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Baylee Hirschi’s first deer
By Monica Hirschi, Phoenix
Baylee Hirschi, 10, of Phoenix, comes from a hunting and outdoors-oriented family. She has camped with me and her dad, Koal, on family hunts since a very young age.
Hunting has always brought us together as a family. We typically don’t take vacations to places like Disneyland. Our vacations are often dictated by the draw results of the Western states. Most of the family members have drawn tags in Arizona over the years.
Baylee got her first opportunity to hunt deer last fall in Game Management Unit 31, north of Klondyke. The hunt wouldn’t have been possible without Arizona’s law allowing a parent or guardian to transfer a tag to his or her child. Koal, Baylee and I all put in separately in the hope one of us would get a tag so Baylee could hunt. Neither Koal nor Baylee were drawn, but I was. I went to the Game and Fish office in Phoenix and transferred the tag to Baylee.
Opening day, Nov. 10, was a tough one for Baylee. We didn’t see any deer, and she came down with her sister’s flu. The next day she was feeling well enough to head out into the field for the afternoon. It wasn’t long before we saw a buck. Koal reminded Baylee where she needed to aim. He calmly told her to just hold on and squeeze steady while firing. Baylee has been shooting since she was 5 years old, so accuracy wasn’t our concern. We just wanted to steady her nerves because she was really excited.
Baylee took her shot from about 160 yards—and made it count. The buck went down immediately. We gave Baylee a hands-on lesson in field-dressing and skinning the animal.
The hunter education course requirement for young big game hunters was a blessing in reaffirming the beliefs and practices we try to teach our children. Arizona is one of the few states where people can teach their children by actual field experience at such an early age. We appreciate the efforts from dedicated volunteers like Baylee’s instructor, Cliff Saylor, who helped so much in reinforcing those ethics in Baylee.
The Herndon “quail kids”
By Dan Herndon, Peoria
Quail hunting, like many other outdoor activities, is a great get-together opportunity for my family. I took my children, Garrett, 12, and Courtney, 8, out on opening weekend of the 2006 quail season.
This is Garrett’s first season with his single-shot 20-gauge. He had five birds under his belt in the early part of the season. Courtney enjoys getting out with me and Garrett for the hiking and fresh air. Courtney has an additional fondness for quail, as she was born on opening day of quail season in 1998.
Garrett also enjoyed his first dove season this year with a shotgun. He enjoyed full limits three straight days, along with dad. You can imagine the busy kitchen. Garrett is also looking forward to joining me on future deer and elk hunts.
The kids are avid hunters, archers, anglers, campers and off-road dirt bike/ATV enthusiasts. They come by their love of the outdoors naturally, although my wife and I are their major influences. Enjoyment of outdoors activity has been a tradition passed down through both sides of the family. My father and uncles had me out as soon as I could hold a .22 single-shot, and my grandfather used to be an NRA instructor years ago in California. On their mother’s side, their grandfather and uncle are avid waterfowlers and serve as committee members for Ducks Unlimited.
My wife and I take the kids hiking, biking and fishing each summer in places like Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott or the Mogollon Rim. Last summer we offered the kids a week-long amusement park vacation to Orlando, Fla. They declined, requesting we spend our vacation camping in the Flagstaff area. We must be doing something right.
As a side note, I would like to thank Carl Lutch, wildlife manager in Game Management Unit 7. While on my Unit 7E cow elk hunt this fall, I found a bull rack. Carl took time from his busy schedule to check it out for me and approve my taking it home. The Game and Fish Department is often seen just as an enforcement agency, rather than ambassadors of our public wildlife resources, and I deeply appreciate Carl’s time and his courtesy in answering our numerous questions about various species and the unit.