Tracker 1st Quarter 2021

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ARIZONA ELK SOCIETY 1st Quar ter 2021

WATER FOR WILDLIFE

Water for ALL Wildlife HEROES RISING OUTDOORS

The Bull Frenzy

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

Jon Buseman

Photo by Diana Parkhouse on Unsplash


AES LIFE MEMBERS Mike Abramovich Dan Adler Christopher Agnone Hector Albarran Ken Alexander John Anderson Michael Anderson Patti Anderson John Anton Ernest Apodaca, Jr. Steve Armstrong Tony Baca Pete Baldwin James Ballard Leo Balthazor Lee Banning David Baril Kenneth Barnes Philip Barrett Ron Batz Randy Beck F.K. Benbow Tony Benites David Bennett Joseph Berardi Danny Berg Keith Berger Robert Besst Bruce Bettis John Bingham Jason Bluhm Tom Bobo Jr. Tom Bowman Janet Bowman Tish Bradford Dan Bradford Richard Briskin Stephen Brown, MD Gary Bryans Jr Jeffrey Buchanan Kurt Buckwald Robert Bueche Mike Burr Carlton Buscemi Michael Bush Esther Cadzow John Cadzow* Daniel Capote Cindi Carlson Lupe Carlson Harry Carlson Kenneth Carney Brandon Carr Terry Carson Chris Casper Steve Casterton

Marcus Castro Nick Celenza Joe & Marisa Cerreta Randy Cherington Pete Cimellaro Richard Clark Steve Clark Gerad Claseman McAllen Coalson Bob Cockrill, Jr. Donna Marie Coleman Todd Coleman Francisco Contreras Barbara Cook James Cook Frank Cooper Russell Coover Robert Copeland Mike Coppock Richard Cowen Lonnie Crabtree William Crary Philip Cushman William Cullins Richard Currie Patrick Curry B. Todd Curtis Kay Davidson Don Davidson William Davis Bill Davis Jamie Davis Larry Day Kurt Davis Brian Delgado Jim DeVos Mike Dirilo Joe Divito Steven Dodds William Dorsey Ray Dresslar Patrick Dugan Thomas Duncan Paul Durbin* Nick Edwards Ron Eichelberger Sharon Eichelberger Brian Eilers Peter Ekholm Deborah Elliott Nathan Evans Tim Evans Daron Evans Shane Faulkner Scott Fisher Jeffrey Fleetham

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Randy Foote David Forbes Mark France Tom Franklin Douglas Fritz Will Garrison Mark Giebelhaus John Girvin Walt Godbehere Richard Goettel Joshua Grantham Charles Gray Edna Gray H. Alan Hallman, DVM John Hamett Carl Hargis Nate Harrel Charles Ray Harrison Sean Hatch Steve Havertine Merritt Haynes Keith Heimes Dan Hellman R. Todd Henderson Mario Hernandez Michael Hernandez Terry Herndon Charles Herner Joe Herrero Ed Hightower Mike Hobel Paul Hodges III Kevin Hogue Jim Holleran Mel Holsinger Scott Horn Michael Horstman Timothy Hosford Bryan House Danny Howard Ron Huddleston Bruce Hudson John Hull Todd Ingersoll Don Irwin Wayne Jacobs Kyle Jenkins Brian Johnsen Gary Johnson James C. Johnson James Johnson Earl Johnson Edward Johnson Richard Johnson Rick Johnson Adam Jones

Jim Jones Mitchell Jones Scott Jones Bruce Judson Andrew Kap Sandra Kauffman Richard Kauffman, Sr. Jim Kavanaugh Sandra Kearney Bill Kelley Denise Kennedy Chuck Kerr Roger Kesterson Bill Kiefer Brian Kimball Steve King David Kinman Donald Kinney Peter Klocki Peter Knadler John Koleszar Charles Koons Brian Koziol Joseph Krejci Otto Kuczynski Joseph LaJeunesse Joseph M. Lane James Lara Kevin Lawhor Randy Lay Dylan Lechter Michael Lechter Jeffrey C. Lehrer Justin Leitner Skylar Lempinen Jorge Leon Steve Leone Ruben Lerma Scott Lewis Kevin Libsack Bob Litchfield Tim Littleton Ryan Lloyd James Lynch, Jr. Bob Mallory John Marriott Eric Martin Don Martin Robert Martin Joseph Masseur Karl Matchinsky Gary Matchinsky Russ McDowell Steve McGaughey Angela McHaney Kelly McMillan

James Mehen* William Meredith James Mingus Matt Minshall Richard Moraca James Mullins James Mullins Matt Mullins Robert Murry, DVM Ronald Nadzieja Gregory Naff Annette Naff Megan Naff Keith Newlon Mark Nicholas Anthony Nichols Brandon Nichols Fletcher Nichols Lance Nichols Logan Nichols Cookie Nicoson Walt Nicoson* Paige Nicoson John Nightengale Kathi Nixon Mark Nixon Nick Novak David Nygaard Donna Obert Douglas Obert, Sr.* James Oldham Bob Olds Raul M. Ortiz Martin Paez Sallie Page Pete Page Danny Palmer Duane Palmer Everett Palmer Chris Parish Marlin Parker Don Parks Jr. Dale Parrish Billy Patterson Shawn Patterson Art Pearce Mike Pellegatti Allen Perez Guy Phillips Paul Piker Jack Poggendorf Forrest Purdy* Jan Purdy Mark Raby* Kenneth Ramage Steve Remige

