear in my truck and headed up the hill to try and meet my cousin to hunt the evening of opening day. As I got going on the I-17, I was meet with a discouraging roadway sign that read “accident up ahead”. While hopeful that everyone was ok, it was looking even more hopeless that hunting this evening was going to happen. After I passed what appeared to have been a lettuce truck crash with lettuce heads and lettuce boxes strewn about everywhere, I received a call from my cousin saying he was glassing a canyon, with a good tank. Approximately 40 minutes later, I received another call from him telling me that he was watching two herds of elk with several spikes, a two pointer, a two by spike and a three pointer, water at that tank. I was excited that he had found elk, and even more importantly bulls, but bummed because I knew there was no way I would make it in time.

20 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

A Bull Named GASH by Benjamin Alonzo

I arrived in camp that night, after dark. My cousin had to go home and couldn’t hunt the morning with us, but would be back in the afternoon. So my girlfriend and I set up camp with our tent in the only spot not covered in snow, while temperatures continued to plummet and wind speed continued to pick up. In the morning my girlfriend and I climbed a snow-covered mountain, shivering, we anxiously awaited the sun. With the light, we glassed the canyon and hillsides which were also covered in snow…no elk. Shortly after, we decided that we were too high and needed to go to a lower elevation. (I think our decision was partially influenced by the fact that we hadn’t seen any elk and partially because we wanted to get out of the snow). We went to lower elevation and soon found out we were correct, being confirmed by very fresh elk tracks and sign everywhere. We parked the quads and decided to follow the tracks through the dense Pinions and Junipers. As we were getting our gear ready, my girlfriend tapped me on the shoulder and I raised my head, only to meet the eyes of a cow elk walking out from behind a juniper less then 15 yards away. She was just as startled as me and took off, as did the Rag horn behind the tree to the left of her. I made a circle trying to cut them off but figured they were long gone. We then followed the heavy tracks we had originally seen for a few miles before we decided that we

would be better off getting up on a hillside to glass this thick area and try and see where they were headed. Once on the hill we found out just how thick this area was, as we didn’t see anything. We headed back to camp where we met my cousin, made some lunch and headed out to set up our blind on the tank where he had seen the bulls the night before. We set up, brushed in and sprayed down our blind and then left. We came back around 2 pm and sat the tank in the blind until there was no more shooting light. The only thing that came in to water was a crow. We headed back to camp, made dinner and went to bed. After another freezing night we woke up in the morning to the sound of my cousin, who decided to sleep outside next to the fire, trying to get into the tent because it was raining. Tired, cold and not looking forward to being out in the rain, we broke a cardinal rule of hunting, and slept in through the early morning hunt. When we decided to go out around 10 am it was still raining and rather cold but we packed some lunch and decided to go glass that canyon where my cousin had seen elk on Friday. When we got there we glassed for about 40 minutes before my girlfriend spotted a fox that curled up under a tree in the sun 85 yards away, down in the canyon. So I drew back, let one fling and missed him by a few inches! He ran away and about 15 minutes later another larger fox came the same way, as the first but did not stop long enough for me to get a shot. I informed my cousin shortly

after that the fox was the first animal I have ever shot my bow at. After this, we directed our attention back to elk. On a distant hilltop we saw a big metal tank and decided we would check it out and glass the next canyon over. We got to the tank and started glassing the thick canyon and within 5 minutes my eagle-eyed cousin says, “There’s an elk” to which I responded, “Is it a bull or a cow?” He tells me he doesn’t know yet because all he can see are its legs. As he begins to orient me as to where this elk is, he suddenly informs me with excitement like I have never heard, “Dude it’s a big bull!” I responded, “Seriously?” not because I didn’t believe him, but because I was in disbelief that this could really possibly be my time. I was now looking through my binos exactly where he told me the bull was. I don’t see anything until a couple of large, what I thought were tree branches, move and I realize just how big this guy is. He is a mile away bedded down on the opposite canyon wall, about 20 yards from the top of the ridge and half way in. We set my girlfriend up with the tripod and binos and tell her to keep an eye on him and to not lose him (no pressure ha ha). Then we take off to the other side of the canyon, to go find the bedded beast. We hike quietly along the top of the plateau about 60 yards from the ridge, all the way out to the tip, in order to get good wind. We then start slowly working our way back to him along the ridge, moving about 20 yards at a time, and then peaking over the edge, every so often checking in with my girlfriend to find out the status of our bull. Each time she informs us that he is still laying there. At one point my cousin turns around and tells me that it was the perfect scenario. It was at that point Arizona Elk Society 21

