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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2020: Arizona Deer, Sheep and Bison

Arizona's 2020 deer, bighorn sheep and bison application overview

Jump to: NEW FOR 2020State InformationDraw SystemMule Deer BreakdownCoues Deer BreakdownBIGHORN SHEEP BREAKDOWNBison Breakdown

Note: The online application deadline for Arizona deer, bighorn sheep and bison is June 9, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ARIZONA time. You can apply online here.


New for 2020

  • Applications are only available online. Paper applications are no longer accepted to apply for deer, bighorn sheep or bison in the main draw. Applications by mail will be accepted for “first come” permits if there are some leftover after the main draw. 
  • Applicants must have a current credit card through the time of the drawing. If your credit card is declined, your application will not be drawn. It’s a good idea to contact your bank prior to the draw to let them know that charges from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) could be processed. The deadline to update your credit card information is June 25, at 11:59 p.m.
  • The 2020 Arizona Hunting Regulations Booklet has a revamped look and reorganization. Most should find it easier to find pertinent information.
  • As of Sept. 1, 2019, nonresidents must have a decal to operate off-highway vehicles (OHV) in Arizona. The decal must be purchased online at azgfd.gov.
  • Youth deer hunters may be eligible to purchase a companion javelina tag valid during their deer hunt and hunt both deer and javelina. See the state regulations for more details.

State information

View important information and an overview of Arizona’s rules/regulations, the draw system, bonus points, permit and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the Arizona Species Profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

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 9 at 11:59 p.m. MST. You can apply online here.
  • Draw results are typically available to everyone by mid-July.
  • Permits for successful applicants will be mailed out by July 31, 2020.
  • Hunters must have completed a certified hunter’s education course.
  • Applicants must turn 10 years old by opening day of the hunt they apply for. Youth can apply for bonus points only if they are at least 10 by the application deadline.
  • Applicants must purchase a nonrefundable hunting license prior to, or at the time of, applying. 
  • Your hunting license is valid for 365 days from date of purchase, but applicants must have a valid license at the time of the drawing to successfully draw a license. 
  • Permit fee(s) are not required when you apply. The fees that are required are the hunting license fee and an application fee for each species you apply for.
  • Arizona has a modified bonus point system for deer, bighorn sheep and bison.
  • 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.
  • Arizona offers a PointGuard program which allows applicants to return a drawn permit one time in their life in exchange for having their bonus points reinstated. The cost is $5 per species. You can purchase PointGuard when you apply or within your AZGFD portal until June 25. 
  • If you do not have PointGuard, you cannot return a drawn permit for a refund or have your points reinstated. 
  • Arizona offers a loyalty program for applicants who have applied for five consecutive years. You will obtain one loyalty bonus point. If you miss a year of applying, that point will be dropped.
  • Arizona offers a permanent hunter’s education point. You must travel to Arizona and take the state-approved hunter’s education course. After completion, you will be given a permanent bonus point.

Cost to apply

Item Resident Nonresident
Combo hunting/fishing license $57 $160
Youth combo hunting/fishing license (10 to 17 years old) $5 $5
Application fee/per species $13 $15
PointGuard/per species (optional) $5 $5
Permit cost if successful in the draw
Deer permit $58 $315
Bighorn sheep permit $313 $1,815
Bison bull permit $1,113 $5,415
Cow/yearling bison permit $663 $3,265
Yearling only bison permit $363 $1,765

Drought in Arizona

2020

Arizona drought monitor 2020

Source: United States Drought Monitor

Cumulative precipitation since Oct. 1 is slightly above normal throughout the state and that’s the good news. The bad news is that records showed snowpack levels well below normal throughout the major basins of the state. Most areas are at 70% of median snowpack. Snow water equivalent levels in the state’s major river basins are well below normal as well. Antler growth may not be as good as it was in 2019; it would be hard to surpass, but provided Arizona gets some moisture with the monsoons that typically arrive mid-summer, then antler growth should still be good. 

2019

Arizona drought monitor
Source: United States Drought Monitor

Border activity

We commonly get asked about how concerned hunters should be that they are hunting the border units. If you are hunting those areas, there is need for concern; however, generally speaking, as long as you are aware and cautious, issues are very rare. There are units along the border that have strong deer herds with good trophy potential and great draw odds. 

The units where the likelihood of a run-in with illegal immigrants are primarily south of Interstate 10. Once they reach the interstate, it is unlikely that they will be continuing on foot to their destination. Prior to hunting areas of concern it’s a good idea to contact the Tucson U.S. Border Patrol and give them your location, party information, name, vehicle description and the days you plan to hunt. A satellite messenger is also a good tool to have with you at all times. If you encounter any suspicious activity, do not engage; report it. Hunting in pairs is recommended and always be aware of your surroundings. When camping, it’s a good idea to leave a little water and/or food outside of your camper or vehicle as this often can deter a break into your vehicle or camper.


The draw system

Understanding the draw

Arizona offers a modified bonus point draw for deer, bighorn sheep and bison where 20% of the permits will be given to maximum point holders and the other 80% will be randomly allocated. They reserve 20% of the permits for each deer hunt code for maximum point applicants. For bighorn sheep and bison, 20% of the total number of permits statewide are reserved for maximum point applicants. In the random portion of the draw, weight is given to the number of points applicants have. For example, an applicant with five bonus points will have five chances — plus one for that year's application — to draw a random permit.

If you apply for a species and are unsuccessful in the draw, you will receive a bonus point for that species. You may also apply for bonus points only. We highly encourage applicants to apply for a hunt as your first and second choice. Remember that there is a random portion of the draw; you never know when you might draw a great tag.

Resident/nonresident quotas

Nonresidents are limited to no more than 10% of the total permits for each hunt code for antlered deer. Out of that 10%, up to 5% can be allocated to hunters in the bonus pass. [Bonus pass is the process that awards permits to maximum point holders.] After that, the remaining 5% can be allocated to nonresidents in the random pass (second pass). 

Nonresidents are issued up to 10% of the total statewide bighorn sheep and bison permits. No more than 50% of the permits per hunt code can be allocated to nonresidents. One nonresident permit can be allocated when a hunt offers between two and four permits. Two nonresident permits can be allocated for hunts that offer five or more permits total. If a hunt only has one permit, a nonresident cannot apply for and draw that permit. 

Hunt choices

You can apply with a first and second choice. An applicant’s first and second choices are considered before moving onto the next applicant. This means that once your application is pulled, they will try to allocate you your first choice and, if there are no permits remaining or the quota has been met, they will consider your second choice and do the same thing. If you do not draw your second choice, they will move to the next applicant. Your third, fourth and fifth choices will only be considered if there are leftover permits after every application's first and second choices have been considered. 

If you draw any choice — one through five — your points will be purged. If you fail to apply for five consecutive years, your points will be purged. Bonus points will not be impacted if you obtain a leftover deer permit in the first-come process. 

What are draw passes?

People commonly talk about draw passes in Arizona because the draw happens in three different passes. The first pass is the bonus pass where they allocate maximum point holders’ permits up until the quotas are met. The second pass is random and the state looks at each applicant’s first and second choices and awards permits until the quotas have been met. If you are unsuccessful in the second pass for your first and second choice, then the third and final pass looks at third through fifth choices and awards hunts that were leftover in the second pass. Apply with caution on your third through fifth choices. If you are not willing to burn your points on those hunts, do not include hunts for your third, fourth and fifth choices. 

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


Arizona's 2020 mule deer breakdown

Current mule deer herd condition

The statewide estimated mule deer population is between 110,000 and 120,000. That number is dramatically less than populations of the 1980s and, even, the 1990s. The drought of 2014 was very tough on production and survival. Since then, numbers have increased slowly; however, herds are still not what they once were. That’s the bad news. The good news is that over the past two years, weather and precipitation have helped to stabilize populations throughout most of the state. In terms of permits allocated, there has been very little change over the past eight years. In 2019, there were 41,274 permits issued in the draw and 19,407 over-the-counter (OTC) archery licenses sold.

Arizona offers good opportunities to hunt mule deer, but the trophy potential is only really good in a few world-renowned areas. Those areas are the Arizona Strip and the Kaibab. The odds for drawing a Strip tag are very long — less than 1% for 13A and 13B from zero to 21 points. The late Kaibab hunts are well known and continually produce great bucks. Those hunts generally require at least a decade’s worth of points and often more, except for the archery hunt. The archery permit can be drawn with far fewer points. The archery hunt is far from a slam dunk, but a good option for the number of points it currently requires. Beyond those — and maybe 3A/3C, the rest of the units in the state can be considered decent opportunities, but not necessarily trophy areas.

