Police Chief Needs Grace Under Fire To Beat Clergy

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Those who've seen Payson Police Chief Gordy Gartner shoot hoops rarely feel compelled to dub him Michael Jordan's Rim country clone.

Although he can sink a lay-up now and then, the chief's hardwood skills can't equal those of the former Chicago Bulls star. There are rumors circulating in the Rim country that the playwright for "White Men Can't Jump" got the idea for the title of the movie after watching the chief play in a pick up basketball game.

Always the willing participant, the chief should be commended for constantly seeking out new challenges, as was evidenced by his sort-of staring role in last spring's Guns vs. Hoses charity flag-football game.

Next up for the chief is the annual Law vs. Grace charity basketball game which pits local law enforcement officers against a clergy squad coached by Rev. Joe LaSalandra.

The annual game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the old Payson High School gymnasium.

Sponsored by the Payson Christian Ministerial Fellowship, the clash is a benefit for the Payson St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank.

Admission to the game is a can or two of nonperishable food, which will be used to help stock the shelves of the local food bank during the holiday season. Cash donations also will be accepted and will benefit the food bank.

The game should be a lot of fun and it's all for a great cause.

Hunt Mearns'

The Gambel's quail season has been a bust, primarily because the drought last spring lowered the survival rate of the young birds.

Many who've hunted the traditionally quail-rich areas south of Payson have returned home empty handed.

Although Gambel's are tough to find, word from Arizona Game and Fish officers in Southern Arizona is that the Mearns' quail hunting season could be one of the best in years. The high deserts of Southern Arizona received several inches of heavy monsoon rainfall which produced good wildlife habitat. Game officials say most of the oak-grassland habitat near the Coronado National Forest is in excellent condition following the summer rains. This vegetative type is the principal range of the Arizona Mearns' quail.

The ample supply of feed should result in excellent juvenile Mearns' quail survival and a stellar hunting season. The Mearns' season opened today (Friday) and will continue until Feb. 12.

During a Whitetail hunt in Southern Arizona, my son kicked up a several coveys of Mearns', which prompted him to vow to return for a quail hunt.

The best advice from seasoned hunters is to hunt the edge of canyon bottoms and stay reasonably close to tree cover. Mearns' thrive in rocky and steep terrain with thick cover. Other popular habitats are mesquite grasslands, especially along washes or river bottoms.

I've hunted Mearns' once years ago south of Safford and found hunting strategy was much different than that used in hunting Gambel's.

Mearns' are fascinating in that the elusive birds tend to hold very tight then explode from almost underfoot. For first-time hunters, that experience can be a tad nerve wracking.

Hunting Mearns' is a challenge for the most experienced of outdoorsmen.

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