APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Arizona Antelope
Arizona's 2018 antelope application overview
It is not easy to draw an antelope tag in Arizona, but it is far from impossible. For those who do draw a tag, the opportunity at shooting record book speedgoat abounds across the state. Twelve of the state's 42 antelope units can consistently provide bucks scoring over 80" while the rest of the units still produce bucks over 70"! Arizona might not have as many antelope as other states, but just because the quantity is lacking, it doesn't mean that the quality is.
Note: The online application deadline for Arizona antelope is Feb. 13, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. MST and you can apply online here. If you want to submit a paper application, it must be submitted no later than Jan. 30, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. MST.
Why Arizona for antelope in 2018
Higher chances for nonresidents
Since the change in the draw process in 2016, nonresidents have never had a better chance to draw some of the nation’s most coveted tags in Arizona.
Every unit in the state that offers an antelope season is capable of producing bucks that score over 70".
Excellent public land access
Arizona has among the highest percentage of public land in the Western states and much of the state's prime antelope habitat is located on public land. You can quickly find the units with the most public land on Filtering 2.0 here. That link will take you to the Arizona antelope units that are sorted from highest to lowest public land percentage.
New for 2018
Continuing to provide the most accurate Arizona draw odds
You have access to the most accurate draw odds by utilizing Arizona Draw Odds on INSIDER. Since the change in the draw system in 2016, many nonresidents have the opportunity to draw tags that were previously unattainable for anyone who did not have a high number of points.
Using the draw odds detailed pages for Arizona, you’ll quickly be able to see how the draw system change affected hunters with minimal points and for those max point holders.
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.
New paper application deadline
The paper application deadline is two weeks earlier than the online application deadline.
New Hunter Harvest Questionnaire Design
Arizona has redesigned its big game hunt permit-tags and the Hunter Harvest Questionnaire will now be included with 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 our Hunter Harvest Questionnaire webpage then select your species.
This program provides hunters with peace of mind in knowing that they can surrender their tag for any reason without losing their coveted bonus points. PointGuard coverage costs $5 per species. See more details here.
Failed credit card payments
If you're applying online, be sure to keep your credit card payment information current and up-to-date. If your payment is declined at the time of the draw, your application will not be drawn. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will no longer call customers to obtain payment on drawn applications where credit cards have failed. The deadline for updating your credit or debit card information online is 11:59 p.m. MST on March 15, 2018.
Below you can find important information and an overview of the Arizona’s rules/regulations, the draw system, bonus points, tag and license fees, and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the Arizona Antelope Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy units.
Important dates and information
- Deadline to apply online is February 13, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. MST.
- Deadline to apply by paper is January 30, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. MST.
- You can apply online or with a paper application.
- Permits and refunds will be mailed out by April 20, 2018.
- Leftover permits will be made available on April 23, 2018. You'll be able to check the leftover list here when it becomes available.
- Payment must be by Visa or Mastercard for online applications.
- Paper applications can pay with a personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or certified check (no cash).
- Up to 10% of the available tags for any hunt code can be awarded to nonresidents.
- If you are unsuccessful in the draw, then you will be awarded a bonus point for that species.
- Arizona Big Game Super Raffle drawing will be held July 26, 2018. More information can be found here.
Current drought in Arizona
While the winter was very mild in Arizona, the precipitation levels have been relatively low. Antelope make their living in areas of the state where water is already scarce, which means that they are able to fare well in drought years. The state as a whole is in a moderate drought with 2017 seeing significantly less than average rainfall; however, in Arizona, the timing of moisture matters more than the amount of moisture. There is a general belief that precipitation in 2018 will be above-average, which is good news after experiencing below-average rainfall last year. Keep an eye on precipitation levels in various units by using the Unit Profiles here.
Below you can see the comparison to January 10, 2017, where nearly 60% of Arizona was under drought conditions.
The Arizona draw system
Understanding the draw
It is vital to understand that with antelope only your first two choices matter. There are normally not any antelope tags left after all applications have cleared the Pass 1-2. Although the application has five hunt choices available, it is the first two that matter the most. Remember that if you're applying as a nonresident, you can only apply for hunts that have more than one tag. And of the 20% quota in the max point pool draw, a nonresident is only able to draw 5% of the tags, the rest of the nonresident 5% of tags are available in the random draw. See more information in our Arizona State Profile.
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).
- Or apply for “bonus points only” to gain a bonus point in the event that you do not want to risk drawing a tag until you have a higher number of points.
- You can also travel to Arizona and take a hunter education course and earn a permanent bonus point.