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
Harvest
success
Resident points
to draw
Nonresident points
to draw
13A 190"+ 45:100 Archery-80%
Rifle-81%
100% with 13
31% with 17
.70% with 21
18% with 22
13B 190"+ 49:100 Archery-75%
Rifle-100%
100% with 17
44% with 19
14% with 22
4.4% with 22
12B 190"+ 40:100 Archery-30%
Muzzleloader-86%
Rifle-74%
Rifle-64% (12bw)
Rifle-95%
Rifle-77% (12bw)
100% with 6
35% with 10
51% with 10
55% with 7
50% with 15
56% with 14
100% with 7
1.5% with 19
50% with 19
34% with 11
17% with 21
100% with 21
12AE 180"+ 50:100 Archery-30%
Muzzleloader-58%
Rifle-45%
Rifle-81%
100% with 6
100% with 9
100% with 9
100% with 16
100% with 7
50% with 18
100% with 16
25% with 21
12AW 180"+ 48:100 Archery-30%
Rifle-58%
Rifle-84%
100% with 6
28% with 8
100% with 16
100% with 7
63% with 12
100% with 22
3A/3C 180"+ 34:100 Archery-44%
Rifle-62%
100% with 7
44% with 9
51% with 11
100% with 15

How to uncover hidden gem deer units

The most attractive hidden gems are probably the archery hunts. The Kaibab (12AE/12AW/12B) was drawn with six and seven points last year. Additionally, Arizona offers one of the best OTC archery hunts in the West. The OTC archery permit will allow hunters to hunt 51 different units during the early hunt with an additional seven units open during the late season. In addition to the archery hunts, there are many rifle hunts that can be drawn with only a few points. Those are decent hunts if you are just looking to fill a permit, but typically are not trophy hunts.

Using Filtering 2.0, you can search for exactly the type of hunt you are looking for sorting success rates, percentage of public land and trophy quality to find a quality hunt that most hunters may not be keying into.

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 already scheduled for the fall? You can also set your date parameters and Filtering 2.0 will automatically find what's in 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.

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 14 13A, 13B
Coconino 7 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 8 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

The points system

Managing points and expectations

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

2020 maximum bonus points for deer: 23

ARIZONA DEER BONUS POINTS GOING INTO 2020

Bonus points Residents Nonresidents
1 140,469 12,845
2 33,781 4,045
3 12,906 2,457
4 5,726 1,132
5 3,100 1,485
6 1,979 1,327
7 1,382 1,049
8 1,040 798
9 728 791
10 562 658
11 425 595
12 281 493
13 189 483
14 181 444
15 141 414
16 99 372
17 83 255
18 74 245
19 59 232
20 30 208
21 11 161
22 4 119
23 3 107

Find your draw odds

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

Resident

Within this point range, applicants will need to decide what their objective is. If you are hoping to harvest a trophy caliber buck, you have a couple of options. One, apply for the best hunts: Unit 13A and 13B. The best odds for those two areas are the archery hunts, which were 3.3% and 2.2% with three points. Another hunt with good trophy potential is Unit 12, the Kaibab, which has archery odds of 29% with three points. The best rifle hunt odds for a trophy area are in 12BW from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1. That hunt had 16% odds with three points. Other rifle hunts in Unit 12 or 13 have odds of 1% to about 8%. That is one option. The other is to use the trophy potential filter and the draw odds filter within Filtering 2.0 and explore those hunts that have good potential, but better odds. For example, a filter of 170”+, three points and 50% draw odds yields nine units/hunts. A deeper dive reveals a harvest success of 40%+ in both rifle hunts in Units 9 and 20A.

Finally, there are several hunts that have 100% odds if you just want a chance to hunt mule deer. There are many areas in western and southeastern Arizona that are easy to draw.

Nonresident

Nonresidents should take a similar approach to the residents if they are within this point range. Swing for the fences or do some research into the middle ground (decent odds, decent trophy potential) or find an opportunity type of hunt. There are many hunts for both muzzleloader and rifle hunters that can be drawn with zero to three points, including 6B muzzleloader as well as 15 early and late muzzleloader. Unit 16A, 18A, 29, 41, 43/44 and 45 are all worth some research. 