Jim Renkema Robin Renowden Armon Rheaume Keith Riefkohl Mel Risch* Preston Riveras Travis Roberts Aaron Ruiz Roy Ruiz Todd Sabin Mike Sanders Kevin Sargent Michelle Schaefer Steven Schaefer Mark Schepers Rick Schmidt Barry Schmitz Tom Schorr Scott Schuff DeAnne Schuff Nathaneal Schulz Kurt Schulz Shannon Schulz Terry Schupp Peter Schwan Michael Schwindenhammer Bill Shaffer Steven Shaffer Howard Shaffer William Shaffer, Jr Lonzo Shields Mark Simon Terrence Simons Charlene Sipe Andrew Smigielski Michael Snyder Robert Spurny Connor Stainton Gregory Stainton Randy Stalcup Douglas Stancill Ray Steffen Jr Stan Stellwagen Mark Stephenson Arlen Stewart Shane Stewart James Stewart John Stuckey Vashti “Tice” Supplee Nick Swanson Al Swapp Debbie Swapp Bob Swisher James Symonds Tim Talbott

Dan Taylor Amos Terrell Jr. Todd Thelander Pete Thomas Nick Thompson Billy Thrash Donald Tirpak Bill Tocci Linda Tocci John Toner Corey Tunnell Lee Turner Sandra Turner Bill VenRooy Rick Vincent, Sr. John Wagner Carl Walker Kathleen Walp William Walp Peter Walters Don Walters, Jr. Caryn Walsh Thomas Walton Bill Wasbotten Dale Watkins David Watts Rick Watts Paul Weaver Jerry Weiers Dee White Larry White Kevin Widner Chris G. Williams Richard Williams Scott Wilt Matt Windle Glenn Wooden Cory Worischeck Mark Worischeck Joseph Worischeck Robert Younger Richard Youngker Chuck Youngker Dave Zibbon Scott Ziebarth Craig Zimmerman

* deceased


Shop Amazon Smile & Support Arizona Elk Society! As COVID-19 forces us to do our shopping online, please remember you can provide a free donation in support of Arizona Elk Society when you shop at smile.amazon.com.

It takes just three easy steps. 1. Go to smile.amazon.com If you already have an Amazon account, sign in. You will receive a prompt to select your charity. 2. Search for “Arizona Elk Society”. 3. Confirm your selection. That’s it. Every time you shop at smile.amazon.com you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as amazon.com, with the added benefit that Amazon will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the Arizona Elk Society. Don’t forget to tell you friends and family too!

Scan to make AES your Amazon partner!

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PRESIDENTS’ MESSAGE

Ah–spring is nearly past in the desert, so spending time at higher elevations enjoying cooler nights and spring wildflowers in the mountains is in order. How about as an Arizona Elk Society (AES) volunteer? After a tough almost year and a half of suspended activities, AES is starting up our volunteer programs. We launched a very successful family overnight at Gilbert Riparian Preserve. AES offered fun activities for the kids including archery and fishing. The local Desert Rivers Audubon Society led a morning bird walk and nature discovery. The kids had a blast spotting frogs, butterflies, and birds–including a rather photogenic bird called a Least Bittern. I am very excited about our volunteer weekend the first week in June. AES is teaming up with Arizona Deer Association to repair the fence between the US Forest and White Mountain Apache Reservation on the AES retired Burro Creek grazing allotment. We hope this fence repair will stop horses and cattle from wandering onto the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. That same weekend a small team of AES volunteers will complete a Water for Wildlife project in the White Mountains. Here’s a little bit of AES history about the Burro Creek Allotment. AES worked with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and ranchers in 2005 to retire pastures from livestock grazing around Big Lake and at Burro Creek. Burro Creek is a prime site for elk to graze. Volunteers removed 40 miles of pasture fences in 2010. We have an obligation to maintain the allotment boundary fences and the priority this year is the fence on the reservation boundary. This purchase of grazing leases was made possible through the generous donations by AES Habitat Partners https://new1.arizonaelksociety.org/getinvolved/habitat-partner We are recruiting volunteers to haul water this summer. I was at Stoneman Lake and I would

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describe it as Stoneman Creek. With hardly any snowmelt, our water-hauling program will be critical for elk and other wildlife. We have purchased more trucks and water trailers and need folks to bring the water to the wildlife. The AES Banquets are back! Banquets are scheduled for July 17 in Flagstaff and July 31 in Mesa at the convention center. Check the Arizona Elk Society website for ticket availability. For those that have the good fortune of a 2021 elk tag be sure to attend the AES Elk Clinic on August 7. I always learn something new or I am reminded of a good tip or two at these clinics. For sure, spend time on the range and hone your shooting skills!

Yours in Conservation, Tice Supplee


I N

T H I S

8-9

Hunting State 48 Conservation Essay Contest by Easton Garcia

I S S U E

10-12

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The Bull Frenzy by Pablo Lujan, SFC-USN/USA, Ret.

Water for ALL Wildlife by Steve Clark

16-18

20-21

22-23

March 2020. School’s Closed, Life is Canceled. by Caryn Walsh

Youth Turkey Hunting Camp by Steve Clark

Volunteer Spotlight by Jamie Lyons

24-27

28

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4B BB by John Koleszar

Upcoming Events

Habitat Partners of Arizona

31 AES Founding Members

To learn about volunteer opportunites with Arizona Elk Society, scan the QR code using your smartphone camera.

