Trail Camera Ban Put to Vote In Arizona

On Friday December 4th the Arizona Game and Fish Commission Voted 5-0 to ban trail camera use in Arizona. This sets a dangerous precedent moving forward for all outdoorsman across the country. Though this is not the first time that this issue has came up in Arizona, in the last year this came to a vote but failed to move forward with the motion. This motion had a strong backing from the Arizona Cattle growers. Now one of the commissioners for Arizona Game and Fish commission, is on the board for the Arizona Cattle Growers.

When this bill failed to pass 3 years ago it became a personal mission for Commissioner Davis to get this through.

The Arizona Game and Fish commission has not let the public know why using trail cameras are bad for wildlife. Or what the reason is behind the vote leading to an outright band.

Benefits Of Trail Camera Usage

1. Safety

With early season hunts here in Arizona it can be up to 125 degrees + in the desert. The ban of trail cameras will put the lives of hunters and first responders in great jeopardy. By being exposed to the extreme heat more often.

2.Expense

Hunting is already expensive and becoming more and more a rich mans sport. Not being able to use trail cameras will cost more in gas and lodging fees to scout an area continuously especially for long drives. Or you will have to pay for guide services especially in high prize draw areas such as the Kaibab were monster deer grow but you are essentially in the middle of no where and 4 hours away from the closes town.

3.Discovery

Arizona Game and Fish department owes the discovery of the jaguar and other endangered and near extinct species in southern Arizona to hunters with trail cameras. Trail cameras have caught these elusive animals many times in the past.

Trail cameras do not change animal patterns or behavior. They are nearly invisible to the animals.

The Arizona Game and fish commission also had the option to put a ban on trail cameras during a certain period of time (July 1st- Jan 31st). This did not pass they chose to go straight to the outright ban.

Instagram user gamecamaz stated

“In my 100’s of 1000’s of pictures captured on my trail cameras, I have yet to see or harvest any of those animals on my hunts.” ” I have been an avid Trail camera user for the past 4 years and love to share my experiences with others, including my kids.”

With this dangerous precedent being set this is the first attack on hunter across America in a pro hunting state. This opens the door too many anti hunting laws that could be passed by the administrations that are suppose to be in place to help hunters and anglers alike.

Starting January 1st There will be a Public hearing Period Lasting for 30 days.

What You Can Do To Help

1.Sign the Change.Org Petition by clicking HERE

2. Email the Game and Fish Commission (SEE TABLE BELOW)

3. Reach out to groups like Sportsman Alliance asking for help

4. Make your voice heard

5. Order the shirts below. All proceeds will go to helping defeat this bill.

NAMEEmail Address
Eric S. Sparksesparks@azgfd.gov
Kurt R. Davis kdavis@azgfd.gov
Leland S. “Bill” Brakelbrake@azgfd.gov
James E. Gaughnourjgaughnour@azgfd.gov
Todd G Geiler Tgeiler@azgfd.gov

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Chasing The Grey Ghost

The back side of the hills that were in front of camp

When you get outside of Tucson on I-19 you enter an area that is right out of a western movie. The Sonoran Desert and all it has to offer starts to surround you. The Santa Rita mountains start to rise up in the distance, and you wonder what you are getting into. Steep ravines, and “hills” that are nearly vertical rise up from the desert floor to form sky islands through out the terrain the vast expanses of cacti, ocotillos, and palo verdes shape the landscape all around you. You are about 20 miles from the boarder of Mexico and you never know what you might see or find while you are out hunting.

Hunters from all around head down to southern Arizona to chase the elusive gray ghost or Couse deer. These deers are about the size of a great dane maybe weighing up to 100 pounds. The thrill of the hunt for these animals is something that every back country hunter should try to do at least once in there life. You hike for miles on hills that seem to never end breaking through brush and trees that poke or stick you. Once you get to the top and catch your breath it is time to finally get in position and start to look for the what you came down to find the elusive grey ghost. You pull your tripod and binoculars out and start scanning the vast desert terrain looking under every tree and bush for a critter that blends right into it all.

The Day Before Opening Day

As we turned off I-19 we made our way down towards the dirt road that would lead us to camp. The true desolation and remoteness of where we were at started to set in. As we continued to drive the desert started to surround us through the twist and turns the road began to narrow and the hills began to grow around us as we finally arrived at our camping spot and the true remoteness set in. As we set up camp I looked around and took in the view we were surrounded by steep slopes and high terrain. On one side over the hill were the Santa Ritas. I was wondering what did I get my self into this isn’t even my hunt I was down there to help a friend and to experience my first couse hunt in true couse territory. It was a lot different then the couse hunts I have done up in the northern parts of Arizona in unit 22. As we got our camp set up dug the pit for the fire were we would make some amazing dinners and dug out the hole for the toilet it was getting closer and closer to start hiking the beasts of the hills that surrounded us. Once we got set up we got our tripods and set our binoculars up we started to glass the surrounding hills. Not realizing how truly small these animals were in the vast terrain, Ray (one other hunters in our group) shouted out “got some does” as I scanned the hills looking where he told us were to spot them, I could not see any thing then Joe said ” I see them now and I think there is a spike with them.” Still frustrated I looked into Joe’s bino’s and set eyes on these deer. We could not tell for sure if it was spike or not so we came up with a game plan to go up and get closer and scout the farther draws and back sides of the desert islands. So the hiking began as we traversed up the side of the first hill pushing through thick brush getting poked and hung up on everything we walked by half way up we jumped 2 does watching these animals easily travel through the thicket and make there way up and over the hill with ease was amazing. Once we got to the first hump on the hill we set up again to glass the hills in hope to find the spike and hopefully some bigger bucks. We glassed for about 2 hours looking under every tree and bush and once again Ray and Joe were spotting them with ease and I on the other hand could not spot these animals to save my life. We spotted up a bunch of does and the same spike. We moved farther up the mountain and continued to glass for more deer for the next day. We glassed up a few does and a nice buck. The sun started to set behind the mountains and we started to work our way back to camp. By the time we got to camp we were drenched in sweat, legs throbbing from the near vertical hikes. As the Sun disappeared behind the Santa-Rita’s we ate dinner the true tranquility of the hunt sat in. We sat around the fire telling hunting stories and just having a great time at deer camp knowing tomorrow the hunt began.

The Hunt Begins

As the Alarms rang out at 4:30 am we fired up the stove heated up the coffee and it was time to go. We headed out to a spot where Joe and Ray scouted earlier in the year that had promise of holding some nice size bucks. As we traveled farther back on the dirt road we got to the spot and started the hike back in to some steep and deep country. With our headlamps and the moon lighting the path we started hiking along the side of steep draw balancing our way we got in a spot to hunker down out of the wind and to start glassing the ravines across and the lower openings below hoping to find sight of the grey ghost finishing up their morning grazing. We scoured underneath every tree and bush and only spotted a few does. Around 10:30 am we started to head back down to get back to camp, and come up with a new game plan. Once we got to camp we glassed the hills again and this time spotted a fork we decided it was time to go back up that intense incline and the hunt was on. We started working our way up the hill taking a different route this time to try to get around the deer and stay with the wind. On the way up we found what appeared to be the begging of an old mine and an old gold pan. We continued up and spooked some does and a fawn up. We got back up to a new glassing spot which allowed us to see directly across on to the hill where we spotted the fork. We glassed the hills for about 2 hours and did not see the fork thinking it might have gone onto the back side we decided to pack up and start heading around the mountain. As we started to hike we spotted an ammo cash stashed under a bush (only could guess who placed that there). As we worked our way around the hill we spotted the fork! As Joe worked his way into shooting position after whacking our way around the hill he got with in 200 yards he lined up and pulled the trigger… He missed we watched the fork go up and over to the back side of the hill and the hunt was back on. We started to work our way all the way to the top of which was a near vertical climb the loose gravel made it near impossible to climb. We got to the back side of the hill (the picture at the start of the article) finally and started to scan the valley below and the draws far off in the distance. We spotted the buck again way off as we watched it graze its way along the side of draws we were at a tough decision with only a little over an hour left of light we had to decide if we would attempt to get into position for a long shot or do we head back down and hope that it is still around tomorrow. Deciding not to pressure it any more and chase it farther out of the area we decided to head back down and call it a day after 7.5 miles of hiking. As we got to camp our legs pulsing harder then the day before. We cooked up some brats on the fire and called it a night not knowing what tomorrow had in store.