Note: for hunters who aspire to hunt the Arizona Strip, consider that one archery tag is typically allocated to a nonresident in 13A and two are allocated in 13B. The odds for those archery hunts are less than 1% from zero to 21 points. The rifle odds are worse. If you want to try to draw the Strip and are just starting, realize you may never actually draw those hunts. 

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

With three to four points, there are 32 rifle hunts that were available in last year's draw. Once you jump up to the five plus range, there are fewer options and hunters with three to four points should do some research to see if waiting is worth it.

The better archery options are 3A/3C, which was drawn with seven points, and Unit 12 with six points. Muzzleloader hunters might consider 12AE, which was drawn with nine points and 39/40A/40B/41/42, which was drawn with eight. There are also rifle Kaibab hunts, including 12AW, 12AE and 12B, which were drawn with nine points. The rifle hunt in 3A/3C was drawn with 10 points. On the lower end of the scale, Unit 9 and 35A/35B were drawn with five points. Unit 1 and 2A/2B/2C are worth a look with six points. With four or five points, the rifle hunts in 20A, 20B, 20C, 21, 22, 23, 24A and 27 are good options.

Nonresidents

For a bowhunter, the Unit 12 archery hunt is by far the best option. That permit was drawn with seven points last year. The best muzzleloader option is for the 39/40A/40B/41/42, which was drawn with 10 points. 

In the six to 10 point range, there are not good options, so prior to getting into that range, applicants should decide if they are in it for a very long haul or if they want to go hunting. Unit 6A was drawn with seven points last year. Unit 27 rifle is a good hunt with five points. With four points, consider Unit 9, 7E, 7W, 19A and 23.

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?

Residents

Unit 13A archery was drawn with 13 points. Unit 13B archery was drawn with 17 points. Unit 12B muzzleloader is a good option at the 11 to 12 point range. The Kaibab late rifle hunts are good options: 12AE, 12AW, 12B with 16 points. The Arizona Strip rifle permits required 18 and 20 points to guarantee those.

Nonresidents

The archery hunt in 13A had odds of less than 1% from zero to 21 points. Unit 13B archery had 14% with maximum points last year. The best archery hunt available with 11 points was 3A/3C, which had 51% odds. The muzzleloader hunt in 12AE had 50% odds with 18 points. Another option at 11 points is the muzzleloader hunt in 39/40A/40B/41/42. Another option with 12 to 14 points is the December rifle hunt in Unit 27

Rifle hunters might consider 3A/3C with 15 to 16 points. The 12AE October hunt required 16 points. The late rifle hunts on 12AE, 12AW and 12B all required maximum points. The Arizona Strip rifle hunts in 13A had 18% odds with maximum points and 13B had 4.4% odds with maximum points.

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. 

Any leftover permits after the main draw will become available on a first-come first serve basis. The list will be available on the AZGFD website under “Big Game Draw.” We will also publish those in an article. Applications for the leftover permits will be accepted by mail at 8:00 a.m on July 20.

Find your Arizona MULE DEER OTC opportunities here

Find your Arizona COUES DEER OTC opportunities here


Arizona's 2020 Coues deer breakdown

Coues deer hunting is only offered in a couple of states — Arizona and New Mexico — and the best hunting is in Arizona. The populations are robust and the draw odds are good. Any hunter can find an opportunity to hunt no matter how many points they have. Plus the trophy quality is generally really good.

Arizona offers muzzleloader and rifle draw permits. The rifle hunts are generally separated out into different seasons running from late October to mid November and, then, a late hunt in December. Coues deer are commonly referred to as the “grey ghost.” Finding and killing one can be challenging, but as the dates get later into December they begin to move in preparation for the rut. For the most part, the late hunts are harder to draw because the bucks are more visible and harvest success rates commonly reflect that. Earlier hunts are easier to draw, but hunting conditions can be hot and bucks can be hard to locate. 

If you love the challenge of hours of glassing, long-range shooting and a lot of hiking, Coues deer are really fun to hunt.

Current Coues deer herd condition

Coues deer call some of the harshest ecosystems in the state home and they are faring really well with populations stable to growing. Typically, the further south you get, the bigger the populations. The vegetation density is opposite: the northern units are much thicker and more brushy while the southern units are more open country. 

