Kudos to the Boquillas Ranch and their juniors hunting programs
It is no secret that in the past I have been a vocal critic of some of the fees charged and ranch rules that have been implemented by the Cholla Land and Cattle Company, which leases the 750,000 acre Boquillas Ranch that is owned by the Navajo Nation.
While I still have issues with a number of the Draconian ranch rules, I think it is also important to recognize and give them a public “pat on the back” in recognition on how they deal with the young hunters who participate in juniors only javelina, deer and elk hunts on the ranch.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department sets the number of tags that are issued in the unit to young men and women 10-17 years old. Those tags allow those young hunters and their family members and friends to come onto the ranch to hunt.
The ranch charges just $1 for the kids to get access. The family, friends and others are not charged a fee to be out there mentoring the kids.
What that does is for two weeks each fall the kids are out there without any adult hunters to compete with. That gives the family, friends and mentors the time needed to teach the young sportsmen hunting skills including how to glass, stalk and practice proper shot placement.
It is a win-win situation for the ranch, kids and AZGFD. For the ranch it is a great public relations program. For the kids, it gives them a lot of opportunity and for the AZGFD it helps in the recruitment and retention of young sportsmen, something that the department is trying very hard to do.
The only hiccup this year was AZGFD scheduled the last weekend of the kids’ antlerless elk hunt to overlap with the start of the 725 permit general antlerless elk hunt. That meant that juniors who did not fill their tag, or couldn’t hunt on the opening weekend, had a lot of competition in the field on the second weekend. To say it was just a little crowded in many places in the unit was an understatement.
Erin Butler, AZGFD Region 3 Terrestrial Wildlife Program manager, said the department is aware of the overlap. “We are aware of this overlap; it only occurred last year and this year due to not knowing the fall break before we did the elk recommendations two years ago. It should overlap the youth deer hunt and will be shifted back to a week earlier when we do recommendations this fall.” Problem solved.
On behalf of young hunters and their families and friends, a hearty “thank you” is due the Cholla Land & Cattle Company for their junior’s access program.
To comment on this program contact ranch wildlife manager Lee Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.