Decline to Sign – The Arizona Fight to End Lion and Bobcat Hunting
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Sun Tzu said “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Arizona hunters are facing a challenge and I am concerned that we (the collective “we”) don’t know the enemy, and maybe even worse – we don’t know ourselves. If you haven’t heard, there is a movement afoot to ban the hunting of lions and bobcats in Arizona. The group that is spearheading the initiative is called Arizonans for Wildlife, and they are backed (or at least allied with) the Humane Society of the United States – a lobbying group bent on eradicating all hunting, fishing, rodeos, etc. You can learn more about HSUS here:

There are lots of hunters on social media downplaying or ignoring this effort. There are lots who mock the efforts of these anti-hunters. They make fun of the messengers and not the message. They are complacent or worse – full of bravado, scoffing at the effort. The problem is, they don’t put themselves into the mind of the “average, non-hunting voter”. Many of the petitioners are using erroneous information or flat-out lies to get their petitions signed. They are counting on emotion and embellishment to garnish signatures. They are mobilized and are seemingly all over the state trying to get folks to sign their petition. Frankly, they appear to be better funded and better organized than we are. Make no mistake – if this gets on the ballot, I think lion and bobcat hunting are done in Arizona.

I have lots of non-hunting friends. Most of them are intelligent, reasonably well-educated and generally speaking, responsible citizens. They don’t hunt, they don’t know much about it, but they don’t really care that I hunt. So imagine one of those folks – soccer moms, engineers, teachers- is walking into a store and is confronted with posters of mangled lions and bloody bobcats. They plead with you to sign the petition to end “trophy hunting” in Arizona. Of course they will. Why would they not sign? If the same issue ends up on the ballot, same result. We are not “fighting the anti’s” as some think – rather, our campaign should be to educate the 60 or 70% or so of the public that doesn’t hunt, but isn’t necessarily anti-hunting.

I’m not yelling that the sky is falling. We have no way to gauge their success so far. That being said, I think there is at least a reasonable chance that we will fail, and this will go on the ballot. Too many of us are buffoons – “Killin is what we do. I ain’t gonna hide it by saying harvest”. “Let them ban it – I’m gonna hunt anyway”. Too many of us are convinced the way we do it is the right way, but we don’t like rangefinders/compound bows/long range rifles/hunting with hounds/trapping/crossbows/whatever. New hunters asking newbie questions on Social Media are mocked and ostracized. Do you think for a minute when someone is considering joining PETA that they are told unceremoniously to “figure it out for themselves” when they ask questions? Do you think animal rights’ groups struggle at fundraising and rallying volunteers? Recruiting comes easy to animal rights’ groups. For lots of hunters, recruitment is largely unimportant.

We need to get our collective act together. The way we win this battle is to be well-organized, well-funded and UNITED. We need to present well to the public; both face-to-face and on social media. We need to educate the non-hunting public with facts about the issues. We need to publicize our massive (and unmatched by any anti-hunting groups) efforts aimed at habitat improvement and preservation. We need to educate the non-hunting public on the North American Conservation model and just how well our state manages wildlife – both game and non-game species. That is how we win this battle. And the next one. And all of the battles coming after that. These groups are committed to end hunting. Then fishing. Then rodeos. Bluster doesn’t win this. Organization does. Unity does. Reason and science do.

Talk to your non-hunting friends about this movement. Don’t preach or cajole – tell our success stories. We have lots.

Remind them that in California, where lion hunting was banned, lion and human/pet encounters have shot upwards and taxpayers are now paying to have lions killed when they threaten communities.

Per this great article in the Arizona Daily Sun, “the annual harvest of mountain lions in Arizona is 250 with a stable population of 2,700. Considering a male mountain lion home range is 100 square miles and they don’t tolerate other male lions in their home range and the available habitat for mountain lions in Arizona is 75,240 square miles, we have one mountain lion for every 28 square miles. Ban lion hunting and more mountain lions will have to kill other mountain lions just to survive.”

Science. Not emotion, not rhetoric. Educate, don’t berate.

Check out this great article at the Arizona Elk Society: Decline to Sign

On Facebook, visit: Arizonans for Wildlife Accuracy or Arizonans for Wildlife Uncensored

Also on Facebook, visit Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation

Another great resource is the website Support Wildlife Conservation

Photo credit:


Here are some facts:

Arizona voters deserve to know the truth about this issue and the following are FACTS:

*There is NO SUCH THING AS TROPHY hunting of mountain lions in our state, so no hunting ban is needed to stop it.

*Jaguars, ocelots and Canadian lynx (the latter of which doesn’t exist here) are already federally protected so no hunting ban is needed to protect them.

*Data from our wildlife agency shows healthy populations of mountain lions and bobcats given their sustainable habitat. Their numbers are not and never will be in danger due to managed hunting. A ban on hunting is not needed to protect their numbers.

*Habitat loss due to increased human population and activity is the primary reason for population decreases of many species in recent history. A hunting ban does nothing to solve the problem of habitat loss and can potentially do harm when unmanaged populations exceed available habitat. Our state wildlife agency is trained to react to changes in habitat and has successfully managed over 800+ species through these changes for nearly 100 years.

*Arizonans for Wildlife (aka Humane Society of the United States) has not provided data, specific to Arizona, showing expected mountain lion growth following a hunting ban and the effect of more cats in a finite habitat.

The voters deserve to see the environmental impact study the HSUS conducted in Arizona regarding the ban on hunting wild cats.

Decline to sign their petitions and ask your family and friends to do the same. Help us spread the word!

New Conservation Group Launches in Arizona
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Editor Disclosure: I personally know Jim and Terry very well, and have been asked to join the Board of Directors of the new group ~DesertRat

New Willdlife Conservation Group Launched in Arizona

Phoenix, AZ (01 February, 2018) – Arizona Mule Deer.Org (AMD), whose focus is the recovery of Mule Deer in the state, has announced their entry into the ranks of other notable conservation groups in Arizona. Although AMD is new, they bring into the new organization an experienced core leadership group and a cadre of excited volunteers ready to get to work. Former Mule Deer Foundation Board of Directors member Jim Lawrence and former MDF Arizona Regional Director Terry Herndon, have teamed up to tackle the tough issues that face the Mule Deer population in Arizona. Lawrence states, “Both Terry and I are excited to be a part of this new venture; we’ve received strong support from Arizona Sportsmen along the ranching community and other groups with a vested interest in helping Arizona’s mule deer populations.”

Over the past 6 years, Jim and Terry have made a considerable impact on the wildlife conservation front in Arizona. “During our tenure with MDF, we completed more conservation projects than any other group in the state”, says Herndon. Both Lawrence and Herndon state emphatically the key to their habitat improvement success in Arizona is simple….great volunteers.

“AMD has hit the ground running and best of all, 100% of our fundraising dollars will stay right here in Arizona” says Lawrence. “We’re blessed to have a great Board of Directors at AMD, including some of Arizona’s top sportsmen, ranchers and business leaders are focused on the success of the organization”. AMD takes great pride in their growing volunteer base, who can be found most weekends repairing a wildlife drinker or redeveloping a spring in the Arizona’s backcountry.

The leadership at Arizona Mule Deer is also proud of their unique relationship with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Our close relationship with AZGFD has been a great partnership from the beginning.” says Herndon. He goes on to state that “Working with AZGFD and their expertise in managing Arizona’s wildlife resources, is how we get conservation done.” Although Arizona Mule Deer is a newcomer to the scene, the group plans on making an immediate impact on mule deer herds in Arizona.

About Arizona Mule Deer.Org
Arizona Mule Deer is an Arizona Conservation group focused on efforts to restore, grow and preserve Arizona’s mule deer. These efforts include a multi-pronged approach including fundraising which goes towards education, biology, habitat preservation and habitat improvement.

The GoFish Cam – Cool Product and a Great Christmas Gift Too
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With the holiday season steadily approaching, it’s almost time to start rounding up the coolest new gifts for loved ones. For friends and family who’ve got a knack for the great outdoors, GoFish Cam brings the “wow” factor with a specially designed underwater camera.

