Learning About HAHWG in Arizona
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I’d really like to thank genuinely busy guy and old friend Doug Burt from the Arizona Game and Fish Department for taking some time to answer questions about HAHWG. This is the Hunter Angler Heritage Working Group – a collaborative effort of Game and Fish along with sportsmen’s groups, gun clubs and conservation organizations focused on recruitment and retention of new hunters, anglers, etc. ! DesertRat

1. It seems like HAHWG is purring along pretty nicely now, but it’s taken awhile to get here. Can you tell us about where you started versus where you are now?

Wow, that’s a big one Marshall. Funny, I’ve been using the boiling frog analogy a lot lately. HAHWG started internally around 2006, the partnership model kicked off in 2009 and I started my position related to HAHWG in 2011. And you’re right – we have come a very long way, thanks to our dedicated partners, when you look back at where we started. Back at the onset, the Department was hosting about 6-7 learn how to hunt events. Today, we have well over 40 events that are provided by an extensive network of partners and are collecting data from participants to help improve how we approach recruitment, retention and reactivation. Further, we are highly engaged at the national level and many of our sister state wildlife agencies know about “HAHWG.”

2. What’s next? Where do you want the program to be?

Well, there is still lots to do. Declines in hunting and fishing participation are a result of a generation (or more) of cultural shifts in our society from the “olden days.” However, with those changes are opportunities. Our focus right not is “retaining” customers and providing a good customer journey and experience. And in today’s society, you need direct contact to do that, and it needs to be done timely, mobile, and social. Right now Arizona Game and Fish does not have a Point of Sale system, or an all-in-one Customer Management System (CRM), which makes doing that very hard – especially, timely and consistently. That’s out of my control, so we take the steps we can to get us as close as possible. The other is having the “right customer” at the “right event” – and this might be even more important. Connecting with the right folks that haven’t hunted, but have an interest, giving them some information and then putting them on a path – much like a college degree program (concept / not formally) and moving them through the skill development to become an active hunter and wildlife conservationists – and being able to track and measure that! (easy, right ?!)

3. What have been some of the biggest challenges along the way?

At the start it was hosting infrequent meetings, stakeholder gatherings, and revisiting the same concerns, conversations, ideas, questions, each time – so we weren’t getting any movement. So we created a Steering Committee, which was one of the greatest things we did, developed an Action Plan, found some structure, and that got us all on the same page (right or wrong) and that has helped tremendously. Poor customer tracking is huge, and continues to be a challenge for us. Arizona is not alone in this, but the states that have it, are able to evaluate, improve and measure much better. Last is probably data collection, technology and constantly improving (changing) – I don’t think we’ve done anything twice. Each year we are adjusting, adding something new, tweaking and then reviewing with the HAHWG to get feedback. Hunter Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation are certainly one of the most challenging “problems” I’ve ever encountered.

4. Just how important is recruitment/retention to hunting and fishing in Arizona?

I think it’s huge. What most people, including hunters and anglers, don’t know, is wildlife management is not funded through any of the state’s general funds or tax revenues. Arizona Game and Fish, and the majority of all state wildlife agencies are funded by the sale of the products and services they offer: licenses, tags, permits, registration, range fees, etc. Along with federal excise tax funding on guns, ammo, hunting equipment, and likewise with angling and boating through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Act. Then there’s a handful of other sources that have restrictions, well they all have restrictions, like heritage (lottery), wildlife conservation (Indian gaming). All that means is we are like a business, and customers pay the bills, not taxes. As we have fewer customers, and great conservation needs, inflation – then we don’t have the money for critical conservation work of nearly 800 species in Arizona. Further, the bulk of our customer base is generationally – the baby boomers, who as we know are getting up there in age. As one of the largest populations there will be a dramatic decline of those still participating in 15, 20 25 years. So until there is a new means of funding conservation, we need to recruit and RETAIN the next generation of hunter / angler conservationists.

