Caribou Gear

Note from Chris Denham

Chris_Denham

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Gentlemen,
First of all, I appreciate all your comments, both good and bad, that you have posted over the past couple months. I have remained silent for a period of time while I’ve tried to intelligently digest these opinions and views, and ultimately address you with a clear mind. This has also been a very busy time for me, so I appreciate your patience.

As many of you may know, I have given a large portion of my time, effort, and money to wildlife over the past couple of decades. I feel very strongly about a hunter’s obligation to conservation. Over these many years, I feel like I have proven that by putting my effort, time, and money where my mouth is. Here are a few things I’ve done in that time:
• Co-founder of Outdoor Experience 4 All – OE4A’s mission is to take kids with terminal diagnoses, physical disabilities, and children of our fallen heroes on outdoor experiences.

• Arizona Big Game Super Raffle - Founding member and current Secretary
• Arizona Elk Society – Founding member
• Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation – Founding member
• Arizona Deer Association – Past President, Vice President, and Board Member
• Arizona Bowhunters Association – Past Treasurer
• Arizona Wildlife Federation – Past Board Member
• Life Member of B&C
• Member of RMEF
• Life Member of NRA
• Member of Wild Sheep Foundation
• Member of Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society

Recently, I was involved with the controversy in regard to a bill that was proposed in Arizona. Without going into a 400-page novel here because now it’s all a moot point and an ever-changing conversation, there were a lot of projects and goals in Arizona that were (and still are) in need of serious help – some very “big picture” items and many specific ones as well. After trying for years to raise awareness and funds for these projects and not generating what we felt we needed for these important issues, the decision was made to try alternate funding, and that included additional governor and raffle tags.

Looking back, this all boils down to whether or not “the end justified the means”. Obviously, at the time, I felt the projects were important enough that yes, the end did justify the means. If ultimately I misjudged the wishes of Arizona sportsmen, and in their view the end did not justify the means, then you all have my most sincere apology.

This may be a surprise to some, but I do not like auction tags in any form, they simply should not need to exist. I believe that all sportsmen should step up and cover 100% of the cost of any program or project necessary to ensure our sporting heritage, kind of like a flat tax. Sadly, between the gross mismanagement of license revenue and general apathy amongst the majority of sportsmen, this has never happened. Auction tag revenues (I can only speak for Arizona) have been used to substantially improve wildlife habitat and increase wildlife populations across the state. For instance, the vast majority of the wild sheep herds around Arizona owe their existence to the revenue derived from auction tags. The rejuvenation of the Kaibab deer herd is a direct result of a massive amount of research instigated by the Arizona Deer Association with the use of tag revenues. Many of the people opposed to auction tags are either philosophically opposed and/or just not willing to forego one tag if it means their odds of drawing a tag are affected in any way. I can’t and won’t argue with the former; in fact I admire anyone who will “take a bullet” in defense of his principles and integrity.

I had absolutely nothing to gain personally by being a part of this, and as you can see from what I mentioned above in my past work, I would never want to do anything to A) tarnish my own good name, or B) be a part of anything that would not benefit Arizona sportsmen or be without their blessing. Have I made mistakes? Heck yes! Were there mistakes made in the introduction of HB2072? Absolutely, and once I had a better understanding of the problems, I reached a point where I could no longer support the bill.
By making this statement, I don’t expect to change everyone’s mind. I fully expect that there will be those who won’t either listen or care, and that’s fine. I just want to let anyone who does care, to know the score. I won’t come out and say that I don’t support any number of auction tags; I do feel they have a place in whatever number sportsmen wish to support.

I also am not going to throw any person or organization under the bus. Of all the organizations listed above, I could easily find something that I don’t like about each one. However, I’m just not in the business of condemning any group or organization of volunteers and conservationists who are working hard in some way for wildlife and/or hunters’ rights.

