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10:26 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

Game and Fish proposes a number of changes for hunters and trappers

Sportsmen, better mark your calendars for May 4.

That is the date the Arizona Game and Fish Commission will be meeting here in Kingman to discuss a number of proposed rule changes that, if adopted, may affect the way you hunt or trap in Arizona.

The meeting will start at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to last until 5 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors meeting room at 700 W. Beale St.

These rules that are proposed to be amended are within Article 3, “Taking and Handling of Wildlife” that have been developed as part of the Department’s “Five-year Review Report.”

The list of the amendments is long and the entire document (about 70 pages) can be downloaded at https://www.azgfd.com/agency/rulemaking.

The general public will have until April 15 to make written comments about the proposed rulemaking. Your comments can be sent via email at rulemaking@azgfd.gov or sent to the person from the AZGFD who is leading up this project, Jay Cook, who is the Regional Supervisor for Region 6, at jcook@azgfd.gov. If after reading the document, you have questions or need clarification of any of the rules, you can contact Cook at 480- 324-3540.

There are 24 articles, parts or sections of affected rules that are covered by this proposed action. Three will deal with the repeal of the section or parts of the rule while one is a new section.

This, in my opinion, is such an important issue that for the next few weeks I am going to attempt to list and discuss some of these proposed amendments that I think will be of most interest to the readers. That being said, I encourage you to look at all of the proposed amendments and comment on them as you see fit.

R-12-4-216 Crossbow Permit

The Commission proposes to amend the rule to allow a crossbow permit holder to use a pre-charged pneumatic weapon, as defines under R-12-4-301, using bolts or arrows for the take of wildlife.

R12-4-301 Definitions

The Commission proposes to amend the definition of “aircraft” to address the use of drones.

Trail Cameras

This one is bound to cause a lot of discussion. Here is the Commission’s explanation for the change:

“The Commission recognized the need to evaluate regulatory measures pertaining to the use of trail cameras, as they relate to the ‘take of wildlife’ and the Fair Chase hunting ethics; and directed the Department to evaluate current rule language and make recommendations to prohibit the use of trail cameras capable of sending a wireless remote signal to another electronic device. As a result of amendments made to R-12-4-303 (Unlawful devices, methods and ammunition), the Commission proposes to define ‘developed water sources’ and ‘live-action trail camera.’”

I will be discussing this issue in more detail.

Use of laser devices or computers to aid hunting

Here is the rationale for the Commission proposal to define the definition of a “smart device.”

The Department noted, “Smart devices are becoming more and more prevalent in the firearm and hunting industry. These devices are equipped with a target-tracking system or an electronically controlled or electronically-assisted, or a computer linked trigger or release. The Commission is aware of devices that use lasers and computers to easily hit a target up to 500 yards away.”

It seems the Commission feels that these devices do violate the spirit of Fair Chase and thus are going to define them in such a manner as to make them illegal.

Rifle and bow scopes have a laser rangefinder built in some of them. The Commission does not believe that scopes with this technology violates Fair Chase. And here is why.

“The Commission does not believe these types of hunting scopes compromise the spirit of fair chase because the hunter still must possess the necessary hunting skills or competency in order to take an animal.”

R-12-4-303 Unlawful Devices, Methods and Ammunition: Full jacketed ammunition

If you own any type of modern sporting rifle then you’ve probably bought ammunition at a local gun shop or at a big box store that is loaded with a 55 grain or 62 grain full metal jacket bullets. Some of it may have been surplus government ammo or ammo manufactured by a foreign country. The bottom line it is much cheaper than ammunition that is commercially loaded with soft point of hollow point bullets. Some have called the cheaper ammo plinking, fur taker or target shooting ammunition

The problem is that some manufacturers list this ammo as suitable for hunting. These bullets do not expand and there is a current rule that prohibits the use of full jacketed ammunition that is “designed for military use when hunting.”

The Commission, in an attempt to clarify the use of this type of ammunition for hunting, is proposing to change the language to read, “That any ammunition that does not expand on impact shall not be used for the taking of wildlife.”

Chasing or harassing waterfowl with a watercraft, ARS 17-301

“The Commission is aware of instances where a person will use a watercraft to chase or harass waterfowl in an effort to force the waterfowl to take flight so they may be hunted by another person. The Commission proposes to amend the rule to clarify federally prohibited activities to ensure consistent interpretation of ARS 17-301 as it applies to migratory birds and prevents persons from inadvertently violating federal regulations applicable to migratory bird hunting.”

Discharging of firearms and bows and arrows within a quarter mile of an occupied dwelling

Currently under Arizona Revised Statute 17-309(A) (4) it is unlawful to discharge a firearm while taking wildlife within one-fourth of a mile of an occupied farmhouse or other residence, cabin, lodge, or building without the permission of the owner or resident.

Under R-12-4-303(A) (3)(h) it is unlawful to discharge a pneumatic weapon .30 caliber or larger while taking wildlife within one-fourth of a mile of an occupied farmhouse, or other residence, cabin, lodge, or building without permission of the owner or resident.

Notice that nothing in these rules or law discussed the discharge of an arrow. In the past archery hunters, especially in urban areas like Game Management Unit 11B, were able to hunt elk and deer close to dwellings, unless they were posted.

Now that may all change.

“The Commission propose to amend the rule to prohibit the discharge of hybrid device, arrow or bolt while taking wildlife within one-fourth mile of an occupied farmhouse or other residence, cabin, lodge or building without permission of the owner or resident, to increase consistency between statute and rules.”

There are many more rules that are being proposed for change, and again I urge you to look them up, read them and then comment.

The rules listed today are in no particular order of importance and I’ll share more in the next few weeks.