- Earn a permanent loyalty point. An applicant is awarded this point by applying for a species for five consecutive years. This is also a species-specific point and this permanent point will not be taken away when you draw a tag.
If you are successful in the draw, then your bonus points will revert back to zero. If you have earned a loyalty and/or hunter education point, then you will keep those indefinitely. If you fail to apply for five consecutive years, then all points will be lost.
Unlike many states, where if you don’t have the points you have no chance of getting a tag, Arizona gives hunters with only a few points a chance. Even if you don’t draw anything this year, you can get a bonus point to increase your chances next year. You can apply for bonus points only in Arizona, but you must buy a $160 nonrefundable hunting license and pay a $15 application fee per species.
Arizona's 2018 antelope breakdown
Current antelope herd condition
Predation is hardly an issue for the antelope in Arizona. Couple that with very mild winters and you have a recipe for a healthy population. Even so, the state as a whole has seen a slight decrease in tag availability due to a slight decrease in surveyed antelope population. This means that it will be even more competitive to get one of these coveted tags.
2018 top hit list hunt units to consider for 80" or better bucks
|Unit 5BN||80"+||87%||Archery: 25%|
|Unit 5A||80"+||83.2%||Archery: 0%|
|Unit 9||80"+||76.6%||Archery: 100%|
|Unit 17A||80"+||72.5%||Rifle: 100%|
|Unit 19A||80"+||70.1%||First archery: 39%|
Second archery: 15%
|Unit 18B||80"+||59.2%||Archery: 0%|
|Unit 2B||80"+||56.8%||Muzzleloader: 67%|
|Unit 18A||80"+||52.1%||Archery: 80%|
|Unit 4B||80"+||47%||Archery: 53%|
|Unit 2A||80"+||42.1%||Rifle: 87%|
|Unit 10||80"+||39.2%||Archery: 39%|
|Unit 19B||80"+||38.9%||First archery: 100%|
Second archery: 60%
How to uncover hidden gem antelope units
Big bucks abound throughout the state of Arizona. A lot more can be considered than which unit produces the biggest ones. Utilize our Filtering 2.0 tools and manipulate the Trophy Potential to display the units that have a legitimate chance at bucks that score 70” or better. Once you locate a unit, select that specific unit to access a plethora of additional information about that unit.
You can use Filtering 2.0 as an aid to finding the right hunting opportunity to fit your style. This revolutionary tool will allow you to select your exact criteria for your preferred hunt and will help you find the right season to hunt or apply for in a unit that fits all of your criteria.
To get started with Filtering 2.0
- Select state.
- Select species.
- Adjust the Trophy Slider to your desired size (e.g. 70”+).
- Click whether you are a resident or nonresident and indicate how many points you currently possess.
- Select your minimum percentage of odds for drawing the tag. This can be very good for weeding out units with easier to draw tags.
- Select which season(s) you are wishing to hunt. Have other hunts going on throughout the fall? You can also set your date parameters and Filtering 2.0 will automatically find what's in season that time of the year.
- Choose what harvest percentages you would like to see in the units.
- Choose the Public Land percentages you would like to see.
- Lastly, click on any of the remaining units to read in-depth profiles containing valuable information.
When it comes to antelope in Arizona, using a bow rather than a gun will get you a tag much sooner. Bowhunting opens up quite a few units for those who otherwise would have been waiting two to three times as long to draw a tag.
Hidden gem units: Archery antelope hunts with the best draw odds and chance at 70"+ bucks (resident)
with 10 points
|Unit 15A, 15BE, 15BW||70-75"+||50:100|
Hidden gem units: Archery antelope hunts with the best draw odds and chance at 70"+ bucks (nonresident)
with 10 points
|Unit 7E, 7W||75"+||39:100||3.7%||60%|
Boone & Crockett (B&C) entry trends for Arizona antelope
Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.
Arizona's top five Boone & Crockett producing
|Coconino||33||3C, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5BN, 5BS, 6A, 6B, 7E, 7W,|
8, 9, 10, 11M, 12AE, 12AW, 12B
|Yavapai||10||6A, 6B, 8, 17A, 17B, 18A, 18B|
|Navajo||7||2A, 3A, 3B, 3C, 4A, 4B, 5A|
|Mohave||4||13A, 13B, 15A, 15B East, 15B West, 18A, 18B|
|Apache||2||1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 3A, 3B|
Discovering the best buck:doe ratio units
If you check the various Unit Profiles in Arizona, you will see that there is detailed information on male:female ratios. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. Higher buck:doe ratios can be a very good thing as this means there will likely be more mature bucks though it does not necessarily mean the bucks will be bigger than other units. When selecting an area or comparing several areas take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in depth.
