AZGFD reports only minimal input on youth deer proposal

Rink Gordon and his daughter, Talyn, are all smiles after she bagged this buck on a juniors muzzleloader hunt in Unit 16A. Under a Game & Fish proposal, this hunt would be eliminated.

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Rink Gordon and his daughter, Talyn, are all smiles after she bagged this buck on a juniors muzzleloader hunt in Unit 16A. Under a Game & Fish proposal, this hunt would be eliminated.

Time is running out for sportsmen to send in comments on the Arizona Game & Fish Department’s proposal to eliminate the youth muzzleloader deer hunt in Unit 16A.

Sportsmen have until August 2 to send in their comments on the various changes the department is proposing that will guide the way it will manage wildlife in Arizona for the next five years.

One of the most controversial, at least for local sportsmen, is the recommendation that the AZGFD drop the Unit 16A youth muzzleloader deer hunt that has been going on for many years.

I wrote about this proposal once before and was surprised to hear from Amber Munig at AZGFD that only 12 emails were received in opposition to this proposed change.

Munig said they have received two comments in support of the change, as long as it doesn’t decrease the overall youth opportunities.

Munig further advised that several comments were received asking for more youth opportunities, and the department is responding to that request by asking that 8 percent of the deer tags – rather than the current 5 percent – be given to youth.

“The department is not reducing youth opportunities with the proposed change,” she said. “The proposal actually increases youth opportunity, just not in December when every hunter would like to hunt.”

That is an interesting comment, especially the part about “just not in December when every hunter would like to hunt.”

Seems to me that there are unlimited over-the-counter archery deer tags available for the December time frame all over Arizona.

I learned that Terry Herndon, the regional director of one of the state’s two largest mule deer organizations, the Mule Deer Foundation, did send an email opposing the change. Munig noted that she didn’t know if the email was on behalf of the MDF or if it was Herndon’s personal opinion.

As of this time, there has been no email received from the Arizona Deer Association either in support or against the proposal.

What came as a huge surprise was that nothing has been received from the largest outdoor group in Mohave County, the Mohave Sportsman Club.

With over 1,600 claimed members, most of them sportsmen from Mohave County, it would make sense that the club’s president Ron Hooper and/or its board of directors would be involved in this matter.

If you are a member of MSC and would like for them to respond to this issue, you can contact the club at Suggest2MSC@gmail.com or by emailing Hooper at rchooper@frontiernet.net

I have left several messages for Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius regarding this issue, but have not heard back from her or any of the other supervisors regarding if they are going to formally respond to this issue.

The bottom line though is that it is going to take you, the average Arizona sportsman and parent, to send in your comments, or I’ll assure you this hunt will go away next month.

If the commission – which will make the final decision on this matter at its September meeting – doesn’t hear a loud and strong voice of opposition on this proposal, then you’ll just have to be OK with your kids not having that December time frame when they are out of school for Christmas break to hunt deer and/or javelina in Unit 16A.

I applaud the department for proposing more youth tags. That’s the right thing to do.

But the reasoning for doing away with the long standing youth muzzleloader hunt, with its 25 associated tags, is not based on science or biology at all, and for that reason, I am in opposition to the proposed change.

And don’t forget to comment on the proposal on how and where trail cameras are going to be allowed. That should also be of importance to you.

Send in your comments now to azhuntguidelines@azgfd.gov.

It is your children’s future hunting opportunity we are talking about.