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2 The Tracker - Winter 2008
ARIZONA ELK SOCIETY FOUNDING MEMBERS Founding Associate Members Douglas Sr & Donna Obert Founding Life Members Ken Alexander+ Michael J Anderson Ernest Apodaca, Jr+ 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 Mel Risch+ 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 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+ Keith & Lois Zimmerman Founding General Members Kendall Adair
Gary R Anderson Jim Andrysiak Denny Ashbaugh Ron Barclay David Baril 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
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 Arizona Elk Society 3
president’s message by Steve Clark
Cross your fingers and hope that the rain we’ve received in December
The Arizona Elk Society 7th ANNUAL BANQUET is March 22, 2008 at
and January continues throughout the year. If Mother Nature
the Mesa Convention Center. Tickets are on sale and if you would like
cooperates and the Arizona Game and Fish Department allows,
to go, you need to get your tickets quickly. The banquet usually sells
Arizona elk herds can increase. As I’m writing this, northern Arizona is
out 6 weeks ahead of time.
getting pounded with snow. It looks like this could be a great year
This year the highlight of the Banquet will again be the auctioning
of the Commissioners’ Elk Tag and Commissioners’ Antelope Tag. The
Many hunters had asked for an increase in the number of elk tags
AAF has been gracious enough to let the AES auction one of the
and the AZGFD has listened. This year, we not only will have an
antelope tags at our banquet. All the money raised by the tag auction
increase in tags, but AZGFD went out on a limb and added late
is used for Habitat Projects for the designated species. This has
season, low success, archery bull tags in most of the elk units. Plus,
brought millions of dollars into the state for elk habitat improvements
over-the counter-tags for elk in areas where they want them removed.
benefitting all wildlife in those areas where the money is spent.
Demand for the over-the-counter tags has been very high. Every time I’ve been to the new AZGFD headquarters, there have been hunters
Come and join us to raise funds for habitat in Arizona!
lined up to purchase the new tags.
Board of Directors
President.......................................... Steve Clark
Banquet........................... Sharon Eichelberger
Vice President..................... Ron Eichelberger
Treasurer................................. Cookie Nicoson
Secretary............................................ Tim Evans
Past President...............Sharon Eichelberger
You may contact any officers,
& Cookie Nicoson Grant Writer.................................Lin Maschner Membership........................................Dee Clark
Newsletter............................ Maria DelVecchio
board members or committee chairs at
Website..........................................Leo Balthazor Wapiti Weekend.........................Shelly Hargis Scholarship.......................... Wendy Stressman & Shelly Hargis
4 The Tracker - Winter 2008
In This Issue
AES Mission Statement
President’s Message by Steve Clark ....................................... 4
The Arizona Elk Society is a 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.
Letter to the Editor by Greg Stainton ..................................... 6
NATIONAL FOREST WEBSITES
BB’s Column by John Koleszar ....................................... 10-11
Tonto - www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto Apache/Sitgreaves - www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf Kaibab - www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai/ Coronado - http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado
In the Crosshairs: Late Season Archer Hunts?! by John Koleszar 7 Much More Than Just A Hunt by Cory Worischeck................. 8-9
AES Logo Shop .............................................................. 12-13 Hunt of a Lifetime by Eddie Corona ................................ 14-15 Membership Update by Dee Clark ....................................... 16
AES WEBSITE HIGHLIGHTS
Junior Elk Hunt Camp 2007 by Steve Clark ........................... 17
Coming soon, the AES Online Logo Shop where you can get great AES merchandise at reasonable prices.
Graham County Bull by John Smith .................................... 18
Annual Banquet info at http://www.arizonaelksociety. org/banquet08.htm
My Archery Elk Hunt 2006 by Carl Ford................................. 19
AZGFD WEBSITE important info Legislative Affairs http://www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/legislative_affairs. shtml
AZ Sportsmen for wildlife website Issues Needing Immediate Response http://www.arizonasportsmenforwildlife.org /whatshot.asp
Operation Bear Bones: An AZGFD News Release.............. 20-21 On Target by John Toner..................................................... 22 Braggin’ Board................................................................... 23 Much More Than Just A Hunt continued from pg. 9.......... 24-25 Habitat Partners of Arizona ................................................ 26 Cover photo courtesy of George Andrejko. View more of George’s photos at http://www.azgfd.gov/i_e/wildlife _photo.shtml
UPCOMING EVENTS Arizona Elk Society Board Meeting January 19, 2008, 9am-3pm
Arizona Elk Society Annual Big Lake Work Project TBA May or June 2008, Big Lake, AZ
Arizona Bowhunters Association Banquet March 8, 2008
Arizona Elk Society Wapiti Weekend June 21 & 22, 2008, Sipes White Mountain Ranch Springerville, AZ
ISE Sportsmen’s Show March 7, 8, 9, 2008 Arizona Elk Society 7th Annual Banquet March 22, 2008, Mesa Convention Center Arizona Game & Fish Outdoor Expo March 28, 29, 30, 2008 Arizona Deer Association Banquet May 10, 2008, Chaparral Suites, Scottsdale
Arizona Antelope Banquet July 19, 2008 Arizona Elk Society Elk Hunting Clinic July 26th, 2008 Arizona Elk Society Junior Elk Hunters Camp October 16, 17, 18, 19, 2008 Happy Jack Lodge Happy Jack, AZ
Arizona Elk Society 5
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Hunters for Hunting’s Sake by Greg Stainton If we listen to our Game and Fish Department in Arizona, we might believe that they are making every effort to create more opportunities for people to hunt in this state. Sounds like they are making a push to get people in the field, and there are many people excited about the move; unless of course you really understand the crisis that Arizona is in. For a year now, Game and Fish has weaseled around issues brought before them by numerous hunting and fishing organizations in an effort to build support for their new system for “recruitment and retention” of hunters in the state. Sacrifice quality to create opportunity. The Department pooh pooh’s questions brought to them, telling concerned groups and individuals that they are “resistant to change”; this from a department that has not changed its draw system in over 20 years. The Department tells us that we are the cutting edge of new ideas and that other western states will emulate our program in the future. They base all of this on a survey posted on their website, which they states proves hunters don’t care about quality, and are overwhelmingly more interested in an opportunity to hunt. An interesting point, considering the Arizona Deer Association did a very similar survey and came up with a diabolically different response. This of course has no relevance. Just the same, before all you hunters run to get your guns, bullets, bows and arrows, and head out into the woods, you might want to hear what is really going on. There are no definitive answers to the multitude of issues that face wildlife and hunters in our state, but there has been a lot of discussion by the groups that fight to help conserve our land and animals, with the Game and Fish Department. The results of these discussions have had widely different outcomes. While our Game and Fish Department says that it is increasing opportunity, it is doing so based on a survey taken by a company (now considered a third party) formed by the Game and Fish Departments in the west. You think there might be any bias in that survey? While the Department says that the state can handle a 10% increase in the number of tags (based on biological factors), they decreased the number of tags available during premier hunting times, and increased the tags when hunters are least likely to be successful. If the state can accommodate a 10% increase in tags, why wouldn’t we increase tags when people would have the greatest opportunity to be successful? It only stands to reason that Arizona cannot afford to increase tags, but Game and Fish will do so anyway, in a blind effort to recruit new hunters in the state. By the way, if there were so many hunters that were disgruntled that they did not get drawn in this state, why were there left over deer tags this year? The simple truth is that Game and Fish has entrenched themselves in a program that is flawed, and is unwilling to listen to the very groups that offer them the most support. Many groups have approached Game and Fish to come up with a better way to recruit and retain hunters and fishermen in Arizona. 6 The Tracker - Winter 2008
Many of us have sat through lengthy meetings and discussed ideas to help get our youth back into the wild and more in touch with nature, and to date all these groups’ efforts to facilitate new ideas have been met by a closed door. The most disturbing part of this is that Game and Fish refuses to listen to people that spend tens of thousands of hours working to achieve the same goals as them. Rather than embracing these groups’ experience, Game and Fish would rather adhere to a schedule created by a biologist in Canada. I wonder if that guy knows what a javelina is? Finally, before you get all excited about having that “opportunity” to hunt or fish, ask yourself what that really means to you. To the Arizona Game and Fish Department it is an issue of numbers pure and simple. Put new hunters in the field at less desirable times, with a lesser chance of success, and hope that they come back next year because they had such a good time. Create opportunity! I would hope there is more to hunting and fishing than that. I really haven’t met anyone who puts in for a draw in this state and dreams about going out and harvesting a spike elk or deer. Nor have I heard anyone recently brag about the fact that they got to share their deer hunt with 699 other people in the field, as I did last year in unit 27. If Game and Fish has their way, you can add 3,500 more hunters in the field. I would suggest that if you are truly interested in hunting and fishing in this state, you contact one of your local conservation groups and support them in their efforts to come up with a way to implement meaningful changes to build this sport. And you might want to contact your Game and Fish Department and tell them that before they put all their eggs in the future generation’s basket, they might glean some benefit by listening to the generation that is bring up the new generation. Then again, maybe the Game and Fish Department knows our kids better then we do. You might also want to remind Game and Fish that it is the quality of our hunts in Arizona that has made us one of the premier states in the entire country to hunt. Of course Game and Fish will most likely tell you that you are in the minority, so I thought I would include some of the names of the organizations that oppose their current strategy. They include: the Arizona Elk Society, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Arizona Deer Association, National Turkey Federation, Arizona Antelope Foundation, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Wildlife Conservation Counsel, and Arizona Bow Hunters Association just to name a few. These very organizations raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help wildlife, and have boards that are elected by their constituents to represent their concerns. Wow. You’d think Game and Fish would listen! A concerned citizen and member of AES and RMEF, Gregory Stainton
Photo courtesy of George Andrejko.
