APPLICATION STRATEGY 2019: Arizona Antelope
Arizona's 2019 antelope application overview
Arizona is not an easy state to draw an antelope tag... but don't let that discourage you. For those who do draw a tag, the opportunity at shooting record book antelope could be within reach. Twelve of the state's 42 antelope units can consistently provide bucks scoring over 80", and 37 units have the potential for 75"+! Arizona might not have as high of an antelope population as other states, but just because the quantity is lacking, it doesn't mean that the quality is. And with the recent 2016 change allowing a slim chance at a random tag, this state should be on your radar again for a chance at hunting some of the biggest antelope in the West.
Note: The online application deadline for Arizona antelope is February 12, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. MST. You can apply online here.
Why Arizona for antelope in 2019
Excellent public land access
Many of the top producing antelope units in the state, offer any hunter seemingly endless amounts of public ground to cover while scouting and hunting, creating an ideal situation if you are considering a do-it-yourself (DIY) hunt.
Higher chances for nonresidents
Now, even with zero points, an applicant has a chance to draw even the hardest tags in the state for all species.
Any antelope unit has the potential of producing an 80” buck during any given year. Although it isn’t common across all units, it is absolutely possible.
New for 2019
2019 is the last year for paper applications
This will be the last year you can apply for elk and antelope with a paper application.
If you choose to purchase your hunting license or any other permits through any vendor other than the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) you could be subject to a convenience fee added to the transaction. Previously, vendors billed the state $1.00 for all transactions. This is no longer the case and, if the vendor wants to be compensated for their time selling the license or permit, they are now allowed to add a service fee to the transaction in order to be compensated if they choose.
This program provides hunters with peace of mind in knowing that they can surrender their tag for any reason without losing their coveted bonus points. Point Guard coverage costs $5 per species. See more details here.
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. MST on Feb. 28, 2019.
Below you can find important information and an overview of Arizona’s rules/regulations, the draw system, bonus points, tag and license fees, and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the Arizona Antelope Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy units.
Important dates and information
- The deadline to apply online is Feb. 12, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. MST.
- You can apply online or with a paper application—2019 is the last year paper will be accepted for elk and antelope applications.
- The deadline to update credit card information is Feb. 28, 2019.
- Payment must be made by Visa or Mastercard for online applications.
- If you send in a paper application, you can pay with a personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or certified check (no cash).
- 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 14, 2019. More information can be found here.
Continuing to provide the most accurate Arizona draw odds
You have access to the most accurate draw odds by utilizing Arizona Draw Odds on INSIDER. Since the change in the draw system in 2016, many nonresidents have the opportunity to draw tags that were previously unattainable for anyone who did not have a high number of points.
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 max point holders.
This program 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. See more details here.
The current drought status in Arizona
Arizona, like all western states, has been under historic drought conditions for many years. Although there have been abnormal amounts of snow in the upper elevations of Arizona this winter, the state as a whole is so far behind the curve that the snow and rain will need to stay consistent for some time in order to fully recover.
Below you can see the comparison to January 10, 2017, where nearly 60% of Arizona was under drought conditions.
The Arizona draw system
Understanding the draw
Arizona allows its applicants to apply for up to five choices; however, only the first two selections are considered during the first pass. Historically, all buck antelope permits have been awarded during this first pass, which makes selections three, four and five mostly irrelevant.
Arizona has a modified bonus system in place. What this means, in essence, is that it is a bucket of raffle tickets. If you happen to be in the maximum point pool for any particular hunt code, then there is typically way fewer tickets in that bucket and you have a much stronger chance of drawing—even up to 100% in rare occasions, especially for nonresidents.
There are four ways to increase your bonus points:
- Earn a bonus point each time you are unsuccessful in the draw (one point per year).
- Or apply for “bonus points only” to gain a bonus point in the event that you do not want to risk drawing a tag until you have a higher number of points.
- You can also travel to Arizona and take a hunter education course and earn a permanent bonus point.
- Earn a permanent loyalty point. An applicant is awarded this point by applying for a species for five consecutive years. This is also a species-specific point and this permanent point will not be taken away when you draw a tag.
If you are successful in the draw, then your bonus points will revert back to zero. If you have earned a loyalty and/or hunter education point, then you will keep those indefinitely. If you fail to apply for five consecutive years, then all points will be lost. Special note: Once a loyalty bonus point is accrued, the applicant shall retain the loyalty bonus point provided the applicant annually submits an application, with funds sufficient to cover all application fees and applicable license fees for each applicant listed on the application, for a hunt permit-tag or a bonus point for the genus for which the loyalty bonus point was accrued. An applicant who fails to apply in any calendar year for a hunt permit-tag or bonus point for the genus for which the loyalty bonus point was accrued shall forfeit the loyalty bonus point for that genus. If you fail to apply and lose your loyalty point, you will have to start over and continue to apply for that species again for five consecutive years to get the loyalty point again.
Unlike many states, where if you don’t have the points you have no chance of getting a tag, Arizona gives hunters with only a few points a chance. Even if you don’t draw anything this year, you can get a bonus point to increase your chances next year. You can apply for bonus points only in Arizona, but you must buy a $160 nonrefundable hunting license and pay a $15 application fee per species. You may also add an additional $5 to each application per year if you choose to add PointGuard, which adds a level of protection for unseen events that would prevent you from hunting if drawn.
Arizona's 2019 antelope breakdown
There was a decrease in the number of antelope permits in 2018 and it looks as though Arizona is moving forward with the current number of permits for the time being. Overall, when comparing the antelope hunting in Arizona to many of the other western states, it falls dramatically short in opportunity but makes up for this in trophy potential in most of their units. When considering applying for antelope in Arizona you really have only two things to consider: either you are infatuated with antelope and want the best chance you can get at taking a high 80s or, possibly, even 90” buck even if it takes 50 years or you have elected to apply for another species in Arizona and would like to get the most value you can out of the $160 hunting license you are required to purchase each year. Most hunters will fall into the second category. This is a great plan, especially with the changes to the draw system in 2016. Now, every hunt in the state gives the applicant a chance at drawing and, although it’s a very small chance, it is better than 0%, which was previously the case on most units for applicants with less than maximum points. If you do elect to get started with this application, settle in and know from day one this should be considered a very long-term goal with odds similar to most bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat odds across the country.
Current antelope herd condition
The current herd condition in Arizona seems to be stable for the time being. There is very little loss due to predation and hard winters are rarely an issue, if ever, in Arizona. I, for one, am of the opinion that drought conditions result in better trophy potential during any given year; however, this opinion should not be confused with the fact that severe drought conditions have historically proven lethal for antelope populations across the country. However, I believe that Arizona has dodged a bullet with the current weather they have had over the past two months. If it keeps up a little longer, there is little to fear and we should be looking forward to another fantastic year of antelope hunting in the Grand Canyon State.
2019 top hit list hunt units to consider for 80" or better bucks
|Unit 5BN||80"+||87%||Archery: 100%|
|Unit 5A||80"+||83.2%||Archery: 0%|
|Unit 9||80"+||76.6%||Archery: 0%|
|Unit 17A||80"+||72.5%||Rifle: 100%|
|Unit 19A||80"+||70.1%||First archery: 67%|
Second archery: 77%
|Unit 18B||80"+||59.2%||Archery: 0%|
|Unit 2B||80"+||56.8%||Muzzleloader: 75%|
|Unit 18A||80"+||52.1%||Archery: 43%|
|Unit 4B||80"+||47%||Archery: 0%|
|Unit 2A||80"+||42.1%||Rifle: 80%|
|Unit 10||80"+||39.2%||Archery: 47%|
|Unit 19B||80"+||38.9%||First archery: 100%|
Second archery: 100%
How to uncover hidden gem antelope units
The hidden gem in Arizona is its antelope hunting. For what this state lacks in the number of permits, it makes up in trophy potential. Any given unit in the state is capable of producing a giant antelope any given year. Knowing this and using the Filtering 2.0 tools you can dissect the different qualifiers in each category and focus on the units and hunts that best fit your goals. The first place to start when looking for a hunt that is going to be under the radar is the more primitive weapon hunts and the units that have smaller amounts of public land. Both come with unique challenges but can result in exactly the hunt you have been looking for sooner rather than later.
To get started with Filtering 2.0
- Select state.
- Select species.
- Adjust the Trophy Slider to your desired size (e.g. 70”+).
- 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 easier to draw 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.
- Choose the Public Land percentages you would like to see.
- Lastly, click on any of the remaining units to read in-depth Unit Profiles containing valuable information.
When it comes to antelope in Arizona, using a bow rather than a gun will get you a tag much sooner. Bowhunting opens up quite a few units for those who otherwise would have been waiting two to three times as long to draw a tag.
Hidden gem units: Archery antelope hunts with the best draw odds and chance at 70"+ bucks
with 10 points
|Unit 6B||75"+||30:100||Between 15-20%||25%|
Hidden gem units: Archery antelope hunts with the best draw odds and chance at 70"+ bucks
with 10 points
Boone & Crockett (B&C) entry trends for Arizona antelope
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. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.
Arizona's top five Boone & Crockett producing
|Coconino||38||3C, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5BN, 5BS, 6A, 6B, 7E, 7W,|
8, 9, 10, 11M, 12AE, 12AW, 12B
|Yavapai||111||6A, 6B, 8, 17A, 17B, 18A, 18B|
|Navajo||7||2A, 3A, 3B, 3C, 4A, 4B, 5A|
|Mohave||4||13A, 13B, 15A, 15B East, 15B West, 18A, 18B|
|Apache||2||1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 3A, 3B|
Discovering the best buck:doe ratio units
One of the features in the Filtering 2.0 tool is the ability to search for better buck:doe ratios. This is listed in the selection bar at the top of the listed units once you have filtered what you would like concerning resident versus nonresident, trophy potential, etc. on the right-hand navigation bar. It is listed as M:F Ratio. Using this filter, you can get a much stronger idea on the health of the herd and what you are up against as far as locating a buck once you have found antelope in general. The higher the buck:doe ratio means that more bucks are making it through the hunts each year, resulting in a higher age class of bucks more often than not. It should be noted that, historically, the highest scoring years for a buck antelope are often when he is three or four years old, depending on conditions. Using this filter, along with others more specific to what you are looking for, will greatly increase the quality of the experience once you have drawn the permit and are on your hunt.
The best way to find the units with the best buck:doe ratios is to use Filtering 2.0 under Arizona antelope. And then sort the results by male:female ratio. You can jump to those results here. Utilizing Filtering 2.0 to identify other key information (such as public land percentage or trophy potential) can really help you narrow down your choices on some great sleeper units!
2019 top hit list hunt units to consider for based on high buck:doe ratios
The points system for antelope
- 2019 maximum resident bonus points for antelope: 29
- 2019 maximum nonresident bonus points for antelope: 29
For another view of the bonus point breakdown using tables, you can check out the table below. The table view will allow for an easier readout of the higher point totals.
Managing points and expectations
Getting started in Arizona for antelope is not for the weak of heart and you should approach it with a “buyer beware” view because, without some incredible luck, this is going to take a seriously long time. When it happens, though if you have never walked up to a giant antelope, 90”+, there are few things more jaw dropping than this and the cost versus the potential is an easy investment in my mind.
I have 0 points. What can I expect?
Settle in warrior, this is going to take some time. As you are getting started you should be applying for what you believe to be the best permits in the state. Your odds are very low across the board so even if you were to get lucky and your name comes out of the hat early it might as well be for one of the best areas of the state. If you would like to be a little more aggressive, then use your second choice to apply for a permit you would be happy with that has fewer applicants applying each year. Who knows? Maybe you will be one of the Cinderella stories.
Yes, it has happened and, yes, you have a chance, but in the words of Clark Griswold, “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.” What I am getting at is this is a long shot and, as the years' progress, it doesn’t get a whole lot better. This application should be part of your application strategy more than anything because you enjoy hunting areas that produce exceptional trophies and you are already investing in the hunting license for another species. For an extra $15, why not?
What can I do with 3 or 4 antelope bonus points?
Very little has changed in the last couple of years. The odds are still pretty rough for the most part with a few exceptions if you are a resident looking for an archery permit.
We are still a long ways from a good chance at drawing much of anything, but if you are chasing the best odds as your primary focus than the archery permits offer the highest odds for resident hunters, but with four points the highest odds of any unit is still only 11%. Units 3B, 6B, 10, and 12AE, 12AW, 12B offer the best chances to draw an archery tag though the odds are very low. Rifle and muzzleloader odds are still long shots.
Not much to get excited about yet. If you want to chase the best odds there are three hunts that have between a 3 to 4% chance. They are all archery hunts and can be found in Units 1, 6B, and 19A. If you do choose to apply for one of these units, at a minimum, continue to swing for the fence on your first choice. Don’t miss out on a crack at a top unit while you are being aggressive.
What can I expect with 9 or 10 antelope bonus points?
Things are starting to shift slightly and there is even an archery hunt that you have a 23% chance at drawing. It’s decision time. The question you should be asking is if you would simply like to go antelope hunting or if this hunt means something to you in your overall hunting goals. If you are not interested in simply going antelope hunting, then stay the course and wait it out. You’ve been at it for a decade now and it could likely take another decade, but when it happens, you will be holding one of the most difficult permits to draw in the country in your hand.
Throw everything I said in the resident section out the window. Grab a bottle of water and get comfortable because it’s still not a decision time for you. Besides, you didn’t start down this path to simply go antelope hunting; you could have done that 10 times in a row in Wyoming or New Mexico if that was your goal. No, you’re here because you want a crack at something exceptional and, unfortunately, you are still a long ways from “good” odds in any of the top producing units in the state.
What can I expect with 15 or 20 antelope bonus points?
Based on last year’s odds you now have nine different options to consider for an archery hunt. In these units, you have at or close to 100% odds of drawing a tag. Apply for Units 1, 3B (all three archery seasons), 6B, 10, 18B, 19A, 31, 32. Unfortunately, your best odds of a rifle hunt are in 13B and are still only 6.3% last year.
Your odds are still very hard to swallow at this point, but if you no longer want to wait, nonresidents did have 100% odds last year in Unit 1 and 6B for archery. If this doesn’t get you excited, then it’s best you stick with your plan and swing for the fence on your first choice and back it up with the permit you would be happy with as a second choice.
What can I expect with over 20 antelope bonus points?
With any luck, you have had some outstanding experiences in Arizona at this point whether it’s elk, deer, or any other species offered in the state. As stated before, this is a long-term goal. It has the same level of difficulty as drawing a bighorn sheep, moose or mountain goat in many of the other states. If you are continuing to purchase the annual hunting license, then stay the course and keep throwing your name in the hat. It’s bound to happen at some point, right?
Table of options for resident/nonresidents at various point intervals
|3A, 3B, 6B,|
10, 21, 15A, 15BE
|3A, 4B, 5A, 9, 10, 18A,|
12AW, 12A, 12B, 13A, 13B