Want to learn outdoors skills?

PHOENIX — Are you a beginner interested in learning more about hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoors activities, but don’t know where to start? Do you have a need to be directly connected with your food source and the experience?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, along with an extensive network of partnering organizations, offers dozens of events throughout the year to suit almost everyone’s needs through the Outdoor Skills Network. The events are organized based on skill level and interest: introductory, beginner, developing, intermediate and experienced.

You can find a schedule of upcoming events, see a description of the skill levels, and sign up for events online at www.azgfd.gov/outdoorskills. The online registration system is mobile-friendly.

“Keep in mind that the event types and descriptions are merely guidelines to help you choose what is best for you — they are not prerequisites,” said Doug Burt, the department’s hunting and shooting sports program manager. “In the end, we want attendees to have the right expectations and the right experience. That’s the key to keeping folks engaged in hunting and traditional outdoor recreation activities.”

There is no cost to Arizona taxpayers for this program. Game and Fish does not receive any of the state’s general tax funds and operates under a user-pay, public-benefit model. The program is an investment in the continuance of wildlife conservation efforts and outdoors recreation participation in Arizona.

Green light: Go fish!

AZGFD, ADEQ release “Green Light” list of fish, including all trout, Arizonans can eat without restrictions

PHOENIX – Arizona anglers have a ton of “Green Light” reasons to keep catching and cooking fresh fish.

For the first time, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) have launched an initiative to highlight a “green light” list of fish species from specific waters that may be consumed without limits.

The list includes all trout statewide. Arizona has a total of 220 waters that AZGFD manages for trout, making up approximately 40,000 surface acres of lakes and 1,000 miles of rivers or streams.

These “Green Light Fisheries” also include channel catfish supplied for the AZGFD Community Fishing Program.

See all the green light waters on the ADEQ interactive e-Map, including other waters and fish species classified as “Green Light Fisheries.”

During Child Passenger Safety Week, remember life jackets and helmets for kids

PHOENIX — In conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week, the Arizona Game and Fish Department would like to remind boaters and off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders of the importance of life jackets and helmets for kids.

State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board a boat or watercraft. And when it comes to OHVs, operators and passengers under 18 must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-safety rated helmet designed for motorized vehicle use.

“When you’re gearing up to take your kids out to enjoy Arizona’s outdoor recreation, ensure that everyone has the appropriate safety gear,” said Josh Hurst, off-highway vehicle law enforcement coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “A properly fitting helmet or life jacket is the most important piece of equipment that you and your children can wear when hitting OHV trails or going out on a boat.”

The best time to check the size and fit of safety gear is before you leave the house. Make sure that everyone in the family, especially children, has the necessary and appropriate safety equipment.

To ensure your child has a properly fitting helmet for riding on or operating an OHV, refer to the helmet manufacturer’s instructions and information. Good fit is essential for ensuring the best protection, and getting advised by a professional is helpful when determining the best option and fit for a child. For more information regarding general helmet information and frequently asked helmet questions, visit the Snell Memorial Foundation website at www.smf.org.

Before heading out to the lake, make sure that life jackets fit snug. Have a child lift his or her arms overhead while you lift up on the life jacket by the shoulder straps; if the jacket rides up above the ear lobes, it’s too big. If you get out to the lake and realize you’ve left a jacket at home, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has installed life jacket loaner stations near the boat ramps at lakes Pleasant, Havasu, Saguaro and Mohave.

Child Passenger Safety Week, which takes place Sept. 17-23, focuses on car safety, but it’s important to remember that safety comes first no matter the type of vehicle or watercraft. The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is promoting the week in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and information about events taking place in the state can be found online.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility offering discount on National Hunting and Fishing Day

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is inviting recreational shooters to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 23 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

Arizona hunters and anglers who show their valid hunting or fishing license will receive an $8 discount for unlimited shooting (rifle only) from noon to 5 p.m. at the benchrest range, where steel targets will be placed at intervals up to 300 yards.

Those who don’t have a valid hunting or fishing license still are invited to come out and participate at the regular price ($15). All skill levels are welcome. There will be range safety officers available to assist all shooters. As a reminder, eye and ear protection is required and can be purchased at the shooting sports center.

The shooting sports can provide a lifetime of enjoyment with family and friends. It’s a safe, fun activity enjoyed by an estimated 50 million Americans, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The world-class Ben Avery Shooting Facility, one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities, drew more than 225,000 recreational shooters in 2016. The facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Highway in north Phoenix.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, an annual celebration of hunters and anglers, features a unique twist in 2017. Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for this year’s event, is asking hunters and anglers to take someone new hunting or fishing, or to their local shooting range.

