Ah–spring is nearly past in the desert, so spending time at higher elevations enjoying cooler nights and spring wildflowers in the mountains is in order. How about as an Arizona Elk Society (AES) volunteer? After a tough almost year and a half of suspended activities, AES is starting up our volunteer programs. We launched a very successful family overnight at Gilbert Riparian Preserve. AES offered fun activities for the kids including archery and fishing. The local Desert Rivers Audubon Society led a morning bird walk and nature discovery. The kids had a blast spotting frogs, butterflies, and birds–including a rather photogenic bird called a Least Bittern.
I am very excited about our volunteer weekend the first week in June. AES is teaming up with Arizona Deer Association to repair the fence between the US Forest and White Mountain Apache Reservation on the AES retired Burro Creek grazing allotment. We hope this fence repair will stop horses and cattle from wandering onto the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. That same weekend a small team of AES volunteers will complete a Water for Wildlife project in the White Mountains.
Here’s a little bit of AES history about the Burro Creek Allotment. AES worked with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and ranchers in 2005 to retire pastures from livestock grazing around Big Lake and at Burro Creek. Burro Creek is a prime site for elk to graze. Volunteers removed 40 miles of pasture fences in 2010. We have an obligation to maintain the allotment boundary fences and the priority this year is the fence on the reservation boundary.
This purchase of grazing leases was made possible through the generous donations by AES Habitat Partners https://new1.arizonaelksociety.org/get- involved/habitat-partner We are recruiting volunteers to haul water this summer. I was at Stoneman Lake and I would describe it as Stoneman Creek. With hardly any snowmelt, our water-hauling program will be critical for elk and other wildlife. We have purchased more trucks and water trailers and need folks to bring the water to the wildlife.
The AES Banquets are back! Banquets are scheduled for July 17 in Flagstaff and July 31 in Mesa at the convention center. Check the Arizona Elk Society website for ticket availability.
For those that have the good fortune of a 2021 elk tag be sure to attend the AES Elk Clinic on August 7. I always learn something new or I am reminded of a good tip or two at these clinics. For sure, spend time on the range and hone your shooting skills!
Yours in Conservation,Tice Supplee
As we rolled out two Arizona Elk Society banquets in 3 weeks, I hummed the song with the lyrics “Welcome back, welcome back!” It was so wonderful to see friends and new folks who came to the banquet in Flagstaff and the banquet in Mesa. Two fun-filled nights! I think we were all itching for a carefree night out with friends and family.
My special thanks to ALL the volunteers and the AES staff that made these two banquets run smooth as silk. If any of you have wondered if AES did the smart thing buying a building, my answer is YES! We were able to efficiently organize and package all the pieces that make a banquet a success. Not to sit on our laurels, we will begin planning for next year very soon, and hope to have the White Mountains banquet back up and running.
Arizona Elk Society’s Heroes Rising Outdoors received an awesome gift that will be the foundation of a board-approved fund for this program. Hunts are already being lined up for our veterans. If by chance you have an Arizona big game tag you will not be using, consider donating it to AES Hunts for Heroes. The rains came! What an amazing monsoon season, the likes of which are almost too much! I have reports from Arizona elk country that the water tanks are filled and it is green everywhere, including on recent fire scars. A bit of a tip–pay attention to those recently burned areas. Elk and deer find a lot of good “eats” in those places.
AES will be hosting a youth elk camp again this year in Unit 6A and we are planning a Wild in the City day in November. Check in at our web site for details. I do encourage you to volunteer for the many programs AES sponsors. You can easily sign up without commitment to let us know what interests you. Anything from helping at our warehouse, helping at a habitat project, becoming a certified sawyer, assisting at a banquet or youth event. You will have the opportunity to give back to conservation and meet many like-minded folks along the way.
For those of you who have a big game fall hunt–keep your powder dry! For those who do not, consider being a volunteer at one of our many Hunts for Heroes camps. What makes Arizona Elk Society such an awesome organization is YOU. Without our volunteers, most if not all of what we do would not be possible.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Tracker featuring the two Arizona Elk Society banquets.
We are already planning for the next banquet here in the Valley, so stay tuned for the dates. We hope to have our banquet in the White Mountains this coming summer as well. I cannot thank enough all the banquet volunteers for making the two events—in Mesa and Flagstaff—huge successes. AES received an awesome gift from the Applegate Estate—this issue has an article telling the story.
I was so thrilled when it finally started to rain, and rain, and rain some more. It was actually too much rain for my archery elk hunt as I mud-bogged around and finally conceded my season to the elk. Water hauling was no longer need at the feverish pace of the spring and most of the summer. Here is hoping we get a decent snowpack.
With all things there is a cycle of life and death. A great Arizona wildlife biologist and naturalist passed on—David E. Brown. Dave was an inspiration and mentor to 100’s of wildlifers and students. I refer to his vegetation maps of Arizona and the southwest on a regular basis. His books, some 30 plus, range in topics from waterfowl and squirrels to grizzly bear, jaguar, and imperial woodpeckers. Dave knew about Arizona and the Southwest wildlife and the habitats they relied on more than most anybody. He was actively studying white-sided jackrabbits in the Avra Valley up until the illness that took him from us. Dave always let you know where he stood, and conservation of elk was not a high priority.
When I was overseeing game management in Arizona he urged me to increase permits and get the elk population in balance. Looking at the land today, I think we succeeded through a combination of harvest strategies and habitat improvement projects. The habitat work that Arizona Elk Society helps fund and our volunteer’s projects, including water developments, are really important for the health of Arizona elk herds and other wildlife.
My heartfelt holiday wishes and may you and yours be safe and enjoy the Arizona winter outdoors!