IN THE CROSSHAIRS: LATE-SEASON ARCHERY HUNTS?! by John Koleszar
Last spring, when filling out my application for an elk tag in the fall hunts, I inadvertently transposed two numbers. As a result, I was drawn for a late-season archery bull tag in Unit 23. Much has been said and written about the decision of the department to offer late-season archery tags. Certainly, the idea of hunting for bulls out of the rut did not seem all that appealing. They had been very busy breeding during a rut that seemed unusually long and the weather had been decidedly warmer than I thought it would be. As the season approached, I began to trying to figure out when and where I should scout. With due diligence, I asked anyone and everyone I could think of where the bulls might be after the rut. The universal answer was…“In the thick stuff, away from all the traffic.” During the last week of October, and the first week of November, Unit 23 had more than a few people racing around trying to fill deer tags. Someone told me that there were 1100 deer tags in that unit during the two weeks prior to the archery elk hunt. I have not been able to verify that number, but it sure looked that way. Trying to scout during another persons’ hunt is not something I like to do. My presence only adds to the confusion. So I skirted the edges of Unit 23, and did as much glassing as I could from other units that were not having hunts. The result showed me that the elk were holding tight during the day, and barely appearing at dark. The common theme everyone had was to sit on a water tank or be in the path that took the elk from bedding to food and water, or vice versa during the morning hunt. The result of my two weekends of hunting was fairly predictable. Let me say first off, I have hunted deer in the Midwest and fairly successfully. There, you generally have blinds or tree stands, sit as much of the day as possible and hope that the deer follow their trails to food and water at the hours just before dark or daylight. The same could be said for hunting elk during the late hunt. Elk do not tend to follow trails as much as deer, but the food and water sources are
pretty important places to be when the sun is setting. In retrospect, I can say the following regarding late-season archery elk hunts… Damn Difficult! I know there were a few folks that were successful. I also know that I did not have the time needed to hunt the unit well. A family funeral, tight work schedule and a raging cold did not help make matters any easier. This hunt was nowhere near as fun to me as the rut hunts are. I like moving around during the day and I love chasing after a bull with cows in tow. To me, hearing them, smelling them and chasing them is what elk hunting is all about. I like glassing early and late to see where they are headed, where they have been and to try and establish a pattern. Sitting at a water hole for long periods of time is just not fun. Other critters will come in to water and that was fun to see, but praying that a bull elk comes to water just prior to dark is not my cup of tea. Overall, I feel that if I would have had more time and more experience in that unit, it still would have been a hard hunt. Now, this is just my viewpoint. I’m sure there are some folks who would give anything to just hunt and really do not care about hunting out of the rut. For those people who are in line with that kind of thinking…go for it. For myself, I will begin again stacking up bonus points. I will wait for rut hunts. I will pray to the gods of chance that they smile on my worthless self yet again. (Hey, 3 tags in four years is almost reason for an inquiry.) And if all else fails, I will take a flight up to the panhandle of Idaho during the first week of September, stroll into the Sportsmen’s Warehouse in Hayden, Idaho and buy an across the counter elk tag. It’s not cheap, and the bulls are not nearly as big as Arizona’s…but I’ll be out among them when the bugles fill the air. In time, there may be a market for these late hunts. I know that the department is hoping that people will go for these tags. Indeed, it is an “opportunity” to hunt. I just prefer the magic of a rut hunt.
Arizona Elk Society
Much More Than Just A Hunt by Cory Worischeck
Ever since my first cow elk hunt at age 10, hunting has always been a juggling act. Neither sports, work, nor school ever seemed to comply with my hunting schedule. Fortunately for me, these things must sit in the back seat when hunting season rolls around. So when I heard my Arizona draw results for the 2007 fall elk hunt, I knew my work was cut out for me. Somehow I had been fortunate enough to land a rut archery tag for my first archery hunt. Like any obsessive hunter, I went out and purchased all my archery equipment. Amongst it was a brand new Hoyt Vectrix fancied up with all the fixins’. Naturally, after spending this kind of money, I wanted to get good at shooting, really good. I began hanging around the local archery shop and talked to countless “old timers” who had played the game before. I learned not only how to shoot, but absorbed the stories and learnings of life-long hunters. Bowhunting is a funny hobby because it‘s, ironically, not a hobby. It consumes my life and I find it damn near impossible to concentrate on anything else. Life was put on hold for the two intense months leading up to my September hunt. Unfortunately, I had just begun my first semester of college at the University of Arizona and had, to state it conservatively, a hefty schedule. Now, instead of doing homework till 3 a.m. or so, I was getting it done at by 6:00 p.m. every night due to the shooting time and those mesmerizing hunting videos. My Dad had always spoke of the vast differences between archery and rifle hunting, and, like most teenagers, I took what he said lightly. In typical fashion my father prevailed to the highest degree. Since I was born, I have been surrounded by some of the finest hunters in the state, which has led to some very close relationships with top guides and hunters. So when I drew this tag, I knew just what to do. I called up long time family friend and guide Ty Goodman with Goodman Outfitters. Being a Payson resident and an avid Coues deer and elk hunter, he knew elk hunting as well as anyone. We put 8 The Tracker - Winter 2008
in our time scouting and located a handful of what we classified as “shooters.” As my shooting progressed and my knowledge for archery increased, so did my excitement. It was a vicious cycle of trying to prepare as well I possibly could only to realize I had so far to go. I used to think a four-inch radius of three arrows at 30 yards was good with field tips. Three weeks before the hunt I was slicing fletchings at 50 and 60 yards with broadheads and still not content. I shot at every angle I could. I shot on very windy days, up and down hills, and around natural blocks like trees and rocks. I would even go running through the desert with my bow until I was exhausted and out of breathe to simulate the escalated blood pressure of the hunt. Every night I would go to sleep thinking of different shots and how I could practice them. I wanted my one shot to be perfect, regardless of what kind of shot it was. Opening day was on a Friday, which meant I had no choice but to skip that day of school in order to get first looks on the bulls. So, after many sleepless nights and vivid dreams, I found myself driving up with my dad the Thursday before the hunt. School, work, and friends were out of my mind and I was focused and ready for the hunt of a lifetime. We had set up camp the week prior so as soon as we all made it to camp we headed off to bed. I was fortunate to have Ty, my dad and several friends and relatives helping with the hunt. That Thursday night was terrible. I laid wide awake until 2:30 a.m. when I heard my first bugle of the hunt. My eyeballs almost came out of their sockets. From that point on, I would lay motionless and strain my ears to hear more bugling. And more bugling I heard. At 3:30 a.m. I finally heard the alarm go off and everyone began waking up. I was up and dressed before anyone could wipe the sleep from their eyes. We took a surprisingly warm quad ride up a rough and rocky road for almost an hour and arrived at our scouted spot just before first light. With anticipation through the roof, we let out our
first enthusiastic bugle and waited. If anyone has yet to experience that period of waiting between your call and a fired up bull elk, let me tell you it’s something to dream about. I would concentrate so hard, the white noise of the wilderness grew very loud and intense and almost drowned out the sounds of the bugle. Success! Within fifteen seconds we had two bulls that both sounded hot and raspy, just what I was hoping for. The first response was a bull maybe 250 yards to the south. Without hesitating, we unloaded and took off after the bugle. The country consisted almost entirely of pinions and junipers, some of which were raked raw from the antlers of world-class bulls. While hunting down at these elevations is usually my favorite, this area was unusually thick and finding a shooting lane longer than 20 yards was a feat in itself. We covered a quiet and strenuous 100 yards before Ty let out another rip from his bugle. Success once again – except it appeared the bull had moved away from us keeping the distance. Positive he had not winded or heard us, we reasoned he must be heading to his bed because the highs that week were in the low 90’s. So, we covered another 50 yards and bugled once again. He seemed to be just as far from us as last time. As we started creeping in the direction of the call, we heard a plane fly overhead. We knew it was our chance to really close the gap so we moved swiftly and quietly. We must have covered 150 yards by the time the noise from the plane subsided and, hopes high, Ty bugled. Mr. Goodman, my father, and I waited out those seconds that felt like eternity until our bull let out an unusually fired up bugle. He was close – very close. We whispered that he must be up a small hill not more than 75 yards away. Scanning the country for a shooting lane, we were more than relieved to find one less than ten yards away. It was a grassy rectangle that was 30 by 15 yards without a tree in it. We had the wind right so I buried myself in a juniper bush at the end of the lane while my dad and Ty stayed back another five yards hidden behind thick brush. We bugled once and then gave a cow call to change things up. And boy did it ever. The bull flipped around and started our way. We could not see him but the sound of his antlers thrashing trees ahead of us left no doubt he was close. The end of the shooting lane was 32 yards from me and past that was incredibly dense brush that could hide even a full-grown bull. We all stopped calling when he was within 45 yards and let him come in on his own. By this time he was not only bugling but grunting and glunking as well as raking anything and everything he could find. Arrow knocked and heart racing, I waited patiently. I held my bow up as I saw legs move under the brush just outside the lane we had picked out. He was walking right to left in accordance to me and he would become visible just after walking past a massive pinion tree. Just as planned, he walked slowly out from the pinion. Time was in extreme slow motion and every step he took seemed to take hours. At this point, we have not seen this bull’s antlers to see how big he was but we had reason to believe he was fairly big based on his actions. First a nose, then head, then antlers became visible. I watched as more and more antler became exposed and I drew before I had even seen
his whole rack. I knew he must be a 340 plus by the fourth point. Just as I drew back, the bull changed direction and started walking directly at me. There was absolutely nothing between us except a foot-high collection of dead grass. I’m at full draw as this bull lets out a raucous bugle that shakes my insides. He continues walking right at me. I got a full look at his massive rack and knew that this was the bull I wanted. The only problem is I have no shot because he was walking directly toward my 100 grain wack ‘em broadhead. 30 yards...20 yards... 15...10...8... I could barely contain myself at the excitement and adrenaline rush. I was really beginning to think this bull was going to walk right into me. I stared him down as he got closer, trying so hard to keep the right pin on him and to stay as steady as possible. Finally, the bull took one step to his left and I saw the vital zones in my mind. Just like the diagrams I had studied for so many hours, I saw his chest, not much, in fact it was a severely quartering towards shot. I knew that I had to be careful of his shoulder blade and brisket because both could stop my arrow and inhibit a fatal shot. I also had to be wary of the ever-common gut shot with quartering shots. I was positive, having gone over this situation so many times before, that I could slip an arrow in the vitals. With only a 20 yard pin to go off, I relaxed and let it fly. I could really feel the hours and hours of practice leaving with that arrow. The bow was silent as the arrow flew closer to the bull. Then the distinct sound of the arrow hitting came to my ears. The bull flipped around and ran off – but not before I saw the arrow sticking out of his far side. It was fairly far back as I assumed would happen and at that point I thought I had him. I knocked a quick arrow as Ty called to try and stop him once more. With the nature of the terrain, the bull was out of sight within fifteen yards. At that time I gave an excited but scared look back to my dad and he gave a hurried motion to keep watch. We knew it was now a waiting game. So, remaining silent, I looked down at my watch to mark the time. 7:00 a.m. exactly. We hunkered down and let the wait begin. At 8:00 a.m., we signaled it was probably time to move given the quick glance at the shot placement and more importantly, the quickly rising temperatures. We began taping off the shot area and first blood. The blood trail was thick and easy to track. Rocks were covered in it and in the first ten yards of tracking, we found the arrow. It had made it cleanly through the bull, another good sign. The blood was dark, which told me my shot probably went through a lung and then the liver. I thought the light, frothy blood characteristic of a lung shot must be filling up inside him while the blood from the liver came out the exit wound. As we moved ever cautiously along the trail, excitement rose once again. I kept looking ahead, hoping with all my might to see an antler, a hoof or anything. 100 yards into the track we still couldn’t see anything until my dad put down his binoculars and whispered in a shaky voice, “I think I have an antler.” We hurriedly asked where and he pointed through the brush some 40 yards ahead. He went to look again and could barely hold his binoculars because he was shaking. Seeing my own father like that, the man whom I look up to more than anyone, was undoubtedly the greatest moment of my life. Soon we saw the antler move one last time, insuring it was our bull, and then (continued on page 24) Arizona Elk Society 9
BB’s COlumn by John Koleszar
There I was, sitting in the middle of the most serene area I had been able to find on my late season archery elk hunt. I had hiked up a steep hill, and then went another half mile through a small canyon on the other side. The noise from roads and vehicles was not able to permeate this idyllic wildlife area. Unit 23 can be more than a bit noisy, particularly when there are another 299 hunters trying to find the elk that had been scattered courtesy of the 1100 rifle deer tags traversing this same area for the previous two weeks. I had hiked through a small stream and up the hill in complete darkness. As the light slowly made its way through the trees I was able to hear turkeys in the distance as they began their day anew. A band of coyotes began sounding off, and I made a mental note to remember this area for some calling after the season for elk was over. My clothes were soaked from the journey of climbing up to this little spot of paradise but the effort had been more than worthwhile. The only thing missing was the other half of the equation…ELK. As the sun finally topped out over the horizon, I used my binoculars to peer up the opposite drainage. There was plenty of sign and the unmistakable odor that only elk carry…but no elk. I waited until just after 9:00 a.m. to start back towards the truck, but first a nature call had to be answered. I gently placed my bow along the downed tree that had acted as a blind. I moved to an area about 30 yards from where I had been sitting. Just then I could have sworn I heard a muffled laugh behind me. I whirled around and guess who I saw…my old friend and antagonist “BB”. “Why “BB” what are you doing here? “I asked. He let out a booming laugh and said, “You don’t see many folks here do ya boy? I heard tell that someone was staggering up that hill each morning, making more noise than a herd of angry cows. I’ve been watching you since just before daylight. I almost thought you were going to doze off there for a while. I knew it was you right off, so I kind of snuck up on you just to say hi.” I gazed over at my bow lying against the tree where I had left it. “BB” followed my gaze and chuckled, “You’ll never be able to get to that bow, pull back and shoot at me son, so don’t even think about it. You make one move towards that weapon and I’ll be over that hill in a heartbeat so let’s just sit and chat shall we?” I managed an indignant
10 The Tracker - Winter 2008