I’m well aware that coming onto these forums is not always in the best interest of an industry “target”, since there are those out there who have no intention of having civil discussion or getting past a bump in the road. Too many times the internet becomes a place for people to take out every frustration in their lives via the anonymity of a computer screen. However, I feel with the events of the last few months, I do want to take this opportunity to let you know what’s on my mind about it, as well as letting you all know that I respect you enough to address you, since you have asked me to. Please do know, though, that I have no plans in dragging this out any further than this message. There is simply no more to say.

Finally, for those of you on the fence about Elk Hunter and/or Western Hunter Magazines, I’d like to say a few things. First, there’s a reason we brought Ryan Hatfield on board as our Editor. My opinion is that Ryan is the best hunting magazine editor out there, and hunters should be glad that someone like him is in this important position. His vision for these magazines, as well as the quality and standards he wants to send to all our readers, is second to none. If I didn’t believe that he had the skills and ideals to ultimately make these magazines the best out there, we wouldn’t have joined forces with him. Ryan is selective about what he allows in the magazine, because he takes very seriously the obligation of his job and the magazine itself to set a good example with reverence for the wildlife we cherish and for the hunt itself. I highly urge you all to consider taking a good hard look at what we’re going to be bringing to the table. I truly believe that it will be in line with what you all would expect a western big game publication should be.
This is not a ploy to sell subscriptions. I simply feel that you all deserve to be addressed respectfully and told the truth. A few people on internet forums have chosen to attack some of our editors with childish threats that would embarrass the entire sporting community. Please leave them out of this. If you have a beef with me, then bring it to me. My email is [email protected].

I’ve decided that over the next few months, I’m going to slow down significantly in the conservation realm, which has been a goal of mine for two years. I’ve done my share or maybe a little more, and I think it’s time for a break to focus more on family and doing my part, along with our editorial staff, to give people the best product we possibly can, and something you’ll all be exceptionally proud of. Thank you all so much for your time.
 

Big Fin

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Chris - Thanks for posting your explanation here. I am glad you have stated this.

I don't personally know much about you or your businesses, other than a quick hand shake and introductions we had at SHOT Show in 2009. What I know is from what I have been told by others in AZ who spoke of your work in conservation and hunting there. And, getting a free copy of the magazine.

I imagine it would be much easier to dig in and provide rationalization that defends association with HB 2072, rather than come here and state what you have. Admitting a change of position when being criticized is never easy. I hope people will appreciate that.

Anyone who reads these threads knows I have been one of the more outspoken people on this and similar SFW topics. I appreciate you taking the time to register here and post your comments.

I hope that the problems identified as being so critical in AZ do get solved. That sources are found to fund those issues in a manner resident sportsmen can get behind. AZ has a great history of conservation work done by hunters, AZ G&F, and conservation groups.

I agree that you have a great person in Ryan. He has been on this site trying to explain his positions among all of this and has represented himself very well.

Thanks again for this note and for sharing it here.
 

Topgun 30-06

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That sounds like the standup guy that I've read about in the past. Kudos for coming on here with that explanation. I might even get that subscription to the magazine now , as Ryan has been a favorite of mine from the first time I saw and read his stuff and watched him on TV!
 

Moosie

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since there are those out there who have no intention of having civil discussion or getting past a bump in the road. Too many times the internet becomes a place for people to take out every frustration in their lives via the anonymity of a computer screen.

Since when did that start happenng ?!?!?!?

Next you are going to say there are smart alex and peopel that flex Cyber muscles on the forums too...........

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azcoueshunter

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LOL why you posting this here instead of on CWT you owe them the apology!


ah ---- RMEF
 
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Devil Diver Down

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Chris-
I, too, appreciate you coming on here to explain your position. I'm aware of your considerable track record of conservation work in Arizona and was surprised at your (email) stance. As an Arizona hunter myself, I'm also concerned about the future of our sport, the growing access issues in Arizona and the West and other issues sportsmen face. Those issues do require serious help and that help comes mainly in the form of dollars.

