Open lines of communication is important to SD Game, Fish & Parks

Courtesy photoAn avid hunter since childhood, Terry Mayes serves on the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Western Regional Advisory Panel with several western South Dakota ranchers.

RAPID CITY, SD – An avid hunter since childhood, Terry Mayes, 65, knew his son was going to follow in his footsteps the first time he took him turkey hunting.

“I told him he needed to be quiet and not move otherwise he’d scare the turkey,” recounts Mayes of the first hunting adventure he and his son, Justin, shared together 25 years ago. “Fifteen minutes later I was able to call a turkey in close enough to harvest it. I picked it up and went over to where Justin was. He said, ‘dad I had a spider crawl across my face, but I didn’t move!’ That’s when I knew he was going to be a hunter.”

Today, Mayes works to ensure that parents and children will be able to hunt together in South Dakota for generations to come. He is a member of the SD Game, Fish & Parks (GF&P) Western Regional Advisory Panel (WRAP).

Established to increase open communication between the SD Game, Fish & Parks and the landowners/hunters they serve, the nine-member WRAP is made up of six western South Dakota ranchers and three sportsmen.

“We wanted to create yet another opportunity to receive public input,” said Mike Kintigh, GF&P regional supervisor for much of western South Dakota. “Our role during the meetings is to listen to the concerns and issues that the panel members present, and listen to their suggestions for solutions.”

All four regions in the state have an advisory panel. When selecting the individuals to serve on his region’s panel, Kintigh looked for a balanced representation of the population his region serves – most panel members are involved in full-time agriculture production.

“Agriculture producers are stewards of most of the land in South Dakota. We consider ranchers our partners in conservation and habitat development. They have close ties to the land and a strong appreciation for conservation and wildlife,” said Kintigh, who has worked with GF&P for 23 years.

Along with Mayes, who owns land near Rapid City, the other panel members include; Travis Bies, who ranches near Fairburn; Gary Cammack, a business owner and Union Center rancher; Brian Dail, an avid hunter from Rapid City; Kenneth McIlravy, who ranches near Philip; Dennis Nash, who ranches near Prairie City; Scott Phillips, who ranches near Hot Springs; and Jeff Sleep, who ranches near Spearfish.

The topics covered are as diverse as the panel. In its first year, members discussed issues ranging from wolf, mountain lion and black bear management issues, urban deer problems and hunter ethics to transferable hunting licenses, expanding youth involvement, land acquisitions, and increasing communications between GF&P and landowners.

“No subject is taboo,” Kintigh said.

Cammack feels the GF&P does a good job responding to concerns or suggestions the WRAP presents.

“This is a platform which allows ranchers and hunters to communicate with the Game, Fish & Parks their day-to-day concerns on different issues. We direct the topics of discussion and brainstorm with Game, Fish & Parks staff solutions. They respond by involving department experts and in the end it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Cammack.

Over the years Cammack, his wife, Amy and their four sons have planted more than 25,000 trees on the ranch. The family works closely with the SD Game, Fish & Parks to enhance wildlife habitat, stock dams and grazing land on their 7,000-acre, western South Dakota ranch.

“Like the other members on the panel, I feel strongly about enhancing wildlife and habitat opportunities for future generations to enjoy,” Cammack said.

To learn more about the Regional Advisory Panel in your area, contact your local SD Game, Fish & Parks office.