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OFFICERS President - Tice Supplee Vice President - Greg Godbehere Treasurer - Christopher K. Lutzel Secretary - Richard Moraca Executive Director - Steve Clark

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Wayne Bouton Randy Burton Joe Di Vito Ron Huddleston Andrew Kap

OUR MISSION STATEMENT The mission of the Arizona Elk Society is to benefit elk and other wildlife by generating resources for habitat conservation and restoration, and to preserve our hunting heritage for present and future generations.

Glen Jones Steve Schaefer

The Arizona Elk Society is a non-profit 501(c)(3) wildlife organization.

PAST PRESIDENT

Rich Williams You may send a message for any officers, board members or committee chairs to stevec@arizonaelksociety.org

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Visit us online at

www.arizonaelksociety.org www.facebook.com/arizonaelksociety


Please support our sponsors that support conservation!

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HUNTING STATE 48 CONSERVATION ESSAY CONTEST An essay contest was held with the intention of getting youth interested in hunting and the conservation of wildlife in Arizona.The following story is part of a series of the first place winners.

by Easton Garcia, 9-12 year old winner My name is Easton Garcia and I want to thank you for giving me and other kids a opportunity to tell you about what conservation means to us and how we plan to keep the tradition alive. Conservation means a lot to me as a hunter, well not only to me but to the entire hunting community. I remember me and my dad talking about Conservation when I was 7 years old. I was 7 years old just dying to be a licensed hunter. My Dad told me before I could be a hunter I had to really understand what it meant to be a hunter, a ethical hunter that doesn’t only take from the game but also feeds the game. My dad started to talk to me about how important conservation was to us as hunters. At first, I was so confused because to me conservation means to actually save something or minimize the loss of something. So how was that important to us as hunters, is what I was thinking. I learned a lot that day. I remember my mom told me to think of The Lion King movie, the song “The circle of life”. She told me that Nature has its ways of taking and giving back to our environment, just like us as hunters and conservationist. I was beginning to understand. But I have to be honest I was looking for videos on youtube on how we could help conservation. Yea so, I didn’t even realize by us being a family that recycles, EVERYTHING we are feeding and protecting our wildlife! This is so important for so many reasons, we need to protect our wildlife from all aspects of danger. A simple piece of plastic can find its way into a lake and harm our fish. I love fishing and I think about this A LOT!! Recycling,a small change people can make that would make a huge impact to our wildlife conservation! I also didn’t even realize that by me applying for a hunting

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license I was actually feeding the circle of life or contributing to”wildlife conservation”. Actually the money from tags and licenses are one of the biggest contributors! We as hunters and fisherman are contributors, we must do our part everyday not only when we are hunting or fishing but during our everyday living. That plastic bottle you find on the side of the street, you can pick it up recycle it. That group that is looking for helpers to help dig a water hole, you can volunteer to help. Leave your video games and tablets alone and call the game and fish to see if they need any volunteer help. That is what Conservation means to me, stepping up and helping protect our wildlife. So basically Hunting is conservation, conservation is what helps hunting. If we didn’t have conservation hunting wouldn’t be what it is and, without hunting conservation wouldn’t be either. The way they work together is what helps “the circle of life” and conservation. I plan to keep our tradition alive by continuing to invest into my own knowledge, because we can never have to much knowledge or experiences .Our experiences become lessons, we can pass on, that way I can help kids and also adults understand what being a hunter and a conservationist is. One day I will start my own show and share my knowledge and experiences in way that would change the uneducated way those against hunting view us as hunters and really see us as dedicated conservationist. These pictures are of one of the best days of my life–I was 7 years old and was officially a licensed hunter and conservationist !!! I even scored the highest in the class and my award was these knives. Don’t mind my tears, I WAS EXCITED!!!!! I studied ALOT!!!!


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THE BULL FRENZY by Pablo Lujan, SFC - USN/USA, Ret.

My hunt started with a phone call from Tom Wagner, lead coordinator for Heroes Rising Outdoors, Arizona Elk Society’s outreach program for disabled veterans in Arizona. It was a normal phone cal–well, so I thought. We had been talking for a few minutes when Tom asked if I’d like to hunt elk by way of a donated elk tag. He then mentioned the clincher–“Pablo, by the way, it’s an archery bull tag in Unit 1.” I accepted on the spot! This would be my first archery hunt ever, and to hunt bull elk in one of the premium hunt units in the state of Arizona–wow, what an awesome opportunity! Two weeks later and it was the week my hunt was to start. My hunting caregiver, Paul S., and I headed up to Sprucedale Lodge south of Alpine, Arizona to meet up with Jon Buseman, HRO’s White Mountain hunt coordinator. The lodge’s location offers some amazing views and

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features great accommodations! The evening before my hunt was to start, we had an awesome dinner with other hunters and were introduced to my guide, Tyler H. Plans for the following morning’s hunt were agreed upon–we’d be leaving for the woods two hours before daylight. Opening morning found us heading to a meadow where Tyler (“T-Light”) had been seeing a herd of elk. We settled into our spot while it was still dark–we could hear bugling bulls not too far away. As daylight approached, so did the screaming bulls! We moved quietly to get a bit closer, hoping for a decent shot opportunity. We could hear the elk herd as it moved in our direction. That’s when Mother Nature’s plans took a detour.