That said, I don't think auction or raffle tags is an acceptable answer. Not because they diminish my odds of drawing--to me it is the first, dangerous step in monetizing our herds, with privatizing just a short step away. In addition, I don't appreciate an organization and lobbyists bypassing the AZGFD and numerous sportsmans' groups (some listed by you in your credentials) to push through an initiative like HB 2072 that was tailor made for one single, qualifying entity--AZSFW. It is clear that the majority of Arizona sportsmen feel the same way, given the stiff opposition to the bill. Despite that strong opposition, AZSFW continues to press on, IMO, to their own peril.

Clearly you have carried more than your share of the load with regards to doing your part for wildlife. We need every sportsman/woman to do their part as well. And we need to shoulder the load in a way that doesn't require us to undercut our future--which I strongly believe HB 2072 would do. Many mistakes have been made in the past with regard to management of funds and resources. I look forward to working with leadership who will break a trail that will unite sportsmen/women's efforts, while keeping the North American Model intact, and solve those pressing issues.

David
 

Battleborn

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Thanks for making a statement Chris as well as all the good things you have done for wildlife conservation in the past, and hopefully in the future.
 

sagebrush

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Not that tough to raise money for wildlife. Add a $25 habitat stamp requirement to all hunting licenses. That would raise over $3 million. Allocate the funds to volunteer projects from ADA, AES, etc.

We could probably get Jerry Weiers to introduce the bill to accomplish this, if we just make the proper contribution to his re-election campaign! I hear the going rate is only about $6,000.
 

spook12

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Chris, let me start by saying thanks for all your conservation work. Really like what you have done for the children of my fallen brothers.I have no desire to get into a pissing match,as i dont think it would contribute to the discussion one bit. But allow me a few thoughts. I'm glad to hear you have stepped back from your support of HB2072. We seem to be at a crossroads in the hunting community, there is a faction of us who believe that the wildlife of a state belongs to all the people of said state, placed in the public trust to be managed by the people.There is another faction that believes that the people can't be trusted with this responsibility, that we need some all knowing benevolent individual or group to save us from ourselves.In your note you mentioned that the majority of hunters where apathetic,just because someone is not as engaged as you are ,doesn't mean they dont get to voice an opinion. Chris we have all played the '' If i was KING for a day'' game. You know where we solve all the worlds ill's ,And the truth is any one of us probably could .But thats not how it's done in a democracy ,everyone by virtue of their citizenship gets a vote,a say. When AZSFW made the end run around the people of Arizona ,they did more than try to get some tags ,they disenfranchised the people. If we want to recruit or retain more sportsman we need to engage them not take away their voice.
 

Craig S.

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Chris has worked his butt off & continues to do so for wildlife & youth. I did not agree with the bill & spoke with Chris via email. I communicated my concerns & Chris responded to my replies.

Hopefully, what comes from this is those that are NOT involved GET involved. I see a ton of anger over these issues & this bill, but hopefully every one does NOT ignore the topics the bill stated it was intended to be developed for...
 
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Topgun 30-06

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Looks like the AZGFD is taking the bull by the horns to counteract SFW. This is a C/P of the post Tony put over on MM and I hope all you guys in AZ make it a point to pack the place that night! Here is the announcement:

From AZGFD:
A most important first meeting of the newly created Sportsmen’s Constituent Group (working title at this point) will be held on Thursday, March 22, from 6-9 p.m., at the Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway in Phoenix.

The meeting will discuss how to best unite constituents (sportsmen/women and other wildlife enthusiasts, whether affiliated with an organized group or not) on immediate issues and challenges affecting the future of hunting, fishing and shooting sports, as well as Arizona’s wildlife future.

Any member of the public is welcome to attend.

The meeting was called for by action of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission at its Jan. 25 meeting and will be hosted/chaired by Kurt Davis, a member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The meeting will also be webcast at www.azgfd.gov/webcast.

A detailed agenda will be posted prior to the meeting.
 

azcoueshunter

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I see a ton of anger over these issues & this bill, but hopefully every one does NOT ignore the topics the bill stated it was intended to be developed for...

