Nature Column: Lucky 13 experience the great outdoors at camp
The Mohave Sportsman Club, Mohave County's largest outdoor recreational club, recently held its first-ever junior's muzzleloader deer and small-game camp in the Hualapai Mountains.
The club applied for and received a grant from the Arizona Game and Fish Department to hold the camp for kids and their parents who wanted to learn more about hunting deer and small game in the unit which is located south and east of Kingman.
The camp headquarters was located on the Cane Springs Ranch.
Ranch owners Anita Waite and Sherwood Cohen own the 75,000-acre working cattle ranch, and they graciously offered to let MSC set up the camp on their ranch.
The kids and their parents were given food and drinks along with a bag of prizes which included a shooting vest and hat, plus various items ranging from hearing protectors, compasses and whistles, to safety glasses, and in some cases, binoculars.
Prizes for the kids were donated courtesy of the Mohave Arms Collectors Association, Bob Kay's State Farm Insurance Agency, Cactuflage and Bull Basin Archery.
Other prizes were donated by Colorado River Ford and Arizona Wildlife Outfitters for the volunteers and the parents of the kids who participated in the camp.
A total of 13 kids ages 8 through 17 participated in the event along with 25 adults. A number of local sportsmen and women also volunteered to help with the camp including Page McDonald, who did all the cooking.
Other local sportsmen and women who participated as volunteers included Mike Cobb, Bob Kay, Chris Wagner, Joe Herrero, Gary Martin and Tammy Bollinger.
The Region III office of Game and Fish sent two representatives who attended a Saturday night dinner to honor the ranch owners and the kids.
Erin Butler, the region's game specialist, spoke of big-game and small-game hunting opportunities in Mohave County and passed out maps to the kids and their parents.
Officer Lainie Antolik gave an overview of deer hunting and small-game hunting in Unit 16A. Antolik is the wildlife manager for the sprawling unit which covers a large portion of Mohave County.
During the two-weekend camp, a number of kids stopped in to show the deer they had taken.
There were 30 permits issued for the muzzleloader hunt, and it seemed that fewer than half of the kids bagged a buck, but everyone that came by camp seemed to enjoy the outdoor experience.
The largest buck brought in to camp was taken by 12-year-old Bodie Holowell from Rimrock. Holowell got a big 3-by-3 buck whose rack had an outside spread of 28-1/4 inches wide!
Alex Mourtsen from Flagstaff also bagged a mature buck. The buck had a heavy, tall rack that was 25-1/2 inches wide.
As part of the camp, the kids were given a safety briefing and advised that being safe while hunting should be their No. 1 priority. They were also advised on how to respect the lands and the animals they were pursuing, and the importance of being a lawful, ethical sportsman.
Waite told the kids and their parents that she and Cohen were pleased to host the camp. Waite has said many times she feels hunters are the rancher's friends. Waite noted that she feels sportsmen serve as their eyes and ears when they are in the field.
Waite told of her love of the ranch and how through good stewardship, they keep the lands healthy, not only for livestock, but for wildlife as well.
"When the range is in good condition, it can and does support more wildlife," she said.
It seemed that just about all of those who participated had a good time, whether a youngster or one of the adult volunteers.
Watching the smiles on the kids' faces as they told stories of their hunts was enough to warm everyone's hearts.
The kids are indeed the future of hunting in America.
Outdoor Writer Rich Grassi summed it up when he said, "Hunting and the hunting culture is clearly important and needs to be preserved. It's part of who we are; our history and our survival. We've structured it and civilized it; we keep records and limit our take."
I couldn't agree more.