Game and Fish Proposes Big Game Hunt Structure Changes
The Arizona Game and Fish Department will unveil a host of possible hunt structure changes during the Game and Fish Commission meeting on Friday, Dec. 9 in Casa Grande at the Francisco Grande Resort at 26000 W. Gila Bend Highway. The public session begins at 9 a.m.
During its December meeting each year, the commission considers and approves hunt guidelines, which are then taken before the public in January and February through a round of public meetings across the state. The resulting guidelines are ultimately used by wildlife managers when putting together individual hunt recommendations brought before the commission in April for final approval.
Three of the new proposals include:
* Splitting the big game draw in 2007, with the elk and antelope portion of the drawing occurring in March for fall hunts, and the ones for deer, turkey and bighorn sheep taking place during the typical time period in June.
* Creating a fall javelina season, starting in 2006.
* Shifting archery elk tags from the rut to a later fall season.
Game Chief Leonard Ordway says the intent of the split big game draws for the fall hunts is to provide the public with a greater lead-time for planning hunts. The split would also allow applicants to know if they have been drawn for elk or antelope prior to applying for deer and some of the other tags.
"We really see this as a way to make the draw process as user friendly as possible, while still allowing our biologists sufficient time and opportunity to make quality hunt-package recommendations," Ordway says.
The fall javelina hunt proposal also signals a shift from the norm. "Given the history of leftover tags from southeastern Arizona hunt areas, this fall season structure allows us to more effectively issue tags during a draw, while also providing hunters more opportunities for multi-species hunts," Ordway says.
The proposed fall archery javelina season is designed to coincide with the first 10 days of the September archery deer season. The handgun, archery and muzzleloader season is proposed to coincide with the first 10 days of the small game season. And the general fall season would coincide with the 10-day general deer season in a particular hunt area.
"Like most people, hunters have multiple demands on their time and economic resources. Being able to go hunting for multiple species at one time allows hunters to maximize both their time and financial commitments, while hopefully increasing the quality of their experiences," Ordway says.
Other possible changes are in the wind for this year. "We really want to make sure the season structures are as consistent as possible, which will account for some of the proposed changes this year. But we are also looking at creative ways to increase hunter participation. A good example is the white-tailed deer hunts," Ordway says.
This year, the department is proposing to have fewer white-tailed deer tags available during the December rut, which has pretty good hunter success, and shift the hunting pressure to earlier in the season, when hunting success is less. "That allows us to offer more tags to achieve the same harvest, therefore putting more hunters in the field. Yet those who do get drawn for the December hunts should have expanded opportunities for quality hunts," Ordway says.
Another way of increasing the amount of hunters that can go into the field is by shifting archery elk tags to later in the fall when the animals are not in the rut. The shift will mean archery hunt success will be lower, which translates into having more archery elk tags available as a way to obtain harvest objectives.
To view the agenda for the entire commission meeting, visit azgfd.gov.