Bull snake found on the trail

The day of the strong wind day 3

As the alarms rang again at 4:30 am something was different this day the wind was blowing hard shaking the tents and making it very cold. As we brewed the coffee we huddled around the stove to warm up as we got ready. We decided to go back where we went the previous morning hoping that the steep ravines would act as a shield from the wind. We were wrong as we started to hike back up the ravine the wind was blowing in every which direction not working in our favor. We decided to start glassing mid way up the ridge this time trying to glass something up that is hunkering down low out of the wind. As we started glassing we noticed in the field below people way out were walking towards the valley. Feeling that they would push the deer away we decided to keep climbing up the ravine. On the hike up higher the wind was still blowing and it was cold so cold that we found a bull snake frozen with a full belly from the night before. We worked or way up and got back in position to continue glassing down and higher up on the draws. As we were glassing towards the top we noticed another hunter above us and we decided to move on with all the pressure that was in the area. We drove deeper into the rugged desert looking for prime glassing areas. About another 10 miles into the drive we spotted a location that looked to be promising. It was as we started to glass the hill sides we glassed up 2 big bucks about 400 yards away and the hunt was back on. As Joe and Ray started the stalk I sat back and watched the deer as the meandered along the side of the hill, then suddenly they took off there were two hunters that were walking up the valley below that scared them off as they were being as loud as a rock concert in the desert. When Joe and Ray returned back to where I was at we decided to go back to camp to get some lunch and come back in a few hours hoping that the deer would return. As we got back to camp we ate some lunch and started glassing the hills by camp just to see if any deer where close by and worth trying to go after. Long behold there was on the first hill right by camp there was the fork again and a doe Joe and I hopped out of camp and started to go toward where we saw the buck and doe. As we got about 300 yards from camp we spotted the doe not more then 100 yards from us just barely out side of some thick brush as we sat and watched the doe patiently knowing the buck was near the buck appeared from behind a yucca were it was laying and joe lined up for the shot! Taking his time and and waiting for the perfect time the buck started to turn broad side Joe took the shot and the deer fell. After about 15 miles of hiking and some cold mornings Joe finally had his buck and the hunt was over. Joe Field dressed the buck and we hiked back to camp. We got to camp knowing we were eating good tonight. We fried up the deer heart for a little snack then made some awesome elk fajitas and enjoyed the night and the end of a successful hunt!

Driving back home thinking of all the challenges that the hunt had and how hard it was to spot and get to these magnificent animals I understood why they are called the grey ghost and I was addicted to hunting them and can not wait to get drawn and go back down and continue the pursuit for them.

Proposed Hunting Changes In Arizona

Brief Overview

Every 5 years in the Arizona game and fish department starts to reevaluate the overall health of wildlife in the state and makes adjustments to hunting quotas and season dates. This Practice is common through out all different states when it comes to wildlife management. These proposed changes coming up for the state of Arizona impact mainly Deer, Bison, and Bighorn Sheep Hunting in the state. These changes if passed would go in effect in 2023.

Time line of the Arizona Game and Fish review process

The Arizona Game and Fish Department follows a multi-tiered process for setting hunting season structures, hunting season dates, hunt permit allocations, and other controlling elements for regulating hunting of game animals.

AZGFD Website

In this Article we are going to break down the changes to the species and the impact that is being proposed.

Deer

herd of deer on bush

The Arizona Game and Fish have proposed a drastic cut in deer tags both for Mule Deer and Couse deer. Currently they have proposed cutting 2,690 deer tags across the state in rifle alone. With the biggest impact comming in unit 33 were throughout all seasons they are proposing cuts of 850 tags with the October hunts taking the biggest hit of 500 being cut between the 2 hunts. finally

Unit 2 ABC, and 27 will be proposed to move from an OTC hunt to a draw only hunt

Arizona has always been one of the top spots for hunting out west when it comes to Mule Deer and Couse deer with a bow. Simply because you can come in to the state purchase and over the counter tag in most units. Which provides you the opportunity to hunt during the rut.

Arizona only allocates 20% of the total harvest to OTC tags. Most of these units that are closing are due to the OTC hunts being drastically over the 20% take margin.

As I have said in the past on DandD Outdoors it was only a matter of time until the Game and Fish department would start to either shut the rut hunts or require them to go to a draw. With this proposal there are a total of 22 different hunts to be shut down with the majority of them being during the December-January OTC hunting dates. With the addition of only 2 new dates added. What is interesting about these proposed changes is that they are moving in some of the southern Units to Couse deer only hunts these units are predominantly heavy in Couse deer and is where the majority of the Couse deer hunting takes place in the state.

Arizona Hunt Unit 33

Bison

brown bison

The changes in Bison are not nearly as drastic as deer. With the need for heard reduction being called for by the National Park Service there is no surprise that there is an increase for Bison hunting. The proposal would call for a total of 12 tags added and only eliminating one hunt which was December 11th-13th with this being such a late hunt it is no surprise to see this canceled, as some years this hunt has been impossible due to weather conditions. The only down side to the shut down of this hunt it does appear now that there will not be any Bull Bison tags available in the fall/winter hunts.

Adding these additional changes is great with the population booming and this already being such a tough hunt to get drawn for it will be nice to add additional hunts.It will still more than likely take you 10+ years to draw a Bison tag in Arizona but hopefully the number of permits issued will continue to grow over the years to come.