in which I realized I was about to get my first shot at a bull elk. The next time my cousin peaks over the edge he is looking about 20 yards up the canyon until he realizes that the bull is directly below us about 19 yrds from the top of the ridge facing with his rear to us. He retreats back and we whisper/mouth the plan less than 25 yards from the bedded beast. My cousin tells me the next time the elk puts his head down, to close the five yard gap between us and the ridge, and when I get there, to shoot him between the shoulder blades to the left or right of the spin, due to the direction the bull was facing and the steep downward angle of the shot. I pray to God asking him to steady my hand, and guide my arrow home with good shot placement to make a quick clean kill. The bull turns his head and I being to make my move. I take two silent steps crouched down and he looks back. I freeze and try not to make eye contact with the beast. After several minutes the bull turns his head back forward and I take another step. He looks to the other side but not completely backwards and I crouch down even further as I can no longer hold this standing crouch position and wait for him to look away. Again after what seemed like an eternity, he looks away and I take the last step forward and then one to the left, behind a small bush, to use for cover as I draw back. While I begin drawing all 75 lbs, the beast looks all the way back as I reach full draw, and I am forced to stand behind the bush at full draw for several minutes. Finally, the bull looks half forward, leaving just one eye on the bush I am behind. My cousin who is still 5 yards back can only see his antlers and is under the impression that the bull is standing and ready to run, so he is whispering at a barely audible level “Shoot! Shoot him! Shoot!” 1000 things are running though my mind, anchor point, take your time, don’t watch your arrow, is this really about to happen, wow he is beautiful, but despite the pressure from behind to shoot and the noisy mind, I still felt calm and decided it was now or never. I stuck my right foot, which was behind me, out like a feeler, searching for the rock I know is in front of me, so that I can lean out from behind the bush. Still at full draw I find the rock and begin to lean out, I keep leaning and leaning and leaning just a little bit further to make sure that I completely

22 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

clear of all the little branches. At this point, I am in one of the most interesting shooting stances my cousin says he has ever seen. I place my 20/30 pin high on his 4th rib imagining the arrow coming out on the opposite shoulder. I don’t even remember pulling the trigger of my release, but the next thing I know, through my peep sight, I watch the the bull leap out of his bed with the momentum of my arrow and rage broadhead. My cousin immediately runs up, in time to see the elk’s only and final bound before he falls into a tree less then 5 yards from where he was bedded. We started going crazy and radioing to my girlfriend, “Did you see that!! Did you see that!!” A rush of emotion, excitement and joy overwhelm me, as I cannot believe what just happened. I just killed my first bull elk at 19 yards. We went down and claimed this beautiful 6x6. We also discovered it appeared as though he had been in a fight earlier in the season judging by the gash on his neck (that’s how he got his name). I lay my hands on his rack, with the unreal feeling that he was mine. My girlfriend drives over, finds us, and runs up to me with tremendous excitement. I know that my success is only by the Grace of God, but I also want to give special thanks to my Cousin Ted Babbitt IV, who introduced me to hunting and has guided me in all of my hunts since. I also want to thank my girlfriend Elizabeth Lindahl for keeping an eye on my bull and walking us into him so precisely and also my dad for lending me all his camping gear.