Those who pledge to introduce someone to the outdoors between now and Sept. 23 will be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package or an outdoors getaway that includes a two-night stay in a log cabin at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Mo., several outdoor excursions and experiences, and passes to Johnny Morris’ new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. For more information, visit www.nhfday.org, or call (417) 225-1162.

Each new hunter and angler helps to fund conservation. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) (PDF) funds are comprised of excise taxes collected on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment (including 11 percent on ammunition), the benefit of which comes right back to the states for habitat improvements, shooting ranges, boating access and more.

Child Dies After Boating Accident Near Navajo Canyon

NAVAJO CANYON, Arizona – National Park Service Dispatch at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area received a report on Sunday, September 17, 2017, at approximately 5:20 p.m., of an accident in which a six-month old boy received major head trauma. It was reported the accident happened when a houseboat was trying to dock on a beach in the area of Navajo Canyon, approximately 12 miles from Antelope Point Marina. Reports are that when the boat struck the beach an adult fell on the child. The vessel had 13 people on board, including several small children.

National Park Service Rangers were patrolling in the area at the time of the incident and responded immediately. While transporting the infant by boat to Antelope Point Marina, emergency first aid was provided, including rescue breaths and chest compressions. With the assistance of the Page Fire Department, the child was transported to the Page Hospital for further evaluation.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Page Hospital to conduct an investigation into the incident. The child was flown to the Salt Lake City Children’s Hospital. During the early morning hours of September 18, the child was pronounced dead. The family resides in Bluffdale, Utah.

This incident is under investigation by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, the National Park Service and the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.

Commission OKs hunt guidelines for fall 2018 through spring 2023

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission approved guidelines for fall 2018 through spring 2023 hunting seasons at its September meeting in Williams.

The hunt guidelines provide the biological and social parameters used by wildlife managers when developing the annual hunt recommendations (season structures, season lengths, season dates, permits allocated, etc.) These recommendations result in the hunts in which licensed hunters may participate.

Wildlife is held in the public trust; therefore, using science-based principles to shape the hunt guidelines remains paramount to ensure healthy, sustainable and diverse wildlife populations in perpetuity.

The approved hunt guidelines will not affect any current hunts. They will be used to develop hunt recommendations beginning with the fall 2018 seasons.

To view the hunt guidelines, or for more information about the hunt guidelines and hunt recommendations processes, visit https://www.azgfd.com/Hunting/Guidelines/.

Online applications for 2018 spring hunts now being accepted

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department now is accepting online applications for 2018 hunt permit-tags issued through the draw process for spring turkey, javelina, bison and bear.

To apply online, visit https://draw.azgfd.gov/ and scroll down to “Apply for a Draw.”

The deadline by which the department must receive all applications – online or paper – is 11:59 p.m. (Arizona time) Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Postmarks do not count.

Paper applications can be mailed to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Drawing Section, P.O. Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052, or dropped off at any regional office statewide.

The “2018 Spring Turkey, Javelina, Bison, Bear and Raptor Capture Hunt Draw Information” booklet is available online at www.azgfd.gov/draw. Printed booklets are available at department offices and license dealers statewide.

Applicants must possess a valid Arizona hunting license to apply online for a hunt permit-tag. That license must be valid on the last day of the application period (October 10, 2017). Licenses are valid for one year from date of purchase. Licenses are available online, as well as at all Game and Fish offices and license dealers statewide.

Meanwhile, the department encourages applicants to consider purchasing PointGuard when applying online for a hunt permit-tag. PointGuard ensures if a successful applicant is unable to participate in a hunt for any reason, the accumulated bonus points that were expended to draw that hunt permit-tag will be reinstated.

Applicants first must sign up for a free AZGFD portal account to purchase PointGuard (visit www.azgfd.gov, click on the “My Account” button in the upper right-hand corner of the home page, then select the “Create Account” option). PointGuard is $5 per species, per applicant, purchased at the time of completing the online application, or prior to the application period deadline.

For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw, or call (602) 942-3000. For more information about PointGuard, visit https://www.azgfd.com/hunting/pointguard.

Leftover permit-tags available for 2017 sandhill crane hunts

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is accepting applications for leftover hunt permit-tags for the 2017 sandhill crane season.

A list of the 29 leftover hunt permit-tags, including 22 for youth hunters, is available online at https://www.azgfd.com/Hunting/Regulations/. Applications are being accepted — by mail only – on a first-come, first-served basis – at the following address: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Draw/First Come, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086.

The hunt permit-tag fee is $43 for Arizona residents, $45 for non-residents (each successful applicant will receive three hunt permit-tags). A valid Arizona hunting license is needed to apply. If an applicant is not licensed at the time of application, he or she must purchase a license by completing the license form section and include payment with the application.

