I believe that a young person going through Arizona Hunter Education before they start their outdoor career is an important step first.
The two-weekend class allows the volunteer staff of instructors an opportunity to teach young and old alike how to become safe, responsible and ethical hunters.
The students who persevere and graduate receive a certificate from the state of Arizona, plus they receive a permanent bonus point that in many cases will help them draw big game tags in the future.
I'm proud to say that I've been an instructor for this program for over 20 years. I see and hear from many of our graduates from past classes, and it makes me proud to know they are still practicing the things that they were taught, and are enjoying the experiences of being an outdoorsman or woman.
One thing I've always stressed to the classes is that there is no reward for bad behavior or for poor performance. But I've also said that I do reward exceptional performance or behavior and I do that this way.
I donate an overnight fishing trip out of South Cove on Lake Mead to the top honor graduate and a parent of each class, plus a trip is given to a student and parent who qualify for the good student award. Those who are eligible for that award must have shown good behavior during the entire class, and must have completed their workbooks and assignments on time.
Which brings me to this week's story.
In the summer class of 2014 there was a young lady who got more votes for top honor graduate than I think we've ever had. Here name is Maya Kaufman, and she is the daughter of Larry and Dawn Kaufman of Kingman.
In class, Maya was just awesome and she deservedly won the top honor graduate designation.
Last Friday, our schedules matched, and a trip was set.
Also going on the trip were veteran hunter education instructor Jay Chan and Striper Hunters intern Laura Borden, who also has assisted in some past hunter education classes.
Other than some potential monsoon action, it looked we were going to have a perfect trip.
And it turned out exactly like we wanted it to.
Action was slow in the beginning, but picked up as the night wore on.
And Maya, who is now 10 years old and attends Manzanita, showed us that she is not only one bright young lady, but she is also adept at catching fish!
Before she decided to "take a rest" at about 4 a.m., she put 10 channel cat and stripers into the cooler.
It was funny to hear her comment on how she was "getting a lot of bites, but just not catching them."
She was very positive and upbeat during the night, and she kept us all laughing with her stories and comments on the fishing.
And Larry showed us that he wasn't a slouch when it came to catching fish. He put his fair share into the cooler.
We even got into a little top water action at daylight down by Sandy Point and when it all ended, we had coolers full of fish.
When we got back to Martin's El Campo de Pescado in Meadview, we counted and sorted out our catch. We found that we had caught 130 fish, 125 stripers, and five channel cats. Our largest striper weighed 2 pounds, 4 ounces, while our largest catfish weighed 2 pounds, 12 ounces.
Our best 10 stripers weighed 17 pounds, 10 ounces, while our best 40 stripers pushed the scales to 58 pounds, 4 ounces.
To show you how smart Maya is, even when it came to judging fish, I asked her after she had looked over our catch if she thought our best 40 stripers would go 60 pounds,
"Nope," she said, and she was right.
It was a great trip and we all enjoyed the company of Larry and Maya.
For all the young readers and their parents out there, here is an invitation. When your son or daughter takes Arizona hunter education with the Kingman team of instructors, tell them to do their best and maybe they will get to go on an overnight fishing trip on Lake Mead.