Just when we thought we would see our first elk, a pack of coyotes started howling and barking. Bye-bye elk! The herd was pushed back into the thick forest as we stood there in disbelief. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. The rest of opening morning found us moving to several locations that gave us different views of the countryside. We sat for a while at each, glassing ‘til lunch time. Later we did locate some mature bulls that afternoon–unfortunately none gave me a shot opportunity. We made a plan to back out, hoping to find them again the next morning. The next two days went about the same–seeing elk, getting close for a shot, only to get busted by cow elk. Even though my injuries challenged me in closing distances to where I might have an ethical shot, T-Light and Paul were super patient, positive, and supportive. Sunday came to a close and Tyler had to return to work. Paul and I decided to join some other friends, including volunteer Gilbert G., who were camped and hunting nearby in Unit 27.

Day 4 arrived and Gilbert was positive we would see elk (and possibly have a shot opportunity) at a spot he knew about in Unit 1. Upon arriving at that location, we gathered our gear and started to hike into the woods. We had no idea what was about to take place. Only about two hundred yards into our hike, we could hear bugling in the distance. Things were looking up! We continued working our way towards the elk at my slow pace, listening to the bugles as we hiked. We crossed a small clearing and started up a draw. As we approached the top of the draw, it was clear we were in the feeding path of a herd of elk! We picked out a tree for me to stand behind and I set up for my shot. Due to my injuries I have to shoot a crossbow, and use a shooting stick for support. Elk continued to move about, grazing and talking back and forth between themselves. It was a bit overwhelming to be so close to all that activity! The first group of elk crossed in front of us at about 10 yards and included 4 cows and a 2x2 raghorn bull. Gilbert and Paul shook their heads “no,” not to shoot. The elk fed past us. Meanwhile, bulls were screaming all around us. I could not see what Gilbert and Paul were seeing coming down the draw. All I could hear was Gilbert calling out yardages, “90 yards–no shot yet.” Paul kept repeating “Get ready, calm yourself, don’t look at his rack, he’s a shooter.” Well, the shooter bull hooked some cows away from another mature bull, never to be seen again. About 30 seconds later I heard Gilbert: “72 yards, 71 yards, switch to the other side of the tree, 69 yards, 67 yards.” All the while bulls were still screaming, raking small pine trees, stealing cows from each other. I finally eyed a mature bull at about 65 yards, but a cow elk stood between us and the bull. I had a pretty clear view of the bull, but really

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beyond my physical injuries–the time I now spend as a hunter conservationist has given me the opportunity to relax away from the often-times craziness of city life. To add to that, I’ve had the chance to meet other Arizona wounded veterans as we’ve started to build a new brotherhood of Arizona vets who find the outdoors a place of renewal. A big thanks goes out to Arizona Elk Society’s Heroes Rising Outdoors, and to those who choose to donate their big game tags so veterans can hunt, as well as to the many volunteers who selflessly give of their time and expertise! You all have helped me reconnect with the outdoors I love so much. Harvesting a bull elk was a special bonus!

no shot due to a downed tree with branches sticking up blocking any shooting lane I might have had. The cow continued feeding, obstructing my view of the bull as she moved about. The bull let out a scream, then moved through an opening 67 yards away. His body filled the scope on my crossbow. My finger started to tighten on the trigger and the bolt was on its way, finding its mark right behind the bull’s shoulder! A ton of fun was had throughout the hunt! Now reality was about to set in–getting a bull elk field dressed and transported to a meat processor. And that was one large elk, both in body and in antler size. For the record, my bull’s rack taped out to 360-7/8” SCI. Recovering my bull would not have happened as smoothly without the help of all the guys from Elk Camp Unit 27! Kenny and Kelly S., Refugio “Cuco” D., Adrian and A.J. F., Beto and Danny G., Dave L., Gabe “G-Lite,” and Lito P. (thanks for scoring my bull)–my body thanks all of you!!! My time in the military was divided between the Navy and Army. I was medically discharged in 2013 due to spinal cord and other service-connected injuries. Heroes Rising Outdoors has given me a chance to heal while experiencing Arizona’s beautiful outdoors. This goes

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Special thanks go out to Mr. D. for donating your bull elk tag! Also to Tom Wagner and Jon Buseman of HRO for putting my elk hunt together. The hunt wouldn’t have been successful without the guiding skills of Taylor “T-Lite” H., Paul S., and Gilbert “G-Heavy” G.–you guys are the best! Thanks also to Premier Taxidermy for the use of the crossbow and for mounting my bull! I’ll never forget the awesome accommodations supplied by Sprucedale Ranch and Lodge (my body will be forever grateful!). Fabulous meals and relaxing views --- it couldn’t get any better! I would recommend Heroes Rising Outdoors to any veteran who may have thought they’d lost the ability to get out and enjoy life! Thanks to the Arizona Elk Society, it is possible!


Celeeating 30 Years of Serving You!

Join us in the celebration!

Visit us at communitytirepros.com/30th-anniversary

$30 Off Your First Visit!

in memorium It is with great sadness we share that Ken Turer passed away on

Tuesday, March 30. Ken had a big personality and loved to tell stories that made people laugh. He was witty, funny and dedicated to youth education. Ken was an important part of the AES Youth Programs and loved teaching kids about the outdoors. Ken will be missed. Please keep his two sons – Nash and Austin – in your prayers.