5. Talk about the Conservation Groups in Arizona and how they contribute to the Department’s efforts and HAHWG…

That’s simple – Arizona’s conservation organizations are the backbone to recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts in our state. I think that is what sets us apart from other states. I won’t start listing names, because I’m bound to miss one, but to say it is extensive is an understatement. They are invaluable, no doubt. There are more than 56 events taking place this season (2017-18). I think we are unmatched in the number of opportunities they provide to the people of Arizona interested in learning about hunting, fishing, shooting, wildlife, the outdoors and conservation. It’s an impressive network and an honor to be a part of it. I did a little bit of organizing, coordinating, funding and supporting – but for the most part, they are doing most of the hands on instruction and heavy lifting of sharing the great outdoors, wildlife and our heritage with the next generation of conservationists.

6. What have been some of your biggest victories/satisfactions?

If I had to pick one thing, it would be longevity and the fact that we have continually evolved, adapted and improved as a collective. You have to remember, HAHWG is not an official organization, entity or body – no one is required to do anything. It’s a volunteer gathering – so the fact that we have been at this for 8-9 years, is amazing. And we keep getting better and have begun to really use data and science to hone what we do, and why. It’s really cool. Some smaller milestones are: online event registration and management system (new 2016); Steering Committee (really helps keep us focused); 5 years of survey collection; focus group study of participants; amazing support from leadership – executive and Commission level.

You didn’t ask, but I’ll share some of our challenges to maybe get your readership from the sidelines to the front.

1. Mass exodus pending – the threat is real, in about 20 years, when the Baby Boomers age out, there is going to be a dramatic decline in participation rates. And I’ll paraphrase from a documentary, why that matters – participation is value, value of wildlife, nature, and traditions – what you don’t value, you won’t protect, what you don’t protect – you will lose. (Play Again Film, narrator)
2. As populations increase, and participation rates stagnate to decrease, the voice for wildlife and conservation diminishes.
3. AZ R3 (Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation)specifically:
a. we are still lacking good social awareness of what the HAHWG and Outdoor Skills Network is
b. we are still trying to find the “right” audience – we could do better finding those with no past hunting, but with the DNA and desire to do it as a lifestyle
c. AZGFD needs a point of sale system, so we can better connect with past participants and trail hunters (coming soon – fingers crossed)
d. we could use a good digital resource “a force” that provides all the information past participants could use, website, app, newsletter – NETWORK
e. mentors, mentors, mentors, mentors and mentors – there’s never enough.

DesertRat note: I got involved with HAHWG through my work with the Mule Deer Foundation but there are a ton of great conservation organizations in Arizona. Find one (or two!) and get involved! Thanks again Doug for your time, and all of your hard work with HAHWG.

Six Benefits of Teaching Children to Hunt
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Six Benefits of Teaching Children to Hunt

Austin, TX Based – Clinical Forensic Psychologist Dr. John Huber

Gun safety

Knowing how to safely shoot and handle firearms is an essential skill for people to learn. By teaching your children to hunt, you’ll be teaching them skills that will teach them to respect guns, not fear them.

Gaining confidence

Learning about wild game their patterns and habits (natural science), taking that knowledge applying it, adding shooting skills and patience, all the things that must come together to get that first buck. That amount of empowerment and accomplishment is not easily duplicated. Teaching life skills about preparation, hard work and determination.


Hunting teaches respect for laws as they gain knowledge about game and land management. Establishing a strong character to make a good citizen. I will never forget watching my 11-year old daughter watching a beautiful 14 point buck walk within 40 feet of her as she watched that buck through her night scope. Listening to her ask if she could take the shot then watching her just focus on that animal as it walked away. It was still before first light and I told her that she had to wait. She watched as it finally disappeared into the brush some 350 yards away, still too early to shoot. Teaching etiquette and sportsmanship can pay big dividends later in life.

Promoting a healthy life style

Getting outdoors, away from the internet, hiking through the woods in 20 degree weather with frost on the ground hours before daylight is not for the faint of heart. Experience that will teach our children they can overcome many obstacles in life. It definitely gives a reason to get off the couch if you know that in a few months you will be on the game trail.

