Be sure to dress warmly for the start of deer season
Be prepared with long johns, knit caps and earmuffs when looking forward to the Dec. 11 opener of the archery-only, nonpermit required deer season running through Jan. 31, 2010. Many hunt areas are open along with a few general and muzzleloader (including Juniors-only muzzleloader) seasons also getting started. Best to review current regulations to get particulars.
For the new hunter, be sure to take along a good supply of warm clothing - it's easier to take it off when it warms up than to add when you're cold first thing in the morning or later in the evening. This year will probably be no different than most with our temperatures getting downright chilly in desert areas where the deer promise to be. Wool and some of the new synthetic materials such as polypropylene are best for warmth, including socks. Be sure to have dry matches and a way to keep them from getting wet. Lighters and flints are good tools to have on hand for that fire you'll be wanting to make, not only for cooking but for warmth as well. And, of course, bring along plenty of food and water.
It actually does rain in Arizona so go prepared for the wet stuff just in case we get lucky - this includes extra boots.
When hunting mule deer at southern Arizona's desert areas, it's good to walk quietly along washes rather than climbing mountains (except to scan with binoculars). Maps are available from the U.S. Forest Service as well as Sprague's Sports here in town. Topographical maps issued by the U.S. Geological Survey can be indispensable for pointing you in the right direction. Mulies tend to hang out where its not so tough with a share of vegetation. There are deer in the hills but most success usually comes along draws that cut across the flats. Keep your eyes open for a sign. When you locate tracks and droppings that look fresh, keep doing the same thing but keep an extra careful watch for sneaky deer. Deer have a way of outsmarting you big time so stay alert and keep your mind on what you're doing.
Keep the breeze in mind as you hunt, doing your best to face the wind. Constantly scan open places ahead of you in case a wise old buck is trying to slip away as they often do. Chances are the deer will detect your presence so you have to keep alert and spot them before they give you the slip.
If you locate a deer in the wash that might bound away, then stop for a look back at what spooked him; it could work to your advantage so stay ready at every instant. A mule buck can be super cagey when he figures he might be in trouble and can literally disappear completely - I can vouch for that after seeing an elusive buck completely disappear from in front of my son and myself on our hunt last year. That still has us puzzled.
Lastly, here's a gentle reminder that you must comply with the Mandatory Harvest Reporting. Check in with any Game and Fish office or call 866-903-3337 for Archery-only hunters within 10 days of a successful hunt. Good luck on your hunt and if you'd like to share, I'd be glad to hear your news.
Cibola Youth Waterfowl Camp: Mentors and duck hunters able to assist can still be put to work with the kids during the Dec. 11-13 hunt and campout at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. Contact Courtney Fitzgerald at CFitzgerald@azgfd.gov or call the Yuma Game and Fish office at 342-0091. Your help will certainly be appreciated.
• Renegade Archers of Yuma: Enjoy shooting the trail of 3-D animals at 8 a.m. each Sunday at the Foothills Archery Range east of Yuma located south of I-8 and east of Foothills Boulevard off Avenue 15E. All archers are most welcome with reasonable adult shoot fees - youngsters are always free of charge. Call Jean Wilson at 726-0953 for exact directions.
• Walk the Trail Archery Invitational: Southwest Bowhunters are offering 60 McKenzie 3-Ds to shoot this weekend at Adair Park including today through noon with raffles and awards to follow. Call Uschi House at 345-3770. Sunday morning shoots will continue at 9 a.m. next Sunday.
• Yuma Trap and Skeet Club: Open trap and skeet 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 12-noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Adair Park. Call John Gross at 580-7837.
• Yuma Territorial Longrifles: Black Powder Matches at 8:30 a.m. the first and third Saturdays each month at Adair Park with the monthly meeting the first Saturday. Call James Ingram at 726-6632. Roger Bickle will hold .22 Rifle Schutezen Matches as well the second and fourth Tuesdays each month at the black powder range. Call 726-7453. Keep in practice for the Jan. 14, 15, 16, 17 Black Powder Rendezvous being held at the Adair Park range - complete information to be forthcoming.
• Cholla Gun Club: Sign up at at 8:30 a.m. at the Adair Park metallic silhouette range for a good variety of shooting including snowbird silhouette matches on Fridays, with Lever Action Rifle Silhouette Matches the 4th Saturdays and Sundays each month and practice shoots on Wednesdays. Call Glenda Graves at 314-1029.
• Yuma Rifle and Pistol Club: Dec. 20 - Open High Power Rifle Match at the Adair Park big bore range, open to civilian, service, women, men and junior shooters with sign up by 7:30 a.m. Call Paul Lerma at 783-6766.
• Yuma Matchmasters: Dec. 13 - Open IPSC Combat Match with sign up at 7:30 a.m. for the 8 a.m. match at the Adair Park small bore range. Call Ron Gissendaner at 726-0022.
• Yuma Pro/Am: Toys for Tots support tournament Dec. 13 at Fisher's Landing with sign up at Sportsmen's Hideaway Dec. 7 through Dec. 12 with the draw on the 12th at 6:15 p.m. sharp. Visit www.YumaProAm.com for more information or call Bob La Londe at 520-1270.
• Check next week's column for Annual Awards winners and 2010 tournament news with Desert Bass Anglers and Yuma Bassmasters or call Mac or Bobbi McDermott at 726-1984.
• Bass Class on the water: For a great Christmas gift for your favorite angler, call Dave Willhide at 782-2621 to check on the class that includes instructions on when, where and how to catch bass at Yuma area waters with a fully rigged bass boat and all gear provided.
Jean Wilson can be reached at email@example.com or call 726-0953.