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WATER FOR

ALL WILDLIFE by Steve Clark 2020 was a bad year for rainfall yet 2021 is on the path to becoming a year of severe drought for Arizona. The Arizona Elk Society (AES) water haulers have been hauling–with a few days off here and there to let the mud dry from small rainstorms–pretty much weekly since the beginning of this year. Without enough time to get all our equipment repaired and ready, we had to dive right in hauling water for wildlife. AES is on course for hauling more water than ever this year. We have received a grant to purchase another Dykstra Machinery water trailer from Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, who receive funds from the sale of the Arizona conservation license plate. The funds are granted to organizations like AES for habitat, projects youth programs and more leading to better habitat and youth education in Arizona. Get your license plates updated to wildlife conservation plates and help make a difference for wildlife, youth and more in our state. More information can be found here: https://azsfwc.org/licenseplate-2/ At left, pictures from trail cameras show the many species of wildlife that use and depend on the water catchments we haul to. This AES program is crucial to the survival of elk and many other wildlife species. Thanks to Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation and Dykstra Machinery in Casa Grande; the AES water haulers–without you there would be a huge loss of available water for wildlife! If you are interested in volunteering, we are always looking for dedicated volunteers to help haul water and fix many of the old, non-working water catchments across elk range in Arizona. Please visit www.arizonaelksociety.org and sign up to volunteer.

Thanks to Dykstra Machinery in Casa Grande the AES Water for Wildlife crew has a new 1000 gallons water trailer. 14 Tracker 1st Quarter 2021


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MARCH 2020. SCHOOL’S CLOSED, LIFE IS CANCELED. LOCKED DOWN, ISOLATED, DESPERATE TO GET OUTSIDE. REACHED OUT, GOT AN ANSWER. JACK CAMP, HERE WE COME! by Caryn Walsh

All of the stories for the No Excuse Hunting and Outdoors Outdoorsman of the Year contest are in. While most of the stories received were about hunting, many were about other outdoors activities like camping, hiking, fishing, scuba diving, white water rafting, and outdoor photography. Unfortunately some of these stories were conveyed during phone conversations, not submitted in writing and not entered into the contest. What all of these stories have in common is that the people who live them don’t allow a disability to stand in the way of a love for the outdoors. They all set a goal to overcome an obstacle to do something that many take for granted. Whether born with a disability or acquired one later in life, every story demonstrates an inner strength to meet a challenge head on that would leave others sniveling and feeling sorry for themselves. To everyone who shared their story, I applaud and thank you. I would like to introduce you to Rumi Walsh from Apache Junction, Arizona, and here is her story. –No Excuse Hunting and Outdoors Donna Scott Cameron is a lifelong hunter who enjoys mentoring. Bow or boomstick, small game, big game, at any elevation they’re all fair game to her. Perhaps Donna can lead my little family on an outdoor adventure filled with learning and fresh air. And Donna immediately has a solution for my twin nine year old daughters – jackrabbits! Halo and I have already bagged jackrabbits. Now the goal is to get Rumi on a jackrabbit. But holding a long gun freehand with just one short hand is no cakewalk. Good luck setting up on jumpy wild game which you can’t tree, nor shoot from a tree. Rumi is a naturally good shot though. Being four feet tall and single-handed, Rumi can do anything she pleases despite congenital symbrachydactyly and a lack of effective prosthesis, throwing up a rifle and squeezing off a shot notwithstanding. We just have to find the right scenario for her. We have learned to field dress jackrabbits and check the livers for tularemia. Always obsessed with rabbits, Rumi loves petting the thick, soft hides. We are 16 Tracker 1st Quarter 2021


fascinated by the efficient, compact engineering of jackrabbits, their surprising weight and height, their lucky little feet. After savoring Donna’s pot of slow-simmered jackrabbit Sardinian stew the night before, Rumi and Halo are now planning their own meals. The four of us spend a few days exploring the remains of an abandoned ranch. We stumble into a secluded spot filled with cows and newly born calves and trickles of melting snow. We play games counting Mule versus Coues deer. We crane our necks to spot the roaring A-10s flying through the clouds. We are beside ourselves with glee when some very social, free-range ranch horses confidently approach the truck. Obviously well-socialized and loved, the equine duo take turns putting their heads inside to steal the young ladies’ watermelon cranberries. My children delight at these mystical horses nibbling at their hands. Rumi and Halo giggle and wish for more as the tiny bits of red fruit disappear two or three at a time. The surreality of the moment displaces all else. This hunt is back on! Perhaps an hour later, when the sun has evaporated most of the clouds and its warmth has bedded all the bunnies except for one which doesn’t appear to have the good sense to hide his ears as God intended. Its telltale peachy-clay colored ear a short distance away out in the open attracts Donna’s attention. The situation holds the chance that she can get Rumi set up on some steady sticks without spooking the bunny. There is no cover to hide in, nothing to be silhouetted against. It is a race against time. Halo and I freeze in place. Rumi and Donna creep down the edge of the dirt road. Donna’s hands are full as she leans in to Rumi to whisper a plan. They stalk together among bushes and cactus. Donna’s experience as a mom and mentor complements Rumi’s focus on her dream of taking a jackrabbit. Rumi likes to eat. And Rumi loves to surprise her detractors with the tales of her experiences. That black-tailed jackrabbit holds the promise of meeting both of those goals. She moves as though she has stalked wild game dozens of times before. A little more stalk, a little bit of steady set-up, a miss, another squeeze of the trigger, and a big jump happens. All of it is Rumi! The jackrabbit falls over, and that daughter of mine leaps into the air. Donna grins at Rumi, as Halo and I cheer. Donna has put some serious thought that weekend into how to make it happen for Rumi. Now Rumi has been initiated into the Jackrabbit Club with her first-ever wild game kill. She happily poses with her mentor. She demands that her meat be specially marked with her name and bagged separately. Rumi has plans. Several weeks later, back home in the land of quarantine and shortages, my daughters and I piece together a meal. Arizona Elk Society 17