Parent-Child Bonding

The bonding experience between a parent and their child as the take on a task that few in modern times will learn. The attachment and mutual respect that can only come from an experience such as hunting. Creating memories and traditions that will shared and explored for generations.

Teaching conservation hands on

Understanding the circle of life, how nature works without a text book. There is nothing like watching a fawn and its mother in an open field looking out for predators then watching that fawn grow year after year grow and develop eventually having offspring of its own.

About Dr. John Huber
Texas Based – Dr. John Huber (www.mainstreammentalhealth.org) is the Chairman for Mainstream Mental Health, a non-profit organization that brings lasting and positive change to the lives of individuals that suffer from mental health issues. A mental health professional for over twenty years, Dr. Huber is a Clinical Forensic Psychologist, and he is a practitioner with privileges at two long term acute care hospitals. In addition, Dr. John Huber is a professor and teaches undergraduate and graduate psychology at Texas State University.

Talking With The Man Behind HECS
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I’d really like to thank Mike Slinkard, the President of HECS Stealthscreen for taking the time to answer a bunch of my questions about HECS! ~DesertRat

1. I was pleased to see real scientific research backing up your product. Is one of your biggest challenges overcoming hunters who have been burned on fads, gadgets and “snake oil”?

In the beginning that was a huge problem. We had a solution to a problem most hunters never recognized they had. While all hunters have seen the effects of animals pickling up on their emitted EM fields not many realized what they were seeing. Like any truly new innovation we were seen by many as the next great gimmick back when we launched HECS. Fortunately we found a few thousand open minded hunters who gave HECS a try and saw the difference right away. It took a couple of years but now HECS is accepted as a valuable tool to help keep people more concealed from most types of animals. To this day we almost never have a customer who used HECS as directed who has given a negative report. In 2016 we sold well over 30,000 suits and had a total of 2 negative reports from customers in the field. Our ace in the hole has always been that the technology truly works and that knowledge was what kept us going in those early days.

2. What was the biggest challenge developing this product and getting it to market?

Once we asked ourselves the question of why animals act the way they do when they get in close even when all conditions are right, and further developed the (then) theory of electromagnetic fields being involved, the greatest challenge was determining the correct grid size and conductivity necessary to attenuate those specific wavelengths of energy. Fortunately we had meters that could measure the fields emitted by humans and some great experts to help us develop the original HECS technology that is the basis for our 5 issued US patents. Once we were able to effectively attenuate these fields we were then able to prove the concept and the rest as they say is history.

3. Will this technology continue to evolve or is it cut and dried?

HECS technology is constantly evolving as we learn more and more about how it effects the users in different environments and for different purposes. For instance once we developed HECS for land based use it became apparent that the technology would also be useful under water. The challenge was that our grid had to be more conductive than the medium around it to be effective. To overcome this we had to change the grid size and up the conductivity of the grid significantly but we were eventually able to get the same effect under water as we had seen topside. More recently we have begun providing HECS technology to US special forces and police departments who need added concealment when in harm’s way. We have begun development of specific fits and features on our tactical products to work best in these situations. There is just so many different purposes for HECS technology that I doubt we will reach them all anytime soon.

4. How will you diversify from here? Different patterns? Different products? Different markets?

We have already begun bringing HECS technology into several different markets. HECS hunting (HECS LLC) and HECS Aquatic LLC are both going strong and bringing the HECS advantage to hunters and divers all over the world. Recently we launched HECS Tactical LLC in response to demand from military operators who had tested and approved HECS technology as an advantage in that realm. We chose AARDVARK Tactical of Laverne California to be the exclusive distributor of HECS technology to military and police units across the country. Coming soon will be HECS wildlife LLC which we are very excited about. HECS wildlife will be headed up by well-known wildlife biologist Forrest Galante who is a well-respected scientist and also a familiar face on Animal planet, Nat Geo wild and discovery channel. HECS wildlife will be focused on anyone who wants to have closer, safer and more enjoyable interaction with wildlife. We think this may well be the biggest division of HECS over time. With every division we are striving to bring the best quality products with features that our customers will appreciate on top of the advantage HECS technology affords.

