The Arizona Chapter’s 20th Annual Junior Deer Camp this past November was the biggest ever as 53 youths took 12 deer and three javelina.
The Arizona Chapter partnered with Phoenix Chapter this year. At the camp was one family from Idaho and one from Utah, as well as three families from California in addition to families from throughout Arizona.
“It was the largest Junior Deer Camp we ever had,” said Bobby Boido, who has been an organizer of the event for the Chapter from the beginning.
“The hunt itself was successful, given the tough year with hot weather, the moon phase and grass being so high,” he said. (It’s hard to spot javelina from afar when they are in tall grass.)
In addition to the youths and their family members, there were 30 volunteers and mentors, which meant that on any given night there were about 150 people in camp. Fifty-three youths signed-up.
For the camp, mentors concentrated on first-time hunters. The goal was to provide a safe place to camp, and the mentors assisted with the kids and families so they could have an enjoyable and safe experience and learn about the animals and the desert.
The 2021 camp was in a designated area of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Boido said, noting that the refuge has made available a special area for conservation groups to hold their camps. “It’s a good camp area,” he noted.
“The camp is very well run.” Boido said. “Meals were great. Everything was done in a timely fashion. Safety talks were really important — we had safety talks every night.”
At the camp to help new hunters get started were two Arizona Game & Fish Department officers — A.J. Landers and Noah Silva.
The Arizona Chapter Junior Deer Camp is always a November hunt, one of two youth camps each year. Also, the Chapter puts on a Junior Jack Camp each year in March, but that event has been put off for another year because of plague that affects jackrabbits and other rabbits that has gone through both Arizona and Sonora.
“Hopefully we can have the Junior Jack Camp next year,” Boido said. “It’s well attended. It’s a fun camp.”
Meanwhile, the chapter continues to grow and be the leading conservation group in southern Arizona, which is in the AZGFD Region 5.
“AZGFD always comes to us first for money and participation,” Boido explained, noting that it has been a success story when it comes to cleaning-up the desert in Southern Arizona.
The Chapter had 350 people show up for the biggest such outing where they filled three 40-yard rollouts in one day with trash that had been discarded in the desert.
The Chapter also conducts a number of other programs throughout the year.
“We have been involved in building water catchments for wildlife,” Boido said. “We’ve donated money for sheep reintroduction into the Catalina Mountains and have donated money for a coyote eradication in management Unit 35A and 35B in the Patagonia Mountains where there has been a 100 percent success rate in antelope fawn survival.”
The AZ Chapter Board of Directors is comprised of President Mark Ballis, Vice President Andy Jones, Treasurer Jonathan Ochoa, Secretary Sarina Van Asland and members Patrick Romero, Kevin Kaiser, Brady Kelly, Tiffany Rosler, Nick Hernandez, Scott Harvey, Bob Barton, Gabriel Paz and Jason Wright.
The Phoenix Chapter Board of Directors is comprised of President Abraham Pacheco and Treasurer Eddie Corona.
Volunteers for the Junior Deer Camp included Jerry Clarno, Jeremy Beatty, George Alcorta, Jim Catanich, Pat Talley, Devin Beck, Kathy Greene, Debbie Wesch, Jack Wheat, Mike Pierce, Dave Mattausch, Sam Fettig, Andy Behrens, David Epley, David Epley Jr., Seth Molinari, Gary Swingle, Michael Boido, Hector Ochoa and Abe Pacheco.–Steve Comus