Raiding the freezer for what we already have, hunting the bare grocery shelves for anything we can get creative with, we set out to craft a meal worthy of enjoying. We polish the table, then set it with vintage goldrimmed fine china. Chocolate eggs and an oil painting of a jackrabbit lighten the mood of the table setting. We fill our crystal goblets with sparkling apple juice as the main course sizzles on the grill. We raise our glasses and our hearts. With gratitude and joy, we admire our festive table. We remember back to the day Rumi proudly bagged the main course. This day, at the shooter’s request, I lovingly marinated the backstraps, sous vide them gently, and grilled them with a touch of butter. The sliced medallions nestled under mushroom gravy are waiting to melt in our mouths. It is oh-so-wrong, yet oh-so-right. We wish each other a Happy Easter, and laugh ourselves silly as we commence dining on our special guest: THE Easter Bunny himself! **For her humor, confidence, and commitment to engaging in every aspect of her first jackrabbit hunt, I nominate Rumi to be “Outdoorsman of the Year.” Also this year, Rumi has helped butcher my bull elk and slaughter a cow, created a wildlife station in our backyard, completed an equine program, built dozens of fairy houses with Halo, and assisted on my cold, muddy javelina hunt. She is now preparing for her first javelina hunt with her twin when they turn ten. Rumi is hoping to bring home some javelina hams for our next Easter dinner.

No Excuse Hunting and Outdoors “Nothing’s Stopping You.” NoExcuseHunting@aol.com or 480.650.5878 facebook.com/No-Excuse-Hunting 18 Tracker 1st Quarter 2021


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YOUTH TURKEY HUNTING

CAMP by Steve Clark

Each year Arizona Elk Society (AES) partners with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Phoenix Varmint Callers, and other groups to put on a Youth Turkey Hunting Camp in Unit 23 east of Payson. This year we hosted 50 young turkey hunters and their families for a weekend of turkey hunting. The AES takes care of the main camp providing meals and managing camp logistics. A dedicated group of volunteers from AES takes care of cooking for and feeding over 150 camp attendees. A few of the volunteers help mentor the kids, run an archery range and more. The NWTF provides experienced mentors who teach the kids and their parents techniques for calling, setting up, and locating turkeys. The experienced turkey hunters hold seminars on various topics for the young hunters and their

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families during the down time followed by discussions as they mentor the kids. If you are interested in having your young hunters attend any of the junior hunter camps feel free to call or write the Arizona Elk Society, National Wild Turkey Federation, or any of the other fine wildlife conservation organizations. Thank you to all the kids and families that attend this camp and others. A special big thanks to the many volunteers and cooks who give of their time and come out and help with these camps and our habitat work projects throughout Arizona.

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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT:

JON BUSEMAN by Jamie Lyons

“Jon was very resourceful on my unit 1 bull elk archery hunt. He coordinated our lodging and set me up with a great team of volunteer guides. Jon was always offering his knowledge, experience, and resources during my hunt. His encouragement gave me hope and the patience to harvest a 360 7/8 (SCI) unit 1 bull. Thank you, Jon!” – Pablo Lujan, U.S. Army and Navy Veteran

The Heroes Rising Outdoors (HRO) program receives numerous phone calls and letters from veterans and their loved ones thanking our volunteers for providing the hunt of a lifetime. A certain volunteers’ name is consistently mentioned on those phone calls and in letters–his name is Jon Buseman. We heard how Jon changed the life of a veteran; we learned how he inspired a veteran to get active and hunt again; and we listened to a veteran’s wife explain how he and the program helped save her husband’s life. Jon has been volunteering for veteran organizations for 14 years. His story with the Heroes Rising Outdoors Program began 4 years ago in Show Low, Arizona. In 2017, Jon and his wife attended a White Mountain Chapter Arizona Elk Society (AES) banquet. At the time, Jon was looking for a new volunteer opportunity to assist veterans. A presentation on the Arizona Elk Society’s newest program, Heroes Rising Outdoors, played at the banquet–it immediately grabbed Jon’s attention. His wife, noticing his interest, looked at him and said, “There you go”. Eager to get involved, Jon filled out a membership card and was quickly approached by Tom Wagner, the HRO coordinator, who recruited him for the program. Since then, he has been an active volunteer and leader for Heroes Rising Outdoors. Jon volunteers as the White Mountain HRO coordinator and has participated in over 40 hunts with our wounded Arizona veterans! Jon has brought his community together to help veterans through soliciting HRO donations of time, dollars, and lodging. He was recently recognized for his impact on the community when he was awarded the 2021 SRP Presidents’ Volunteer Spirit Award. Jon shares, “I can’t recommend anything more than taking the time to volunteer. Volunteering will open your eyes to another world out there. It makes life whole. These heroes can go through unconscionable day-to-day issues and they deserve a break. By helping them with this break, I feel I have made a positive impact on their lives as well as my own.” When Jon is not volunteering, he is most likely welding, spending time outdoors, and spending time with his family. At just 12 years old, Jon took is first x-ray of his own weld. Now, he is the system owner of two 400 megawatt boilers at SRP’s 22 Tracker 1st Quarter 2021


Coronado Generating Station near St. Johns, Arizona. John has been married to his wife Dawn for 31 years and has two daughters. “I am married to the best, most beautiful woman in the world and I have two awesome daughters. My family is my rock and they fully support me with Heroes Rising Outdoors.” Jon and Dawn plan on retiring in 2025 to build a large cabin near Sprucedale. That cabin will be designed and built to support Arizona wounded veterans and the Heroes Rising Outdoors Program. Jon’s commitment for a better tomorrow makes the world a better place today. He makes a huge impact on veterans and the Arizona Elk Society by wholeheartedly volunteering his time, leadership, and energy to the Heroes Rising Outdoors Program while working a full-time job and caring for his family. He explains, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”