In terms of its features, it’s camera’s broad lens captures wide-view footage, features a four-hour battery life and green LED lights around the camera (meant to product light and attract fish), which makes it the perfect fishing accessory.

GoFish Cam’s advanced technology replaces trophy images with high-def video that can be easily shared directly to social media through the WiFi-enabled device.

According to their site, here are some features:

– Attaches in-line between your test line and leader line.

– Designed for trolling, bottom fishing, float fishing, and cast and retrieve fishing.

– Supports 1000 lbs with tough armor casing, night vision, and goes 150M underwater.

– Records in 1080p HD with 64GB Micro SD card storage, anti-wobble system, and 4-hour long lasting battery.

– Provides insight into your catch, so you can make better decisions, learn, and land more fish.

This would make a real cool gift! It sells for about 240 bucks. Im going to try and review one in the future.

You can read more about the camera here: CAMERA

You can learn more about the App that goes with it here: GoFish Camera APP

Finally, here is a video showing what it looks like when in use:

Shooter’s Bible – Still Going Strong
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Published annually for more than eighty years, the Shooter’s Bible is the most comprehensive and sought-after reference guide for new firearms and their specifications, as well as for thousands of guns that have been in production and are currently on the market. Nearly every firearms manufacturer in the world is included in this renowned compendium. The 109th edition also contains new and existing product sections on ammunition, optics, and accessories, plus updated handgun and rifle ballistic tables along with extensive charts of currently available bullets and projectiles for handloading.

As a kid, I think the only book I scrutinized more thoroughly than the Shooter’s Bible was the Sears Christmas Catalog. I remember looking at all of those guns and reading about all kinds of shooting info; some of it I could only dream about. Imagine my excitement when the good folks at Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a copy! Heck yeah, I would!

Some of the Shooter’s Bible was just the way I remembered – nearly 600 pages of data about nearly every commercially produced gun known to man (it seems that way at least!). Details about the gun, features, and MSRP for every model. From rifles to shotguns to handguns and airguns. Muzzleloaders, too. There is lots of good stuff on Optics and Ammunition as well. There’s a reference section with information about Ballistics and another section on Manufacturers & Suppliers. Although much of the book is in (high quality) black and white print, there is an extensive color section on new products in the front of the book. Sure, this book can be used as a comprehensive reference guide but it is also flat-out fun to read.

This would make a great gift for the hunter or shooter in your life. For 30 bucks or less you really can’t go wrong.

About the Author of the Shooter’s Bible:

Jay Cassell, editorial director at Skyhorse Publishing and the editor of this compendium, has hunted all over North America. He has written for Field & Stream, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Time, and many other publications, and has published numerous books. He lives in Katonah, New York.

A quick web search showed the book to be available at WalMart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retail outlets.

Avenza Maps Adds Draw and Measure Tool and More in Avenza Maps 3.3
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Avenza Maps, an innovator and leader in the GPS digital mapping space with thousands of maps designed for use without cell signal, is pleased to announce their latest advanced mapping technology in Avenza Maps 3.3

From the folks at Avenza:

We’re excited to announce that we’ve completed the release of Avenza Maps 3.3 for iOS and Android. We addressed some early user feedback and made a few point releases to resolve those issues (3.3.1 for Android and 3.3.2 for iOS). We’re also working on another minor update that addresses some additional user feedback.

Avenza Maps 3.3

This update contains new features and performance improvements as well as fixes for reported bugs. Some highlights are mentioned below, for the full release notes see below.
Redesigned Measure Tool. This tool has been completely redesigned and renamed — now known as the Draw and Measure tool. It features an improved interface which lets you draw shapes and measure more easily. While in a draw or measure mode, you can now quickly tap anywhere to enter a segment for a line or area. In addition, there are two precise input modes to enter segments: Point By Point and Course and Distance. Long press anywhere on the map to enter precise input mode. For Point By Point, simply enter the coordinates (lat/long, easting/northing or MGRS/USNG) to add a segment at an exact location. The Course and Distance mode allows you to enter the heading (angle) and distance from an initial location.