Torquer Don by Patrick Weise

My left arm hung outside the open truck window while my hand held tight onto the GPS. I pointed the yellow Garmin eTrek toward the mountains off in the distance, as my truck bounced up and down on the pothole-ridden road. My eyes kept switching between the GPS and the ruts in the road. A thin black line on the GPS, dashed and zigzagging, was beginning to straighten out the further down the road I drove. It was about noontime and I had just left camp. Don, my hunting buddy, had shot a bull elk earlier that morning with his bow. He was nestled somewhere mountainside, in between the junipers and jack pines. My job was to go find him, and bring both of their hides down off the mountain. I know all this because earlier that morning when the sky was still black and the world asleep, I took Don to my little “honey-hole” – a playground for elk on recess. For three days straight, I had been chasing them around, playing a game of hide-and-seek. And for three days, I had been It, with the elk always winning and I losing. The “honey-hole” was five miles from our camp. This morning we drove there in Don’s truck and took an unused, fourwheel-drive road on the backside of the mountain to get close to the playground area. We arrived, parked the truck, and stared at the bright, full moon before heading off to my spot—bows in hand. We hiked straight up the mountain, our legs powercrunching forward as we told out feet to hush. We stopped every now and then to catch some air and watched steamy drifts of warm breath float away. While the moon was slicing down through our treed horizon, the first bugles energized our insides. And as if on cue,

the rising sun behind us began to paint the ghostly gray clouds a bloody crimson red. We stood motionless, twothirds of the way up the mountain, listening to the bulls bugle their lungs out, their voices getting louder every moment we stood. I knew they were coming up here. We sat and waited, listening. Another bugle sent electricity through us, this one closer than the last. Don and I looked at each other, him smiling, me grinning. We said nothing. I think it was then that Don truly believed we were in a great spot with stethoscope action only moments away. Another bugle screamed even closer; touching his shoulder I whispered, “What are you waiting for?” Don’s head turned toward me, looking puzzled. I had broken the trance he had been enjoying. “What do you mean?” he whispered back. “That’s your bull,” I softly spoke back. “Go get him.” Arizona Elk Society 23

Don had to think about this for a moment, not realizing this was going to happen so fast this morning. Don was use to sitting in tree stands, patiently, as time ticked by; hoping action might stumble his way. He would come back to camp each day, telling me about the bugles he heard far off, how he sat perfectly still for hours on end. Crossing his fingers, staring at the tracks in the dirt on the game trail below him, praying to Jesus—almost begging—“Please Lord. Please. Let our paths cross.” But never a shot.

for a while and heard some other bugles around the corner in a different direction. I started walking toward their sound.

“I’m giving you this bull,” I whispered to Don. “We didn’t climb up here in the dark just to get good seats to some “outdoor show.” Get off your butt and go shoot us some steaks for tonight’s dinner.”

The evening before, I had found a large 7x7 bull bugling from his bed. I headed there to see if I could find him once again. His bed was empty so I waited. I waited for 45 minutes and just before giving up, I heard him bugle as he stepped into view. He came in downwind at a slow walk. I pulled my bow back, following his every step. A limb was in my way and so I bent my body a little to get the shot before he walked into the thick cover. Bad move. The bull saw my silhouette move and bolted. I “Polo” called and it slowed him down but this was a smart bull, he was not sticking around.

I sat there as Don got up and stretched his sore knees. Messed-up knees kept Don from chasing elk up and over the mountaintops, the way I hunt most days. Knees that already had completed three operations to smooth out the creaks, the grinding sandpaper inside. With bone and cartilage mended, the last incision healed leaving a new scar; he stood up with a gimp. His face cringed, another season, or two—maybe. Total knee replacement was next, but we had tags and dreams to fill, on this mountain. Don started walking toward the sound, and then stopped to nock an arrow. He looked back at me for a moment, before hiding behind a small jack pine, waiting. He then slipped between the trees and I lost sight of him. I waited

24 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

I chased vocal bulls around all morning. They bugled, “Marco,” and I cow called back, “Polo.” It’s as frustrating as it is fun. One bull stopped so close to me, standing behind a juniper, like a statue, smelling the air. I could never get a shot, the ground too loud to move around him. It ended in both of us retreating.