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

Unit Trophy
potential
Buck:doe
ratio
Harvest
success
Resident points
to draw
Nonresident points
to draw
22 110"+ 43:100 Rifle-37%
Rifle-26%
Rifle-69%
100% with 4
100% with 3
100% with 9
100% with 4
100% with 4
67% with 16
23 110"+ 27:100 Rifle-42%
Rifle-27%
Rifle-55%
100% with 4
100% with 4
75% with 9
100% with 5
100% with 5
100% with 15
33 110"+ 14:100 Muzzleloader-21%
Rifle-52%
Rifle-49%
Rifle-39%
Rifle-45%
Rifle-73%
100% with 0
100% with 3
100% with 3
100% with 3
100% with 3
100% with 7
100% with 0
100% with 3
100% with 3
100% with 3
100% with 3
100% with 10
32 105"+ 30:100 Rifle-53%
Rifle-44%
Rifle-55%
Rifle-68%
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 6
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 3
100% with 7
36C 105"+ 23:100 Rifle-50%
Rifle-33%
Rifle-45%
Rifle-70%
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 3
100% with 6
100% with 3
100% with 3
100% with 3
100% with 7
36B 100”+ 33:100 Rifle-37%
Rifle-33%
Rifle-41%
Rifle-81%
100% with 3
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 6
100% with 3
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 7
31 100”+ 40:100 Rifle-55%
Rifle-51%
Rifle-61%
Rifle-82%
100% with 4
100% with 3
100% with 4
100% with 6
100% with 5
100% with 4
100% with 4
100% with 10
24A 100”+ 22:100 Rifle-25%
Rifle-18%
Rifle-26%
Rifle-65%
100% with 3
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 7
100% with 3
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 10
24B 100”+ 26:100 Rifle-58%
Rifle-28%
Rifle-34%
Rifle-73%
100% with 3
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 7
100% with 3
100% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 9
29 100”+ 39:100 Rifle-61%
Rifle-44%
Rifle-50%
Rifle-74%
100% with 3
100% with 0
100% with 3
100% with 7
100% with 3
100% with 0
100% with 4
100% with 14

How to uncover hidden gem units

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. Most of these units have above average deer densities and have incredible glassing potential versus units further north in the dense ponderosa forest. 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 20 and then, at any AZGFD office. Proceed with caution, but enjoy the hunt.

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. If you want to hunt Coues deer every year, you can. In the table below, we offer hunts that were drawn with no points and have harvest success rates greater than 30%. In addition, there are many hunts that can be drawn that have slightly lower harvest success rates.

Coues deer hunts drawn with 0 points with 30%+ harvest success

Unit Trophy potential Buck:doe ratio Harvest
success
24B 100”+ 26:100 Rifle (Nov. 27 to Dec. 6) - 34%
29 100”+ 39:100 Rifle (Nov. 6 to 12) - 44%
30A 100”+ 30:100 Rifle (Oct. 23 to 29) - 55%
Rifle (Nov. 6 to 12) - 39%
Rifle (Nov. 27 to Dec. 6) - 51%
30B 100”+ 35:100 Rifle (Oct. 23 to 29) - 42%
Rifle (Nov. 6 to 12) - 39%
Rifle (Nov. 27 to Dec. 6) - 61%
32 105”+ 30:100 Rifle (Oct. 23 to 29) - 53%
Rifle (Nov. 6 to 12) - 44%
34A 100”+ 32:100 Rifle (Nov. 6 to 12) - 33%
34B 100”+ 53:100 Rifle (Oct. 23 to 29) - 35%
Rifle (Nov. 6 to 12) - 34%
36A 100”+ 17:100 Muzzleloader - 51%
Rifle (Oct. 23 to 29) - 49%
Rifle (Nov. 6 to 12) - 39%
Rifle (Nov. 27 to Dec. 6) - 48%
36B 100”+ 33:100 Rifle (Nov. 6 to 12) - 33%
Rifle (Nov. 27 to Dec. 6) - 41%

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 15 32, 33, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B, 36C
Cochise 15 28, 29, 30A, 30B, 31, 32, 33, 34B, 35A
Gila 12 222324A24B
Santa Cruz 6 34A, 35A, 35B, 36B
Greenlee 4 2728
Yavapai 3 6A6B82122
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 5 32, 33, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B, 36C
Greenlee 4 27, 28
Cochise 2 282930A30B31323334B35A

 The point system

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

2020 maximum bonus points for deer: 23

(Points are not species-specific. Deer points are deer points whether you apply them to mule deer or Coues deer.)

