Many of the rifle deer seasons have come to a close in northern Arizona, and there are reliable reports that many hunters drawing tags for the local units of 22 and 23 now have venison for the freezer. These specified hunting areas had weeklong hunts for those fortunate enough to draw one of the tags issued last summer by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The week prior to the general whitetail and mule deer seasons there was a juniors only — or youth — hunt in both units. In most cases, this youth hunt was an introduction to big-game hunting for youngsters in the age group of 10 to 17 years old.
One of the requirements before going into the field was to have passed the hunter education course, which provides extremely valuable training in firearm safety, hunter etiquette and identifying wildlife in the field.
This can be a family experience where parents often accompany their children in the hunter safety course and everyone benefits.
Many states require passing the hunter education course for anyone trying to obtain a non-resident license, so there is another obvious benefit if one wants to pursue big game in a neighboring western state.
I can remember taking the class with both of my sons and the friendly competitions we had on the written exam and on the shooting range where I didn’t always win.
The preparation for the hunt can generate family planning and hopefully numerous trips into the field.
Preseason scouting, where younger hunters can learn the skills of glassing and reading the telltale signs of deer, can be beneficial when opening day arrives. If these skills are new to you, and your child has a deer tag, then a junior deer camp can be the answer.
In recent years, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has established junior deer camps that are gaining popularity with families wanting to learn more about hunting deer in Arizona.
The Arizona Deer Association sponsored the camp locally, providing tips and guidance to the youth who had secured a junior deer tag by the lottery and there were even a couple of evening campfire barbecues for everyone in attendance.
The hunting experience can be another valuable opportunity where families can share time without the distractions of television, computers and video games.
Stories generated by a weekend hunting trip will often get retold when families get together around the kitchen table for an evening meal or a card game.
This weekend, make some fond family memories in the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.