The best way to find the units with the best buck:doe ratios is to use Filtering 2.0 under Arizona antelope. And then sort the results by male:female ratio. You can jump to those results here. Utilizing Filtering 2.0 to identify other key information (such as public land percentage or trophy potential) can really help you narrow down your choices on some great sleeper units!
2018 top hit list hunt units to consider for based on high buck:doe ratios
The points system for antelope
2018 maximum resident bonus points for antelope: 28
2018 maximum nonresident bonus points for antelope: 28
For another view of the bonus point breakdown using tables, you can check out the table below. The table view will allow for an easier readout of the higher point totals.
Managing points and expectations
When considering expectations based on bonus points, it is important to be clear about your end goal. Do you just want to draw a tag, regardless of location, trophy potential, or harvest success? Or are you holding out for that once in a lifetime tag by which you will have a chance at harvesting a truly incredible animal? Determining your end goal will directly influence how you should approach your hunt choices for your application.
I have 0 points. What can I expect?
It is possible to draw a tag in Arizona with no points, but it is highly unlikely. You really need to prepare yourself to be waiting for a long time. But, since the time will pass anyway, you might as well start building your points now. Put in for the most desirable hunts. That way, if you draw, great! But if you don't then at least you will have the bonus point for next year.
The overall odds of drawing a nonresident tag are significantly less than 1%. Your best strategy? Apply for a dream hunt first choice. Your second choice should be one with the highest number of total tags to allow for a greater chance at drawing during the random pass.
If you are trying to draw a tag as soon as possible, archery hunts will be your best bet, though the odds are still very low.
What can I do with 3 or 4 antelope bonus points?
The chances of drawing with three to four points are still really low. If you have waited for a few years, you might as well wait for a few more when your bonus points will really start to work for you. If you really, really want to draw a tag, then look for the best draw odds in the less desirable units. Remember, any of the units in Arizona are capable of producing 70"+ bucks!
Archery tags offer the highest odds for resident hunters, but with four points the highest odds of any unit is still only 11%. Units 3B, 6B, 10, and 21 offer the best chances to draw an archery tag though the odds are very low. Rifle and muzzleloader odds are still long shots.
Stay diligent and keep building those points. You might draw a random tag, but the chances are slim. Keep putting in for your dream hunts and stay the course.
What can I expect with 6 or 7 antelope bonus points?
Not a lot changes here in terms of draw odds. Tags are still out of reach for most people in this category.
Archery remains the best option for draw odds with Units 1, 3A, and 4B offering the highest odds at a mere 6.7%. At this point, you have to ask if it is worth it to start all over on points in the event you draw a tag in one of these units on a long shot. If it is not worth it to you, then keep putting in for the hunts you really want and keep waiting.
What can I expect with 9 or 10 antelope bonus points?
Things really start to change at this point with some units offering really great odds for residents. Nonresidents will likely still have a long wait.
Archery still offers the best chance with 6B offering a 100% chance of drawing for the archery hunt. Other units with good odds are Units 3A, 3B, 10, 21, 15A, and 15BE. Rifle and muzzleloader odds are still very low.
Archery continues to offer the best chances, but you have already waited for 10 years. It could be worth it to wait just a few more to have a better chance at drawing your dream hunt. Keep putting in for the hunts you want. If you just really want to go hunting, then continue to look at units 1, 3A, 4B, 6B.
What can I expect with 15 or 20 antelope bonus points?
15 points is a lot of points and it means you have been waiting for a very long time, but it is not a guarantee since quite a few other people have over 15 points. However, at this point, your chances have improved greatly.
To put things in perspective:
- There are 5,623 residents and 1,122 nonresidents with 15 or more bonus points.
- There are 1,826 residents and 269 nonresidents with 20 or more bonus points.
Most of the units in the state are within reach for archery hunts at this point. Rifle and muzzleloader hunts are still tough to get with Unit 13A offering the best chance at 21%. Still, you should be putting in for the hunts you really want to do because, once you draw a tag, you will be starting all over.
What can I expect with over 20 antelope bonus points?
For anyone with over 20 points, Keep applying for your dream hunts. You have waited this long. Keep your eyes on the hunt you have been waiting for and soon enough, you will draw it.
Table of options for resident/nonresidents at various point intervals
|3A, 3B, 6B,|
10, 21, 15A, 15BE
|3A, 4B, 5A, 9, 10, 18A,|
12AW, 12A, 12B, 13A, 13B