5. Your basic setup includes pants, shirt and headwear. Is effectiveness proportional to how completely you suit up in the HECS gear?

Yes the more you cover the more effective HECS is. This is especially true with birds like turkeys and waterfowl. Birds are proven to see electrical fields visually and as such it is these fields that birds can use to tell a living being (and movement from living beings) from inanimate objects and motions. With birds it is essential that everything is covered in HECS for good results. With animal species the smaller muscle regions like the hands and feet are somewhat less critical than with birds but still the more you cover the better the result. The thing to remember with animals is that with the exception of the heart (which produces large amounts of electrical energy proportionate to is size) the intensity if the field is directly proportionate to the size of the muscle being flexed. So shirt and pants are most important followed by head and neck and those smaller muscles like hands and feet being somewhat less critical (but still highly recommended).

6. What are you most proud of, regarding your product/company?

I am most proud of our team here at HECS. We have been blessed with a very capable and highly intelligent group of men and women who have faced the challenges of developing and introducing an innovative but relatively unknown product/concept to market in the face of initial skepticism. Our team has not only taken on these challenges with fervor and optimism , but has succeeded beyond my greatest expectations. We all knew we had something significant and a technology that could really help people to have better, safer, and more enjoyable interactions with animals birds and fish but it took a very special group of professionals to bring it to fruition.

7. If You had an opportunity to talk with my readers who had never heard of your product, what would you want them to know?

We realize many hunters have yet to be introduced to HECS technology and many are not aware the true effects that the EM energy output of our bodies can have in their success in the woods. I would urge them to go to our website at www.hecsllc.com and watch the videos and learn more about the difference HECS can make in their own adventures. In a nutshell HECS simply makes you appear more like an inanimate object and helps you get closer and stay close longer than ever before.

8. You’re a hunter – whats the dream hunt on your bucket list?

I have been extremely blessed to have been able to bowhunt all over the world and have taken some awesome trophies. I have hunted in the majority of US states as well as New Zealand, Africa 3 times Canada and Mexico. I guess the one big dram animals I haven’t yet hunted would be the big brown bears of Alaska. There is just something about those giants and the danger involved with bowhunting them that has always intrigued me. Someday I will scratch that one off the list.

I’d really like to thank Mike again for taking time out to answer a few questions. What a cool product! You can watch some videos about the technology, and some real encounters in the field here: HECS Videos.

Timber Mesa Queen Creek – A Great Shop To Take Your Bow
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I’m not a “hard core” bowhunter. I dabble. I have chased javelina around several seasons with a bow, but haven’t gotten one yet. Did the archery deer thing once or twice with identical results. That being said, I enjoy shooting bows and hope to someday have some success in the field. I recently received my new Xception bow from Xpedition Archery and needed to get it set up. I asked some questions in a local Facebook Group and Junior Jean from Timber Mesa Outdoors reached out to me right away and offered to help.

Timber Mesa already has shops in Show Low and Mesa, but they just opened a shop in Queen Creek; their new shop was only 5 or 10 minutes away from my house. After one false start (the bow was shipped with the wrong draw length set up and I needed to order a different module), I stopped by one night after work and watched as Junior worked his magic. I had a stabilizer, rest and sight that I needed to have installed. I also needed to add a D-loop and peep.

Timber Mesa is a full-service archery shop, complete with a shooting range. From their website: “We do one thing at Timber Mesa Outdoors and that’s Archery. We eat, sleep and breathe Archery. Timber Mesa has been in the archery business for over 23 years! Our staff all shoot and hunt with stick and string. The staff at Timber Mesa Outdoors is dedicated to helping you reach your archery dreams. Whether you’re chasing the buck of a lifetime or shooting for a spot on the podium, let the staff at Timber Mesa Outdoors help make those dreams come true!”

Junior is not only very technically capable when it comes to working on bows; it’s clear he is passionate about helping people get set up in archery. He detests poor customer service and shops that do sloppy work. From start to finish, Junior went through the work on my bow. He didn’t try to up-sell me on anything (I did buy a new sight) and he explained every single step. He was very thorough and detailed, but not so focused that he couldn’t chat while he was working.

