Deer hunting in Arizona


After several years of poor weather Arizona’s deer herds finally get some relief.  A couple of good years of rainfall in our state have forecasters calling for a fair season this year and if mother nature continues to be nice, better hunting in the next couple of years. 




Season Dates


Oct. 26­Dec. 31. Youth: Oct. 5­Dec. 28


Aug. 24­Oct. 4 and Dec. 14­ Jan. 31


Oct. 26­ Dec. 31

License Fees


Big-game firearm: $25.50 Youth (20 or younger): $25.50 Deer permit: $22.50


Big-game firearm: $113.50 Youth (20 or younger): $25.50 Deer permit: $113.50.


602-942-3000 -


A $5 fee is charged for all firearm hunters in the Kaibab region.

Herd Information

2000 Harvest

2000­2001 Harvest 10,090 (4,204 whitetails; 5,886 mule deer)


Hunters ages 10­ - 14 must complete Arizona hunter-safety course. Regardless of age, completion of the course is worth bonus points in all permit draws for which bonus points may be accumulated.




Outdoor Life Forecast:

Mule deer hunters in the Grand Canyon State should focus on the Arizona Strip and Units 12a/b and 13a/b. Not only do these units produce trophy animals, but also hunter success averages 60 percent. The most productive Coues whitetail hunts should be in Units 36a/b, near Tucson, where hunter success runs 20 to 30 percent, according to Brian Wakeling, Arizona's big-game supervisor. Arizona's eight-year-old drought resulted in severe drops in deer populations and the authorization of only 47,190 deer tags in 2001 -- a record-low number. But Wakeling says this year winter and spring rains have been good, and if the rain continues an end to the drought may be in sight. The southwestern portion of the state is occupied by desert mule deer; here the herd counts have increased slightly due to improved winter precipitation patterns. As a result, there has been a modest increase in harvest quotas. A good bet for desert muleys is Unit 43 or 44, where hunter success was a reasonably high 20 percent last year.

Gary Kramer


Field & Stream Forecast:

Phoenix, AZ -- According to Brian Wakeling of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the state's deer herd has been suffering one degree of drought or another for at least six years. Improved rainfall last winter helped, but the deer population remains far from its potential. Fires across much of the winter range in 1996 continue to create hardship for the deer during their roughest months.

Yet the department's goal is to reduce the population, in an effort to ease pressure on remaining rangeland. They hope this will result in a healthier herd overall. It's an uncommon situation -- and one that may be tough for hunters to accept in the short term -- but it promises long-term benefits.

Wakeling says that for the coming season, he expects to see some good deer taken from the ponderosa pine forests of the Kaibab region. Also, some of the desert units in the southern portion of the state showed population increases, but because that region supports only a limited number of animals, the average hunter probably would not notice the difference.

Wakeling points to Unit 13B as a good one if you get drawn for it. Whitetail hunters, he says, should focus on Units 36A, B, and C. Without question, Arizona will produce its share of quality deer this season. According to Wakeling, though, more and bigger antlers are just over the hilltops. "If things go well," he says, "I expect to see some really good bucks in a couple of years." Most hunters would settle for one good buck -- this year. –

Doug Pike