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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2017: Arizona Deer, Sheep and Bison

 

Desert bighorn sheep ram
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Arizona's 2017 deer, sheep and bison application overview

Jump to: New for 2017 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Coues Deer Breakdown Desert Bighorn Sheep Breakdown Rocky Bighorn Sheep Breakdown Bison Breakdown

Arizona is home to some of the best hunting the West has to offer. Mule deer and Coues deer, bison and Rocky Mountain and desert bighorn sheep can be found in the Grand Canyon state. The trick to getting a chance at one of these animals is getting lucky enough to draw a tag, but to do that, first, you have to apply and apply for a long time.

Applying in Arizona is simple, but competitive. If you want to challenge yourself as a hunter, use goHUNT’s INSIDER tools to locate hidden gem hunting spots and amazing opportunity.

Note: The application deadline for Arizona deer, bighorn sheep and bison is June 13, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. MST. You can apply online here.



Why Arizona for deer, sheep and bison in 2017?

Arizona’s draw system is based on bonus points, not preference points, which means everyone has a chance. Plus, with the new regulations regarding the draw, nonresidents have a greater chance of drawing some of the most coveted tags in the country.

The Kaibab Plateau (Units 12AE, 12AW) and Arizona Strip (Units 13A, 13B) in the northwest region of the state are famous for giant mule deer. Additionally, Arizona has a lot to offer in other regions. Several units just south of the Grand Canyon and along the Mogollon Rim also offer trophy caliber mule deer hunting.

Coues whitetail are also found in Arizona. These unique deer inhabit only two states: Arizona and New Mexico. Fortunately, Arizona has far more Coues habitat, which means a larger Coues population. Coues deer habitat extends from the deserts of southern Arizona to the pine forests of northern Arizona.

Arizona has both Rocky Mountain and desert bighorn sheep with a plethora of hunting options. On an annual basis, several hunters take Boone & Crockett (B&C) rams. While these units are nearly impossible to draw, especially for nonresidents, with the bonus point system and a random draw, there is still a chance to acquire a tag.

Lastly, Arizona has a small, huntable population of bison. While tags are very limited, it is possible to draw a tag and hunt bison in Arizona—something few states in the West offer!



New for 2017

The most accurate Arizona draw odds

In December 2016, we launched Arizona draw odds on INSIDER. This was a huge milestone. We are the only place where you can find accurate draw adds for Arizona after the 2016 draw changes. You'll also be able to see 2015 draw odds that used the old draw system as well as 2016 draw odds that included the recent draw process change. There is no guarantee that nonresidents will draw all of their allotted tags in the random draw, which means it is possible that the nonresident 10% cap may not be met in some hunt choices.

Using the draw odds detailed pages for Arizona, you’ll quickly be able to see how the draw system change affected hunters with minimal points and for those maximum point holders. Strategies for 2017 are definitely going to change for people across all point levels. Utilizing this new information for 2017 is going to be a huge game changer.

PointGuard

This program was first available in 2016 and provides hunters with peace of mind in knowing that they can surrender their tag for any reason without losing their coveted bonus points. PointGuard coverage costs $5 per species. PointGuard was not available for the elk and antelope draw last year. See more details here.

Use of drones is illegal

Drones are considered aircraft by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and it is illegal to use drones in any way to assist in the take of wildlife. This includes using drones while scouting.

Failed credit card payments

If you're applying online, be sure to keep your credit card payment information current and up-to-date. If your payment is declined at the time of the draw, your application will not be drawn. AZGFD will no longer call customers to obtain payment on drawn applications where credit cards have failed. The deadline for updating your credit or debit card information online is 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time on July 6, 2017.



State information

To view important information and an overview of Arizona’s rules/regulations, the draw system and bonus points, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map, check out the Arizona State Profile.

Arizona State Profile Mule Deer Profile Coues Deer ProfileDesert Bighorn Profile Rocky Bighorn Profile Bison Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • The deadline to apply is June 13 at 11:59 p.m. MST. You can apply online here.
  • You can apply online or with a paper application.
  • If you apply by paper, then Arizona must receive your application by the deadline. A personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or certified check (no cash) must accompany the application.
  • If applying online, only Visa or Mastercard will be accepted.
  • Up to 10% of the available tags for any hunt code can be awarded to nonresidents.
  • If you are unsuccessful in the draw, then you will be awarded a bonus point for that species.
  • The Arizona Big Game Super Raffle drawing will be held July 20, 2017. More information can be found here.