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Big Horn Sheep

black and brown ram animal

There will be some interesting to say the least proposed changes when it comes to Big Horn Sheep. Traditionally Unit 6A and Unit 22 North Where a combined hunt. With the proposed changes now they will be separate. As a result 6 A will be gaining its own hunt with 3 tags available. While 22 will have a desert hunt taking place in the Southern portion of the unit. Then an additional 2 tags will be added to the Northern unit for known as the “Rocky Mountain Hunt Area.” ( See Below For the Boundaries) It will be interesting to see how the numbers vary for these units now that 6A and 22 North are not combined to see which unit will be more desired.

Desert Hunt Area in Unit 22 South – That portion of Unit 22 located south of the following: Beginning at the confluence of the Salt River and Verde River, north along the Verde River to AZ Hwy 87; northeasterly along AZ Hwy 87 to AZ Hwy 188; southeasterly along AZ Hwy 188 to the Salt River; westerly along the Salt River to the confluence with the Verde River; sovereign tribal lands of the Salt River-Pima and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nations are excluded from this hunt area

“Rocky Mountain Hunt Area in Northern Unit 22 -That portion of Unit 22 located north of the following: Beginning at the confluence of the Verde River and AZ Hwy 87, northeasterly along AZ Hwy 87 to Rye Creek; southeasterly along Rye Creek to Tonto Creek (the Unit 22 boundary); sovereign tribal lands of the Salt River-Pima, Fort McDowell Yavapai, and Tonto Apache Nations within this boundary are
excluded from this hunt area.”

Conclusion

With the proposed Changes that are on the table it will have an overall impact on hunting in Arizona. Where as there are some positive and negative change. You will have to take into consideration some factors that go into these decisions. Firstly between weak monsoon seasons and wildfires burning more rapidly and in larger acreage than usual in areas. As a result this causes strain on the wildlife and takes them longer to rebound in an area.

Arizona has became a destination for over the counter hunting in the west because of all the options that it provides, especially during the rut with no draw. This was not a sustainable model to increase the deer population in some units since they where being hunted 5 to 6 months out of the year.

Outside of the deer some of the more coveted tags such as Bison and Big Horn Sheep have either stayed the same or grown in tags which will allow more opportunities for hunters. With the division of 22 North and 6 A though there are no net changes in tags it will give hunters the opportunity to hone in on the unit they are more conformable in and may traditionally hunt in.

Overall these changes are something that is needed in Arizona being in the middle of a bad drought and battling larger wildfires. It may not be a popular opinion but for right now I believe these changes will do good for our deer population. I do hope that this is not a constant decrease and the next time they go back and look at tag adjustments and they will start to increase them in some units again.

Time Line

The public Comment period is open and you can reach out to the Arizona Game and Fish by emailing them at AZHuntGuidelines@azgfd.gov

To see all the proposed changes head on over the the AZGFD website by clicking Here.

We would love to hear you thoughts on the purposed changes. Submit Your feedback on the form below.

Treezyn Camo Leafy Suit Review

In February of 2021 Treezyn Camo came out with their newest product the Leafy Suit. This suit comes in 3 options (S,M,L)(L,XL)(2xl,3XL). You can buy this product on their website for $129.00 the link will be the bottom of this article.

Overview

Treezyn’s Leafy Suit is very light weight and perfect for spring turkey hunts or early season deer hunts when it is still warm out. The plus side is this product for having the multiple option sizes in one.Which makes this very room and will leave you with plenty of room underneath if you would like to add layers to stay warm and wear it in the winter months.

Key Features

  • Elastic Cuffs & Waist
  • Draw Stings on Pant Waist
  • Zippered Front Pockets
  • Mesh Face Zips In/Out
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Review

Price Comparison– In the middle

Leafy Suits have a wide range on the cheaper end you can purchase one online for around 29.00 but they can go up to 200$. Some suits are 100$ for the jacket and 100$ for the bottoms and that does not include the face covering.