“The ongoing success of Heroes Rising Outdoors can be traced directly to the selfless efforts of its many dedicated volunteers. You can put Jon Buseman’s name at the top of that list. His countless hours bringing together individuals and businesses in the White Mountains have directly helped get disabled vets into the outdoors, positively impacting the lives of dozens of Arizona veterans!” – Tom Wagner, Hunts for Heroes Program Coordinator

AES is fortunate to have passionate volunteers from diverse backgrounds. Their tenacity, and commitment to AES pushes the organization to help more youth and veterans, and increase elk viability. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for AES, please visit arizonaelksociety.org. Arizona Elk Society 23


4B BB by John Koleszar

As luck would have it, Big Bull (BB) texted to me that he was thinking about meeting me in unit 4B in the last week of April. After looking at my schedule I quickly confirmed the meeting with BB–not a Zoom meeting but a real meeting. I wondered why BB would be in unit 4B, and what he had to say about the new unit. With thoughts of how my old friend was doing, I headed up the hills to get to unit 4B. Fortunately, BB had arranged a meeting spot just west of Forest Lakes. I only had to pull off the highway a few hundred yards and head into the habitat area. Surprisingly, the ground was still moist from a late season snowfall. I knew that further east in the unit the ground was bone-dry and full of dust. After a few hundred yards, I saw BB munching on some new green grass shoots. He looked pretty darn good in terms of antler growth. His coat on the other hand was pretty nasty. He had clumps of hair missing and I could tell that the winter coat was on the way out. The antlers however were a sight to behold. Velvet beams that were decidedly spread apart had already grown in. The promise of a full thick beam was already well under way.

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The mature Ponderosa pines were majestic with no surrounding jack pines to block the view. Grass shoots were coming up in the suddenly opened meadows and I could actually see a few hundred yards in almost any direction.

“Well BB” I said, “why in the world are you here in unit 4B?” BB kept on munching grass and mumbled, “Look at your map old man–this here is the horse trap wilderness area. I thought from the map that maybe you humans were trapping horse here...but damned if I can find any traps, and the horses are eating half the food I want to eat.” We both looked a couple of hundred yards away and there was a small herd of 8 horses doing the same thing that he was doing...grazing on delectable new grass shoots. I bust out laughing. “BB, did you really think that there were traps here? It’s just a name of an area, not a real set of traps.” It was BB’s turn to look confused. “So you’re telling me its just a name on a map? Hell, I was getting pretty excited when I saw that. I thought that maybe they were looking for help to trap horses.” I turned with him and looked at the horses. “Nope BB, this is just an old timer name for the area. Horse traps may be in the future, but not right now. He snorted his disgust and motioned for me to follow. His slow gait was so fast that it was all I could do to keep up with him. After about a mile of his stroll and my trotting, we came to a wonderful open area. BB beamed in joy. “Look at this old man, somebody really took the forest to task in this area.” After catching my breath I looked at the beautiful forest in front on me. After years of punching my way through jack pines, I was looking at acre after acre of beautifully thinned woods. The forest had been meticulously thinned out. The mature Ponderosa pines were majestic with no surrounding jack pines to block the view. Grass shoots were coming up in the suddenly opened meadows and I could actually see a few hundred yards in almost any direction. I was impressed by the design that someone had put into action. Only mature trees were left standing, and they seemed to reach forever into the sky. Instead of feeling choked with pine trees, I felt I was in a postcard picture. Grass shoots were coming up all over and the forest floor had been cleaned of the ever-present duff that sits under most treed areas. After plopping down on the ground I surveyed the area. I then pulled out my cell phone and punched in my Onx application. With a few overlays I was able to see that this area and a lot of other areas had been thinned by the forest service. BB was just as thrilled as he gazed at the open forest floor and started munching. “This is just there best damn food I’ve had in a long time.” The words didn’t quite come out that way, but after hanging around BB for so many years I am comfortable in understanding a bull when he speaks “chew”. I simply nodded and let him continue to graze. After years of massive Arizona Elk Society 25


fires and constant drought, this was what I thought a forest should look like. I gave BB a few minutes to graze and then spoke up. “Okay BB, how far back does this thinning go?” BB got his usual smirk on his big mug and motioned for me to follow. I will NEVER ask BB that question again! Mile after mile of open forest floor opened up in front of us. In retrospect, I really did think that my lungs were going to explode. A simple steady walk for BB was an all out run for me. After a couple of miles of open forest floor I started yelling, “BB, stop! I can’t...go...any... further!” BB started that damn chuckle of his and it progressed to a deep laugh. “Old man, you really do need to get in shape! I’m just on a simple stroll through the woods and you look like you’re gonna puke!” I do hate it when that bull is so condescending. No matter how many steps I get each day in the Valley, trotting up here in the mountains on uneven ground does wear a man down. My knees ached, my quads felt like rubber and my dear old friend BB was still chewing up new grass shoots. BB finally stopped his feeding and started in on me. “Okay old man– what do you see here? Or more appropriately what do you NOT see here?” I was stumped for a moment and then surveyed around me. All I could see was a beautiful forest. Then it hit me. There were no quad trails, there were no people, there were no horses and there was no noise. “I get it BB” I said. “The only things here are you and me and the forest right?” BB slowly nodded his massive head. “Yep, we have stepped back in time. You humans call this a habitat area, or at least that’s what the maps say, but for me, this is what I remember as a little calf. Why don’t we have this 26 Tracker 1st Quarter 2021