look and said “Why “BB”, I would never try and shoot you. Who would I talk to and get ideas from if you were gone?” (I have to admit that just maybe the thought passed through my pea brain that his antlers sure looked big, and that I had been climbing that same area for two weekends, and that this was my last morning out there and… oh well let’s leave it at a fleeting thought shall we?) “BB”’ saw through my last statement and gave me that hard stare that he is famous for. Finally, he let me off the hook and started grinning. “Having a lot of fun on this late season hunt?” I tried my best to manage a scowl and said, “After all the deer tags they issued in this unit it’s a wonder there is anything moving at all. I try and use my bonus points wisely, but this hunt had accident written all over it from day one.”“BB” looked up the far ridge and commented, “See that boundary fence line? Several of us make sure that by half light we are hopping over that line of demarcation. It puts us in a safe zone that no one hunts, where no one uses quads and where no one pushes us out of our beds.” I looked at the fence line and could literally make out the trail they had cut from night after night of use. I knew then that he was no longer the rut crazed bull that had left his mark in the Bugle Inn just a few months ago. This was a wily veteran of several campaigns of survival and I was an interloper that was at a distinct disadvantage. I broke open my backpack and produced two apples I had carried in for a snack. I tossed one to “BB” and started munching on the other. “So what’s new in the big city boy?” he asked. I managed a smirk and said “Well, I’ll be buying an over the counter archery elk tag this year and I’ll start hunting New Years day.”“BB” just about gagged on that one. “You pulling my antlers boy?” I laughed and said, “Nope “BB”. The commission has taken the suggestion of the department and is offering up over the counter tags in areas that get hit really hard by your brethren.”“BB” mulled that over and asked “If hunting now is so bad, why would you hunt a month from now?” I thought it over and told him, “I look at it this way “BB”. I doubt that I will get one, but I’m not wasting any bonus points over it, I get to be out in the hills earlier than normal and I can hunt again in August if I do not get one from January ‘til March. Besides, I think a lot of folks will try it, freeze their butts off and decide that maybe the rut is a good time to hunt. I
think for me just being out here with my bow is a great feeling.”“BB” mulled that over and looked up to the top of the rim, “Why doesn’t the department offer over the counter horse tags?” It was my turn to gag and I said, “ “BB” you can’t take out horses. No one would eat them and then all the horse lovers would climb all over us in court.” He laughed again at me and said, “No you dummy. I mean why not issue tags to anyone who wants to catch a horse, tame it and use it like they do regular horses?” I sat there looking stumped. “I think that’s a really good idea “BB”. After all, the department is charged with taking care of ALL the wildlife in the state, and those forage monsters should have at least a little fear in them of capture. Right now I can drive down damn near any road and see them just grazing to their hearts content. It would bring money into the department, give some cowboys some really good horses to train and deplete the massive over crowding that is going on now. I’ll pass on your take to the department.” BB looked over his shoulder and said, “Pass on our thanks to all the folks who help us when they can. Based on the numbers, I figure that maybe 1% of the hunters give back by working on projects, and maybe another 1% does some banquet work or some other form of volunteering. I still can’t figure out why the other 98%, that silent majority that the department likes to refer to, won’t lend a helping hand sometimes.” For once I had no answer for “BB”. So many folks want to hunt, complain about everything, accuse the department of
SEE YOUR STORY IN THE TRACKER Send us your story and we’ll include it in a future issue of The Tracker. Email your story and email or mail your photos. If you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope with mailed materials, they will be returned. Send to Steve Clark at: email@example.com Arizona Elk Society P.O. Box 190, Peoria, AZ, 85380
mismanagement and yet won’t lift a finger to help out the rest of the year. “Sorry “BB” I said, “Most of the hunting community talks a good game but they can’t seem to get real serious when it takes hours of work to help ensure your survival. I have to get back to the Valley, but I enjoyed our little meeting. Thanks for scaring the heck out of me.” “BB” nodded his antlers and began moseying up the drainage. He started whistling a little tune as he left, then turned and shouted out, “Come see me when the snows melt boy. I’ll be growing some new tines by then and maybe I’ll show you where I dropped my old ones.” He laughed that deep chuckle of his and went over the fence, leaving me saddened at his departure but thrilled that he had taken the time to say hi. He had, as always, given me more to chew on than I had thought possible.
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Arizona Elk Society 11
AE S O G O L S HOP
AES Logo Coffee Mug.............. $18.00
AES Logo Trophy Skinner Knife................................... $40.00
AES Kodi Pak........................................................$75.00
AES Logo Thermos.................... $29.95
AES Logo Hybrid Hunter Knife..................................... $40.00
AES Logo Hats.....................................................$10.00
To order AES logo merchandise, call Steve or Dee Clark at (623) 594-7074. 12 The Tracker - Winter 2008
AES Logo Glass Mug............................................. $18.00
AES Logo Flask........................................................ $25.00
AES Logo Polo.........................................................$20.00
AES Logo Short Sleeve T-shirt...............................$10.00
AES Denim Button Down...................................$20.00
AES Long Sleeve T-shirt.......................................$15.00
Watch for the launch of the AES Online Logo Shop at www.arizonaelksociety.org Arizona Elk Society 13
“Hunt of a lifetime” by Eddie Corona, Chandler Rod and Gun Club Hunt of a Lifetime is supposed to be for the hunter, so I thought. It was a hunt of a lifetime for me. I had the pleasure of spending time with a whole lot of great people and two great young men. When I volunteered to help I had no idea what to expect. I set my expectations high and what I got back was higher than I could have ever imagined. We camped out at the “Bar D Ranch” (owned by Bruce Johnson) just East of Sedona and I-17. The first hunter is Cody Malone (age 12) accompanied by his father Craig and his cousin Kyler Hoffman (age 6). They drove in from Denver Colorado; they had been on the road for 2 days and arrived on Thanksgiving Day. Cody is mobile by the use of a motorized wheel chair. He zipped around camp and always was looking for ways to help. He never said “NO” and his great attitude was off the page. The challenging part was trying to find ways to get elk to come to him. Cody can not hold a gun up so the staff attached a worm drive arm controlled by a joy stick that Cody would use to move his weapon into position, find his target through the scope and pull the trigger. We had a blind that would cover Cody, the wheel chair, the gun and support along with Chris Denham his guide. Chris set up at water holes in the evening and during the day we spent many hours glassing and moving into position. This went on for seven days until the very last day when Chris and Craig (Cody’s father) spotted some elk on a hill side. Cody finally had a shot. This shot was long and Cody connected wounding the elk in the shoulder. Cody has a CHAMP permit and this permit allows an assigned person to track and put down any game that is wounded. Chris was assigned this duty. Chris circled around the top of the hill, but the brush was so thick and the elk on the move that a shot never presented it self. We continued to track the elk and could not catch up. Chris, Craig and Lee Hop (Howell Wildlife Outfitters Guide) tracked the elk into the next day trying to find the wounded elk and put him down. Lee was holding nothing back and brought out his horse. The weather turned and rain started coming down very hard but they didn’t give up. The wounded elk kept a few moves ahead and day turned into night. Even though Cody didn’t bag his elk he did manage to win the hearts of everyone at camp. I really hope that he comes back next year so that we can pick up where we left off. Our second hunter is Thomas Widenhofer (age 15) accompanied by his father Walter and his best friend Isaiah (age 15). The Widenhofer’s flew into Phoenix on Friday and met Isaiah who flew in from Pittsburgh. Thomas is going through chemotherapy and could only walk for about half a mile and needed to rest. Thomas, like Cody, was also hunting water holes in the evening and spent many days glassing during the day. Lee Hop was the assigned guide for Thomas and spent every minute trying to do his best to get him an elk. Thomas took a few shots at elk and missed. He connected on the last day of the hunt when he bagged a 6X6 bull elk. Both young men have made an impact in every person they met during our hunt. I can speak for everyone by saying that today we are better people and appreciate life more than ever. Emotionally and spiritually I have been touched by Cody and Thomas. Our hats go off to their family and friends because it is not easy and can not imagine what they go through everyday. Cody and Thomas have needs that you and I take for granted. I am grateful for everything, even my aches and pains. God works in mysterious ways when he brings a 12 and 15 year old into our lives. I cried when I had to say good bye and those 14 The Tracker - Winter 2008