You can also now draw circles. Using only two points — an initial center point and a second point at any distance away — which means you can now draw circles that can act like buffers. It even works with the Point By Point and Course and Distance modes to enter specific distances or coordinates. Best of all, shapes and areas can now be saved as a map feature to your map. They can be exported as KML, CSV or GPX or even SHP (if you have Avenza Maps Pro). New style settings are available to adjust line thickness, stroke and fill colors, and opacity.

3.3 – What’s New?

The major feature is the redesigned (and renamed) Draw and Measure tool which now allows you to draw shapes quicker and more easily.

• Redesigned Measure Tool (now known as “Draw and Measure”)
• New advanced drawing capabilities, including tap anywhere to draw a segment and tap and hold to access “point by point” and “course and distance” modes
• Draw, edit, save, export and import areas. Draw areas including circles using only two points.
• Reorganized Settings including new settings to change location dot color and line and area colors including opacity
• Record GPS Tracks will continue to run even when the map is closed
• Map Store improvements including ability to preview map extent
• Improved Map Store user registration workflow

You can get Avenza Maps now from the App Store and Google Play.

For Your Holiday Shopping This Year Check Out HuntCrafted
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It’s that time of year when we’re all scrambling to find the perfect gift for the fisherman or huntress in our life. We all have different budgets and our loved ones have different tastes but some things are the same for all of us – we want to buy quality gifts that are unique. Right on cue for my Christmas posts, I heard from Miles Sims over at

Miles is the the founder of HuntCrafted – a dedicated online marketplace for high quality, handmade outdoor, fishing and camping gear. Miles tells me “We like to think of ourselves as the Etsy for those who love to fish and hunt since we provide a platform for sellers to create a shop where they can list and sell their handmade items. Our goal is to provide a platform for craftsmen to create and sell quality products that will be handed down from generation to generation. We have hundreds of unique products on the site that would make the perfect gift for the fishing enthusiast, but some of our most popular items include our fishing tackle and hunting knives. Most of our products are handmade and made-to-order, making them unique and hard to find at the big sporting goods stores.”

Sure enough, I perused the site and they have some real cool stuff.

Check out this Handmade Juniper Wood Fishing Lure

This handmade fishing lure is made from juniper. All lures are made with high pitch glass rattles embedded within the lure, stainless steel eyes, and Gamakatsu hooks. Made by a fisherman and made to fish. Afraid to get it wet? No worries – a custom stand to display your lure is available as well. These are not wooden blanks turned out in a factory somewhere.

For the duck hunter in your life, consider the Kingwood and Blackwood Single Reed Duck Call

Maybe the hunter in your life could use a new knife? Consider this beautiful, handmade Woodsman Custom Bushcraft Knife

The Woodsman is the quintessential hunting knife. Modeled after tradition bushcraft blades, this knife incorporates modern design elements that enable it to excel in a broad range of cutting tasks from deer processing to setting up camp. If you’re a hunter, or looking for a classic looking EDC knife, this one’s for you.

All DF Custom Knives ship in an individually molded Kydex sheath, to protect you and your knife in the field.

The Details

Blade Length: 4″

Total Length: 8″

Blade Steel: 440C Stainless

Blade Thickness: 5/32

Handle Material: Wood stack (Blackwood, Walnut, Tamarind, Bloodwood, Paduak, Maple)

Whether it’s a gift for Christmas or another special occasion, or a treat for yourself – I would highly encourage you to visit

From their website:

Our passion at HuntCrafted is to offer unique, high quality, and functional hunting gear. We strive to create the best products at a reasonable price that get the job done in the field.

For so many of us our love of the outdoors began in a similar fashion; we were handed-down a treasured rifle or shotgun from our father, grandfather or friend that helped instill in us our love for chasing wild things in wild spaces. Our goal is to create products that will be handed down from generation to generation, bringing a smile to the faces of those who will answer the call to tell the story of your unique hunting heritage.