Its funny how time speeds by when the musical rhythm of bugling elk fills the same air you breathe. Your eyes and ears become acute to every sound the forest exhales. Your body slips between the vegetation like a gentle breeze, and your presence becomes just another note in the forest symphony you hear. Then you hear your

stomach growl aloud, reminding your brain that it is feeding time again. Your feet and legs send fire to the muscles and tissue surrounding them, screaming sit down, and take a quick break before we quit. It was during one of these quick rest stops, about four hours into the morning that I started thinking about Don again. I wondered what, if anything had happened to his morning hunt. I pulled a Midland radio out of my pack and called him. An exhausted voice answered, sounding like a runner trying to give an interview as soon as the race was over. “Hey buddy,” he paused to catch his breath. “Ten minutes after I last saw you, I stuck an arrow in the bull that was screaming his lungs out. I’m working on him right now.” “No way, really,” I replied. Don’s voice started sounding happy and joyful. “Yeah, he traveled pretty far. I hit him back a little further than I would have hoped for. I almost lost his tracks, but I finally found him. He’s a nice old 6x6.” “Wow,” I said. “Congratulations. So someone really is listening to those prayers.” “I guess so, replied Don. “I’m going to need more than a prayer to get this bull out of here. I will need some physical help. There is no way my knees are going to survive packing this whole elk out alone. Can you go back to camp, get the pack frames, and bring them to me?” “Sure,” I replied to Don, “But you drove today. I have no keys and I am on the opposite side of the mountain right now. Besides, I have no idea exactly where you are.” “I could give you my GPS coordinates,” said Don, “And you could walk back to camp, get your truck, and come find me.” Don turned on his GPS, found his exact location, and spoke the numbers to me as I entered in the lat. / long.

coordinates one-by-one, pressing save on my GPS when done. I then took my outer layer of leafy clothing off and started the long hike back to camp, wishing for the moment I could fly with the crows. I was excited. I could not wait to see Don’s bull. Back a little further than I would have hoped for. Those words sound familiar. My face grinned with every step I walked toward camp, as I visualized Don speaking the words repeatedly in my mind. A couple years back, Don shot a bull, a nice little 4x4 with his bow on opening morning, out of a tree stand. Shot ‘em good and dead he did—in the buttocks. Three of us were there that day to help load. Don, a Mayberry spittin’ image of happy-go-lucky. We laughed so hard when Don showed us the bull, backing the pick up truck right to it. “I hit him in the femoral artery,” replied Don, showing us the entry hole, trying to make it sound like a deadly spot to aim at. “He only traveled a couple of yards before dropping.” “You shot him in the butt!” A spray of spit spat out of my mouth with that last word. I could barely speak between the laughter and giggles. Don immediately replied back, all serious like, “The broadhead cut the main artery and he bled-out fast.” “You shot him in the butt though,” I persisted. I was rubbing it in good. Acting as though none of us would Arizona Elk Society 25

have ever thought—never known—that there was yet another vital zone to aim at, way back behind the heart and lungs. “It’s that grip on your bow,” I blurted out. “You torqued it.” Don has this old Alpine bow. It is a fast bow. With hatchet cams that drop like a rock. It will sling heavy Easton ACC arrows faster than a silver bullet, but there is a problem. Don is a big, strong guy, with big hands. Not liking the thin grip that came with the bow, he glued, molded, and sanded smooth, layers of cork onto the grip, until it was the size of a small oblong ball of yarn. “Some meat for me to hold on too,” he had said one day while shooting his bow in my backyard. The new grip causes him to shoot a little low-left, but he is still a good shot. Sometimes though, those annoying arrows just wing far left. One of those times was when the real-deal, when that little 4x4 bull elk steps out in front of him, crippling his shot placement. Low-left then skewered into femoral artery. Rump.

