Javelina Hunt and Outdoor Fair pays inaugural visit near Prescott
For the first time, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in conjunction with the Arizona Bowhunters Association and Outdoor Experience 4 All, are offering a Javelina Hunt and Outdoor Fair several miles northwest of Prescott over the weekend of Feb. 18-20.
This free event, which is open to the public and caters to adults and youngsters who are new to hunting and the outdoors, marks the opening weekend of the general javelina hunting season.
Javelina permits left over from Game and Fish's application and draw process will be available for sale at the fair while supplies last, and experts will be present to help individuals get started on their hunt.
Darren Tucker, a local Game and Fish wildlife manager and one of the event's coordinators, said that in the recent past his department and hunting groups have played host to several similar camps, many of which are designed for children, across the state.
"If you have ever thought about hunting but aren't sure how to get started, this is the perfect opportunity," he said. "And there's more than hunting. This is a general outdoor event with a focus on getting folks into the wilderness."
Other available activities at the fair will include archery, and shooting air guns and .22 rifles. In addition, there will be exhibits where folks can interact with local sportsmen's groups, as well as manufacturers and retailers of outdoor equipment.
Scheduled how-to seminars will cover topics such as hunting strategies, care of game, Dutch oven cooking, and muzzle loading rifles and wildlife viewing, among others.
"Their (sportsmen, manufacturers and retailers') goal is not to be selling stuff on-site, but be there to demonstrate how to effectively use binoculars, backpacks and camping equipment," Tucker said.
As for the hunt, a limited number of volunteers will be available for youth hunters younger than 18 years old. Youth hunters who are interested in a mentor must pre-register for the mentor-hunting program, and legal guardians have to accompany all youngsters at all times.
Participants in the unguided hunt are required to buy a hunting license and a javelina tag and get their own transportation to the hunting area. They also must bring their own camping and hunting equipment and food, although portable restrooms will be available.
With the hunt being at an elevation of some 4,900 feet, hunters are encouraged to dress appropriately, too.
"A lot of what we're doing is geared towards trying to break down those barriers to hunting - because if someone's never done it, it might be a little intimidating to them as far as where to go, the equipment and how to do it," Tucker said.
In Arizona, children ages 10 and older are permitted to hunt javelina, which this state classifies as a big-game animal. However, prospective hunters ages 10-13 must first complete a Game and Fish hunter education course. Although persons ages 14 and older are not required to take the class, it is strongly recommended.
Tucker said javelina hunting has become popular because the species is unique to Arizona and other parts of the Southwest.
"Javelina are probably a little bit easier to hunt than deer or elk - they're a little more forgiving and easier to sneak up on, which is great for kids or people that are new to hunting," Tucker said.
To get to the hunt and fair from Prescott, take Iron Springs Road toward Skull Valley to milepost 8.3, which is about 6.4 miles past the Williamson Valley Road-Iron Springs intersection, and hang a right on Contreras Road - a well-maintained dirt road.
Once on Contreras Road, travel about 3.6 miles to where it dead ends and make another right on Tonto Road, or County Road 66, for a half-mile. The camp will be on the left.
For more information about hunter education classes, visit www.azgfd.gov/i_e/edits/hunter_education.shtml.
To obtain additional information about the hunt and/or to register for the outdoor fair, visit www.huntingfair.com or e-mail Tucker at email@example.com.
Arizona Game and Fish regional offices and license dealers have hunting licenses available for purchase. Kingman regional office public information officer Zen Mocarski is available to answer questions about licenses by calling him at 928-692-7700, Ext. 2301.