Rocky Mountain Closeup


Published: April - 2004

Last fall I reported on a number of changes to the elk hunting program on Arizona's White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation. You'll remember I told you the hunting program had suffered some fluctuations due to the effects of drought. And in response to that and other factors, John Caid, Director of Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation Division, had decided to adjust the Reservation's hunting season and the way it structured some hunts. I can now tell you the effects of those changes on last season's hunt and what you might expect for this and future seasons if you are fortunate enough to have a hunt booked there.

First, let's review the changes Caid implemented and the reasons behind them. White Mountain had seen a dramatic impact on trophy quality in 2002 due to dry conditions. The 2001 season had produced the single-season record for B & C bulls, with 10 bulls exceeding the B & C minimums and an average gross B & C score of 370 points for all bulls harvested. Then, in 2002, only one bull qualified, with the overall average score dropping to 351 points. According to Caid, a drought year can affect an elk rack's growth by as much as 15 percent - translating to 60 points on a potential 400-point bull!

Last season, production bounced back when five bulls qualified for the All-Time B & C book, and the average gross score jumped back up to slightly over 360 points. While changes in wildlife management and hunting programs should be evaluated over a period of years, the preliminary results from last year seem to indicate that the changes made to White Mountain's program were positive.

One of those changes was that the dates for the three elk hunts were moved back one week from their historic schedule to take full advantage of the rut. In the past, the third hunt was a management hunt; now, it is a trophy hunt. That is significant because existing clients have first choice when scheduling a return hunt, so first-time hunters generally are left with........(continued)

 
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