tears were of sadness and joy. I have new friends for life. Many people are to thank for making this a “Hunt of a Lifetime” for all who participated. I know that we will all do it again when the time comes. They are as follows: Terry Petko (Hunt of a Lifetime Arizona Ambassador), Gary “Goose” Howell and Sue Howell (Howell Wildlife Outfitters and Obregon Outfitter), Lee Hop, Marilyn Hop, Bryce Hop and Luke Hop (Howell Wildlife Outfitters), Justin Scarbrough (Howell Wildlife Outfitters), Chris Denham, Carla Denham, Mark Denham, Courtney Denham (Western Hunter Magazine) (Guide) and their dog Chimichanga who guarded the camp. Bruce Johnson (Owner of the Bar D Ranch). Randy Krecklow, Scott Fritz, Shane Fritz, Ray Brooks and out two new members Bill and Nancy Haug all from Chandler Rod and Gun Club. Special thanks go to Craig and Cody Malone and Kyler Hoffman, Walter and Thomas Widenhofer and Isaiah. If you wish to visit Thomas Widenhofer’s website it’s tommywidenhofer.com Cabelas supplied the hunting clothes; Savage Arms supplied each hunter with a rifle for them to keep (Cody 308 and Thomas 30-06), the processing and taxidermy were also donated and I need to apologize because I do not have that information but will give credit when I find out. Trust me when I say that to volunteer for a hunt like this you will not forget and will welcome with open arms a life changing experience. Thank You all for your help and support.
THANK YOU FROM THE WIDENHOFERS To All: It is hard to express my gratitude in words to everyone involved in making Thomas’ hunt of a lifetime a reality. This was truly a first class operation in every aspect. The professionalism, courtesy, and genuine caring expressed towards my son was remarkable. The Hunt of a Lifetime support staff understood the importance of the simple joys in life that are associated with kind gestures in an unexpected nature that lift a persons spirits. Tom grew up with hunting all around him on a regular basis and it made sense to everyone when he became interested in a Hunt of a Lifetime. Only other outdoors men can truly appreciate what was said through the selfless acts of compassion and love which were put in the form of hunting, tracking and guiding. The ability of the Hunt of a Lifetime support staff to transpose their compassion and love for my son into hunting, tracking, and harvesting his elk was awe-inspiring. I was truly moved watching his pride and achievement during the hunt. I never thought a single gun shot could touch my heart so deeply but when Thomas’ elk finally fell, there was an overwhelming feeling of joy in my heart. My emotions have ran high throughout Tom’s illness and overflowed once Tom harvested his elk. As the song states “with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye” I admired with glowing pride my son’s achievement. Thomas harvested his elk on November 29, 2007 at around 10:30 am. This date is forever etched in our minds because exactly one year earlier November 29, 2006 at 10:30 AM, Thomas was lying in surgery having his first of two major brain surgeries to remove a tumor. Now, this date shall also be etched in our hearts. We could have never envisioned, only one year later, being in the Coconino National Forest harvesting a trophy elk. What an awesome accomplishment! Everyone involved in the Hunt of a Lifetime should take pride in everything they did to make this possible for Thomas. Without HOAL, Thomas would not have been able to experience this wonderful journey. This hunt educated Tom in so many ways, he has displayed caring and concern for the other HOAL hunter as he openly cheered for him to harvest an elk. That in itself also gave me pride to see that he truly understood why we there.
The Arizona Elk Society is a proud sponsor of Hunt of a Lifetime. AES provided a major portion of the funding and the food for the hunt. We are thankful that there are organizations like “Hunt of a Lifetime” who continue to make kids’ hunting dreams come true. “Hunt Of A Lifetime” is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to grant hunting and fishing adventures and dreams to children age 21 and under, who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. To help a child live their dream or for more information about Hunt of a Lifetime, contact Terry Petko at (602) 689-9524 or visit www.hoal.arizona.org.
The guidance and friendship obtained while on this excursion not only broadened my son as an outdoors men but enriched h is entire life. He and I are both better people today by the genuine love and compassion from Hunt of a Lifetime. Although this may have been a small undertaking in the big picture it has made an immeasurable impact on my son’s life and his journey with cancer. Once again be extremely proud of what you do for these kids because it transcends well past the Hunt of a Lifetime and brings a great enrichment to each child’s Life. You have touched our hearts, enriched our lives, made us better people and enhanced our journey with Tom’s battle with cancer. Take strong pride in your accomplishment as Tom harvested much more than a trophy elk on this HUNT OF A LIFETIME. Thank You. With The Most Sincere Thanks, Walter and Arlene Widenhofer
Arizona Elk Society 15
It is that time of year again...
Membership RENEWAL TIME! by Dee Clark Memberships expired December 31st. The renewal notices were mailed in November. It would be very helpful if everyone renewed their memberships on the first notice. Every year we send out at least two renewal notices. If you wait until the second notice to renew, it costs the AES additional postage and mailing expenses. If you have not renewed your membership and can not find your notice, feel free to use the form below. The Arizona Elk Society always welcomes new members. After you have read The Tracker, pass it on to your friends and family members who may not be aware of our organization. I take my copy to work and leave it in the lobby. This at least allows my clients to read about what we are accomplishing.
Membership Application The Arizona Elk Society is a 501.C.3 non-profit organization. For more information, please visit our website at www.arizonaelksociety.org
Date: Name: Email: City:
Membership Category (select one):
m General $40 m Junior $20 (17 & under) m Couple $65 m Sustaining $250 m Life $750 (Jacket size:_______) Method of Payment:
m Cash m Check m Visa m MasterCard m American Express Card#:
Signature: Mail to: Arizona Elk Society, P.O. Box 190, Peoria, AZ 85380 or call: 623-594-7074
In Memory Of:
Warren Eichelberger d By making a donation to AES in memory of a loved one or friend, your donation will ensure that their memory lives on to help Arizonaâ€™s Wildlife and Hunting Heritage. In memoriam donations will be recorded in our Tracker newsletter and on the AES website. In memoriam donations can be made as a special tribute for a birthday, anniversary or in memory of a friend or relative.
16 The Tracker - Winter 2008
JUNIOR ELK HUNT CAMP 2007 by Steve Clark
This event is one that makes many of our volunteers happy that we take the time to share our knowledge and experience with young elk hunters and their families. Seeing hundreds of young hunters spending time outdoors with their parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents passing on the hunting heritage is very rewarding. The AES 2007 Junior Elk Hunt Camp took place at the Happy Jack Lodge starting on Thursday night before the hunt until Sunday afternoon. We fed well over 330 youth hunters and family members throughout the weekend. Thursday night was the kick-off dinner with a short seminar about hunting safety, Arizona Game & Fish rules and Forest Service regulations. All the young attendees received safety orange hats and other gear to aid them outdoors. AES volunteers were on hand for the first 3 days of the hunt to assist the hunters in locating elk, finding and retrieving downed elk and in one case locating a hunterâ€™s vehicle. Dan Caputo, AZGFD Unit 6A Wildlife Manager, stopped by throughout the weekend and had noted that violations were down this year.