The Invention Shop of S2 Equipment, LLC Introduces the HANS™ PowerPack and HANS™ Solar BriefCase
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Never Be Without Lights or a Charged Mobile Phone During a Power Outage

The Invention Shop of S2 Equipment, LLC announces the HANS™ PowerPack and HANS™ Solar BriefCase, ready to charge devices and provide light during a power outage, an impromptu weekend off-the-grid trip, or even a tailgate party. Available in two sizes, the HANS™ PowerPack 150 and the higher-capacity HANS™ PowerPack 300, both versions are rugged, easy to carry, noiseless, and can be recharged whether there is access to electricity or not. To accompany the HANS™ PowerPacks, the HANS™ Solar BriefCase 60 is a 60-watt portable solar charging system that provides rapid recharging.

“All HANS™ products are made to be dependable when our customers need it most,” said Todd Breneiser, Operations Executive. “They’re designed to be easy to use while giving you maximum functionality, so you never have to spend another night without power and in the dark.”

Ideal for unexpected power outages and emergency situations, the HANS™ PowerPack 150 is also a great companion for camping, tailgating, and other activities that require long-lasting portable power. It comes with built-in LED lights (both flood and spot lights), an integral USB port, plus a 12-volt dual port USB expander, providing three USB ports in total for charging mobile devices and powering small electronics such as tablets and fans. All HANS™ PowerPacks use Lithium-Ion batteries, and this high energy density means a low, 7-pound weight that suits the mobile lifestyle, a long shelf life with no maintenance, and 1000+ recharge cycles to keep the power running for years to come. When no power is available, the HANS™ PowerPack 150 can be recharged with its own built-in solar panel. When the power comes back on, it can be charged on any wall outlet. The HANS™ PowerPack 150 will let you charge your cell phone and give you five hours of light every day for two weeks.

For those who demand a higher-capacity of power, the HANS™ PowerPack 300 is ideal for unexpected power outages, emergency situations, and other extended off-grid experiences that require long-lasting portable power. It shines up to 5 Watts (three floodlights, one spotlight), charges mobile devices, powers small and medium sized electronics, and recharges with the power of the sun and the built-in 4.5-watt solar panel. The HANS™ PowerPack 300 is a personal, portable power plant that will let you charge your phone and give you five hours of light every day for a month.

The HANS™ Solar BriefCase 60 is a 60-watt portable solar charging system for rapid recharging of the HANS™ PowerPacks. The HANS™ Solar BriefCase 60 has built-in legs to help position it for optimal angles to the sun and to minimize charge time. It will charge a HANS™ PowerPack 150 in 3.5-5 hours and a HANS™ PowerPack 300 in 7-10 hours. The legs of the HANS™ Solar BriefCase 60 do double-duty as tie-down anchors to secure the Solar BriefCase 60 on windy days.

HANS™ products are designed and engineered to be the most durable of their type available, and they’re backed up with a 12-year warranty. To top it off, HANS™ PowerPacks are covered with marine grade rubber on the high-contact surface areas to keep the ports, lights and solar panels protected in any orientation it may be placed.

“The housing, kickstand, buttons, and handle are all made from the same family of polycarbonate used in bullet resistant glass,” said Breneiser. “Our packs are really tough and durable.”

For more information and to order the HANS™ PowerPack and HANS™ Solar BriefCase, visit

About the HANS™ Brand

Designed and assembled in the USA, the HANS™ family of products are created to provide pollution-free and expense-free electricity generation. The Invention Shop of S2 Equipment, LLC, in Farmington Hills, Michigan is the developer of HANS™ products and is focused on providing reliable energy and clean water. The HANS™ team supports the Billions in Change movement in their quest to bring useful inventions to the unlucky half of the world in order to improve quality of life for billions of people.
Go to to watch the film about the movement and to get involved.

Outfitter Review – Don Martin and Striper Hunter – Great Striped Bass Fishing Trips
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Friends Robert Gomez, Jason Bluhm, Ken Pizzagoni and I purchased a striper fishing trip at our annual San Tan Chapter Mule Deer Foundation banquet. The four of us make up the current executive of the San Tan Chapter. Don Martin from Striper Hunter has consistently been a donor to our banquets and we finally decided to pull the trigger on a trip for ourselves. The peak of the season was past when we finally made it up in mid-August but I must say that Don didn’t disappoint.