Find your draw odds

Managing points and expectations

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

Applicants with no points can hunt as indicated in the table above. By researching the unit profiles, you can further fine-tune your search. Another option that you may consider is to apply for the best trophy potential or hard-to-draw units in the state and, if you are unsuccessful in the draw, apply for a leftover first-come permit after the draw. That will allow applicants to build points and still go hunting. Many of the hunts listed in the table below have leftover permits each year. Remember: if you draw any of your choices — one through five — you will not obtain a point. 

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?

Residents

With five points, applicants have 68 hunts they could draw — the best of which were likely the muzzleloader hunt in 35A/35B and rifle hunts in 4A/4B, 5A/5BN/5BS, 30A (Dec) and 34B (Dec). Jumping up to six points, there are even more good hunts, including the December hunts in Unit 31, 32, 34A, 35A, 35B, 36A, 36B and 36C.

With seven points, hunters might consider the December hunt in 24A, 24B, 29 and 33. Applicants with eight points should consider the December hunt in Unit 6A and 6B/8. Finally, with nine and 10 points, the best options are the December hunts in Unit 21, 22, 27/28. Every hunt should be available to residents with 10 points going into this draw. 

Nonresidents

With five points, nonresident applicants have 52 hunts they could have drawn. Intriguing options include rifle hunts in 6A (November), 8 (October), 23 (November), 30B (December) and 31 (November). With six points, the December rifle hunts in 30A and 34B were great options. The December hunts in Unit 32, 34A, 36A, 36B and 36C were good hunts for applicants with seven points. 

With eight points, applicants should consider the December hunt in Unit 35A. Moving to nine and 10 points, applicants should research the December hunts in 6A and 6B/8. The best hunts in the state require more points. The December hunts in Unit 21 required 11 points, 27/28 and 29 required 14, Unit 22 required 17 points and 23 required 16 points

Find your resident Coues deer draw odds with 8 points here

Find your nonresident Coues deer draw odds with 8 points here


Arizona's 2020 bighorn sheep breakdown

Arizona offers hunting for both Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and desert bighorn sheep. Applicants can only submit one application for bighorn sheep each year, but they can mix and match their first and second choice. For example, you could apply for a desert bighorn hunt as a first choice and a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep as a second choice. Arizona will take into account both your first and second choices before moving onto the next application. Bonus points are not species specific, meaning you have bighorn sheep points and those are applied to the hunts you apply for — regardless of species. 

In 2020, there will be 122 total permits available. Because of the nonresident quota, what this means is that up to 12 nonresident permits could be drawn this year in Arizona. For nonresidents, there must be at least two permits for one to possibly be allocated to a nonresident. 

However, recall that Arizona offers 20% of the permits to maximum point holders in the draw — the bulk of which are resident applicants. With that being the case, the bonus pass permits are primarily given to residents for the top-tier trophy units that are historically known to produce giant rams. Due to this fact, if you have less than maximum points (31), then it’s important to consider applying for a less than premier unit as these units often have a permit available in the random pass.

The table below shows the number of desert bighorn sheep permits available for 2020 and it also indicates if there are nonresident permits available. In the fourth column, we indicate whether or not each hunt is the “Best, Good, or Worst” option for applicants with less than maximum points. Those suggestions are based on odds of drawing a permit in the random pool. The worst options are the best trophy hunts and will most likely be drawn by maximum point holders. Good hunts have good trophy potential and a permit that may slip through to a random applicant. The best options are the better bets for low point applicants. Still, the odds are less than 1%.

