GMU 6A Potential Wikiup Water Projects
Don McDowell 5-15-20
This effort came about while pursing elk during a hunt in Verde Valley area, east of the Verde River, the Town of Camp Verde west of the FR 618 road.
During the December /January month the weather was wet enough to turn the hunting grounds into some kind of slippery muck that is still stuck on my truck. The Forest restricted travel by closing most all the roads and locking gates. However moving into March, all had dried and foot and vehicular travel was eased and some gates and roads still restricted by the Forest.
During the several trips the permanent water available for wildlife was found over on the west side of the unit being the Wet Beaver Creek and tribs that still had a few dribbles. That area holds a solid population of white tail deer and I did see a few really strong bucks.
In six trips I saw no mule deer in the entire area and it was due to lack of glassing, hiking and covering real estate. Mule deer sign is around but sparse. Elk on the other hand, well, I’ll be back in December.
My last opportunity to hunt the unit, in March, off the 618 C road, I happened across a rancher, nice guy and he shared secrets of the area for the elk I was seeking. At the same time an AZGFD WM happened along and we did the license/tag check, I suggested perhaps a refund was in order due to the lack of elk in this area. What I learned from the rancher was that all his or their live stock water is pumped and no real permanent water existed for miles which explained to me the lack of mule deer. The habitat is great for mulies and in years past the area held viable populations of mule deer and not so much of the white tail. Juniper encroachment is certainly occurring into what used be grasslands as well.
We did walk a water tank, call it #1, just south of the 618C in what was Wikiup Creek, more of dried up silted and brush encroached sloped area downhill, maybe once upon a time a creek but not today. That said, there’s a one lane bridge on the 618 that takes water shedding from the east side of the watershed of the 618. Recent channeling has been attempted and I don’t know if the Forest has completed it, however, I’m going to check. The last time I was there, well, let’s say, it needed more effort to make it drain beyond the west side of the bridge.
Another tank, call it #2, was found to the north of the first tank, nestled between two big ridges in an area that does have erosion channels that would feed water to the tank if the silt were removed and the bottom resloped. And once again one road is closed and locked gate, the other closed by signage. That’s another subject for discussion.
So tank #1 is in area that may not be conducive to channeling but may be able direct natural drainages coming down of the south slope to the tank. But it needs to have the silt removed, deepened to hold a sizable volume of water, build up and reconfigured berms to accept the natural water that is available seasonally.
This information video has been forwarded the AZGFD Habitat Partnership Committee to see what can be arranged to address one or both of these tanks in HPC partnership with the V bar V Ranch, U of A and USFS to create viable permanent water storage for wildlife and livestock.