Our interactions with Don leading up to the trip were great. He provided detailed directions to his house in Meadview. He provided great info on what to bring and answered any other questions we had. The plan was to meet Don at his place in Meadview, he would feed us dinner, and we would be on the water (Lake Mead) by 10 PM or so. Dinner was great (included in the package) and there was plenty to eat. Don is meticulous in his preparation to hit the water and clearly has a system down. Prep went like clockwork, from bait to tackle to boat, to ice. Don utilizes a checklist so nothing gets forgotten.

As promised, we were out on the water around 10 and quickly we were headed to Don’s honey hole. Don began his secret ritual of chumming and bait and parking in just the right spot; soon we had lines in the water. We were past the peak of the season and the night started out slow. Slow to the point that Don was fretting a bit early on. Eventually the bite picked up and remained fairly steady through the night. All told, we boated 102 stripers, 5 catfish and 2 big carp.

Don is a wealth of knowledge and between knowledge and system he provides a high-quality, enjoyable fishing trip. He can provide the rods and tackle or you can bring your own. He provides the bait, chum, water, sodas, etc. All he asked us to bring was some dry ice. We fished through until about 530 in the morning, we were even surprised with some sudden showers in the wee hours of the morning. We were back at the dock by 6:30 AM or so, and headed back to HQ.

Don has a system for everything and that includes cleaning fish and taking pictures. At the time we all kept thinking “Lets just take some pictures” but we stuck with Don’s method and all of the sorting and hanging of fish paid off with some really cool photos. We cleaned them assembly line style with two of us running electric filet knives, one cutting ribs and the driver aking a catnap.

If you’re interested in a great fishing trip in Arizona, or fishing striped bass specifically – I’d highly recommend Don Martin and his outfit Striper Hunters. Stripers are fun to catch and great eating too. They’re my new favorite thing to fish. Don runs a tight ship (pun intended), is friendly and hospitable, knows his stuff, and will for sure make it a great trip for you.

You can find him on Facebook here: Striper Hunters

You can also watch a video detailing one of Don’s trips below.

The Ultimate Dogwear Protect Your Dog’s Eyes with Rex Specs
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Your dog is your partner in crime: by your side on hikes, bike rides, in the passenger seat of your convertible, on your boat for weekend fishing trips. They love the thrill of adventure just as much as you, but all that outdoor activity can take its toll on your best friends eyes. Think about it: have you ever seen your dog squinting in the bright sun, or worried about their eyes when they’re hanging out the window of your car?

Rex Specs Dog Goggles protect against eye damage that can occur from being exposed to the elements. Sun, wind, sticks, sand and grasses can all spell trouble for unprotected eyes, but Rex Specs have your pup’s peepers covered. They’re impact- resistant and provide protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Rex Specs are great for the active family pet, preventing punctures, sunburn and irritation. Working dogs in the U.S. military, police K9 units and bird hunting dogs also wear them to protect from possible injury. Veterinarians love them because they can help prevent common eye ailments related to sun exposure and other possible eye conditions. If your pet already suffers from an eye condition or injury, Rex Specs can help keep it from getting worse.

If you’re wearing sunglasses or eye protection, your best friend probably should be too! To say nothing of the fact, Rex Specs just look cool!

Clear view: Large spherical lens gives your dog an unobstructed full range of view. Rex Specs come with a clear lens and a second lens of your choice.
Comfy fit: Soft foam edge fits snuggly and comfortably on the face and keeps out dust and debris.
Stays Put: These goggles stay put throughout all activities while still allowing maximum freedom and full jaw motion.
Adjustable: Low profile, fully adjustable strap creates a custom fit on every dog. It also easily integrates with other products and harnesses. Comes in two sizes: large (30-100 pounds) and small (12-30 pounds)

For more on Rex Specs visit their website, Instagram @rexspecsk9, Facebook page @RexSpecsK9 or contact Jennifer at

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.