any more?” It was my turn to be stumped. I thought about it a bit and then sat down in the grass. BB had posed an interesting question. I thought it over some more. Public lands are used by the public. There was no question about that. Public lands are open to multi-use, there was no question about that. People, particularly during the pandemic, loved going out to public lands, simply to escape the cabin fever syndrome, no question about that. Then I mulled over the real issue. Over the past 35 years, Arizona had doubled in population since I set foot here. Technology had reared its ugly head...scratch that, technology had progressed as well as it has since the industrial revolution. The final math question became crystal clear. Total land mass is a constant, population had doubled, technology had created a method and means for people to go further and faster than they ever had in the woods. Individual passions for particular species had created the cluster known as the Heber Wild Horse herd. The only sanctuary for wildlife has become wilderness areas, and those are few and dwindling. We as humans were placing more and more population into a constant land mass that was reacting badly to the incursions. “BB” I said, “Deep in all of our hearts, most all people who hunt, fish or come up to the mountains say that we love it up here. We all want to escape the reality of life in the cities of Phoenix or Tucson. Each of us intrudes on your turf. Some do it on foot, like I do, some do it on quads, and some love a single species to the detriment of all other wildlife. We are are the intruders here, and quite frankly each year the population grows in Arizona. For recreation we are placing 10 pounds of coffee in a 5 pound can. Then you have the folks who enjoy it but are naive about how to care for it. I don’t see a simple solution BB, but perhaps we can make people think about it each time they come here.” BB had politely listened to my thoughts and then turned and looked around. “I am truly witnessing the changing of how wildlife and my brethren live. We are being forced further and deeper into remote canyons all because you humans need to recreate right? You claim to be the top of the food chain, but you are so intent on your own pleasure that you can’t see how much you are killing the the things you supposedly love. If you can’t walk into the woods, you have the right to sit on your big behinds and use machinery to do that which you should be able

...you are so intent on your own pleasure that you can’t see how much you are killing the the things you supposedly love.

to do by your own efforts.” “Whoa BB” I said, “Humans who are at certain age claim that they can’t get deep into the woods without using quads and that they like seeing wildlife even in their golden years. With multiuse of public lands they have the right to use quads to get out there. Parents who want their children to see wildlife let them use quads to go where they can get there quickly, so they maintain an interest in wildlife–it’s called “hunter recruitment.” BB just looked at me and went into his sad stare. “Do you really believe that old man? If you did, then you would have a quad hooked to the back of that damn thing you drive up here every year. Personal satisfaction at the price of killing wildlife is okay? Don’t even try to go there. Yeah, I believe that humans love wildlife. Because they are old now or trying to get their kids involved in hunting they have this “right” to use machinery in place of sweat equity? I call that BS–they’re just loving us to death.” BB and I started back out of the wilderness area. His words haunted me; “loving wildlife to death” rang in my ears. I didn’t have answers for BB nor do I have it for all the golden-years people who use quads for their daily runs through the woods. I’ve encountered large groups of silver hairs using their quads for “runs” during fall archery elk season. I’ve watched groups of kids race up and down on dusty trails raising dust clouds as they party on. On public lands with multi-use, it is their right to do so. I’ve watched the naive media fawn over the wild /feral horse advocates who either don’t know or care about carrying capacity of the land. But the horses have a “right” to be there...but it doesn’t make it right... for wildlife.

Arizona Elk Society 27


EVENT CALENDAR JUNE 4-6 WATER CATCHMENT APRON BUILDING PROJECTS near Springerville

JUNE 4-6 BURRO CREEK FENCE REPAIR near Crescent Lake in the White Mountains

JULY 17-18 HIKE TO HUNT EVENT in Flagstaff

JULY 17 ARIZONA ELK SOCIETY BANQUET in Flagstaff

JULY 31 ARIZONA ELK SOCIETY BANQUET in Mesa

AUGUST 7 ARIZONA ELK SOCIETY ELK CLINIC in Phoenix

More info at arizonaelksociety.org 28 Tracker 1st Quarter 2021


Arizona Elk Society 29


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.

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.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP: Become a Habitat Partner with your tax deductible donation starting at $2500 ($1000 for 17 and under).

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

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.

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.

FOR MORE INFO AND TO DONATE: You can find more details and the donation form at www.arizonaelksociety.org.

David Baril Sponsor Partner

Bass Pro Shops Sponsor Partner

Tom & Janet Bowman Sponsor Partner

Cabela’s Sponsor Partner

Harry Carlson Imperial Partner

Walt and Cookie Nicoson Royal Partner

Stephen Clark Sponsor Partner

Sallie Page Pete Page Sponsor Partner

Ron & Sharon Eichelberger Sponsor Partner

Sharon & John Stuckey Imperial Partner

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Pacific West Representatives Royal Partner Sportsman’s Warehouse Sponsor Partner


i

ARIZONA ELK SOCIETY FOUNDING MEMBERS Founding Associate Members Douglas Sr & Donna Obert Founding Life Members Ken Alexander+ John & Patti Anderson 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 Dee White Larry White+ Mark Worischeck Joseph Worischeck Chuck Youngker Founding Sustaining Members Everett & Joyce Nicoson Founding Couple Members Bridgid & Ron 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 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 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 Mark Raby* 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

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 Arizona Elk Society 31


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