Fall outdoor hunting activities just for the kids

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September 29th, 2008

See Arizona’s unique wildlife and reconnect with nature

Javelina, turkey and sandhill cranes – oh my! It may not be exactly like the famous Wizard of Oz quote, “lions and tigers and bears” – but to many it still invokes a sense of mystery and adventure.

In an effort to get kids into a natural environment and to increase their awareness of the importance of hunting as a wildlife management tool, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has created a number of youth programs to introduce kids to the outdoors. Participating in hunting and fishing is America’s original outdoor challenge.

Starting this fall there are three hunts available to young hunters ages 10-17, including:

  • Juniors-only fall javelina big game hunt. There are two hunts to choose from, Oct. 10-16 and Nov. 21-30. There are a number of hunting areas to choose from. However, tags are limited and must be obtained by submitting an application by mail; for details, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw. Javelina are unique to the Southwest, with a wide distribution in Arizona. Javelina offer an excellent introduction to the skills needed for other big game hunting like deer and elk. As for edibility, they make very good chorizo breakfast sausage, Italian and bratwurst sausages, as well as roasts and stews.
  • Juniors-only fall turkey big game hunt. There is one hunt Oct. 3-9. Tags are unlimited and can be purchased over-the-counter for $10 at any department office. There are a number of open hunting areas, including some areas around Flagstaff, the White Mountains and the North Kaibab. Wild turkeys inhabit the forested highlands of our state. Wild turkeys are similar to domestic birds, but leaner, so don’t overcook and you’ll be treated to a Thanksgiving family feast to be proud of.
  • Juniors-only sandhill crane hunt. There is one hunt Dec. 12-14 in the southeastern part of the state. Tags are limited and must be obtained by submitting an application by mail; for details, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw. Sandhill cranes are large (5-foot wingspan), spectacular birds, which closely resemble a terradactyl. They migrate to the state and winter in wetland areas. They are very wary birds and are challenging to decoy within shooting range, making for an amazing hunting experience. Most surprising is they provide incredible table fare, often referred to as “the flying rib-eye steak.” The department will have check stations with mentors and guides to offer help.

For instructions on applying for javelina or sandhill crane tags, visit www.azgfd.gov/draw and find the hunt number of the area you wish to hunt from the list of left-over fall hunts and/or the left-over list for sandhill cranes. Fill out the “Hunt Permit/Tag Application Form” per the instructions and mail it to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, P.O. Box 52002, Phoenix, AZ 85072-2002.

Young hunters ages 10-13 are required to have completed a certified hunter education course to hunt big game (javelina and turkey). All youth hunting big game are also required to have a general hunting license.

There is no hunter education requirement to hunt sandhill cranes, although it is encouraged. Additionally, youth hunters 10-13 do not need a general hunting license when accompanied by a licensed adult when hunting sandhill cranes.

Many families that have relocated to Arizona came from rural families who used to hunt. But now in Arizona, they are in unfamiliar country and not sure how to, nor do they have the network of friends and other family members they did in their hometowns. To change that, the department is reaching out to the public to introduce them to hunting in the Southwest through workshops, clinics, check stations and online information.

For more information about hunter education, licenses and hunting in Arizona, visit the Game and Fish Department’s Web site at www.azgfd.gov.

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