This year the AES, along with the AZGFD, tried something new by having an archery course for the hunters and visiting youth to try their hand at shooting bows. For the youth hunters with down time during midday, the archery course was a big hit. The AES thanks all the youth hunters and their families for stopping by. A big thank you also goes out to all of the volunteers and sponsors for this event. We had many sponsors for the giveaways. Special thanks to Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, Sportsmans Warehouse, 4 Peaks Processing, Miller Southwest Processing, Happy Jack Lodge, AZGFD, Coconino Forest Service, Swafford Guide Service and John Toner of Continental Divide Knives. For 2008 the AES has a chance to expand the Junior Elk Hunt Camp with more events and also start a second camp in another unit of the State. If you would like to volunteer to help at this event or at any of the AES events throughout the year, please go to our website at www. arizonaelksociety.org and email any of the board members. We would be happy to keep you informed of events and to see some new faces.
Arizona Elk Society 17
graham county bull I hunted the early October through November bull elk hunt just north of Willcox. While tracking and searching for fresh sign, my friend and I came out of a mesquite ravine and found enough fresh elk sign to lead us to the decision of returning later that evening to set up and do some calling. However, while getting ready to leave the area, this beautiful bull walked out right behind us and trotted off. When he was at about 450 yards, my friend chirped on his cow call a couple of times. The bull came to a stop behind a huge Shotts Yucca giving me a chance to put my scope on for a shot â€“ and then he started off again. I was able to squeeze one off as he stepped out from the cover and the pictures tell the rest of the story. I am 68 years old and have
18 The Tracker - Winter 2008
by Jon Smith
been hunting in Arizona since I was about 12. Growing up in Williams and Flagstaff, I have taken many elk and deer in my thankful days of hunting. This is by far the record I never looked for, as I always hunted for the challenge and the enjoyment of being in the great outdoors that we have the privilege to use. I will have this one mounted because of his size. I havenâ€™t been interested in mounting animals, but I did take an antelope years ago that was just too pretty to not mount. The elk is at Wellerâ€™s Wildlife Studio in Tucson. They did a preliminary measurement of it and scored him at 401.6 inches.
My Archery Elk Hunt 2006 by Carl Ford
The hunt started on Friday Sept 21 with my son Dave and hunting partner Dennis. We began our hunt just before sunrise in Unit 6A. I had the only tag so my son and Dennis were assisting with extra eyes and outstanding calls. We slowly worked our way toward a canyon, which has never failed to produce 300+ bulls in the past. Everything was quiet. We saw nothing nor heard any answers to our calls â€“ not even in the distance. This surprised us because the day before, we saw some nice bulls with cows. After a long non-eventful day, we went back to camp. The next day was a little more productive. Saturday Sept 22, on my sonâ€™s birthday, we returned to the same area. In the predawn darkness while getting ready for our early morning walk, we heard numerous bugles. This was exactly what we expected so we began walking toward the closest bugle sound. As we came up a slight hill in thick ponderosa pine, we found that we were in the middle of 3 bulls and their harems. I proceeded on about 50 yards. Dave and Dennis split up moving about 50 yards apart and began their bugling and cow calling. I continued stalking a very large bull, which was quite active with his bugling. This was cut short when I peered out from behind a large pine tree and was spotted by one of his herd cows. Away they went over the hill. I turned back toward other bugling and immediately saw another bull trotting in the direction that my son was bugling from. The woods were very thick and I could only see the legs and every once in a while, a small part of his rack. It looked big. After closing to about 50 yards, the bull turned to his left and started walking on a path that would pass in front of me. One major problem was that there was no place for a clear shot. As he continued walking, I quickly lined up in an area that would be a little more open. I could see the early morning sun, shining on a small opening between the trees and I knew that this would be my best chance for a shot. The shooting lane between the 2 trees was just 3 feet wide and 50 yards to the open area.
As he continued on in the same favorable direction, he passed behind a shorter group of pines, and I finally got a look at his rack. He was moving too quick to make a count, but it was huge. I pulled back, lined up my 50-yard pin in my peep sight and held. It seemed like forever. The bull walked into my shooting lane and I pulled the trigger. The bull leapt into the air, came down to his left and crashed right into a large dead log. I thought he was down, but then I heard more noise from up the hill. I slowly walked into the clearing and saw my arrow lying on the ground, just about 10 feet from where I hit him. The shaft was covered with red blood and yellowish foam all the way to the fletching and was severed clean 22 inches from the nock. Due to the density of trees, Dave and Dennis had no idea where I was. They were continuing with their calls as they had another bull closing on them. Finally they saw me standing in the clearing with my GPS, marking the location. After congratulations and a 20 minute delay, we began the task of following the blood trail. There was very little blood sign, with approximately one drop about every 20 feet. We tagged the drops for alignment and could see the general direction was toward the canyon. Dennis went to the canyon edge and spotted him lying on a rock shelf. He signaled us that it was a 6x6 and still alive. We sat for a while trying not to spook him, but up he jumped and down a canyon trail he went. Once again we followed the blood sign that led us deeper into the canyon. We finally located him sitting upright beside a well-traveled trail, but not moving. We watched him for about 5 minutes and then heard quads coming down the trail toward my untagged elk. We quickly jumped up, ran down the hill waving them away. The elk rose to his feet, crossed the trail and fell dead one foot from the trail. After a final celebration and many photos, the real work began.
Arizona Elk Society 19
operation bear bones NEWS RELEASE Arizona Game and Fish Department Arizona Department of Agriculture USDA Forest Service, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service White Mountain Apache Tribe, Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation Division
For immediate release, Dec. 12, 2007
Multi-agency sting nabs bear poachers, uncovers alleged killing of stray horses PINETOP, Ariz. – An extensive multi-agency undercover operation led by Arizona Game and Fish Department law enforcement officers has resulted in 16 suspects being charged with more than 60 wildlife violations and one suspect facing six felony charges involving killing of stray horses on U.S. Forest Service lands near Show Low. Game and Fish Department officers expended more than 2,000 hours in the operation, ultimately charging multiple suspects with the unlawful take of nine bears, two elk, five mule deer and one Coues white-tailed deer. To date, 11 individuals have been convicted of 18 offenses. Most of the wildlife violations are classified as Class 2 misdemeanors, each punishable by up to four months in jail and a $750 fine, if convicted. Eleven of these suspects now also face potential hunting, fishing and trapping license revocation and/or civil assessments by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Civil assessments reimburse the state of Arizona for the loss of wildlife resources. The minimum assessment value set by statute is $1,500 for each bear or deer and $2,500 for each elk. During fall 2006, covert officers from the Game and Fish Department’s Special Operations Unit partnered with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent in an undercover project named Operation Bear Bones to target illegal bear hunting activities in the White Mountains. As the number of suspects and scope of illegal activities grew, department officers enlisted the assistance of additional agencies having appropriate jurisdiction and expertise, including the Arizona Department of Agriculture, USDA Forest Service, and Wildlife and Recreation Division of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. During the course of the investigations, Game and Fish Department officers also identified one of the suspects as allegedly being involved in the unlawful killing of livestock (six horses). “Stray horses located in southern Navajo County on lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service¬†likely originated from the adjacent Fort Apache Indian Reservation during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002,” says Zeke Austin, special investigator for the Arizona Department of Agriculture. “When the boundary fence burned during the fire, horses had unrestricted access to Forest Service lands. Unlawful killing of livestock in Arizona is a serious crime, whether ownership is known or unknown, punishable as a Class 5 felony.” Jim Hinkle, law enforcement program manager in the Game and Fish Pinetop office, says, “The motivation for shooting the horses appears to be to use them as bait sites to attract and illegally kill bears. Several of the bears unlawfully taken were pursued off of horse carcasses.” Hinkle commends the investigators and officers involved with Operation Bear Bones. “They worked long hours gathering, organizing and examining huge amounts of evidence, conducted extensive interviews and worked in close coordination with other agencies and prosecutors to ensure that these violators of Arizona’s wildlife resources were brought to justice,” he says. “The results of this project speak for themselves and demonstrate the value of covert operations and agency cooperation in apprehending game thieves.” To report information on poaching or any other wildlife violation, please call the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700. Caller identities may remain confidential upon request and are eligible to receive a reward upon the arrest of the violator. To report abuse, cruelty or unlawful killing of livestock, please call the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Animal Crimes Hotline at 1-800-294-0305. The Arizona Game and Fish Department prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, or disability in its programs and activities. If anyone believes that they have been discriminated against in any of the AGFD’s programs or activities, including employment practices, they may file a complaint with the Deputy Director, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000, (602) 9423000, or with the Fish and Wildlife Service, 4040 N. Fairfax Dr. Ste. 130, Arlington, VA 22203. Persons with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation or this document in an alternative format by contacting the Deputy Director as listed above. 20 The Tracker - Winter 2008
OPERATION BEAR BONES Adjudicated Document Corban M. DAVIS Snowflake Justice Court, Navajo County
17-331, R12-4-302A, CO 9; Take (shoot) big game (bear) with out a valid tag. Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $233.00.