Helping wildlfie is never a new topic or the youth programs or the habitat program

AZSFW was in it for the money , period ! I really like the bribe in the second attempt . They offer G&F 30% of the money but only if they got on board and support the bill!

The main topic of the bill was azsfw want complete control and the g&f department and the sportsman of Arizona do not know or understand how it should be done!

Still wonder why Chris has not apologized on an Arizona website
 
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Craig S.

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I agree, they did want control & that's JUST one reason I did not like it.

We do have issues across the board & my MAIN concern is access. I have seen far too many ranches selling off & then subdividing, it's killing us! The Game & Fish have finally realized this fact or made it more public. At one of the recent Regional meetings they pulled up a state-wide land status map & it is a huge problem. You just can't hunt many of the places you could as a kid, let alone the places our dads & grandfathers could.

Here is an example:

http://blog.outdoorsmansresourceguide.com/2011/06/15ab-is-example.html

When fuel prices are high & you can't hunt local areas because they are subdivided or locked-up, the "Average Joe" throws in the towel. It's happening! I believe we can do more & HAVE NOT done enough for access. We need all 150,000 hunters to join the FIGHT!


I can't speak for why Chris has not posted anything on any Arizona sites. I am not his best friend, co-worker or related in any way. I just feel like he has done a lot of good for AZ Wildlife & AZ Youth. I know he has done more than I have.
 
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Devil Diver Down

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Helping wildlfie is never a new topic or the youth programs or the habitat program

AZSFW was in it for the money , period ! I really like the bribe in the second attempt . They offer G&F 30% of the money but only if they got on board and support the bill!

The main topic of the bill was azsfw want complete contol and the g&f department and the sportsman of Arizona do not know or understand how it should be done!

Still wonder why Chris has not apologized on an Arizona website

I don't think Chris is apologizing here--he's explaining his position. First he was in favor of the bill, now he is not. His private (made public) initial support of the bill is something you will either forgive or not. His track record of doing things to benefit wildlife and sportsmen in AZ is difficult not to support. I'm glad he's on the right side of the fence NOW and hope everyone gets to that side. Divisive methods will not solve the problems we face--access being a big one.

Divisive or not, AZSFW can still kiss my red ass. Anyone who is still part of that organization in the coming months will enjoy that same invitation. In the meantime, all of our energy is probably better spent on working towards solutions instead of looking for worthless apologies. Myself, I'm kicking a little more money to AES, RMEF and maybe some other worthwhile organizations--ones that aren't looking to 'backdoor' me. I also plan to do more than my one annual work project. Just my 2¢. Your mileage may vary.
 

azcoueshunter

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"If ultimately I misjudged the wishes of Arizona sportsmen, and in their view the end did not justify the means, then you all have my most sincere apology."

ultimately the only ones who justified this bill were the ones who drafted and sponsored it. I guess hes out of touch completely , mainly because i've yet to see anyone except the ones sponsoring 2072 that support it in any way! AZSFW "WE DECIDED" what was good for Arizona-


Nope not willing to forgive , the betrayal of trust !
 
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mixedbag

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Nice to have explained yourself but I don't think this is exactly your type of audience.Most of us are the guys that can't afford auction tags.personally, I hope your org. sinks over this stuff.I'd be more pissed if I was a resident of Az. having to deal with this garbage.Be interesting to see you post on an Az. hunters site to see how the majority feels about you and your org.
There are ALOT better ways to deal with the issues and money needed then give tags to rich people only.If SFW doesn't figure that out they will be done soon.I don't agree with any auction tags for any reason.There could be added stamp requirements or a little more fees for entering draws ect.. to add revenue.something in the range which ANY hunter could afford;not just rich.If you so into conservation, this should have been your first move.But, instead, you want extra trophy tags for your rich hunting buddies to grab from us so we don't even get an opportunity to draw them
 

azcoueshunter

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guess its a bump in the road to some but here it represent a big canyon
 
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