Drought/ rainfall/ snowpack

Currently, 41% of the state is affected by moderate drought conditions. Spring showers have been higher than normal in Arizona so vegetation should be abundant in much of the state going into the summer. Deer antler growth should be normal, but may depend on monsoon showers from July to September during the antler growing season.

Border activity

Some of Arizona's best deer habitat in the southern portion of the state experiences high illegal immigration traffic during hunting season since the daytime temperatures as more mild than in the summer time. Be alert and prepared to have your hunt affected by border activity if you draw a tag near the border of Mexico.

Wolves in Arizona

There is a small population of wolves in Arizona. In 1998, 11 captivity-bred Mexican wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) in eastern Arizona. Additional releases have occurred since the initial release. We have covered numerous news articles about the status of wolves in Arizona. At the beginning of 2015, surveys identified at least 109 Mexican wolves in the BRWRA. The number reflects only those animals that were visually seen. Biologists admit that there are probably more wolves in Arizona than were actually counted.



The draw system

Understanding the draw

It is important to understand the draw system before you begin. There are three phases to the big game drawing: the bonus point pass, the first-second choice pass, and the third-fourth-fifth choice pass.

When an application is selected during one of the passes and the hunt choices are checked for available permits, there must be enough permits available in a hunt choice for all applicants on the application, including non­residents; if not, the application is passed and the next one is selected.

The most important thing you can know when it comes to your application is that your first and second choices are the most important on your application. If your application is chosen and your first choice is full, the system will immediately check your second choice. This means that you should view your second choice as being just as important in terms of the hunt you select as your first choice.

More information can be found on the Arizona State Profile about the specifics of the Arizona draw system

Arizona application do’s and don’ts

  • If you already know that you cannot go on a hunt in Arizona, but want to accumulate bonus points, purchase a bonus point.
  • If you can go on a hunt, always apply for a hunt number and do not purchase a point regardless of your already accumulated points. Although bonus points factor in, Arizona’s draw system is random and you only have a chance if you apply for a hunt.
  • Make sure to enter all of your personal application information correctly on your application, whether paper or online.
  • Verify you are applying for the hunt you intended to apply for. This is especially important when applying online using the drop-down feature.
  • Create an account on the AZGFD website (www.azgfd.gov).
     


Arizona's mule deer breakdown
 

Christopher Wright with his Kaibab mule deer taken with Arizona Strip Guides
INSIDER member Christopher Wright with his Kaibab mule deer taken with Arizona Strip GuidesA goHUNT Business Member

Current mule deer herd condition

Because deer habitat is quite diverse — ranging from 70’ to over 12,600’ in elevation with several life zones in between — it is difficult to monitor and discuss detailed herd conditions. In general, Arizona's deer herds have been on the rise  after drought conditions over the last decade greatly impacted herds. On the flip side, deer in Arizona are not as affected by winter conditions due to more mild winters than other states in the West. To learn about herd conditions in a particular unit or area of the state, use Filtering 2.0 and then go into each unit profile; you can also check out the Arizona Species Profiles.

The goHUNT hit list units for Arizona mule deer

Top units to consider for 180” or better mule deer
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Buck:doe
ratio
OTC or
draw
Unit 12B 190"+ 43:100 Draw
Unit 13A 190"+ 43:100 Draw
Unit 13B 190"+ 50:100 Draw
Unit 12AE 180"+ 30:100 Draw
Unit 12AW 180"+ 56:100 Draw
Unit 3A 180"+ 20:100 Draw
Unit 3C 180"+ 20:100 Draw
Unit 45C 180"+ 44:100 Both
 
 


How to uncover hidden gem deer units

You can use Filtering 2.0 as an aid to find the right hunting opportunity to fit your style. This revolutionary tool will allow you to select your exact criteria for your preferred hunt and will help you find the right season to hunt or apply for in a unit that fits all of your criteria.

To get started with Filtering 2.0

  • Select state.
  • Select species.
  • Adjust the Trophy Slider to your desired size (e.g. 170”+).
  • Click whether you are a resident or nonresident and indicate how many points you currently possess.
  • Select your minimum percentage of odds for drawing the tag. This can be very good for weeding out units with unlimited (100%) tags.
  • Select which season(s) you are wishing to hunt. Have other hunts going on throughout the fall? You can also set your date parameters and Filtering 2.0 will automatically find what's in season that time of the year.
  • Choose what harvest percentages you would like to see in the units.
  • Lastly, click on any of the remaining units to read in-depth profiles containing valuable information.

Hidden gem units that take 5 points or less

Unit Season Trophy
potentia
l
Harvest
success
Points
required
3A Archery 180"+ 19% 5
3C Archery 180"+ 19% 5
20A Rifle 170"+ 42% 4
20B Rifle 170"+ 14% 4
41 Rifle 170"+ 31% 3
15A Muzzleloader 160"+ 34% 3

Trending buck:doe ratio units

Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. When selecting a unit, or comparing several units, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in-depth. The best way to find the units with the best buck:doe ratios is to use Filtering 2.0 under Arizona mule deer, then sort the results by male:female ratio. You can jump to those results here.

Top units for buck:doe ratios

Unit Buck:doe
ratio
Trophy
potentia
l
OTC season
available
12AW 56:100 180"+ Draw only
4A 56:100 160"+ Both (Early & Late)
4B 56:100 160"+ Early
19B 55:100 160"+ Both (Early & Late)
13B 50:100 190"+ Draw only
18A 48:100 170"+ Both (Early & Late)
44A 48:100 150"+ Late
25M 48:100 150"+ Late
20B 44:100 170"+ Both (Early & Late)
16A 44:100 160"+ Both (Early & Late)
45A 44:100 170"+ Late
45B 44:100 170"+ Late
45C 44:100 180"+ Late
12B 43:100 190"+ Draw
13A 43:100 190"+ Draw

 

Five year B&C entry trends for Arizona mule deer

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are considered if any part of the unit is found within any part of the county.

Arizona's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Mohave 10 13A, 13B
Coconino 3 3C, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5BN, 5BS, 6A, 6B,
7E, 7W, 8, 9, 10, 11M, 12AE, 12AW, 12B
Gila 1 22, 23, 24A, 24B

 

Arizona's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical mule deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Mohave 5 13A, 13B
Coconino 2 3C, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5BN, 5BS, 6A, 6B,
7E, 7W, 8, 9, 10, 11M, 12AE, 12AW, 12B
Pima 1 32, 33, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B,
36C, 37A, 38M, 40A, 40B

 



The points system

Arizona mule deer taken with Arizona Mountain Outfitters

Arizona mule deer taken with Arizona Mountain Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Managing points and expectations

Coues deer and mule deer use the same bonus points pool.

2017 maximum bonus points for deer: 19

Arizona resident deer bonus point totals going into the 2017 draw
Arizona nonresident deer bonus point totals going into the 2017 draw

Find your draw odds

I have 0 to 3 mule deer bonus points. What can I expect?

In this point range, there is little chance to draw one of Arizona’s most coveted tags, especially for nonresidents. If your dream is to draw a once-in-a-lifetime tag and you're willing to wait, simply put in for the hunt that you want. Please realize that if you are just starting out, statistically, you may never draw one of these premium tags. With Arizona’s new draw change you now have a chance, but so does everyone else. If you are willing to accept a lesser tag, apply for hunts that have tags available in the general pass, such as the October hunts in Unit 12A East and Unit 12A West or in Unit 12B.

Additionally, think about units south of the Grand Canyon like Unit 8, Unit 9, Unit 10, and Unit 27. These may be easier to draw, but are more difficult hunts.

What can I do with 4 to 10 mule deer bonus points?

Residents and nonresidents in this category are close to drawing a good tag, especially those at the higher end. Again, if you are dead set on the premium Arizona Strip or Kaibab hunts, apply for those as your first and second choices and leave choices three through five blank. If you are itching to hunt mule deer, a few good choices are Unit 12A East and Unit 12A West, Unit 12B, Unit 3A, Unit 3C, and Unit 27. If you are interested in desert mule deer, several units in the Yuma region are close to a guarantee for nonresidents at this point level. Trophy caliber units include Unit 39, Unit 40A, Unit 40B, Unit 42, Unit 45A, Unit 45B, and Unit 45C. These hunts can be difficult, especially to the novice, but can produce quality bucks. In fact, this region produced a buck that scored close to 300” in 2014.

What can I expect with 11 or more mule deer bonus points?

It still takes a minimum of 18 points for a nonresident to have a good chance of drawing the coveted Arizona Strip hunts (13A and 13B) and close to that for the late Kaibab hunts (12AE, 12AW). If you are still dead set on the premium hunts, continue putting in for only the hunts you want; you are getting close to being able to draw the tag you've set your sights on and it would be foolish to give that up at this point.

If you are willing to take your chances on an earlier Kaibab hunt, the draw odds are high for nonresidents in this category. Residents have slightly higher odds at the bottom of this pool, but the more the better. Either stay the course or take your chances on a slightly less premium hunt.

Leftover and OTC deer tags
 

Paige with an Arizona archery OTC mule deer taken with Raging Bull Outfitters
Paige with an Arizona archery OTC mule deer taken with Raging Bull Outfitters​ — A goHUNT Business Member

For bowhunters, Arizona has three archery hunts during the calendar year that can be hunted with an OTC permit. Since you have to purchase a license to apply for the draw, you should take full advantage of the OTC tag. In most cases, you can hunt the same unit you applied for in the draw. This is a great way to scout your desired unit, if nothing else. You can check out these past Arizona OTC articles below. Stay tuned for more OTC articles this year.

Arizona OTC mule deer taken with Big Chino Outfitters
Arizona OTC mule deer taken with Big Chino Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Alternatively, use Filtering 2.0 to find the perfect OTC unit to hunt during the time that best fits your hunting schedule.



Arizona's 2017 Coues deer breakdown
 

Arizona Coues deer taken with Country Ventures
Arizona Coues deer taken with Country Ventures — A goHUNT Business Member

The Coues whitetail is not a well-known sub-species of the whitetail family; however, in the Southwest, the miniature whitetail has a cult-like following. The B&C minimum for a typical Coues buck is just 110”. For detailed hunting strategies for Coues deer in Arizona, you can check out this recent article.

Current Coues deer herd condition

The Coues deer thrives in harsh conditions throughout its range. This means that the hearty deer is less affected by drought conditions than other big game species that inhabit the West. In most units across Arizona, the Coues whitetail is at least stable and even expanding in some.

Top units to consider for 100” or better Coues deer
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
OTC season
available
Unit 22 110"+ 28:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 23 110"+ 39:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 33 110"+ 26:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 32 105"+ 28:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 36C 105"+ 31:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 21 100"+ 34:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 24A 100"+ 18:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 24B 100"+ 25:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 29 100"+ 28:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 30A 100"+ 34:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 30B 100"+ 30:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 31 100"+ 28:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 34A 100"+ 32:100 Yes (early)
Unit 34B 100"+ 37:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 35A 100"+ 38:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 35B 100"+ 19:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 36A 100"+ 15:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 36B 100"+ 22:100 Yes (early & late)
Unit 6A 100"+ 43:100 Yes (early)

 



How to uncover hidden gem units

If you are willing to hunt south of the I-10 corridor where border traffic is high, then there are leftover Coues tags available every year in good units. Additionally, using the features of Filtering 2.0 will unveil several units to take a trophy Coues buck that often fly under the radar.

Five year B&C entry trends for Arizona Coues deer

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Arizona's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for typical Coues deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Gila 11 222324A24B
Cochise 9 28, 29, 30A, 30B, 31, 32, 33, 34B, 35A
Pima 9 32, 33, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B, 36C
Santa Cruz 4 34A, 35A, 35B, 36B
Coconino 2 4A4B5A, 5BN5BS6A6B8
 

Arizona's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for nontypical Coues deer

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Gila 11 22, 23, 24A, 24B
Pima 4 32, 33, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B, 36C
Cochise   282930A30B31323334B35A
Greenlee 2 27, 28
Santa Cruz 2 34A, 35A, 35B, 36B

 



The point system
 

Arizona droptine Coues deer taken with Duwane Adams hunting
Arizona droptine Coues deer taken with Duwane Adams Hunting - A goHUNT Business Member

The bonus points race

Coues deer and mule deer use the same bonus points pool.

2017 maximum bonus points for deer: 19

Find your draw odds

Managing points and expectations
 

Coues deer taken with Arizona Trophy Outfitters
Coues deer taken with Arizona Trophy Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

I have 0 Coues deer bonus points. What can I expect?

If you are looking to hunt Arizona right now and you want to hunt Coues whitetail you are in luck. There are several choices for hunts that have over a 75% draw rate; some of these hunts even have leftover tags. While rut hunts are more coveted, October hunts can be just as good for those willing to scout prior to and/or during the hunt. Good units to take a respectable Coues buck (which also have good draw odds) include Unit 29, Unit 31, Unit 32, Unit 33, and Unit 36A/B/C. With no points, it will be tough to draw the coveted Unit 22, Unit 23, Unit 32, and Unit 33 though.

What can I do with 4 to 10 Coues deer bonus points?

If you are interested in Coues whitetail, there are new options. Residents looking for a rut hunt have decent odds in the high country units, including Unit 6A, Unit 6B, Unit 8, and Unit 27. Nonresident chances are high for units south of I-10, including Unit 29, Unit 30A, Unit 36A/B/C.

What can I expect with 11 or more Coues deer bonus points?

Residents and nonresidents alike have high odds for coveted December Coues whitetail tags. In that case, the Mogollon Rim, Unit 22 and Unit 23 are hard to beat along with Unit 32 and Unit 33 in the south.

Leftover and OTC deer tags

Arizona has leftover deer tags every year. Most of these tags are for Coues whitetail in areas south of Tucson. These tags are leftover because they occur in remote regions of the state with a higher frequency of border issues from illegal crossing; however, these hunts can produce quality bucks. Leftover tags are acquired by a first come, first served process — first by mail beginning on July 31, 2017, and then available at any department office. Proceed with caution, but enjoy the hunt.

The following warning is from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Unit 36B is a corridor for the trafficking of undocumented aliens (UDAs) and drugs. Hunters will see the trails and trash left by these people. Hunters are urged to use caution when hunting and camping in Unit 36B or any of the other border units. It is advisable to use some sort of visible anti-theft device on your vehicle, for vehicle thefts have increased the past two years. Having a group of UDAs walk through a hunting area may negatively affect your hunt. The key to hunting in the border units is the ability to flex and adapt. To report UDAs, call the Border Patrol at 1-877-872-7435, or in the case of an emergency, dial 911.”

There are also lots of OTC Coues deer hunting opportunities in Arizona. You can utilize Filtering 2.0 to unlock some hidden gem OTC hunts and you can also read this INSIDER article for a great OTC breakdown.



Arizona's desert bighorn sheep breakdown
 

Arizona desert bighorn sheep taken with Arizona Desert Outfitters
Arizona desert bighorn sheep "Curly" taken with Arizona Desert Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Arizona is home to both desert bighorn and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. It is a major contender when it comes to locating and taking a trophy desert bighorn sheep—over 13% of the tag holders have harvested a record book ram! For 2017, there will be a total of 104 sheep tags available: 88 for desert bighorn and 16 for Rocky Mountain bighorn.

Current desert bighorn sheep herd condition

Unfortunately, Arizona has had a disease problem in Unit 15 (BW, C, D) in the western portion of the state that will affect older ram sightings and harvests in 2017. Any hunter who draws a tag in these units should expect to see diminished herd quality.

The goHUNT hit list units for Arizona desert bighorn sheep
 

Top units to consider for 165” or better desert bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Ram:ewe
ratio
Harvest
success
Unit 22 180"+ 50:100 100%
Unit 15D 175"+ 58:100 100%
Unit 24B 175"+ 49:100 100%
Unit 31 175"+ 70:100 100%
Unit 32 175"+ 70:100 100%
Unit 28 170"+ 64:100 100%
Unit 37A 170"+ 52:100 100%
Unit 39 170"+ 82:100 100%
Unit 40A 170"+ 56:100 100%
Unit 44A 170"+ 83:100 100%
(one hunt had 50%)
Unit 13B 165"+ 35:100 0%
100%
Unit 18B 165"+ 46:100 100%
Unit 42 165"+ 64:100 50%
Unit 43A 165"+ 71:100 100%
Unit 43B 165"+ 63:100 100%
Unit 44B 165"+ 56:100 100%
 
 

Top units for ram:ewe ratios

Unit Ram:ewe
ratio
Trophy
potentia
l
Harvest
13A 100:100 155"+ 100%
46B 86:100 160"+ 100%
44A 83:100 170"+ 100%
(one with 50%)
39 82:100 170"+ 100%
46A 80:100 160"+ 100%
45C 73:100 155"+ 100%
43A 71:100 165"+ 100%
45B 71:100 155"+ 100%
31 70:100 175"+ 100%
32 70:100 175"+ 100%

 

Five year B&C entry trends for Arizona desert bighorn sheep

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Arizona's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for desert bighorn sheep

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Mohave 13 13A13B15B West15C15D16A16B18B
Pinai 12 24B313237A37B39
Maricopa 11 22, 24B, 31, 32
Pima 9 3237A40A40B46A
La Paz 8 43A, 44B, 45A, 45B
 


Arizona's Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep breakdown
 

Arizona Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep taken with Dieringer Outfitters
Arizona Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep taken with Dieringer Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

With only six units to chose from, draw odds for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are slim at best. Over the last few years, Arizona has provided hunters with several rams that have surpassed the 175” mark. With only a few unit options available and nearly all of the tags drawn by resident applicants, nonresidents hoping to pull an Arizona tag will have a long wait.

Current Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd condition

Overall, the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd conditions are stable with big rams harvested within the state over the past several years.

The goHUNT hit list units for Arizona Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

Top units to consider for 180” or better Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Ram:ewe
ratio
Harvest
Unit 27 180"+ 40:100 100%
Unit 6A 180"+ 95:100 100%
Unit 22 175"+ NA 75%
100%
Unit 1 170"+ 17:100 100%
Unit 24A 170"+ NA 100%
Unit 23 165"+ 33:100 100%

 


 

Five year B&C entry trends for Arizona Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep units

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Arizona's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

County

No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Yavapai 4 6A
Apache 3 1, 2A, 2C, 3A, 3B, 27
Coconino 1 6A
Gila 1 22, 23, 24A
Graham 1 27
Greenlee 1 27

 



The bighorn sheep point system

The bonus points race

Arizona desert bighorns and Rocky Mountain bighorns use the same bonus points pool.

2017 maximum bonus points for desert bighorn sheep: 27

Arizona resident sheep bonus point totals going into the 2017 draw
Arizona nonresident sheep bonus point totals going into the 2017 draw

 

Find your draw odds

Managing bighorn sheep points and expectations

I have less than 25 bonus points. What can I expect?

In Arizona’s system, nonresidents always have a chance at drawing a sheep tag if they follow a couple of rules. First, always apply for hunts with multiple tags. Second, avoid the premium hunts; those tags will be taken by residents in the bonus pass. For desert bighorns, these units include Unit 22, Unit 24B, Unit 31, and Unit 32. All other units offer a valid chance. All of the 15 sub-units have suffered a disease outbreak, making older rams less plentiful; it may be wise to avoid these units in 2017. Residents should follow the same path. Always apply for the hunt you want and do not settle for purchasing a bonus point instead. You only have as many chances as years you apply, so apply and hope for the best.

I have 25 or more sheep bonus points. What can I expect?

You’ve waited this long—now it’s time to reap the rewards! The leading desert bighorn units are still Unit 22, Unit 24B, Unit 31, Unit 32, and Unit 44B North. If you are interested in Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, think about Unit 6A and Unit 22 and Unit 27 in 2017.



Arizona's bison breakdown

Arizona offers the unique opportunity to harvest a trophy bison although these opportunities are limited. The general bison hunts occur in Unit 5A and Unit 5B on the Raymond Ranch and these hunts are for cow or yearling only. These hunts require the hunter be accompanied by an AZGFD employee who designates which animal can be taken. Bison hunts on the Kaibab and Arizona Strip are more challenging, but also more rewarding. All of these hunts occur in the same three units (12AE, 12B, and 13A) and are limited opportunity hunts. There are separate seasons for rifle, muzzleloader, and archery that run August through the end of December.

Current bison herd condition

Because bison do not succumb to predation like other big game species in Arizona and because they are quite nomadic—always moving to optimal range—bison are thriving on the Kaibab and Arizona Strip.

Top units to consider for Arizona bison
(not in order of quality)

Unit Bull:cow
ratio
Unit 12AW 55:100
Unit 12AE 55:100
Unit 13A NA*

* Information not available from the state.

 

Five year B&C entry trends for Arizona bison units

Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county.

Arizona's top B&C producing
counties since 2010 for bison

County

No. of
entries
Units found
within county
Coconino 7 5A, 5B North, 5B South, 12A East, 12A West, 12B, 13A

 



The point system

2017 maximum bonus points for bison: 44

Find your draw odds

Managing points and expectations

Arizona resident bison bonus point totals going into the 2017 draw
Arizona nonresident bison bonus point totals going into the 2017 draw

The majority of tags go to those with the most bonus points. Generally speaking, it takes 24 or more points to draw a tag. Typically, these tags are drawn by resident applicants since so many more residents have accumulated a higher level of bonus points than nonresidents. All bison hunts occur in the same unit group: 12A (AE, AW), 12B, and 13A, which means that there are really only two decisions to make: when can you hunt and what type of hunt are you looking for? Select a hunt that fits both your calendar and your preferred hunting method. If you are open to using primitive weapons (muzzleloader or archery), your chances of drawing a tag will be slightly higher. You can't draw if you don't apply!

Top 10 B&C all-time bison locations

Although Arizona doesn't rank high in total number of B&C record book entries... hunting a bison in Arizona is truly a dream hunt.

Top 10 B&C Bison Entry Locations All-Time - 2017 app strategy

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