G&F Commission will Set Fall Hunts on April 17

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The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is setting the 2004 big and small game hunts during its April 17 meeting that starts at 8 a.m. in the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge on19th Avenue just south of Thunderbird Road in Phoenix.

Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists say the deer outlook is more promising this year thanks to increased fawn reproduction and retention. “Statewide fawn-to-doe ratios improved over last year for both white-tailed and mule deer, but large scale population improvements over last year’s low level—which resulted from a record drought—have not occurred,” says Brian Wakeling, the department's big game supervisor.

Wakeling says it could take years of normal or above normal precipitation for the state’s deer population to recover. “Hopefully, we have turned the corner and deer populations will start to recover, but you never know. If drought lingers, the outlook could turn bleak again.“

Department biologists are recommending 36,325 hunt permit-tags for the general deer seasons, which is a 700-permit decline from last year. However, the Juniors-only deer seasons are recommended for 2,000 permits, which is a 1,050-permit increase from last year. Most of the recommended juniors-only increase is resulting from a 1,500-permit antlerless hunt in Game Management Unit 12A on the Kaibab Plateau.