Hunters often suffer under a bad rap from a non-hunting public that believes they rob the country of precious wildlife.
What those accusers, who some call fear-mongerers, don’t know is that it is hunters who usually spearhead wildlife conservation projects that improve the qualify of life for animals. Hunters are also usually at the forefront of animal rehabilitation and outdoor education programs.
Such was the case last week when a bevy of about 35 volunteers, most of whom were hunters, gathered in a wash south of Payson, near Chilson Ranch and the closed Zulu Mine, to build a state-of-the-art water system, known as “Connor Catchment.” Now that it is completed, it will provide a year-round water source for wildlife in the high desert area of the Tonto National Forest.
“Deer, elk, bear, javelina, reptiles, birds will be able to (drink) there,” said Gary Barcom, a founding member of the Mogollon Sporting Association and one of the volunteers who spent six days working on the ambitious project.
Barcom explained the catchment or “guzzler” as one that featured two 6,000-gallon collection ring-shaped tanks buried beneath the surface.
“At the top, there is a large metal apron that collects the water and feeds it into the tanks,” said Barcom.
From the collection tanks, pipes will carry the water to a “drinker” container where wildlife will always be able to find water.
Barcom says the catchment will serve wildlife well, especially during the years of severe drought.
He also estimates the project cost about $50,000 to build.
A number of conservation and government agencies pitched in with both money and volunteer labor to help build the guzzler including the Arizona Deer Association, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Tonto National Forest and the Mogollon Sporting Association.
For the MSA, the conservation project was just one of many the organization has helped build since its founding in 1993.
Others include the Greenback Tank 1 and 2, Rawhide Tank, Bean Patch Tank and Eisenhower Spring.
In addition to those projects, the MSA has participated in habitat improvements, controlled burns, seedings, riparian restoration, habitat signage, aerial and ground surveys and has purchased equipment for the state game and fish department.