17-309.A.14 â€“ Take bear by unlawful method. Disposition: Deferred prosecution. $400.00 fine paid to Wildlife Theft Prevention Fund.
17-309 A15, CO 9; Exceed bag limit (bear). Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement
Jefer D. FARR
Commission Action: 5 year revocation Hunt/Fish/Trap/Guide and $1,500.00 civil assessment.
Snowflake Justice Court, Navajo County
Bryan K. LEDBETTER
17-309A14, R12-4-308, CO # 9; Take (chase) wildlife (bear) by an unlawful method (use dogs during spring hunt. Disposition: Guilty, Fined $750.00.
Round Valley Justice Court, Apache County
17-309A11, CO #9; Take (chase) wildlife (bear) during a closed season. Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement.
17-309 A17, CO 9; Possess wildlife (bear) that was unlawfully taken Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $25.00.
Ryan R. WATSON
17-309 A1, R12-4-302 I; Failure to tag big game (bear) immediately after being killed. Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement.
Round Valley Justice Court, Apache County
Bradley J. SEARS
17-309A1, R12-4-302 I; Failure to tag Big Game (bear) immediately after being killed. Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement
Pinetop Justice Court, Navajo County
17-301A; Take (shoot) wildlife (bear) with artificial light Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement
17-331, CO # 9; Take (shoot) wildlife (bear) without a valid permit/tag Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $400.00. Commission Action: PENDING
17-331, R12-4-302A, CO 9; Take (shoot) big game (bear) without a valid tag. Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement
Phillip M. WILLIAMS
17-309.A15, CO 9; Exceed bag limit (bear). Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement
17-309 A.1, R12-4-308.B.4, CO 9; Failure to check out bear within 48 hours of the harvest. Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $100.00.
17-309 A14, CO 9; Take (shoot) wildlife (bear) with unlawful method (shoot with firearm in archery season). Disposition: Guilty Plea, Fined $863.00. 17-309 A17, CO 9; Possess wildlife (bear) that was unlawfully taken. Disposition: Guilty Plea, Fined $863.00. 13-2907.01; False Reporting to Law Enforcement Agency.Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement Commission Action: 5 year revocation Hunt/Fish/Trap/Guide and $1,500.00 civil assessment. Grover D. LEDBETTER Round Valley Justice Court, Apache County 17-301A; Take (shoot) wildlife (bear) with artificial light. Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement 17-309 A17, CO 9; Possess wildlife (bear) that was unlawfully taken. Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $25.00. 17-309 A1, R12-4-302 I; Failure to tag big game (bear) immediately after being killed. Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement
Pinetop Justice Court, Navajo County
Chad L. WILLIAMS Snowflake Justice Court, Navajo County 17-331, CO # 9: Take (chase) wildlife (bear) without a valid permit tag. Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $266.00. Plus $250.00 to Wildlife Theft Prevention Fund 17-309 A14, R12-4-304 A2.i, CO # 9: Take (chase) wildlife (bear) by unlawful method (use of dogs). Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $266.00. 17-309 A11, CO #9: Take (chase) wildlife (bear) during a closed season. Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $266.00. Round Valley Justice Court, Apache County 17-309A14, R12-4-303 B, CO # 9; Take (pursue) wildlife (bear) by unlawful method (bait). Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $233.00. 17-362: Guide without a valid license. Disposition: Guilty Plea. Fined $233.00. Plus $3,000.00 restitution to Arizona Game and Fish Department.
13-2907.01; False Reporting to Law Enforcement Agency. Disposition: Dismissed per plea agreement
Arizona Elk Society 21
ON target by John Toner
I met a gentleman at the San Antonio Sport Show. For the next three days, he came back to buy knives and to visit with me. His son said, “I’m James, and this is my dad who owns part of Kings Ranch in Texas.” I knew that there was an animal on the ranch called the blue bull or blue devil, also known as a nilgai (it’s in the antelope family). At a Safari Club show a few years back, I had seen a mounted nilgai and wondered what the strange-looking animal was. I told James that if he would let me come down and hunt one, I would make him some knives as payment. He was so nice and said not to worry about that. We set a date for us to hunt. I went to the ranch and we hunted in a different way than I had hunted before. There was a platform on the front of the suburban with swivel chairs and a gun rest. Each pasture we hunted was around 11,000 acres. I saw lots of hogs, a water buck and many whitetail buck and does. Every once in a while we would see one of these strange nilgais. You have to be real quick on the trigger. When they come up, they stop and look for 3-5 seconds and then take off running and do not stop. They run like a giraffe. They weigh up to 900 pounds. Mine weighed 432 pounds field dressed. The meat is the best-eating wild meat there is. They cannot jump – they go under fences like antelope by raising the fence wire. There was one thing about this hunt that was real funny. When we came in at night, James Jr. saw a mouse in the suburban. We set a trap and caught a mouse. We reset the trap and 30 minutes later, we caught another one. We reset the trap and 10 minutes later, we caught another one. So the next day we were teasing James Sr. that we would start the Boone and Crockett Mouse club, the Pope and Young Mouse Club and the Mouseketeers Club. James and I have become friends and I have invited him to come out to Arizona and to our banquet.
HELP PREVENT POACHING Antlers/Mounts Wanted The Arizona Game and Fish Department is accepting donations of big game mounts, antlers and other wildlife related decorative items. Each year the Department hosts a public auction to sell donated items and other assets obtain through law enforcement seizures, pickups and vehicle collisions. Fund raised support the Department’s Law Enforcement Program. Such funding enhances the Department’s ability to purchase field equipment and make training available to our officers, which helps them apprehend and convict wildlife violators.
I gave up the Thanksgiving turkey to go on this hunt, but it was an opportunity I did not want to miss. Good hunting, good fishing and may the good Lord take a liking to you.
Please contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Law Enforcement Branch for more details, (602) 942-3000. 22 The Tracker - Winter 2008
Somet imes it is bette this de r to be er on t lucky t he last much s han go d a y of my maller od. I to hunt a deer. M ok scored fter mis y deer 95 inch is sing a seven es. – John years o Krause ld and
as e days and I w ed hard for thre nt hu I . d m an p. d 30 My da out 3: on Sunday at ab y gu is e th ad g m ta d and able to e put him to be w , m hi d te ot r fo My dad sp d seven hours yards. We waite 0 19 ck to bu e ay w th r ou scored s bed! I rough hi of t ou t ge him to es. right at 80 inch ff ol W – Christian I got the first shot at 30 ya rds then my the first morn dad got his ing at 20 yard first archery s. Cody got o later and go animal on n the herd ag t his at 10 ya ain a few min rd s. It was a fu – Cody, Randy utes n day with fa Wolff, Christia mily and frie n Wolff nds.
