Sept. 1 is the traditional start of the Arizona fall hunting seasons, even though there are three more weeks of summer according to the calendar. Outdoorsmen start pulling out their hunting bows, shotguns, and rifles and begin tuning them up or sighting them in. It's not that we put away our fishing equipment because some of the very best angling takes place in the fall months.
As neighbor and longtime friend, Pat Heizer would say, "What season is it now?" Being a coach's wife, it was football, wrestling, fishing or hunting season throughout the year.
The big game drawings have come and gone and most of us who were fortunate enough to draw a tag have already found excuses to go to the woods on numerous occasions. So you may have a tag or maybe you didn't get drawn this year. Well, don't dismay, there are numerous opportunities to get out into the field in the upcoming weeks.
Today, being Sept. 1, starts the annual dove season in Arizona. The greatest number of hunters will journey to the Valley where the agricultural fields attract huge populations of mourning and white wing doves. If you don't want to travel far, consider the local Payson area. There are a few spots within a 20-mile radius of town where there are enough birds flying over to keep you excited about wing shooting. Remember, the season starts daily one-half hour before sunrise and stops at high noon.
For you archery enthusiasts, there are over-the-counter deer and turkey tags that can be bought and used today. Arizona has a very lengthy archery deer season where most units can be hunted from 45 to 55 days between now and the end of the year. The challenge of hunting deer with a bow has increased in popularity in Arizona because of the relative ease of just buying a tag compared to the lottery drawing. I enjoy it because of the need to be much closer to the game. When I am fortunate to take that shot, the distance between me and the animal is less that 30 yards. There are many variables and that makes archery big-game hunting a true challenge.
You may have one of those coveted big-game tags for elk or desert bighorn sheep to hunt in the wilds of Arizona or this might be the year you didn't draw anything. There are still opportunities to be in the field this fall hunting with your family and friends making stories to be told for years to come around the campfire. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend in the Arizona outdoors, God's creation.