Update On White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation


Published: September - 2003

Arguably the best Rocky Mountain elk hunting in North America is on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona. That being so, it's not surprising that in 2002 many hunters closely watched as the Rodeo fire burned over 250,000 acres of the reservation. Fortunately, that fire did little damage to the prime White Mountain hunting territory. The same is true, I just learned, of another fire on the reservation this summer. This one was threatening the reservation's headquarters in the town of Whiteriver itself, as well as Pinetop, when I called John Caid, White Mountain's Director of Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation Division, for an update.

At this writing, the Kinishba fire, as it is called, has been contained after burning over 24,000 acres. The land affected is in an area restricted to tribal hunters and doesn't affect any of the three designated trophy elk hunting areas, which cover roughly two thirds of the 1.6-million acre reservation.

With that good news, I went on to ask Caid for an update on their elk program. You may recall that in 1997, the Tribal Council let Caid go, causing some concern among the hunting community since Caid was widely credited for this elk program's phenomenal success. Turns out, Caid was asked to head the program again this past fall, and he has made some changes that I believe will be improvements. I'll get to those in a minute.

First, though, some people may wonder how you could improve a program that already attracts elk hunters willing to spend $15,000 or more for the chance to hunt. In fact, many are willing to endure a long waiting list (it is now two years and growing), with only four to six new hunters selected each year. Indeed, why would anyone spend that much money for an elk hunt and wait so long for a permit?

The answer is, White Mountain offers the best chance in North America to take an absolute monster bull on a free-range hunt. A total of 127 bulls qualifying........(continued)

 
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