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|Hunting season opens up requests to use private land|
|Written by Alejandro Serrano|
|Tuesday, 09 November 2010 18:58|
When it comes to hunting in the area around Tombstone, asking for permission and being respectful of others is essential for hunters.
Asking for permission and being respectful sounds like the old drum your parents used to beat, but at the peak of deer hunting season, ranchers see an increased number of people on their land. Not all got permission.
Hunting season is year-round, but the fall season is when the species are the most populous. Due to the increase of hunters on the ranches, the properties are sometimes being harmed in the process.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department website makes it a point to get the hunters to respect the land they're on and prevent further discontent from ranchers, "because when access is lost, it most likely will never be regained again."
Fred Davis grew up on a ranch and is currently a ranch owner in the Tombstone area. He says that the problems are consistent, "but one problem will lead to another problem and then another."
For instance, when a hunter drives off-road, the vehicle roughs up the grass and another hunter sees the tracks and thinks it's a road. Soon, other hunters are using the tracks and the tracks end up becoming a makeshift road, Davis said.
"After that point, it gets pretty hard to stop," Davis said. "And if you don't put water bars down and water starts funneling on the tracks it can mess up the land." Water bars are used to prevent erosion on sloping roads.
Roger King, a longtime hunter-turned-guide who resides in Tombstone,
"You just have to ask for permission,"said King, who now only helps guide hunters and harvest kills. "There's certain rules you have to follow."
"If something was going wrong, the hunters would go back to the ranch and notify the owners," he said. It's not all the hunters who are troublesome.
Notification or not, once the harm is done, the ranch has to somehow cope with the attack of vandalism or criminal activity.
"We've had cattle shot, gates driven over, quails cleaned out and their caucuses thrown into the water troughs," Davis said.
King has witnessed some of the activity to report back to the ranchers.
"I've seen people shoot at water tanks, wind mills. People just do some stupid stuff," King said.
Although he's never seen anyone actually commit the crime, King said he has come up on livestock and horses shot by hunters.
Davis' ranch has never been shut down or closed off to the public, but ranch owners have the prerogative to do so.
"Most of these people will lock up their places when there's vandalism," said Oscar Villa, an experienced Tombstone hunter.
Davis believes that the issues aren't stemmed from all hunters, "I know it's just a (small) percentage of the hunters who are causing the damage."
To correctly go about gaining access and maintaining a friendly relationship with the ranch owners, hunters must be courteous to the area that they are hunting.
Davis urges hunters to just call him or stop by and see him. He appreciates even the new hunters who mistakenly drive up to his house trying to look for somewhere to hunt and end up talking to him.
Davis is a rancher, but he's also a hunter.
If a landowner's privately owned land passes through state-owned land, the rancher has to allow hunters access to public territory, Villa said.
Since half of Davis' ranch is state-owned, he cannot close off his property when