He installed the new module and set my stops exactly to my draw length. He checked the draw weight. He installed the D-Loop, and then the rest. He installed my new sight and then paper-tuned my bow. It barely required an adjustment; I think even Junior was impressed! Then we went to the range and he helped me make sure the sight and rest were adjusted properly. He was insistent that I didn’t leave the shop with a half-done bow. He wanted it as set up as possible, by the time I left.

For all that work, the price Junior charged me was beyond reasonable. I am extremely happy with my bow and I think Junior thought that the Xpedition Xception was a pretty well-built bow. I can’t wait to hit the range and start slinging arrows!

Timber Mesa is a great place to buy your archery products, and they have online shopping as well.

Still deciding on what bow to buy? Check out their great Choose The Right Bow page.

As stated at the start, I don’t go into a lot of bow shops and the ones I have been into generally have left a bad taste in my mouth. That was not the case with Timber Mesa Outdoors. Their staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Not only will I continue to spend my archery dollars there, I would highly recommend that you do as well.

Interested in learning more? Follow them on Facebook.

I don’t know if all of TMO’s staff are as friendly and professional as Junior Jean, but it sure seems like they might be close. Seems like the kind of outfit that would want to make sure that kind of knowledge and friendliness was consistent throughout the organization.

Checking Out The Fishing Gift Box
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A big thanks to Diane McNamara from Fire It Up PR, for reaching out to me about the Fishing Gift Box! Press Release segment below:

Actor John Ratzenberger Launches FishingGiftBox.com

(Las Vegas, NV – May 26, 2017): Actor John Ratzenberger and entrepreneur David Polinsky continue to expand their online shopping portal The GiftBox.com with the addition of the Fishing Gift Box.

The Fishing Gift Box includes a monthly collection of the best lures, spinners, jigs, soft plastics and terminal tackle on the market, delivered anywhere in the continental United States. Both salt water and fresh water boxes are available with a recipe created by renowned chefs nationwide.

“I’ve been fishing my whole life and I’m still amazed at how advanced the tackle has become. I wanted to help my fellow fishing enthusiasts and take the guess work out of what to pack in your tackle box,” says Ratzenberger.

The subscription price for the Fishing Gift Box starts at $19.99 and lives on TheGiftBox.com platform. Based on a proprietary technology platform, TheGiftBox.com is unique to any other subscription box service by offering a choice of multiple categories all on one site. Subscribers have the flexibility to change, pause or cancel their membership at any time. There’s one monthly flat fee, no yearly upfront payments, every purchase ships free and earns rewards points towards free boxes.

So Dan was kind enough to have a fishing gift box sent to me and I must say it was pretty cool!

Some cool stuff in there!

So, they claim that the box is valued at around 50 bucks and I would say that’s pretty close. Some of you sticklers might price items out more advantageously but just looking it over and comparing to items off the shelf at a big box store, I’m OK with their declared value. If you choose the most expensive plan option, a one-time purchase, it costs you $29.99 and Im pretty sure you get that, at least.

It’s cool that they include a list and a description of each item.

The folks at The Fishing Gift Box claim on their website you will receive lures, soft plastics, jigs & spinners, terminal tackle (hooks and swivels, etc.) and recipes. That’s what I received so they delivered as advertised.

Honestly, I love the recipe card. I’m pretty good at catching fish, but woefully not creative when it comes to cooking fish. A recipe card is a pretty nice addition!

Overall, I’d say this is a pretty cool idea. It might make for a pretty neat gift too! Personally I think it would be fun to have a surprise every month but some folks might be concerned in receiving products they won’t use. It’s a great option to be able to choose freshwater or saltwater as well. For a 12-month plan it will cost you $19.99 per month. To go month-to-month it will cost you $25.99

This fishing gift box didn’t have any junk in it, it was fun to receive and open, and I think the price is fair. It gets the Desert Rat Seal of Approval!

Be sure to check out The Fishing Gift Box to learn more!