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Javelina fair is a great excuse to get outside

Game and Fish employee Sharlin Erickson discusses Arizona wildlife with a child at the 2012 Javelina Hunt and Outdoor Fair.

Courtesy<br> Game and Fish employee Sharlin Erickson discusses Arizona wildlife with a child at the 2012 Javelina Hunt and Outdoor Fair.

In less than a month, people from all over Arizona will converge on the Bagdad area for the Third Annual Javelina Hunt and Outdoor Fair, and you're welcome to be a part of it.

The event - put on by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Arizona Bowhunters Association and Outdoor Experience 4 All - takes place Feb. 22-24, the opening weekend of general javelina-hunting season.

The camp is free and open to the public, and javelina hunting, which requires a javelina tag, is only a portion of what the weekend offers.

"We'll have a number of presentations, archery will be available, and of course we'll be sitting around the campfire away from our computers and the pressures of everyday life," said Darren Tucker, the wildlife manager for Game and Fish. "The focus is to get folks outdoors. This is the ideal opportunity for parents to spend some great time with their children."

The weekend will be educational as well, with how-to demonstrations offered to campers that touch on wildlife viewing, predator calling, javelina natural history and hunting, glassing and the use of binoculars, wild game care and everyone's favorite: basic camping skills.

Tucker touched on the need for Arizona to recruit new hunters, but he doesn't want that push to take away from all the other activities in-store for people who show up.

"We understand (that) not everyone wants to hunt, but it is important to understand the critical role hunters play in modern wildlife management," Tucker said.

"Hunting and fishing dollars are the primary funding for wildlife management in Arizona with no burden on the taxpayer. I know there will be a focus on the 'hunt,' but this is really about getting outside and spending time with family and friends."

Volunteers to assist hunters under the age of 18 will be available, but their numbers are limited, so if this is something you or your child is interested in, you'll need to pre-register for the mentored hunting program.

The javelina hunt is not guided, so participants will be responsible for their own transportation to the hunting area. Also, you must bring your own camping equipment, hunting equipment and food, according to Game and Fish.

Youngsters ages 10 and up may participate in the javelina hunt, but there are some guidelines. Those between the ages of 10-13 must pass a Game and Fish hunter education class in addition to having a javelina tag. Though it's still recommended, teenagers 14 and older do not need to take the class, according to Game and Fish.

"This is a great opportunity for people to connect with nature," Tucker said. "It's an opportunity to slow down and enjoy what this state has to offer."