Desert bighorn sheep permit numbers for 2020

Unit Total permits Nonresident permits available Best, Good, or Worst option for nonresident with less than maximum points
9/10 1 No Resident only
12A/12B/13A 1 No Resident only
12B East (Nov 20 - Dec 10) 3 Yes (1) Best
12B East (Dec 11 - Dec 31) 4 Yes (2) Best
13A North 1 No Resident only
13B North 3 Yes (1) Best
13B South 1 No Resident only
15A/15B South 1 No Resident only
15B West 1 No Resident only
15C North 1 No Resident only
15C South 1 No Resident only
15D North 4 Yes (2) Best
15D South 2 Yes (1) Best
16A 2 Yes (1) Best
16A South/18B 2 Yes (1) Best
16B 1 No Resident only
22 South 2 Yes (1) Worst
24B North 1 No Resident only
24B South 2 Yes (1) Worst
28 2 Yes (1) Worst
31/32 3 Yes (1) Good
37A (Nov 13 - Dec 3) 2 Yes (1) Worst
37A (Nov 27 - Dec 17) 2 Yes (1) Worst
37A (Dec 11 - Dec 31) 2 Yes (1) Worst
37B 2 Yes (1) Worst
39 East 2 Yes (1) Good
39 West 2 Yes (1) Good
40A 2 Yes (1) Good
40B Gila Mtns 2 Yes (1) Best
40B Mohawk 2 Yes (1) Good
40B Tinajas 2 Yes (1) Best
41 East 2 Yes (1) Good
41 West 2 Yes (1) Good
42/44A 2 Yes (1) Good
43A 1 No Resident only
43B (Nov 20 - Dec 10) 4 Yes (2) Best
43B (Dec 11 - Dec 31) 4 Yes (2) Best
44A East 2 Yes (1) Good
44A West 1 No Resident only
44B North 3 Yes (1) Best
44B South 2 Yes (1) Good
45A 3 Yes (1) Best
45B 4 Yes (2) Best
45C 4 Yes (2) Best
24B Superstition 2 Yes (1) Worst
46A East 2 Yes (1) Good
46A West 1 No Resident only
46B East 1 No Good
46B West 5 Yes (2) Best
 

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep permit numbers for 2020

Unit Total permits Nonresident permits available Best, Good, or Worst option for nonresident with less than maximum points
1/27 1 No Resident only
6A/22 North (Nov 20 - Dec 10) 3 Yes (1) Good
6A/22 North (Dec 11 - Dec 31) 2 Yes (1) Good
23/24A 1 No Resident only
27 Upper Blue River 3 Yes (1) Best
27/28 (Nov 20 - Dec 10) 3 Yes (1) Best
27/28 (Dec 11 - Dec 31) 3 Yes (1) Good

The goHUNT hit list units for Arizona desert bighorn sheep

As previously noted, the best odds of drawing a permit are in areas where the trophy potential is not quite as good. The top-tier units in the state will produce 170” to 180” class rams most years. Those units are also the ones that will require maximum points or all the luck you can muster. Below we will offer the hit list for Arizona desert and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

Top units to consider for 165” or better desert bighorn sheep

Unit Trophy
Potential
Ram:ewe
ratio
22 180"+ 63:100
24B 175"+ 62:100
31/32 175"+ 49:100
28 175"+ 51:100
37A 175"+ 51:100
44A 170"+ 33:100
37B 170"+ 65:100
40A 170"+ 82:100
41 170"+ 54:100
44B 170"+ 30:100
46A 165"+ 36:100

Top units to consider for 170” or Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

Unit Trophy
Potential
Ram:ewe
ratio
1/27 180"+ 40:100
6A/22 180"+ 45:100
27/28 180"+ 49:100

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
Maricopa 18 22, 24B, 31, 32
Mohave 17 13A13B15B West15C15D16A16B18B
Pima 13 3237A40A40B46A
Pinai 12 24B313237A37B39
La Paz 12 43A, 44B, 45A, 45B

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 6 6A
Apache 5 1, 2A, 2C, 3A, 3B, 27
Greenlee 3 27
Gila 2 22, 23, 24A
Graham 2 27
Coconino 1 6A

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.

2020 maximum bonus points for Arizona bighorn sheep: 31

ARIZONA BIGHORN SHEEP BONUS POINTS GOING INTO 2020

Bonus points Residents Nonresident
1 130,601 9,461
2 4,326 2,091
3 2,712 1,437
4 1,821 620
5 1,171 903
6 1,372 915
7 1,327 752
8 1,081 638
9 1,028 698
10 869 519
11 641 468
12 567 435
13 513 461
14 457 425
15 464 383
16 446 313
17 392 297
18 423 314
19 443 294
20 401 212
21 286 163
22 258 147
23 214 135
24 193 97
25 210 117
26 199 79
27 170 76
28 130 63
29 138 37
30 172 33
31 26 1

Find your draw odds

I have less than maximum (31) bonus points. What can I expect?

