Learn Outdoor Skills; Connect with Arizona's Nature; Outsmart a Wild Turkey

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Experience nature, through the sights and sounds of wild turkeys
Learn outdoor skills; connect with nature; outsmart a wild turkey

Are your kids obsessed with the many television shows about survival and the outdoors? Now they can experience it in real life, in a safe environment at one of three Arizona Game and Fish Department hands-on, outdoor skills, and mentored turkey-hunting camps on April 20-22.

These events are specifically designed to teach youngsters and their families with little to no experience about wildlife, nature, hunting, harvesting wildlife, and other traditional outdoor skills.

“This is the time of year when Arizona’s wild turkey is trying to attract a mate by gobbling out loud, and strutting around with its tail feathers fanned out,” said Craig McMullen, chief of wildlife recreation with Game and Fish. “They are very responsive to calling devices that mimic a female turkey, and offer an up-close experience with nature that words can hardly explain.”

Participants will also get a chance to meet the First Lady of Hunting Brenda Valentine who is making a special visit to each of the camps and will go afield to assist a new hunter. Valentine is a national champion archer, world-class hunter, conservationist, host of the National Wild Turkey Federation's Turkey Call television show, author and speaker. She has spent a lifetime promoting hunting.

The camps are free to young hunters and their families and offer a fun-filled weekend of adventure in the great outdoors. The camps are staffed by experienced hunters, conservation organizations, Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists offering visitors education, fun and food. For details, event flyers and to register, visit www.azgfd.gov/outdoorskills.

Event details, locations and requirements

The three camps take place in the ponderosa forests in the high country offering a great camp out and a chance to explore new places in Arizona, including:

  • Happy Jack Juniors-only Turkey Camp: Located northwest of Payson at Happy Jack V Bar V Ranch, contact Tim Denny at dennysden@msn.com, or (928) 301-0853.
  • Colcord Ridge Juniors-only Turkey Camp: Located east of Payson at Colcord Ridge Campground, contact Rich Williams at rich@saselectric.com, or (602) 881-6815.
  • Post Wallow Fire Turkey Sciences Field Workshop: Located northwest of Greer, at Sheep Corral off FR117, contact Scott Pike at scott@youthoutdoorsunlimited.com, or 480-620-9763.

The hunting portion of the camps is open to kids ages 14-17. Kids 10-13 may only hunt if they have already successfully passed an Arizona certified hunter education course. Parents and guardians are required to join the kids on the hunt, but the season is not open to adults to shoot a turkey during these events.

A youth hunting license and junior’s only turkey non-permit tag are required to hunt. Both are available at all seven Game and Fish offices, as well as more than 300 license dealers statewide. For those not interested in hunting, there are plenty of other wildlife and outdoor-related activities to enjoy in the great outdoors at each camp.

These camps are made possible thanks to the many participating conservation organizations dedicated to passing on the passion for Arizona’s wildlife and the hunting tradition to the next generation.

The organizations include the Arizona Bow Hunters Association, Arizona Chapter – National Wild Turkey Federation, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation, Cabelas, Local Sportsmen’s Group Grant Program, Mingus Mountain Longbeards – National Wild Turkey Federation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Outdoor Experience 4 All, Phoenix Varmint Callers, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Valley Longbeards Chapter – National Wild Turkey Federation, Southern Arizona Chapter – National Wild Turkey Federation, Xtreme Predator Callers, and Youth Outdoors Unlimited.

Without their dedication, time, money, and resources these camps would not be possible.

Arizona is home to three subspecies of wild turkey: the Merriam’s (the most abundant), the Gould’s (found mostly in the southern reaches of the state), and the Rio Grande (recently translocated to the far northwest region of the state on the Arizona Strip). For additional information about wild turkeys, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/game_turkey.shtml.