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Arizona says “No change in trail cam use”

Trail Camera

Photo credit: Brady Miller

Trail cameras can be a controversial topic within the hunting world, especially if you hunt public land and that land is home to record big game animals. This is the case with two specific units within Arizona: Unit 13B (the Arizona Strip), which is home to massive mule deer, and Unit 9—aka the best place in the state to hunt elk. In response to numerous complaints from hunters “regarding the large number of trail cameras being used by other sportsmen at developed waterholes” Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) officials  created a Fair Chase Committee to investigate whether restrictions needed to be put in place over this specific type of trail camera use, the Daily Miner reports.

The Fair Chase Committee, which was comprised of AZGFD officials and local hunting guides, eventually recommended that there should be established restrictions to where trail cameras could be placed. This resulted in a proposal submitted by AZGFD, which would “eliminate live action trail cameras, and restrict passive cameras to being no closer than 1/4 mile (440 yards) from a developed water source,” according to the Daily Miner. However, once the proposal was open to public comments, most were against trail camera restrictions, despite the previous complaints about trail camera use.

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During the June meeting, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted against changes in current trail camera use. However, there’s still another step before the decision is final: a supplemental rule making process, which includes a 30-day public comment period that runs July 13 through Aug. 13. The final rule will be voted on during the commission’s September meeting. If you are interested in weighing in, comments will be collected via email at


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Mike S. - posted 10 months ago on 07-17-2018 12:15:08 pm

I think this sums up the AZGFD intent better rather than saying complaints from hunters.

"Every five years, there is an open review under Article 3 by the Department. There is a committee known as the “Fair Chase Committee,” which is made up of 12-15 persons both from inside and outside the Department. This committee reviews various rules, including the take of wildlife, and makes recommendations on any changes it feels is appropriate." courtesy of the Kingman Daily Miner

Isaac R. - posted 11 months ago on 07-02-2018 11:54:17 am

It’s kinda like the law of no four wheelers or utv’s off the road, I run into this every year especially during shed season I hike my butt off miles only to get back where I want to be to find it covered in four wheeler tracks when there is no road close by.

Isaac R. - posted 11 months ago on 07-02-2018 11:44:58 am

I don’t think a restriction would really help anything, no matter what law or no law you are still going to have people put there cameras up where they want, as for me I stay away from any main water source with my cameras because they are frequent with human traffic my hunting is deep within the stick my main goal is get away from roads and traffic.

Scott L. - posted 11 months ago on 06-29-2018 05:02:40 pm
Mohave Co., Arizona

Kristen, Very good article. As a resident of AZ, a hunter, and someone who uses trail cameras, I support the guidelines that are being proposed. At least in terms of utilization of cameras that connect via cellular and transmit activity.

Not one of my cameras is able to transmit information to my phone or computer. Therefore, it requires me to get out and scout to determine where game may be moving and simply utilize the photos to confirm my suspicions. I still have to spend a lot of time reading the signs and determining whether it may be productive for an upcoming hunt.

I am a little concerned about the restriction on water sources. I realize the regulation specifies "developed water sources". However, in light of the fact that AZGFD regulations clearly recommend finding a water source for hunting, this limitation seems to me a contradiction.

I use those water sources I've found while scouting as a starting point, and then try to back track the game to figure out where their going and what their movement patterns are. This is a time consuming process, but it's worth it. And frankly, think about it, a hunter hires a guide because they know the movement patterns and are able to direct their clients to a location that will give them the best chance at success.

Having a real time validation of game movement, via cameras that transmit their photos to your phone, is in my opinion putting the advantage to far in favor of the hunter. On the other hand, if you're out doing the work, reading the signs and placing cameras to find the game is simply a tool for us to use since we can't be out their all the time.