For residents and nonresidents alike, the odds of drawing a bighorn sheep permit are very low. In fact, the odds for residents with less than maximum points was less than 5% from zero points all the way up to 29 points. It’s even longer odds for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep with odds being less than 1% for all hunts except Unit 27 Upper Blue River, which offered odds of a whopping 1.1% with one point less than maximum. 

For nonresidents even with maximum points, your best desert bighorn hunt odds were at 37% for hunts in Unit 45B and 39. All nonresident permits for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep will be randomly allocated — likely with odds .2% and less. Use the goHUNT INSIDER draw odds and the tables above to apply for the units that are the best choices for a nonresident with less than maximum points.

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 31 bighorn sheep bonus points. What can I expect?

If you want the best possibility to draw, avoid applying for the top-tier units. If you want a chance at the best trophy units in the state, those are Unit 22, Unit 24B, Unit 31, Unit 32 and Unit 44B North. If you are interested in Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, the best units are Unit 1/27 (resident only), Unit 6A, Unit 22 and Unit 27/28 in 2020.

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 2020 bison breakdown

Arizona offers two application periods for bison: one is open now and then another application period in the fall. Applicants can actually apply for and obtain two bonus points a year. As such, the current maximum bonus point total for bison is 50. This spring application period is a good opportunity to pick up a bonus point and apply for the bull hunts available in the fall application period.

The spring application period offers hunts in Unit 5A/5B (Raymond Ranch Herd) and Unit 12A/13A (Kaibab). The only bull bison hunt that is offered is in Unit 5A/5B; the rest are valid for a cow bison only. There is also one designated yearling bison permit as well. The bison hunts on the Raymond Ranch will require that you are escorted by an AZGFD employee and the bison will be selected for you. It may not be the one you hoped for so apply for this hunt with caution. If you are looking for a chance to harvest a trophy bull, you might consider applying in the fall for the hunts that are conducted in the spring and summer and apply for points only for this application period.

The Kaibab hunts available now are spread out from August through December and have options for rifle, archery and muzzleloader. Hunts in Unit 12A, 12B, and 13A (excluding Rock House Wildlife Area) tend to have very sporadic harvest success. Typically, these hunts are conducted by ambush hunting over a water source or mineral lick and can be very hit or miss. Harvest success is often in the 30% to 40% range, but can be lower or higher.

Arizona bison permits spring application period 2020

Unit Permit type Total permits
5A/5B Designated bull bison 4
5A/5B Designated cow bison 2
5A/5B Designated yearling bison 1
12A/12B/13A
(Sept. 25 to Oct. 7)
Cow bison only 10
12A/12B/13A
(Oct. 9 to 21)
Cow bison only 10
12A/12B/13A
(Oct. 30 to Dec. 31)
Cow bison only 10
12A/12B/13A
Muzzleloader
Cow bison only 10
12A/12B/13A
Archery
Cow bison only 10

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 9 5A, 5B North, 5B South, 12A East, 12A West, 12B, 13A

The point system

2020 maximum bonus points for bison: 51

ARIZONA BISON BONUS POINTS GOING INTO 2020

Bonus points Residents Nonresidents
1 138,784 9,133
2 2,765 685
3 1,462 338
4 929 214
5 666 179
6 450 118
7 426 131
8 412 100
9 327 88
10 305 61
11 258 50
12 214 49
13 193 49
14 172 28
15 156 41
16 132 25
17 125 31
18 103 20
19 85 18
20 78 16
21 81 11
22 68 8
23 81 14
24 46 7
25 59 3
26 43 9
27 56 9
28 43 10
29 38 3
30 31 4
31 35 2
32 32 2
33 27 0
34 15 2
35 15 1
36 8 1
37 10 0
38 5 1
39 2 0
40 2 0
41 1 0
42 1 0
43 0 1
44 1 0
45 0 0
46 0 0
47 0 0
48 0 1
49 0 0
50 2 0
51 1 0

Managing points and expectations

The trophy bison hunts that happen in 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.

There are a lot of applicants and, with the chance to build two points per year, most of the successful applicants have over 25 points. However, 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. If you decide to apply for one of these hunts, hiring a guide is a very good idea if you want to harvest a bison. Otherwise, it can be a very tough hunt.

Find your resident bison draw odds here

Find your nonresident bison draw odds here

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