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Javelina Hunt, Outdoor Fair takes place Feb. 22-24

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is inviting the public to an old-fashioned camp out near Bagdad Feb. 22-24.

The Arizona Bowhunters Association and the Outdoor Experience 4 All are co-hosting the free Javelina Hunt and Outdoor Fair. The dates mark the opening weekend of the general javelina hunting season.

For more information or to register, visit www.huntingfair.com. Questions may be directed to dtucker@azgfd.gov.

Those wishing to hunt must already have a javelina tag. But Game and Fish personnel are quick to note this is not just a hunt camp, but also an opportunity to spend time communing with nature.

"We'll have a number of presentations, archery will be available, and of course we'll be sitting around the campfire away from our computers and the pressures of everyday life," said Darren Tucker, wildlife manager for Game and Fish. "The focus is to get folks outdoors. This is the ideal opportunity for parents to spend some great time with their children."

Tucker is quick to explain there is a need to recruit new hunters, although there's more to this endeavor.

"We understand not everyone wants to hunt, but it is important to understand the critical role hunters play in modern wildlife management," he explained. "Hunting and fishing dollars are the primary funding for wildlife management in Arizona with no burden on the taxpayer.

"I know there will be a focus on the 'hunt,' but this is really about getting outside and spending time with family and friends."

How-to demonstrations will cover wildlife viewing, predator calling, javelina natural history and hunting, glassing and use of binoculars, wild game care, and basic camping skills. There will also be exhibitor areas to explore local sportsmen's groups, manufacturers of outdoor equipment, and retailers of outdoor equipment.

A limited number of volunteers will be available for youth hunters under 18 years old. Those interested in a mentor must pre-register for the mentored hunting program. All youth must be accompanied by a legal guardian at all times.

All those hunting are responsible for their own transportation to the hunting area and this is not a guided hunt. Participants are also responsible for their own camping equipment, hunting equipment, and food. Weather in February throughout the state can be unpredictable, so dress appropriately.

Javelina are a big-game animal in Arizona. People ages 10 and older with a tag may participate, but youth 10-13 must first pass an Arizona Game and Fish hunter education class. For those 14 and over, the class is still strongly recommended, but not required. For more information on hunter education classes, visit www.azgfd.gov/hunterEd.

"This is a great opportunity for people to connect with nature," Tucker said. "It's an opportunity to slow down and enjoy what this state has to offer."

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