PROS

  • Built in face covering
  • Multiple sizes in one suit that leaves you to be able to layer up
  • Breathability the suits light weight and design make it very breathable for those warm humid days.
  • Zip away face covering and hood
  • Realistic Look
  • Comfort, this is easily the most comfortable piece of hunting clothing that I own.
Face covering Ease To Zip Away

CONS

  • There are only 2 pockets on the top portion so if you just wear the pants you will not have any pockets. The pockets are also pretty big so if you store your turkey calls or other gear it will bounce around while you walk to your spot. I wish they added other pockets on the pants and smaller one to store gear more compactly.
  • – Price the leafy suit is in the middle when it comes to prices of suits. (But remember cheaper does not always mean better)

Overall Conclusion

The Treezyn Camo Leafy suit is a must have for this springs company turkey season and an overall great product. Its lightweight and realistic look is amazing the leaves pop off the suit and blend in and sway with a breeze mimicking real leaves and greenery. You are going to blend right in to your surroundings and will not have to worry about that spring gobbler spotting you. If you are in the market for a suit that will not fall apart but also will not break the bank this is the right product for you.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR TREEZYN LEAFY SUIT

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Riton Optics X5 Primal 10×42 Review

The 10X42 Are the only binoculars that Riton currently sells. At a retail price of 599.99, which is right in the middle of what you can get similar HD binoculars (they range any where from 499.99-799.99).

Whats In The Box

When you open the box you can expect to find

  1. Riton 10×42 Binoculars (DUHH)
  2. One Cleaning Cloth
  3. One Binocular Strap
  4. Front and rear lens Caps

About Riton Optics

Riton Optics is made right here in the United States in Tucson Arizona. Keeping to the the core of American values Riton that is what the company is based on. If you product ever breaks send it back to Riton with a life time warranty they will replace your product with no questions asked.

Pro’s

  • Riton HD Glass
  • Riton Lifetime Warranty
  • Clarity being able to spot your game with ease
  • Better than most HD 10×42 Bino’s
  • Will not fog up in the rain or snow

CONS

  • PRICE
  • Weight
  • Only Size Of Binoculars Riton currently Produces

Conclusion

Over all the Binoculars are great quality but they come at a price that can be beat by some competitors at at 599.99 but they are right in the middle when it comes to the overall price of HD binoculars. They are a little heavy if you are counting how much weight you are packing in while hunting, but if you use a binocular harness such as Marsupial Gear the weight should not affect you neck but I would not just use the neck strap. The American made aspect is a huge plus for me and the Riton lifetime warranty is hard to beat.

After using other 10×42 Binoculars the Riton’s have the clearest quality and make spotting your game animal with ease and will be the only 10X42 Bino’s I will use in the field. Hopefully some day Riton will come out with a larger power Binocular or a spotting scope!

If you would like to purchase a pair of these Binoculars follow the link below!

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How To Stay Busy During COVID-19

With business closing through out the country, employers asking employees to work from home and social distancing being encouraged. You can be stuck at home not knowing what to do. Being around the house all day can get boring, eventually and you will run out of shows to rewatch and things to do. Try some of these tips out that can keep you active and also get you ready for fishing or hunting season.

1.Practice your cast

Get your fishing pole out and set up targets at different distances and angles. If you have buckets use those. Try to hit the target with your cast. Make it a game, make each target worth points and see how many points you can get in 10 casts.

2 Practice your game calling

Pull out your calls and start practicing and tuning up your calls. It might drive your family and neighbors a little crazy but have some fun with it!

3 Start training your eyes to judging distance

Guess how far an object is from you. Use a range finder to confirm the distance.

5 Clean and organize

Go through your hunting bag’s and tackle box’s clean them out and organize them. Make of list of everything you have and what you need to get. Clean and oil your guns.

6.Go for a hike or walk

After being cooped up all day in the house some fresh air will do you good!

7. Go fishing

You can still go fishing right now unless you are in total lock down.

8 Scout

It is never to early but go out and learn a new area. There might be some places you have always wanted to scout but never had the time too now is your chance. You never know you might find a new honey hole!

9 Do some E-scouting

Get on OnX if you have it or Google earth and go through the areas you hunt and try to find a new water hole or a new ridge you can explore.

10 Learn A New Skill

Now that you have time on your hands it is the perfect time to watch some videos or research a new hunting or fishing skill you have been wanting to learn.

What Could 230 K get you

On Saturday the Arizona governors tag for Mule Deer sold for 230 Thousand Dollars at the Arizona Deer Association anual banquet ( yes you read that right). Now it is for a great cause the money goes back into preserving deer and wildlife for future generations.

But It got me thinking what could 230k get you?

You could buy

130,500 rounds of 30-06 ammo

62,500 4 for 4 at wendys

About 19 Polaris Rangers

62,656 Big Macs

3 Ranger Z 521c bass boats

1 Ferrari 488

45,000 SouthWestern Outdoorsman Stickers

Welcome To the SouthWestern Outdoorsman

From Hunting and fishing to everything in between, Exploring the south west and what it has to offer to the sportsman.

To sum up, one does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted. If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job.

– Jose Ortega y Gasset