Back at camp I changed clothes, grabbed the two pack frames, my Wyoming saw, and some extra water. I drove along the dirt road, my arm hanging out the window, paralleling the mountain Don was on. When the black goto line on the GPS, from my location to Don’s was almost straight, I drove across the meadow to the base of the mountain and parked in the shade. I headed up the mountain, two pack frames strapped to my back, and GPS in hand. Through a maze of trees and hills, the line took me right to him. When I arrived Don was kneeling next to his bull, blood was everywhere as though a fight had taken place. I saw him busy in the chore of field dressing on a warm September day. Don’s face resembled a photo album of mixed expressions, pages turning. I have never seen a bigger contorted smile, or heard a louder sigh of relief, as I did from Don that day as I walked up through the trees. “You made it,” gasped Don, as though I had disturbed him while performing surgery. “El Toro,” I said, “Looks like you won the fight.”

26 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

“The bull was already dead when I found him,” replied Don.

“Want a drink?” I said, “You look a little thirsty.” I handed him the water I brought and watched it disappear.

Don had smears of blood all over him. Beads of sweat clung to most areas of exposed skin. I watched as he carved through muscle, wrestling with the whole situation at hand. His knife seemed dull, but his heart was sharp full of joy.

Watching Don butcher his elk is like taking an anatomy class. He could never just cut the leg quarter free without first explaining how everything works. How the silver skin helps keep the groups of muscles sheathed together. How multiple smaller muscles work in unison to make one powerful muscle, “Muscle power depends a lot on the total number of muscle cells in the muscle; the greater the number, the greater the power. Power to jump a fence and run away,” said Don. He pointed with his knife again, “Here. The muscles attach to the bones by these tendons.” He then showed me how the joints and muscles worked harmoniously together.

“He traveled pretty far,” spoke Don, as he cut through something tough, making an oomph sound when through. “I can see that,” I replied, gazing off in the distance towards the mountain we sat on during sunrise. My eyes moved back to the elk and I surveyed the M*A*S*H scene. A gut pile, game bags full of meat, a naked hide. All round me the smell of victory, a whiff of defeat, and silence from a still warm battle cry clung to the air. “I lost his tracks at one point,” spoke Don, his knife and arm pointed back and over his shoulder, “And he stopped bleeding. Back there. But I found him.”

“It’s kind of like a pair of pliers,” he said, moving the leg back and forth. “The joints a fulcrum and the bones act as levers.” “Alright,” I replied, “Cool stuff. Here, I brought my saw.” “We won’t need to cut through any bone,” said Don. “We

Arizona Elk Society 27

can dislocate this shoulder right here by cutting between this ball and socket… If I can just cut through this…” Don push-pulled, then torqued the leg loose, free from the rest of the body. He stood up, holding in mid-air the dangling leg quarter. He waited for my reply as though a big congratulation was coming. The expression on his face, that big question-mark look, made me giggle. “Pretty fine surgical work there,” I said. “Want me to help you do that knee replacement now?” Don just grinned, a little lopsided, like the way he was standing, heavier on one side. I slid a game bag up and under the leg quarter. Later, we strapped as much weight to our backs as we felt comfortable carrying and began the first of three trips down off the mountain. We walked single file, taking the same route, stepping over the same log and walking across the same meadow. We did not say much as we walked downhill on the twisted route through the trees. At times I could hear Don breathe and moan a pain that grew up and out from his swelling knees. A kind of, are-we-there-yet sound. I prayed as we walked. Prayed

28 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

Don’s knees would not give out, or that the pressure of added weight would not make him stop. That he could summon-up the strength and suppress the pain, until we had finished packing out the bull. With each trip, the sun seemed lower, drifting away into the horizon as if saying Goodbye to one more day. The mountain had been good to us today, offering up this gift on our backs. Up ahead I could see the edge of the tree line, where the trees ended and the meadow started. The sight gave me the feeling of seeing daylight when walking out of a black cave. And when the truck came into view on our last trip down, I turned my head back to make sure Don was not too far behind. I could see Don carrying more than elk meat on his shoulders. He now carried contentment from an answered prayer. “You made it Elk Hunter,” I yelled back, encouraging his last few steps. “Weee made it buddy,” was his reply. “It’s your turn tomorrow.” “You got that right,” I shouted back. “But tomorrow I’m sleeping in,” sang Don, “My knees are killing me.”

An Arizona native, Patrick Weise has been living and breathing elk since his first arrowed bull in September of 2000. He sleeps in the Phoenix metro area, most nights, but his home lichens outdoors, somewhere north, between the dry desert floor and a pine tree canopy.

MAC-692 Arizona Elk Society 7.5x4.75:MAC-692 Arizona Elk Society


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Arizona Elk Society 29

ARIZONA ELK SOCIETY FOUNDING MEMBERS Founding Associate Members Douglas Sr & Donna Obert Founding Life Members Ken Alexander+ Michael J Anderson Ernest Apodaca, Jr+ David Baril+ Randy Beck Keith Berger Esther Cadzow John Cadzow Harry Carlson Randy A Cherington+ Pete Cimellaro Steve Clark Todd A Coleman Richard Currie Don Davidson Kay Davidson Larry Day Sharon Eichelberger Ron Eichelberger Peter Ekholm Daron Evans Will & Fran Garrison* Ed Hightower Michael Horstman+ James Johnson Earl C Johnson Edward E Johnson Richard Johnson+ Mitchell Jones Sandra G Kauffman Richard E Kauffman, Sr Bill Kelley Peter S Klocki+ John Koleszar+ James Lara Tim Littleton James Lynch Jr+ Don Martin Russ McDowell William D Meredith Anthony Nichols Cookie Nicoson Walt Nicoson* Mark Nixon Donna Obert Douglas Obert, Sr* Shawn Patterson Jan Purdy Forrest Purdy Mark Raby+ Mel Risch+ Rick Schmidt+ Tom Schorr Gregory Stainton Douglas Stancill Vashti “Tice” Supplee+ Dan Taylor John Toner Corey Tunnell Rick Vincent, Sr Don Walters, Jr 30 The Tracker - 1st Quarter 2012

Dee White Larry White+ Mark Worischeck Joseph Worischeck Chuck Youngker Founding Sustaining Members Everett & Joyce Nicoson Founding Couple Members Bridgid & Ron Anderson John & Patty Anderson Denny* & Paula Bailey Robert F & Shirley J Banks John & Taina Beaty Robin & Billie Bechtel Brad & Shelley Borden Philip* & Jamie Brogdon+ Mark & Shanna Brooks Shawn & Lisa Carnahan Kim & Lynn Carter, Sr Danny R Cline & Pat Thompson Tim & Patti Garvin W Hays & Suzanne Gilstrap Don & Gwen Grady Steve & Bobi Hahn Igor & Christy Ivanoff Daniel & Danny Johnson Glen & Tracey Jones Richard & Wendy Kauffman Bill & Mary Keebler Mark & Lynda Kessler Mel & Diane Kincaid Richard & Christine Krantz Dick & Nancy Krause Eric & Wendy Krueger Ron & Lisa Lopez+ Gary & Lin Maschner Shane & Tiffany May Kevin & Donna McBee Roger & Micaela Mellen Denny & Pat Moss Robert & Diana Noel Richard Oberson & Bonnie McAuley* William & Vera Rezzonico Clarence Rodriquez MD Richard & Anna Schmidt David Scott & Rosemarie Nelson Bruce & Lisa Snider Macey & Becky Starling Ed & Ace Stevens Tim & Ellena Tanner Craig & Susan Thatcher Tom & Kristel Thatcher Marvin & Margo Thompson+ Jim & Shellie Walker+ Keith & Lois Zimmerman

Founding General Members Kendall Adair Gary R Anderson Jim Andrysiak Denny Ashbaugh Ron Barclay Cal Bauer John F Bauermeister Robert Baughman Manny Bercovich Dr Tom Boggess, III Tom Brown Tom Carroll Steve Cheuvront Carolyn Colangelo Mike Cupell Jack Daggett Kyle Daggett+ Bob Davies Gary A Davis Nathan Day John W Decker* Chris Denham Neal E Dial Craig Dunlap Jennifer Evans Bobby Fite Chris Flanders Lorenzo A Flores Roger Gibson Courtney Gilstrap Floyd Green Jon Hanna Douglas Hartzler Art Hathaway Dean Hofman David J Hofman Norma E Hook* Russ Hunter David Hussey Rick Johnson Mike Jones Doug Jones Todd Julian Charlie Kelly Charles A Kerns John Krause Joseph M Lane Robby Long Aaron Lowry Rick MacDonald Joe Makaus Daniel Martin Michael L Mason Mike McCormick Donald Meakin

Prior to March 17, 2002, AES Founding Memberships were available. These individuals and couples came forth to show their support for the AES in it’s early stages of development. During the formation of the AES, administrative funds were needed to pay for organizational costs that led up to the first fundraising banquet on March 16, 2002. Founding Members paid a premium membership fee to help make the first year a success. For their support and dedication, the following Founding Members will receive permanent recognition by the AES.

+ Membership upgraded

* Deceased

James O Meeks Jason Mercier Jim Mercier Tracey Miner Ken Moss Ronald J Nadzieja Mike N Oliver Craig Pearson Kenneth B Piggott Bethena Pugh Carlos Quihuis Robert L Read Neal Reidhead* Kyle Sanford Craig Sanford Tony Seddon Arnold Shelton Dennis Shipp Tom Sisco Bruce Sitko M Scott South Carl Staley Randy Stout Kenneth K Stringer John W Stuckey Dave Swayzee* Troy Tartaglio Gary TeBeest Todd Thelander Charles B Thompson Stan Thompson Thom Tokash Brian Van Kilsdonk Rick Vaughn Kathy L Vincent Rick Vincent II Don R Walker Douglas Watson Vince Watts Todd Weber Donald D Weber Jr Tom Wooden Douglas Woodward Founding Junior Members Tyler Getzwiller Kevin H Knight Daniel Raby Nathan Raby James Rawls Sheena Smith Blake Tartaglio Alexandra Tartaglio Alexis Tartaglio Travis Thatcher Clayton Thatcher Nathan Thatcher Wayne Thatcher Taylor Thatcher Alexandra Vincent Emma C Vincent Justin M Vincent

Habitat Partners of Arizona

With the rapid loss of open space to development, wildlife habitat is being reduced at a rate of 7 square miles per day. Arizona’s elk herds are loosing traditional migration corridors, calving grounds, forage meadows and other important habitat. The new “Habitat Partners of Arizona” program is designed to help protect that land. The main focus of this program will be to preserve land and prevent the rapid decline of Arizona’s elk habitat. HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP: Become a Habitat Partner with your tax deductible donation starting at $2500 ($1000 for 17 and under). Payment Plan Available: $500 minimum commitment per year. You will be recognized for a donation level once your payments reach that level for each level you attain.

Walt and Cookie Nicoson Royal Partner

Stephen Clark

All program participants that reach the $2500 level and above ($1000 for youth) will be recognized in literature and on the AES website and will receive a plaque at each level. If you are interested in donating property or a conservation easement, the AES will work with you to designate the appropriate level based on the value of the donation. DONATION LEVELS: Legacy Partner $500,000 Habitat Guardian $250,000 Monarch Partner $50,000 Imperial Partner $25,000 Royal Partner $10,000 Supporting Partner $5,000 Sponsor Partner $2,500 Spike Partner (17 & under) $1,000

Arizona ELk Society

Habitat Partners

Sponsor Partner

You can find more details and the donation form at www.arizonaelksociety. org.


Sponsor Partner

Sharon and John Stuckey Royal Partner

Ron and Sharon Eichelberger

Harry Carlson

Sponsor Partner

Imperial Partner

Bass Pro Shops

Pacific West Representatives

Sponsor Partner


Supporting Partner

Sportsman’s Warehouse Sponsor Partner

Tom & Janet Bowman Sponsor Partner

Arizona Elk Society 31

NON-PROFIT US POSTAGE PAID Phoenix, AZ Permit No. 5572


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