Seminar’S Topics Are Mountain Lions, Camp Cooking

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With two highly successful “Shoot for the Heart” seminars now in the record books, event organizers, including Mountain Bible Church, are aiming for a three-peat.

The third event, set for 6 p.m., Saturday, March 20 at the local church, is expected to be a highlight on the Rim Country outdoor scene because it will feature a presentation by local rancher Steve Smith on “Mountain Lions of Arizona.”

Also on the agenda will be a demonstration of outdoor cooking by cowboy chef Bob DePugh, who will serve up some of his mouthwatering delights to those in attendance.

Smith is an authority on mountain lions, having lived among them most of his life on his ranch south of Payson.

Event organizers say Smith could cover a variety of issues including life history, behavior and habitats of the animals that are some of the most elusive animals in the state.

Although mountain lion sightings are rare among novices, experienced outdoorsmen, like Smith, can locate the animals by finding evidence of tracks, scrapes, kills or other signs.

Though rarely scene, the lions abound in Arizona; absent only in areas heavily impacted by human development.

Smith has told organizers he will not focus on lion hunting, but will not shy away from the topic if asked.

In Arizona, the lion season was shorted in 2007 from year-long to being closed May through August.

The debut

The first of the Shoot for the Heart seminars was held Jan. 28 at Mountain Bible and featured local professional bass fisherman Clifford Pirch presenting a feature on life on the pro circuit all the while doling out fishing tips to anxious anglers.

The inaugural seminar was an overwhelming success, drawing 150-plus Rim Country residents.

Next on the agenda was a Feb. 25 presentation by Dean Pederson on “Mule Deer in Arizona.”

It was equally as successful as the inaugural seminar, also drawing 150-plus persons.

Pederson, a life-long Arizona resident who grew up in Flagstaff hunting mule deer with his father, offered tips of how to successfully hunt and view the animals in the high country.

At the seminar, Mark Kenney and Jesse Clark walked away as grand prize winners.

Kenney received a set of BOG shooting sticks donated by Crabdree Insurance. The sticks are used for shooting rifles off hand in the field, and are being hailed as a real hunter’s aid.

Clark received a family portrait donated by Jon and Trina Gunzel at Arizona Photo Solutions.

Door prizes will also be awarded at the March 20 seminar.

The idea behind Shoot for the Heart is to provide a stage for outdoorsmen and women to gather in a show of camaraderie to share fishing, hunting, camping and other outdoor stories, tips and suggestions.

The church’s Web site says, “The purpose is to help families who love the outdoors become better hunters and fishermen, and build relationships with others who share the same interests.”

Seminars will be held once each month. Upcoming topics include more outdoor cooking, archery hunting, trout fishing and more. For more information on Shoot for the Heart, call (928) 472-7800.

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