PHOENIX — Time is running out on 2018. As we reflect on the changes we want – or need – to make in the new year, how about adding an outdoors resolution to the list?
The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers 10 simple resolutions, any one of which should be easy for an outdoors enthusiast to stick to:
1. Fish local. Make it a point to wet a line this year at one (or more) of 45 waters in the Community Fishing Program. With lakes and ponds in 21 Arizona communities that are seasonally stocked with channel catfish, bluegill and rainbow trout, there’s always a hotspot close to home. This is a great way to introduce a youngster to a fun, lifelong sport. Your reward? Hearing that youngster squeal with delight while pulling in his or her first fish. Buy a license online today at https://www.azgfd.com/license/ (youth under age 10 do not need to purchase a license).
2. Support wildlife. Wildlife lovers can put their money where their heart is by signing up for a Conservation Membership Package. Your annual dues provide much-needed funding to sustain important wildlife and habitat conservation projects.
3. Take a youngster outdoors. Look for animal tracks together and identify the critter that made them. Armed with only a bird identification guide, embark on a “hunting” expedition and see how many species you can find. A day in the field will create memories that last a lifetime – for both of you.
4. Pick it up. Vow to clean up not only after yourself, but those who aren’t as considerate. Take an extra trash bag along on your next outing and spend a few minutes picking up those empty cans, cigarette butts or campsite trash. After all, respected access is open access.
5. Be a wildlife watcher. Arizona provides some of the best wildlife-viewing opportunities in the nation, with more than 800 species of wildlife. It’s a fun, inexpensive activity the entire family can enjoy.
6. Invest in good optics. Most hunters know that success in the field begins with a quality pair of binoculars or spotting scope. Don’t skimp. Better to buy the best you can afford that fits your needs than settle for a middle-of-the-road piece of equipment and be forced to upgrade later.
7. Be a conservationist. It’s difficult to imagine what our wildlife populations might be like today without the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. For a presentation from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, produced by Arizona Game and Fish, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chc9Ywp-WmY.
8. Explore “Expo.” Save the date – March 30-31 – and experience the great outdoors at the department’s 2019 Outdoor Expo at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. There will be plenty of hands-on activities, wildlife presentations/educational demonstrations, and the opportunity to meet with outdoors groups, agencies and exhibitors. Admission and parking are free.
9. Hunt something new. Don’t let the odds of being selected in the random draw keep you from applying for what could be the hunt of a lifetime. If you’ve always dreamed of hunting bison, pronghorn or bull elk, then get in the game and fill out an application. Also, don’t overlook small game or other species that can be hunted year-round. Buy a license online today at https://www.azgfd.com/license/.
10. Enter AZGFD’s Portal. The portal lets you create a secure account where you can view and manage your licenses, draw results, bonus points and memberships in your own personal “My AZGFD Dashboard” section. Just click on the “My Account” button in the upper right-hand corner of the www.azgfd.gov home page, then select the “Register” option.