The “2017 Arizona Sandhill Crane Regulations” are posted online at https://www.azgfd.com/Hunting/Regulations/. For more information, call (602) 942-3000.

5 mule deer trophies recovered during search of Flagstaff resident’s home

Loren McReynolds poses with a nontypical mule deer that he is alleged to have killed within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park.

FLAGSTAFF — Following a multiyear investigation by the Arizona Game and Fish Department into the hunting activities of Loren McReynolds, several state and federal agencies served a search warrant at his Flagstaff residence.

During the search of McReynolds’ home, investigators recovered five mule deer trophies that law enforcement suspects were unlawfully taken, including notable, nontypical mule deer antlers alleged to be from a deer killed within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park. The trophy buck was believed to be a well-known resident deer that lived within the park and was very identifiable.

McReynolds has a previous history of alleged wildlife violations, and was arrested in January 2017 for weapons violations and for killing federally protected burros north of Williams, Arizona.

“We have been working on this case for several years and all of the hard work finally paid off with the service of this search warrant,” said Gene Elms, Law Enforcement Branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The department has received many complaints about McReynolds’ hunting activities over the years. Thanks to those individuals who came forward and the diligence of our investigators, we have the evidence to pursue criminal charges for McReynolds’ actions.”

If convicted, the violations carry possible jail time and court fines. In addition, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission has authority to seek civil restitution for the loss of wildlife to the state and suspend or revoke McReynolds’ hunting privileges.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages anyone with information about the illegal take of wildlife to call the Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 352-0700 or visit www.azgfd.com/ogt. The department pays cash rewards to individuals whose reports of wildlife crimes lead to an arrest. Callers can remain anonymous, and their confidentiality is protected. Money for rewards comes from donations, court fines and civil restitution by violators who commit wildlife crimes.

“If you witness suspicious hunting activity, call the Operation Game Thief hotline immediately,” Elms said. “A caller’s quick actions not only increase our chances of apprehending the violator, but they also help protect Arizona’s wildlife.”

Game and Fish Commission to meet Sept. 8 and 9 in Williams

PHOENIX — The next meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission will be at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel at 235 N. Grand Canyon Blvd. in Williams.

The public can attend the meeting or view it on a webcast at www.azgfd.gov/commissioncam. The meeting also can be watched on streaming video at any regional office statewide.

Those who wish to speak to the commission may submit “speaker cards” (blue cards) in person at the meeting or from any Game and Fish office. The ability to speak to the commission is not available for those viewing the webcast.

Items on Friday’s agenda include:

  • A renewal of a road closure on state trust land about 12 miles northeast of Benson.
  • Approval of a wildlife studies agreement between AZGFD and the city of Scottsdale for conservation projects within the McDowell Mountains.
  • A briefing on the status of state and federal legislation related to the department’s mission.
  • A briefing on development of a long-term, state-wide public awareness campaign.
  • An update on the department’s efforts toward accomplishing commission priorities.
  • An update on Williams-area sport fisheries, including economic impacts and recent habitat work.
  • An update on developments relating to resource management plans and actions on federal lands in Arizona.
  • Hearings on license revocations for violations of Game and Fish codes and civil assessments for the illegal taking and/or possession of wildlife (time certain at 10 a.m.).
  • An informational update on the department’s Hunter Education program.
  • An informational update on the department’s Shooting Sports program’s projects and activities.
  • Approval of a Notice of Expedited Rulemaking amending Article 6 (addressing rules of practice before the commission) and Article 11 (addressing aquatic invasive species) rules.
  • An endangered species update on the evacuation of Gila trout from Ash and Frye creeks during two large wildfires.
  • Amendment of Commission Order 40 to temporarily close Frye Creek Gila trout fishery to allow evaluation and restoration of the population.
  • Consideration of a petition to close .3 miles of road on state trust land near Congress.
  • Consideration of a memorandum of understanding with the state of Nevada on hunting and fishing license reciprocity.
  • Consideration of a memorandum of understanding with the National Forest Foundation on conservation and education programs.
  • Approval of a plan with the Mexican government for the importation/exportation of Sonoran pronghorn with Sonora, Mexico to improve the genetic variability over the next two years to support recovery goals.
  • Approval of proposed hunt guidelines for fall 2018 through spring 2023.
  • Presentation of the 2017 Annual Commission Award nominees and selection by the commission of the award recipients.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, the commission may attend a fishing trip and tour of the historic 1800s Hat Ranch.

To view a copy of the full meeting agenda, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission and click on the “commission agenda” link.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is a five-member, policy-setting board that oversees the Arizona Game and Fish Department. For more information about the commission, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission.