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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2019: Arizona Deer, Sheep and Bison

2019 Arizona deer sheep bison application strategy

Arizona's 2019 deer, bighorn sheep and bison application overview


Main writer: Jordan Christensen of The Draw

Jump to: New for 2019 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Coues Deer Breakdown Desert Bighorn Sheep Breakdown Rocky Bighorn Sheep Breakdown Bison Breakdown

Arizona is commonly referred to in the application game as a long-term goal kind of state and this is for good reason. Many of the elite units in the state are going to take a serious amount of time to draw without blind luck. Some of the opportunities for bighorn sheep, bison and, even, deer are so far out of reach that even if a 10-year-old got started building points this year and eventually achieved a maximum point status under today’s current system it’s still unlikely he or she would draw a tag. However, a change in 2016 guaranteed that a minimum of 50% of the potential nonresident permits are put into the random draw; therefore, changing everything. This means that now, although still very difficult, even these previously out of reach hunts now have a small chance of producing a successful application during the first year. It has also forever changed how an applicant should look at Arizona going forward—especially a new applicant. This new draw process has had the most dramatic effect on deer and elk but has also slightly increased the odds of drawing for all applicants when it comes to bighorn sheep and bison. This is good news for everyone, except for the few hunters who were at or near the maximum point situation. The change impacted them negatively.

As an adult applying for Arizona, building bonus points starts with the purchase of a $160 hunting license. Starting this year, the license is now good for 365 days. This means that if you happen to have missed the elk and antelope application at the first of the year, you will now be able to use the license that you purchase during this drawing process for those applications in February of 2020. Because you are required to purchase this hunting license, it is a little disheartening to think that you will have a less than a 1% chance at drawing some of the more premier hunts in the state, which include bighorn sheep and bison as well as deer hunts in the Arizona Strip or late hunts on the Kaibab Plateau. And, truthfully, there really is no finish line in sight.

This begs the question of why even start then? The answer to that question comes down to two different factors. The first factor is quality. Arizona has a long track record of producing some of the best representations of all its species that offer controlled hunts. The second factor is that there are many different opportunities to hunt in the Grand Canyon State—particularly for deer—then you might expect. Some of these opportunities come from over-the-counter (OTC) archery permits and others are different permits that hunters can draw with between zero and five points. So, depending on what your goals are, Arizona just might be a place for you to get started and who knows? Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones heading to a top-shelf destination sooner rather than later. However, one thing is certain; you can’t win if you don’t play.

Note: The online application deadline for Arizona deer, bighorn sheep and bison is June 11, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. MST. You can apply online here.


Why Arizona for deer, bighorn sheep, and bison in 2019?

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.

Mule deer

Some of the biggest mule deer on the planet are consistently harvested off of the units north of the Grand Canyon; however, Arizona has many big deer come off of less talked about units every year. With the new draw system, applicants can now choose to swing for the fence on an elite unit as their first choice while backing this up with a more realistic hunt. If your odds are less than 1% during the first year and they are less than 1% for the 15th year, then why do you care about burning your points? You will essentially have the same chance of drawing the very next year for the hunts that are the hardest to draw in the state.

Coues whitetail

Whether you are looking to check the box on this species or just want to have a crack at an absolute giant representation of the species, Arizona is going to be your best bet when it comes to these elusive deer. With only a few years’ worth of applying, hunting during late December isn’t out of reach in some of the far southern units; while hunting in October or November on even the best units in the state is also a slim possibility.

Bighorn sheep

Arizona bighorn sheep are not divided by subspecies on your application. Your points are good for either species and how you code your application at the time you submit it determines what species you are applying for any given year. Be aware that desert bighorn sheep are one of the toughest animals to draw in North America and, other than Nevada, Arizona offers more potential nonresident permits than any other state in the country. That makes this state a no-brainer for desert bighorn sheep. If you are aggressive about hunting a desert bighorn sheep and you happen to draw in another state, your points will still have lots of value because you can now begin applying for a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep if you choose to without starting over. For hunters serious about taking all four of the North American wild sheep, this is definitely an ace-in-the-hole and creates an opportunity no matter how the cards fall in the other states.

Bison

If you are looking for a free-range Boone & Crockett (B&C) qualifying bison, then building points during this draw is important. You will not want to apply for a hunt as the only hunts available in this drawing process are for cows and yearling bulls aside from one hunt code that will allow you to harvest a bull that is selected by a guide who will accompany you on your hunt. If you want to hunt a B&C bison, then you will want to apply for an actual hunt in the fall draw process for the hunts that happen in the spring and summer.

All of these reasons make Arizona the place to be when it comes to hunting for the trophy of a lifetime.


New for 2019

  • The deadline to submit online applications is 11:59 p.m. MST on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
  • Remember that this is the last draw in which paper applications will be accepted.
  • The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has redesigned its big game hunt permit-tags. The hunter harvest questionnaire is now included on your hunt permit-tag. A unique QR scan code, as well as a web link, will be located on the back of hunt permit-tags. Scan the code to access the hunter harvest questionnaire webpage then select your species.
  • Completing your hunter questionnaire, honestly and accurately, is very important to the management of wildlife in Arizona.
  • Draw odds information for deer will no longer be printed in AZGFD’s regulation book. Refer to goHUNT’s Draw Odds information for your most accurate draw odds for all big game species across the west.
  • You may be eligible to purchase a companion javelina tag valid during your deer hunt and hunt both deer and javelina. Look for note 17 associated with your youth deer hunt.
  • Game Management Units (GMU) 8, 9, 10, 12AE, 12AW are scheduled to have prescribed fire activities occurring on the Kaibab National Forest between the months of September and December of this year. Specific information about each of these projects can be obtained by visiting the Kaibab National Forest Website here, checking the Incident Information System web page at inciweb.nwcg.gov/, or by calling the Kaibab National Forest Fire Information Phone line at 928-635-8311.
  • In accordance with R12-4-303, it is unlawful to discharge an arrow, bolt or hybrid device while taking wildlife within a quarter mile of an occupied farmhouse or other residences, cabin, lodge or building without permission of the owner or resident. This new rule change is effective on June 30, 2019.

Arizona's 2016 bonus and random pass draw change

* There is no guarantee that nonresidents will draw all of their allotted tags in the Random Draw, so it is possible that the nonresident 10% cap may not be met in some hunt choices.

Using the standalone Draw Odds detail page 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.

Portal account required to access Arizona draw results

  • In order to access the draw results, you must set up a portal account. You can do so here.

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. See more details here.

Use of drones is illegal

  • Drones are considered aircraft by 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

  • Online applicants are encouraged to keep their credit card payment information current. 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) Thursday, June 27, 2019.

Note: If your credit/debit card has been used for multiple applications, please notify your banking institution that multiple charges from AZGFD could be processed simultaneously.


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 11 at 11:59 p.m. MST. You can apply online here.
  • 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 if you have purchased a hunting license.
  • The Arizona Big Game Super Raffle drawing will be held July 14, 2019. More information can be found here.

Moisture Levels in 2019

Arizona drought monitor
Source: United States Drought Monitor

Currently, only 4.59% of the state is in a moderate drought condition while 16.69% is considered abnormally dry. This is an absolutely incredible turnaround when compared to 2018 where 100% of the state was in some level of drought. The winter and spring weather have been exceptional and continue even now with El Niño conditions coming just in time. 2018 was a throwaway year for antler growth, but 2019 will be better. The spring moisture is going to have a huge effect on antler growth this year and should produce some absolute monster bucks not only in the areas that historically produce big deer but even in some of the more obscure units of the state. If you have been on the fence as to when to use your bonus points, 2019 is really shaping up to be a banner year in Arizona.

Arizona current snow and water

Source: NRCS

Border activity

Unfortunately, this is becoming a very real concern for many hunters that are hunting on or around the border. What’s even worse is that some very strong deer herds in the state can be found in these units. The units where the likelihood of a run-in with illegal immigrants are primarily South of Interstate 10 as once they reach this interstate it is unlikely that they will be continuing on foot to their destination. When hunting these areas, it is worth noting that often they will be moving more at night and stationary in the middle of the day in the bottom of the canyons and draws. When covering country, it is often best to stay on ridgelines and, if you need to cross a draw or canyon, do so without spending much time in the bottom. When camping it’s not a bad idea to leave a little water and or food outside of camper as this often will deter them from wanting or needing to break in if they happen to be in bad shape from their travels.

Wolves in Arizona

There is estimated to be a little over 100 wolves that make up the recovery effort primarily across Arizona as well as a small portion of New Mexico. These wolves have a relatively small impact on big game in Arizona, especially deer and bighorn sheep populations, and have no effect on the bison as they are primarily found in and around the White Mountain Apache Reservation.


The draw system

Understanding the draw

Arizona is a state that runs its draw on what is called a modified bonus point system. What this means is that it is, for the most part, a bucket of raffle tickets and every year you are unsuccessful you will be given one more ticket to put in the bucket, which, essentially, gives you a slightly better chance of getting drawn year by year. The reason it is called a modified bonus point system is that if you happen to apply for any particular hunt that you have more points than any of the other applicants that applied for that hunt that year then you are considered to have maximum points and 20% of the permits are set aside per hunt code for this group of hunters. If there are more applicants with the maximum (or most number of) points for that hunt code, then their odds of drawing isn’t 100%. Also, if there are more permits available than applicants for any specific point total, then they would have 100% chance of drawing while the hunters with one point less would then be considered for the remaining permits available in the maximum point drawing until the entire 20% of allocated permits have been distributed.

Arizona sets aside 20% of the permits for the maximum points drawing, which happens first. Nonresidents are allowed up to 10% of these permits but are not guaranteed in this pass. Only half or 5% of the potential permits could come out of the maximum point pool for nonresidents, guaranteeing that at least 5% (or half of the potential nonresident permits) will end up in a random drawing. This means that even if you apply in Arizona for the hardest to draw hunt in the state, you have a chance to draw. The only time this does not happen is if there happens to be only one permit available for any specific hunt code, which occurs in some of the bighorn sheep hunt choices.

The order in which the draw is processed happens in three different passes. The first pass is the maximum point pass, so that if you have maximum points, but were still unsuccessful, you will have a chance in the second pass. The second pass is when the state looks at each applicant’s first and second choices and awards permits until the quota for that hunt code has been met. If you are unsuccessful in the second pass for your first and second choice, then the third and final pass looks at your third through fifth choices and awards you a hunt in a unit that you select that went undersubscribed in the second pass. If you are successful in drawing a permit using any of your choices you will lose your bonus points, so apply with caution on your third through fifth choices if you are not willing to burn your points on those hunts.

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

Opportunity to increase your point total beyond applying

  • Arizona has a bonus point system in place. 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).
  • 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 to 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 to zero. If you have earned 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.

Cost to apply

  • The cost to apply for Arizona is very simple:
  • Adult hunting license: $160.00 (required to apply)
  • Youth hunting license: $5.00 (required to apply)
  • Application fee per species: $15.00

Arizona does not require the money for the permit up front when you apply; however, AZGFD will charge the card on file at the time that the draw is processed. If your card on file is declined for any reason, your application will be rejected and you will not have a chance to make it right to be awarded your permit. The deadline to update any credit card information on June 27, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. MST.


Arizona's 2019 mule deer breakdown

Current mule deer herd condition

The estimated population of mule deer across Arizona is between 110,000 to 120,000 animals, which is a drastic drop compared to the early 1980s. However, the herds have been stable in and around these numbers for the last year. Given the moisture levels, in 2019, Arizona should see a high fawn production this spring and summer, which will have a positive effect moving forward. 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.

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
Public land
%
Unit 12B 190"+ 40:100 Draw 97.9%
Unit 13A 190"+ 45:100 Draw 85.4%
Unit 13B 190"+ 49:100 Draw 97.5%
Unit 12AE 180"+ 50:100 Draw 100%
Unit 12AW 180"+ 48:100 Draw 100%
Unit 3A 180"+ 34:100 Draw 29.5%
Unit 3C 180"+ 34:100 Draw 82.8%
Unit 45C 180"+ 31:100 Both 99.8%
 

How to uncover hidden gem deer units

Finding a hidden gem in Arizona typically comes down to when you are willing to hunt and what weapon you are willing to hunt with. If you are willing to hunt with archery equipment then there are a number of units that you will be able to hunt every year with an OTC permit. Also, drawing the Kaibab archery deer permit takes only a few points for an early season crack at an area that historically has some of the biggest deer in the state. Drawing a rifle hunt in some of the obscure units across the state doesn’t take many points at all. Using Filtering 2.0, you can search for exactly the type of hunt you are looking for using success rates, percentage of public land and trophy quality to find a quality hunt that most hunters may not be keying in on.

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 gone on throughout the fall? You can also set your date parameters and Filtering 2.0 will automatically find what's in a season during 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 with 100% draw odds with 5 points or less
with 170"+ trophy potential (nonresident)

Unit Season Trophy
potentia
l
Harvest
success
Points
required
45A, 45B, 45C Rifle 170"+
170"+
180"+
33% 4
18B Rifle 170"+ 46% 3
20B Muzzleloader
rifle
170"+ 22%
32%
0
3
41 Rifle 170"+ 37% 4
7E Rifle 170"+ 28% 4

Check out Filtering 2.0 or our standalone Draw Odds for even more options by entering in your points and minimum draw odds.

Hidden gem units with 100% draw odds with 5 points or less
with 170"+ trophy potential (resident)

Unit Season Trophy
potentia
l
Harvest
success
Points
required
12AE, 12AW, 12B Archery 190"+
180"+
180"+
44% 5
18B Rifle 170"+ 46% 3
20A Rifle 170"+ 32% 3
41 Rifle 170"+ 37% 4
7E Rifle 170"+ 28% 4
8 Rifle 170"+ 37% 5
9 Rifle 170"+ 40% 4
10 Rifle 170"+ 14% 5
18A Rifle 170"+ 29% 3
20B Muzzleloader
rifle
170'+ 22%
32%
0
3
27 Rifle  170"+ 57% 5
45A, 45B, 45C Rifle 170"+
170"+
180"+
33% 3

Trending buck:doe ratio units

Paying attention to buck:doe ratios can help when looking to narrow down a unit when you are looking to head into a new area or state. This is a very good indicator of the health of the herd and what you can expect when you arrive. This, along with success rates, can give you a fairly clear picture of what to expect when you arrive. 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.

Top units for buck:doe ratios

Unit Buck:doe
ratio
Trophy
potentia
l
OTC season
available
4A 61:100 160"+ Yes
4B 61:100 160"+ Yes
40A 53:100 160"+ Yes
15A 52:100 160"+ Yes
12AE 50:100 180"+ No
13B 49:100 190"+ No
12AW 48:100 180"+ No
13A 45:100 190"+ No
2A 44:100 160"+ Yes
2B 44:100 160"+ Yes
2C 44:100 160"+ Yes
19B 44:100 160"+ Yes
12B 40:100 190"+ No
39 41:100 160"+ Yes

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. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Mohave 11 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

Map of Arizona's top producing B&C typical mule deer counties all time - 2019

Total number of Typical B&C mule deer entries since 2015 - Arizona 2019

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
Navajo 1 2A3A3B3C4A4B5A
Pima 1 32, 33, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B,
36C, 37A, 38M, 40A, 40B

Map of Arizona's top producing B&C nontypical mule deer counties all time - 2019

Total number of Nontypical B&C mule deer entries since 2015 - Arizona 2019


The points system

Managing points and expectations

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

2019 maximum bonus points for deer: 22

Arizona resident deer bonus point totals going into the 2019 draw

Arizona nonresident deer bonus point totals going into the 2019 draw

Arizona deer bonus points going into 2019

Find your draw odds

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

Resident

Applying to hunt deer in your home state is a no-brainer; however, deciding on your goal can be a little more complicated, especially in Arizona. If you have three points, there are a couple of options to consider for rifle and even one muzzleloader hunt in the state, if you are looking for hunt units that have a 170”+ trophy potential. If these are not the type of hunts you are looking for then buckle your seat belt because you just might be here for a while. Your best option is to take up archery hunting.

Nonresident

Chances are you are getting started in Arizona with dreams of a giant mule deer and, often, those dreams involve a hunt north of the Grand Canyon. If that’s the case you best grab your lucky rabbit’s foot and get comfortable because, without an enormous amount of luck, you are going to be here for a very long time. However, if you would like to simply go hunting, there are a couple of rifles and one muzzleloader option to consider with as little as three points. Unit 18B and Unit 20B with both rifle and muzzleloader are available with only three points. If you do choose to apply for one of these hunts, at least give yourself a chance at an elite hunt by selecting a long shot as your first choice. Who knows? Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones.

Find your resident mule deer draw odds with 0 points here

Find your nonresident mule deer draw odds with 0 points here

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

Residents and nonresidents are in a similar boat for the most part when it comes to these many points. Both have more than enough points to draw a number of different hunts across the state and are still not even close to drawing the hunts that are north of the Grand Canyon. Remember that although November dates look amazing across most of the country, when looking at Arizona, if the unit is south of the Grand Canyon, the real rut activity doesn’t pick up until late December or, in most cases, early January.

Find your resident mule deer draw odds with 10 points here

Find your nonresident mule deer draw odds with 10 points here

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

Once you have surpassed 10 points in the Grand Canyon State you are really headed into no man’s land. There are few hunts in the state that are out of reach with the exception of units north of the Grand Canyon and a few places on the far east-central part of the state. There are also a number of hunts scattered across the state with late December dates that could produce an above average buck any given year.

It still takes a minimum of 20 points for a nonresident to have a better than 1% chance at drawing the Arizona Strip hunts (13A and 13B) and close to that for the late Kaibab hunts (12AE12AW). If you are still dead set on the premium hunts, continue putting in for only the hunts you want and keep being patient.

If you are willing to take your chances on an earlier Kaibab hunt, the draw odds are high for nonresidents with this point total.

Find your resident mule deer draw odds with 15 points here

Find your nonresident mule deer draw odds with 15 points here


Leftover and OTC deer tags

The majority of the state has OTC archery hunts so there is a chance that the unit you are looking to hunt is available to hunt every year as long as you are willing to pick up your bow and head out. Season dates are either in August or closer to the new year as the rut activity picks up. At a minimum, this is a great way to get familiar with a unit before you burn your points on the rifle permit.

Alternatively, use Filtering 2.0 to find the perfect OTC unit to hunt during the time that best fits your hunting schedule. Sort by trophy potential to see what great opportunity there is for OTC hunts!

Find your Arizona MULE DEER OTC opportunities here

Find your Arizona COUES DEER OTC opportunities here


Arizona's 2019 Coues deer breakdown

If you enjoy lots of time behind your glass, long hikes and long shots and you are not a Coues deer hunter, then you really need to take a second look at these amazing deer. There are numerous hunting opportunities each year to choose from even during the first year you apply. The grey ghost (as they are commonly referred to) will humble even the most seasoned western hunter. The famous Chuck Adams once stated that “Coues Deer are the hardest North American big game animal to take with a bow.” However, even killing a mature buck with your rifle is still a huge accomplishment. Coues deer are often considered a check-the-box type of species if you are a goal-oriented hunter, but, once you try it, many become addicted and hunt them as often as possible. If this sounds like you, then Arizona is arguably the best bang for your buck in this elusive deer’s entire range.

Current Coues deer herd condition

Top units to consider for 105” or better Coues deer
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
Public land
%
OTC season
available
22 110"+ 43:100 95.6% Yes
23 110"+ 27:100 98.1% Yes
33 110"+ 14:100 85.2% Yes
32 105"+ 3:100 75.6% Yes
36C 105"+ 23:100 81.1% Yes

Coues deer call some of the harshest ecosystems in the state home and they are faring well in these parts of the state with populations stable to growing. This hearty deer does well even when conditions are rough and is truly the hidden gem of Arizona. There are loads of opportunities for a quality deer hunt that simply requires one application and you are on your way.


How to uncover hidden gem units

As I stated previously Coues deer, in general, are the hidden gem in Arizona. This amazing deer offers everything that many hunters love when looking for a western hunting experience. Lots of hiking, lots of glassing and, often, a longer than average shot. Hunting south of Interstate 10, there are many different units that have multiple seasons both in October and November that have been undersubscribed for many years. Some of these units have above average deer densities and have incredible glassing potential versus units further north in the dense ponderosa forest. Using Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds, you will be able to study additional information like trophy potential and success rates to narrow down where you would like to hunt. Within a few minutes of using these features, you will be ahead of the learning curve and headed to a great destination sooner rather than later.

Hidden gem units with 100% draw odds with 5 points or less
and a 105"+ trophy potential (resident)

Unit Season Trophy
potentia
l
Harvest
success
Points
required
22 Rifle Oct. & Nov. 110"+ 36% - Oct.
27% - Nov.
4
4
23 Rifle Oct. & Nov. 110"+ 67% - Oct.
37% - Nov.
4
4
33 Rifle – Four Seasons
Muzzleloader
110"+ 1st – NA
2nd – 56%
3rd – 43%
4th – 40%
25% - Nov.
0 - 4
0
36C Rifle – Four Seasons 105"+ 1st – 48%
2nd – 57%
3rd – 60%
4th – 53%
0 - 5
32 Rifle – Three Seasons 105"+ 1st – 47%
2nd – 41%
3rd – 53%
0

 

Hidden gem units with 100% draw odds with 5 points or less
and a 105"+ trophy potential (nonresident)

Unit Season Trophy
potentia
l
Harvest
success
Points
required
22 Rifle Nov. 110"+ 36% - Oct.
27% - Nov.
4
4
23 Rifle Oct. & Nov. 110"+ 67% - Oct.
37% - Nov.
4
4
33 Rifle – Four Seasons
Muzzleloader
110"+ 1st – NA
2nd – 56%
3rd – 43%
4th – 40%
25% - Nov.
0 - 4
0
36C Rifle – Three Seasons 105"+ 1st – 48%
2nd – 57%
3rd – 60%
4th – 53%
0 - 5
32 Rifle – Three Seasons 105"+ 1st – 47%
2nd – 41%
3rd – 53%
0

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. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

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

County No. of
entries
Units found within county
Pima 13 32, 33, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B, 36C
Cochise 12 28, 29, 30A, 30B, 31, 32, 33, 34B, 35A
Gila 12 222324A24B
Santa Cruz 5 34A, 35A, 35B, 36B
Greenlee 3 2728
Yavapai 3 6A6B82122
Coconino 2 4A4B5A, 5BN5BS6A6B8

Map of Arizona's top producing B&C typical Coues deer counties all time - 2019

Total number of Typical B&C Coues deer entries all time - Arizona 2019

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 5 32, 33, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B, 36C
Cochise 2 282930A30B31323334B35A
Greenlee 2 27, 28
Santa Cruz 2 34A, 35A, 35B, 36B

Map of Arizona's top producing B&C nontypical Coues deer counties all time - 2019

Total number of Nontypical B&C Coues deer entries since 2015 - Arizona 2019


 The point system

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

2019 maximum bonus points for deer: 22

Find your draw odds

Managing points and expectations

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

The question is not whether you can go hunting as much as do you want to go hunting? There are numerous hunts for both resident and nonresident to consider that take zero points. If you want to go hunting and not use your bonus points (and maybe even looking to save a few for a late season rifle hunt in a unit that only takes a couple of points), you could apply for the late rifle hunt on your application and, if unsuccessful, pick up a leftover permit later in the summer for the same unit you want to hunt eventually later in the year. If you want to hunt some of the biggest deer producing units in the state and you don’t mind hunting earlier in the fall these units are located around Payson, Arizona. Check out Unit 22 and Unit 23. As a nonresident, it will take a couple of years to be in a maximum point situation in these units, but residents can hunt every year if they like.

Another thing to consider in Arizona is that if you put in a little extra effort (applying for five years in a row and taking Arizona’s hunter’s education course), you could have two points in the draw every year you apply. However, some of the late season rifle hunts are not too far out of reach and you really could put together a consistent world class Coues deer hunt more often than it may look at first glance once you have jumped through a couple of hoops.

Find your resident Coues deer draw odds with 0 points here

Find your nonresident Coues deer draw odds with 0 points here

What can I do with 5 to 10 Coues deer bonus points?

There are very few hunts that you can’t draw with five points and many more once you have reached 10 points. This really begs the question of what are you looking for? There are late rifle hunts available in many of the units south of Interstate 10 and there are three different late hunts in units with a trophy potential of 105” or better for nonresidents and more for residents. If you are considering a late rifle hunt, it might be worth spending a year in the unit with your bow prior to burning your points as it will be the same season dates. This will allow you to hit the ground running and be much more ready to take advantage of all the points you have built the year you lock in with your rifle.

Find your resident Coues deer draw odds with 8 points here

Find your nonresident Coues deer draw odds with 8 points here

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

There may be a chance that you are not a Coues deer hunter and, in fact, you are a mule deer hunter who is tired of waiting it out for one of the late hunts in the northern part of the state. If this sounds correct, then, welcome, my friend. You are about to have your mind blown by a species you may not have been too enchanted within the past. You have more than enough points for the bulk of the rifle hunts across the state and not using them to hunt on a late December hunt would be a mistake. There are few hunts out of reach with 11 points, but you are close to drawing some of the best, which include Unit 22, Unit 23Unit 27 and Unit 28. Even with your current point total, you have a 1:10 or better chance. At a minimum, if you can’t pull yourself off of the mule deer completely, consider applying for one of these incredible hunts as a second choice.

Find your resident Coues deer draw odds with 15 points here

Find your nonresident Coues deer draw odds with 15 points here


Leftover and OTC deer tags

There are many different leftover permits each year in Arizona when it comes to Coues deer hunting. The majority of these areas are south of Interstate 10 and the main reason is that many hunters are avoiding these areas because of interactions with illegal immigrants and drug traffic that is happening in these remote areas of the state. The hunting in these units can be very good and picking up a permit is not that hard. Use caution when hunting these areas.

Leftover tags are acquired by a first come, first served basis. First, by mail, beginning on July 22, 2019, and then at any AZGFD office. Proceed with caution, but enjoy the hunt.

The following warning is from AZGFD:

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 lots of OTC Coues deer hunting opportunities in Arizona. You can utilize Filtering 2.0 to unlock some hidden gem OTC hunts.


Arizona's 2019 desert bighorn sheep breakdown

There are currently 100 desert bighorn sheep permits up for grabs in Arizona across 48 different individual hunts. Out of those 32 different hunts, if there is more than one permit, it is possible for a nonresident to draw one. Because of the nonresident quota, what this means is that up to 11 nonresident permits could be drawn this year in Arizona. Long story short: when applying for desert bighorn sheep in Arizona without maximum points (30) then you should consider applying for a less than premier unit as often these units may not have a permit available in the random pass.

For another detailed breakdown of applying for bighorn sheep for the 2019 season, be sure to check out Brian Rimsza's How to make the most out of your Arizona sheep application article.

Current desert bighorn sheep herd condition

Overall, the desert bighorn sheep population in Arizona is doing quite well. There has been a die-off happening in the northwest corner of the state south of the Grand Canyon for a couple of years now, but most bighorn sheep herds are doing well. Unfortunately, Arizona has had a disease problem in Unit 15 (BWCD) in the northwestern portion of the state that may affect older ram sightings and harvests in 2019. Class IV ram recruitment is the real concern right now as it seems that these units are still producing; however, this will become more of an issue in the coming years. 15D North and South each produced rams over 170” last year.

Arizona desert bighorn populations - updated 2019


Nonresident units for Desert bighorn sheep in 2019

Unit Trophy
Potential
12BE
(early)
155"+
12BE
(late)
155"+
13BN 165"+
15DN 175"+
15DS 175"+
16A 160"+
16AS 160"+
22S 180"+
24BS 175"+
28 170"+
31, 32 175"+
37A
(early)
170"+
37A
(late)
170"+
37B 160"+
39E 170"+
39W 170"+
40A 170"+
40B
(Gila Mtns)
160"+
40B
(Mohawk)
160"+
40B
(Tinajas)
160"+
41E 160"+
41W 160"+
43B 165"+
44AE 170"+
44BN 165"+
44BS 165"+
45A 155"+
45B 155"+
45C 155"+
24B 175"+
46AE 160"+
46BW 160"+
 

Top units for ram:ewe ratios

Unit Ram:ewe
ratio
Trophy
potentia
l
45B 109:100 155"+
16B 88:100 160"+
39 82:100 170"+
46B 78:100 160"+
12AW 75:100 155"+
45A 74:100 155"+
40B 69:100 160"+
37A 65:100 170"+
22 63:100 180"+
15D 62:100 175"+

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
Public land
%
22 180"+ 63:100 95.6%
15D 175"+ 62:100 62.4%
24B 175"+ 49:100 94.6%
31 175"+ 51:100 85.7%
32 175"+ 51:100 75.6%
28 170"+ 33:100 86.5%
37A 170"+ 65:100 72.7%
39 170"+ 82:100 75.8%
40A 170"+ 54:100 97.4%
44A 170"+ 30:100 91.5%
13B 165"+ 36:100 97.5%
18B 165"+ 37:100 59.2%
42 165"+ 27:100 70.9%
43A 165"+ 48:100 59.2%
43B 165"+ 38:100 96.2%
44B 165"+ 57:100 89%

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. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

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

Map of Arizona's top producing B&C desert bighorn sheep counties all time - 2019

B&C DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP LOCATIONS SINCE 2015 - 2019 Arizona app strategy


Arizona's 2019 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep breakdown

There are seven different hunt codes to choose from when looking to apply for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Arizona. These hunts are spread across five different hunt areas with two hunt areas having an early and late hunt. One of these hunts, Unit 23 and Unit 24A, is only set to have one bighorn sheep hunter in 2019, which means that this hunt is only available to residents. If you have already taken a desert bighorn in another state and this is why you are now applying for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Grand Canyon State, it’s worth noting that, at a minimum, you are in for a great hunt with a real crack at a 170”+ ram across most of the units if you happen to be so lucky to draw a permit. Most years all of the permits are drawn by residents, but who knows? There is always a chance.

Note: Unit 27 Upper Blue River Hunt Area has decreased to three total permits. By doing this, the state has opted to condense the hunt into one selection instead of an early and late hunt like previous years.

Current Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd condition

The total population of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep is rather small, but conditions are stable with big rams harvested within the state over the past several years.

Arizona rocky bighorn populations - updated 2019

Nonresident units for Rocky bighorn sheep in 2019

Unit Trophy
Potential
Number of potential
nonresident tags
1, 27 170"+
180"+
1
6A, 22N
(early)
180"+
175"+
1
6A, 22N
(late)
180"+
175"+
1
27
(early)
170"+ 1
27S, 28
(early)
180"+
170"+
1
27S, 28
(late)
180"+
170"+
1

The goHUNT hit list units for Arizona Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

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

Unit Trophy
Potential
Ram:ewe
ratio
Public land
%
27 180"+ 26:100 94.6%
6A 180"+ 95:100 94.7%
22 175"+ 95:100 95.6%
1 170"+ 26:100 91.1%
24A 170"+ NA 86.8%
28 170"+ 200:100 86.5%
23 165"+ 125:100 98.1%

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. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

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

Map of Arizona's top producing B&C rocky bighorn sheep counties all time - 2019

TOP B&C ROCKY SHEEP LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2019 Arizona


Managing bighorn sheep points and expectations 

The bighorn sheep point system

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

2019 maximum bonus points for Arizona bighorn sheep: 30

Arizona resident sheep bonus point totals going into the 2019 draw

Arizona nonresident sheep bonus point totals going into the 2019 draw

Arizona sheep bonus points going into 2019

Find your draw odds

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

Drawing a bighorn sheep hunt in Arizona takes an incredible amount of luck and plenty of patience. There is a chance to draw even your first year and, as crazy as it sounds, that makes this state a solid choice for someone looking to hunt desert bighorn sheep through a draw process. Whether you are just getting started or you have been applying for over 20 years, you should avoid the top producing units in the state because the odds are very much against you in drawing a permit as they are often awarded to the residents and maximum point holders. These units include Unit 22Unit 24BUnit 31 and Unit 32. The other strategy is to apply for the units with the greatest number of permits as this lends to there being a nonresident permit available in the random pass. Nonresidents must apply for a unit with at least two bighorn sheep tags if they want any sort of chance of pulling a tag. 

Find your resident Rocky bighorn sheep draw odds with 0 points here

Find your nonresident Rocky bighorn sheep draw odds with 0 points here

Find your resident Desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 0 points here

Find your nonresident Desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 0 points here

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

You are an application warrior and we salute your efforts! With any luck, it will be your turn sooner rather than later and you will be heading on your dream hunt in Arizona. If you want to draw soon, then, like the hunters with lower point totals than yourself, avoid applying for the top-shelf units. If this is, in fact, what the goal has been the entire time, then apply both first and second choice for Unit 22Unit 24BUnit 31Unit 32 and Unit 44B North. If you are interested in Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, the best units are Unit 6AUnit 22 and Unit 27 in 2019.

Find your resident Rocky bighorn sheep draw odds with 25 points here

Find your nonresident Rocky bighorn sheep draw odds with 25 points here

Find your resident Desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 25 points here

Find your nonresident Desert bighorn sheep draw odds with 25 points here


Arizona's 2019 bison breakdown

This spring application period is only for hunts that allow the hunter to harvest either a cow or a yearling bison. The one exception is the last hunt that takes place in Units 5A and 5B. This hunt is for a designated bull that will be selected for you by an escort who will be with you on the hunt. It is illegal to harvest any bison that is not approved by your escort and may not be the bull of your dreams. Apply for this hunt with caution. If you are looking for a chance to harvest a trophy bull, you will need to apply in the fall for the hunts that are conducted in the spring and summer and apply point only for this application period.

The hunts available now are spread out across September through December and have options for rifle, archery and muzzleloader. Hunts in Unit Group 12A, 12B, and 13A tend to be more challenging, but offer a more traditional hunting style. Success rates can be much lower on these hunts than when hunting the Raymond herd, but, depending on your goal, may be a good option.

Current bison herd condition

There is a healthy stable population of bison found in both the Raymond and House Rock herds in Arizona. With little to no predation, there are few factors other than hunters that have any noticeable effect on these herds.

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

Unit Harvest
success
Bull:cow
ratio
Public land
%
12AW 48% 51:100 100%
12B 48% 51:100 97.9%
13A 48% NA 85.4%
5A 95% NA 83.2%
5BN 95% NA 87%
5BS NA NA 98.2%

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. Data provided below courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club.

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

Map of Arizona's top producing B&C bison counties all time - 2019

TOP B&C BISON LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2019 Arizona


The point system

2019 maximum bonus points for bison: 49

Managing points and expectations

The trophy bison hunts that happen on Unit Group: 12A, 12B, and 13A are not available to apply for this spring application period. The only hunt that you may have an opportunity to harvest an above average bull would be the last hunt in Unit 5A and 5B which happens in mid-December. This hunt is for a bull, but it is a bull that is designated for the hunter to harvest by the hunt management team over the Raymond herd. If this is not the type of hunt you are looking for and you are not interested in hunting a cow or yearling bison, then you should simply apply for a point only application at this deadline and then apply for the trophy hunts this fall. Watch for the application strategy article this fall for more information about the spring and summer hunts.

Arizona bison bonus points going into 2019

There are so many applicants and, with the chance to build two points per year, most of the successful applicants have over 25 points. However, more than ever, there is a chance to draw every time you apply and, if you would be happy with a cow or a yearling bull, the number of applicants trying for these bison are much less than the number of applicants applying in the fall for the chance to hunt a mature bull.

Find your resident bison draw odds here

Find your nonresident bison draw odds here

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