PHOENIX — As a wildlife guide, Travis McClendon is allowed by state law to carry a pistol or revolver on his hunting trips, which can last for days in the forests of northern Arizona.
When a trip brings him face to face with a mountain lion, he said, a handgun doesn’t feel like enough protection.
“It is never a good feeling if you can’t defend yourself,” McClendon said. “Once you see a mountain lion you never go without a gun again.”
Responding to concerns raised by wildlife guides — not just about predators but encounters with drug-runners — a state lawmaker wants to allow them to use any legal firearm when they lead hunting parties.
“The issue is there are some areas where they need a little more firepower,” said Rep. Frank Pratt, R-Casa Grande, author of HB 2127.
The House Public Safety, Military and Regulatory Affairs Committee unanimously endorsed the measure Feb. 3, sending it to the House floor by way of the Rules Committee.
Pratt said he introduced the bill at the request of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which licenses the state’s wildlife guides.
Ben Altender, government relations associate for Game and Fish, said hunters and their guides often encounter drug-runners in southern Arizona.
“It’s not uncommon at all to be in a hunting camp and see people carrying bales of marijuana over,” he said.
Altender said it makes sense for guides to be able to carry firearms similar to those carried by hunters.
“As it stands, a hunter can pretty much carry whatever they want as long as it’s legal, but wildlife guides have these restrictions,” he said. “This just levels the playing field.”
As a wildlife guide based in Tucson, Keith Hubbard said he commonly encounters drug-runners on trips near the border to hunt javelina, quail, deer, sheep and bears.
“You’ll be hiding behind a tree scouting for wildlife and see cartels with guns carrying 30 pounds of marijuana right in front of you,” Hubbard said. “That’s when I know to lead my group to another spot to hunt.”
However, Hubbard said Pratt’s bill wouldn’t change things for him because he doesn’t take along a handgun when he’s leading clients on hunts. The added weight is a nuisance, he said.
“I have never seen the need, and even if this bill did pass I wouldn’t take an AR-15 with me,” Hubbard said. “You learn how to avoid it and stay away when you need to.”
McClendon, the guide from northern Arizona, said he’d gladly carry an AR-15 or another type of rifle if Pratt’s bill becomes law.
“It’s the simple fact that guides would have more options available to them, and that’s really important,” McClendon said.
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy