Meeting set up to accept input on hunting in 2014

DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner

DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner

There will be a public meeting tonight where people can offer input on the 2014 hunting season for deer, bighorn sheep, turkey, fall javelina, buffalo, bear, mountain lion and small game animals.

The meeting will take place from 6-8 p.m. in the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Region III office, 5325 N. Stockton Hill Road.

"The meetings are a great way for sportsmen and other members of the public to stay informed and provide input on hunt recommendations," said Amber Munig, the department's big game management supervisor. "We will be discussing the direction for the recommendations based on survey data, harvest rates and the hunt guidelines."

Permit numbers will not be part of the discussion, she added, but "we will generally discuss where permit numbers might be headed."

I know I've got a lot of questions, and I'll bet many of you do, too.

Even though this meeting is going to deal the fall javelina tags, I'm hoping that the Region III staff will provide information on my request to see if the harvest of javelina in Unit 18B from the spring handgun-archery-muzzleloader and general hunts in 2013 has changed since the implementation of the two-pigs-per-year rule.

And what about making Unit 18B a stand-alone archery pig unit? That unit gets pounded by archery pig hunters every January. Unit 18B is included in a multi-unit package that contains six game management units.

And since there have been leftover tags available after the draws, those who pick up additional archery tags most likely hunt the closest unit, so there is another reason why this unit should be standalone with no more than 200 to 300 permits.

I also would like to see if the region would consider making Unit 18B a quality deer management area.

This unit has a lot of potential, but with the two 325-permit hunts and a 76-permit juniors-only hunt, the department would need to make some modification in the tag numbers.

How about keeping the juniors' number the same, but decrease the two general hunts by 75 permits each, and adding a 25-permit December hunt?

Another point is that in the past two years, either 17A or 17AB have been Region III's quality deer management units.

In 2012, the region offered 25 tags and hunters could hunt in either 17A or 17B. They had a 50 percent hunt success. In 2013, there were only 15 tags in Unit 17A. I wonder why the cut in tags, and why delete Unit 17B from the hunt package?

Another point that the department should address is Unit 16A for deer.

In 2012, there were 550 tags with a miserable 15 percent hunt success. That is way below hunt guidelines.

So what happened in 2013? They offered the same number of tags! I don't know what the hunt success was last year. I hope they give us that information, but local hunters I spoke to were not very happy with that hunt.

The juniors-only muzzleloader deer hunt in 16A showed that 65 percent of the kids got a buck. However, there were just 25 tags, and I'll bet most of those deer taken were spikes or forkies, which is fine.

But at that time of the year, hunters should be seeing mature bucks. The hunters I spoke to said they saw very few mature bucks, which meant the smaller, immature bucks were probably doing a lot of the breeding.

In the past, I have been critical of the department's deer survey in this unit, and how small the sample base is when determining permit numbers.

I think these concerns are real and the department should be thinking about doing something that I know one local hunter proposed a long time ago: Cut the tags!

If you have concerns about the fall recommendations, or want to ask questions of the Region III personnel, then you ought to be there.