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  1. Elkhunter1

    Hunter access...my thoughts!

    I have been looking into the "rancher/hunter" issue that has again rissin to the forefront. What I understand is this is coming from a few ranches in the northern part of the state. Although I don't know the specifics of why this is happening, I have some words of wisdom for both sides. First for the ranchers; as a hunter whose parents taught hunter safety classes for years I was taught to talk with the rancher and utilize the exchange cards printed by G&F. I have experienced ranchers who wouldn't give me the time of day despite what I had to say or offer. On several occasions all I was doing was advising of issues I found while scouting/hunting like damaged water lines or tanks. Most hunters live the hunter lifestyle which encompasses the conservation mindset that acknowledges the role ranchers play in the survival of all wildlife. Most hunters are respectful of the land and infrastructure built to ensure that survival. Second to the hunters; as a 48 year old hunter who was taught to respect the ranchers as they are the stewards of the land. I have seen hunters whose contempt for the rancher or even the wildlife and the land has pushed me to the point of confrontations with said hunters, camping on water, leaving gates open, trash everywhere and yes even shooting signs and other ranch equipment. Personally I don't call those people hunters as their lack of respect is the reason most ranchers close land/access for all hunters. RESPECT or the lack of is the root of this issue! The way I see it each hunter needs to approach the ranchers in the area they wish to hunt. Each rancher needs to sit down with the hunter. BOTH sides needs to show respect to the other and maybe just maybe you both have more in common than you think. The hunter needs to offer his/her help with cleanup, fencing, water lines. heck just reporting issues you find will go a long way with the rancher, show him as a hunter you care about the land and the animals on it. My family has cut wood for a rancher who allowed us to clear deadfall and hunt on his land. I have even offered some of the bounty from a successful hunt. Bottom line is the hunter should "show" the rancher your respect and the rancher should "listen" and "allow" the hunter the opportunity show the respect. I don't believe we need new laws to get what both sides is looking for! RESPECT for each other and the roles each plays in the conservation of our wildlife is the KEY to solving this issue!!! WE ALL NEED TO WORK TOGETHER!!!! This is the AZG&F rule as it is written now! R12-4-110 Posting and Access to State Land A. For the purpose of this Section: “Corrals,” “feed lots,” or “holding pens” mean completely fenced areas used to contain livestock for purposes other than grazing. “Existing road” means any maintained or unmaintained road, way, highway, trail, or path that has been used for motorized vehicular travel, and clearly shows or has a history of established vehicle use, and is not currently closed by the Commission. “State lands” means all land owned or held in trust by the state that is managed by the State Land Department and lands that are owned or managed by the Game and Fish Commission. B. In addition to the prohibition against posting proscribed under A.R.S. § 17-304, a person shall not lock a gate, construct a fence, place an obstacle, or otherwise commit an act that denies legally available access to or use of any existing road upon state lands by persons lawfully taking or retrieving wildlife or conducting any activities that are within the scope of and take place while lawfully hunting or fishing. 1. A person in violation of this Section shall take immediate corrective action to remove any lock, fence, or other obstacle unlawfully preventing access to state lands. 2. If immediate corrective action is not taken, a representative of the Department may remove any unlawful posting and remove any lock, fence, or other obstacle that unlawfully prevents access to state lands. 3. In addition, the Department may take appropriate legal action to recover expenses incurred in the removal of any unlawful posting or obstacle that prevented access to state land. C. The provisions of this Section do not allow any person to trespass upon private land to gain access to any state land. D. A person may post state lands as closed to hunting, fishing, or trapping without further action by the Commission when the state land is within one-quarter mile of any: 1. Occupied residence, cabin, lodge, or other building; or 2. Corrals, feed lots, or holding pens containing concentrations of livestock other than for grazing purposes. E. The Commission may grant permission to lock, tear down, or remove a gate or close a road or trail that provides legally available access to state lands for persons lawfully taking wildlife or conducting any activities that are within the scope of and take place while lawfully hunting or fishing if access to such lands is provided by a reasonable alternate route. 1. Under R12-4-610, the Director may grant a permit to a state land lessee to temporarily lock a gate or close an existing road that provides access to state lands if the taking of wildlife will cause unreasonable interference during a critical livestock or commercial operation. This permit shall not exceed 30 days. 2. Applications for permits for more than 30 days shall be submitted to the Commission for approval. 3. If a permit is issued to temporarily close a road or gate, a copy of the permit shall be posted at the point of the closure during the period of the closure. F. A person may post state lands other than those referenced under subsection (D) as closed to hunting, fishing, or trapping, provided the person has obtained a permit from the Commission authorizing the closure. A person possessing a permit authorizing the closure of state lands shall post signs in compliance with A.R.S. 17-304(C). The Commission may permit the closure of state land when it is necessary: 1. Because the taking of wildlife constitutes an unusual hazard to permitted users; 2. To prevent unreasonable destruction of plant life or habitat; or 3. For proper resource conservation, use, or protection, including but not limited to high fire danger, excessive interference with mineral development, developed agricultural land, or timber or livestock operations. G. A person shall submit an application for posting state land to prohibit hunting, fishing, or trapping under subsection (F), or to close an existing road under subsection (E), as required under R12-4-610. If an application to close state land to hunting, fishing, or trapping is made by a person other than the state land lessee, the Department shall provide notice to the lessee and the State Land Commissioner before the Commission considers the application. The state land lessee or the State Land Commissioner shall file any objections with the Department, in writing, within 30 days after receipt of notice, after which the matter shall be submitted to the Commission for determination. H. A person may use a vehicle on or off a road to pick up lawfully taken big game animals. I. The closing of state land to hunting, fishing, or trapping shall not restrict any other permitted use of the land. J. State trust land may be posted with signs that read “State Land No Trespassing,” but such posting shall not prohibit access to such land by any person lawfully taking or retrieving wildlife or conducting any activities that are within the scope of and take place while lawfully hunting or fishing. K. When hunting, fishing, or trapping on state land, a license holder shall not: 1. Break or remove any lock or cut any fence to gain access to state land; 2. Open and not immediately close a gate; 3. Intentionally or wantonly destroy, deface, injure, remove, or disturb any building, sign, equipment, marker, or other property; 4. Harvest or remove any vegetative or mineral resources or object of archaeological, historic, or scientific interest; 5. Appropriate, mutilate, deface, or destroy any natural feature, object of natural beauty, antiquity, or other public or private property; 6. Dig, remove, or destroy any tree or shrub; 7. Gather or collect renewable or non-renewable resources for the purpose of sale or barter unless specifically permitted or authorized by law; or 8. Frighten or chase domestic livestock or wildlife, or endanger the lives or safety of others when using a motorized vehicle or other means; or 9. Operate a motor vehicle off road or on any road closed to the public by the Commission or landowner, except to retrieve a lawfully taken big game animal.