The Tracker is a quarterly publication for the members of the Arizona Elk Society. Letters, comments, news items, articles, pictures and stories are welcome and will be considered for publication. You may mail or email any such items. Materials mailed for publication will not be returned to the sender unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Arizona Elk Society, P.O. Box 190, Peoria, AZ, 85380 firstname.lastname@example.org, 602-885-0835
ADVERTISING IN THE TRACKER Get your product information in front of thousands of Arizona outdoor enthusiasts and hunters by placing your full-color ad in The Tracker. Ad Rates for interior pages: Quarter page: $100; Half page: $175; Full page: $350 Ad rates for inside back or inside front cover: Full page: $500 Discounts for 1 year+ contracts. Accepted format is high resolution PDF. For more information, email email@example.com.
Arizona Elk Society 23
Much More Than Just A Hunt by Cory Worischeck continued from page 8
it went motionless again. We watched for another five minutes before
He was a great bull – a monster in my book – and I couldn’t have
deciding to move in. With myself leading the way, arrow knocked, we
been happier than to tag him. As I look back and reminisce on the
crept closer. At ten yards we had a clear view of the animal and knew
experience, I am more and more humbled by it. It just went so perfect
it was dead. We hollered and tossed a rock – no movement. Shaking
and there was not one bit I could have asked to have been different.
nearly uncontrollably, I went up to the bull, touched his eye with a
I can memorize every textbook and work 40 hours a week but
stick and let out the first above whispers of the day. “We got him!” I
I will never learn more than I do on hunting trips such as these.
announced. Ty and my father moved in and we stood in shock of the
It’s a primitive yet advanced chance to prove yourself as a tough,
animal. He was massive with 61 inch main beams. I still can see the look on my dad’s face – that look of flawless happiness has happened only once in my life.
disciplined individual in a way most can’t. I love everything about hunting and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. And, once (continued on next page)
Be sure to visit the AES booth #L1211C at the show! ®
Mark Your Calendar!
Arizona’s America’s Premier Hunting, Fishing & Travel Show 8th Annual ISE
Cardinals Stadium - Glendale University of Phoenix Stadium - Glendale
March 7-9, 2008
SportsExpos.com For Information on Exhibiting with ISE, Please Call 800-545-6100 • Fishing Tackle • Fly-fishing Gear • Shooting Sports & Accessories
• Boats & Motors • RVs, Campers, ATVs SUVs & 4x4s
24 The Tracker - Winter 2008
• Sporting Dogs • Decoys & Calls • Guides & Outfitters
• Lodges & Resorts • Camping Gear • Outdoor Apparel • Electronics
• Sports Optics • Wildlife Art • Books & Maps • Home Furnishings
thanks from a member My name is Tammy and I have lived in Arizona for 15 years. I have always been an avid hunter in my home state of New York. 2007 was my first year for elk hunting. I was lucky to have friends who are native to Arizona to hunt with me in Unit 7W. This was a tremendous learning experience for me. Elk are not like white tails in any way, shape or form. Their travel habits and feeding habits are much different and more challenging. Although I took the entire 10 days off for my November hunt, I came up with no elk, but a ton of knowledge for the upcoming years. This was a great experience for me and will forever remember that every day I was on the hunt I saw elk, but never brought one home. I was honored to have great friends showing me the ropes and assisting in my hunting efforts. I was lucky to have also been drawn for deer in the same area right after elk season. While hunting for deer, I also saw many elk. The thing I will never forget is how majestic the Big Bull Elk look and move in the forest. It was one of the most beautiful sights. I am very fortunate to live in a state who takes care of the wild game preserves and allows hunters continue to use the land to enjoy now and for future generations.
I can’t thank the Arizona Elk Society enough for the opportunity to enjoy my first elk hunt in Arizona.
again, my father proved to be right when he said I wouldnâ€™t ever
the moonlight are what make hunting so much of a lifestyle to me.
hunt elk with a rifle again. After that hunt I could not think of such a
I am a hunter for life, not because I take a particular liking to killing
thing. I would be missing that connection with the bull that comes
things as many outsiders conclude, but because of the memories
only from the close encounters and relationships you make with the
made with those whom are closest to me. For this reason and many
animal. There is something to be said about killing an animal of this
others, hunting is still so prevalent in the day of having unlimited
size with your own forces and not relying on the noisy combustion of
supplies of meat at any grocery store. It is the addiction, the rush, the
gunpowder to take it down.
anticipation that will continue to captivate me for years to come. My
The beauty of hunting is not in the killing but everything prior and aft. All the good times around the campfire and swapping stories in
first archery experience was the most powerful experience of my life and I owe it entirely to my father.
www.ArizonaBigGameSuperRaffle.com Arizona Elk Society 25
Habitat Partners of Arizona designated saved, the AES can then plan projects to restore and improve the habitat.
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).
HOW WILL MONEY BE USED? Conservation Easements: An agreement between landowners and a qualified conservation organization in which the owner of the land agrees to place restrictions on the type and amount of development that can take place on the property. Land Donations: A gift of land or real estate from a corporation or private landowner. Bargain Sale Purchase: The purchase of property with a portion of the price being discounted as a property donation.
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. 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
Complete the Habitat Program donation form on the AES website and mail to:
Monarch Partner $50,000 Imperial Partner $25,000
Possible Land Use Changes: By partnering with ranchers, landowners and government agencies the Habitat Partners of Arizona program will be able to maintain forage-rich grasslands, critical elk winter and summer ranges, migration corridors, calving grounds, natural water sources such as riparian areas and increase wildlife habitat. After the land has been
Walt and Cookie Nicoson Supporting Partner Level
Steve and Dee Clark Sponsor Partner Level
Ron and Sharon Eichelberger Sponsor Partner Level
26 The Tracker - Winter 2008
Royal Partner $10,000
Arizona Elk Society P.O.Box 190, Peoria, AZ 85380
Supporting Partner $5,000 Sponsor Partner $2,500 Spike Partner (17 & under) $1,000
AES Habitat Partners Sportsman’s Warehouse Sponsor Partner Level
Pacific West Representatives Sponsor Partner Level
Sponsor Partner Level
Sharon and John Stuckey Sponsor Partner Level
Royal Partner Level with goal of Imperial Partner Level
Arizona Elk Society P.O.Box 190, Peoria, AZ 85380
NON-PROFIT US POSTAGE PAID Phoenix, AZ Permit No. 5572
ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED
Saturday, March 22, 2008 at the Mesa Convention Center Downtown Mesa, Arizona Happy Hour 4:00 p.m. – Dinner 5:30 p.m. • Full evening of exciting auctions and raffles. • Auctioning of the Arizona Game & Fish Commissions’ Special ELK TAG and Special ANTELOPE TAG
n u n a l A h t 7 Banquet
Last year’s banquet sold out weeks prior to the early bird deadline so don’t delay. You don’t want to miss this special event. We’re looking forward to an evening of fun and fundraising for the Elk of Arizona. Our goal is to raise $500,000 so join in the fun and together we can make this goal a reality! Banquet and raffle ticket applications - AVAILABLE JANUARY No tickets will be available at the door! Questions? Contact Kathi Thompson, Ticket Chairman at 480-882-9477 or Sharon Eichelberger, Banquet Chairman 928-339-4203 More info at www.arizonaelksociety.org
Published on Jan 6, 2009
Winter 2008 Photo by George Andrejko CATALOG - Call 800.588.7512 for a FREE Catalog INTERNET - Visit cabelas.com RETAIL - Call 623.872.6700...