Fellow sportsmen and parents:
Not many are aware that the Arizona Game & Fish Department is proposing to eliminate the youth muzzleloader hunt with the whopping 25 tags in Unit 16A, the Hualapai Mountains.
Here is some history about this hunt.
The hunt was started in 1999 at the bequest of local sportsmen who were muzzleloader enthusiasts who wanted to pass on this form of hunting to their kids.
But as time went on, the hunt became more popular with other sportsmen both in state and out of state as it was held over the Christmas vacation, a time when even those youth who were engaged in athletics would have the opportunity to hunt deer.
Then at the request of the Region 3 folks, they added a provision that those with a muzzleloader deer tag could also purchase a companion javelina tag!
Then some folks decided that this was a "trophy hunt" and the kids shouldn't be in the field at that time. That was and still is BULL! Sure there were a few larger bucks taken, but by far the majority were spikes, forkies and small three points.
Several attempts have been made before to eliminate this hunt. They FAILED because the sportsmen of the state got involved and contacted the Department and the Commissions and told them that since there was NO BIOLOGICAL REASON to eliminate the hunt (40-50% hunt success) that the hunt should stay as it was.
The Commissions responded to the public input and decided the hunt would stay.
That is until this year when the department is once again proposing in their hunt guidelines to eliminate this hunt!
There has been some who have wanted the Department and Commission to increase the youth tags from the current 5% of the tags to a higher percentage.
The Department is proposing under the new guidelines, which will be voted on in September, to increase the total number of tags from 5% to 8%! I applaud them for this effort, as it is true the youth are the future of outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing.
But does the Christmas break and the 25 associated tags need to be eliminated? Many around the state don't think so and I hope you are one of them. The school administrators like the idea of the kids not missing school, parents like it because its around the Christmas holiday when many are off work. It is a win-win for everyone EXCEPT maybe the AZGFD!
As an interesting sidebar to this issuer, I asked "If this hunt were to be eliminated, would the unit then be opened to over the counter archery tags and hunters?"
The answer was, "probably" which in government speak means "YES!"
Does the archery community really think that opening the archery deer hunt in the Hualapai Mountains in December at the expense of taking away the kids muzzleloader hunt is a good trade off? I sure hope that with over 44 units open across the state for December archery hunters, that they don't think so.
And don't forget, Unit 16A is OPEN for archers in January, AFTER the season for the 25 youth hunters is over!
I recently asked Amber Munig from the AZGFD how many comments the Department has received on this issue. She said 12.
Wow--that to me is amazing! If the Department and Commission doesn't get at least 100 comments about this issue, it WILL BE GONE not only for the next 5 years, but probably FOREVER!
You've got until August to make comments on this. All it takes is just 5 minutes to sit down at a computer and write a response to the Department's proposal.
PLEASE SEND YOUR COMMENTS TO: email@example.com
and let's keep the limited opportunities for our young hunters in place!
It is going to be up to YOU! If you don't let them know that you oppose this, then I guarantee you it will be gone!
I personally have no dog in this fight. My grand kids live out of state and don't put in for this hunt. But if you have kids or grand kids, that want to hunt with a muzzleloader,during the Christmas break, then do it for them!