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Arizona Hunting Overview

If you’re looking for some of the most unique hunting opportunities in the United States, Arizona offers ten big game species accessible through public lands. With terrain ranging from mountains to deserts, Arizona’s wildlife population is healthy and varied. Managed by Arizona Game and Fish Department, tags are primarily obtained via a draw system, split by hunting season and species. Whether you’re looking to hunt elk, antelope, sheep, deer, or bison, Arizona hunting opportunities are tremendous across the spectrum.

Arizona is the go-to state for elk hunting as it offers some of the best elk hunts in the country. While a bonus point system is in place, hunters are still able to draw premium big game tags without any points in the random portion of the drawing. However, the better tags are challenging to draw, and non-residents can wait for several years for their opportunity. Two separate application periods apply for eligibility: a February deadline for elk/antelope and a separate early June deadline for deer/sheep/bison. The draw is the only way to secure a coveted Arizona tag since landowner tags are not available for purchase. Superb genetics and mild weather make Arizona a top destination for trophy hunting experiences during peak rut activity.

Big Game Species

Arizona offers big game hunters ample opportunities for adventure and sport, with ten big game species available for hunting including elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, black bear, bison, Coues whitetail deer, desert mule deer, javelina, mountain lion, and turkey. As one of the most unique hunting destinations in the USA, Arizona attracts a significant number of hunters each year, with thousands of licenses issued annually. The Arizona Game and Fish Department manages these hunts and offers a broad range of hunting opportunities via a draw system, although some tags can be obtained over the counter as well. The annual split between resident and non-resident hunters varies by species and is subject to permit availability, but many avid hunters from around the world travel to Arizona in pursuit of trophy game.

Draw and OTC Sales and Dates

Arizona Spring Hunts DrawBison, Black Bear, Turkey, JavelinaSeptember 5, 2023October 3, 2023
Arizona Non-Resident OTC Deer Tag SaleDeerNovember 2, 2023N/A
Arizona Elk and Antelope DrawElk, AntelopeJanuary 10, 2024February 6, 2024
Arizona Fall Hunts DrawMule Deer, Coues Deer, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Black Bear, Turkey, JavelinaMay 9, 2024June 6, 2024 (tentative)

Arizona Hunting Point System

By name, Arizona uses a “bonus” point system. In practice, it is more of a hybrid system, with both aspects of a preference point and bonus point system. Bonus points act like raffle tickets, giving you an additional entry in the draw for each point you hold. Preference points on the other hand reserve your spot ahead of anybody with fewer points. Arizona has “passes” in the draw, which you can read about in the FAQ at the end of this article. The first pass is performed as a preference system, and the next two are performed as a bonus system.

You can earn bonus points each time you apply but aren’t successful, and you can also apply exclusively for bonus points if you don’t want to risk drawing a tag until you have more points. Arizona also offers a permanent bonus point that can be obtained by taking an approved Hunter Education course in the state, as well as a loyalty point that is added after applying for five consecutive years for a species. It’s important to note that each bonus point applies only to the species for which it was earned, and bonus points are purged if you don’t apply for that species for five consecutive years or if you draw a tag.

Arizona Point Types

PronghornBonus PointBoth
BearBonus PointBoth
Bighorn SheepBonus PointBoth
BisonBonus PointBoth
DeerBonus PointBoth
ElkBonus PointBoth
JavelinaBonus PointBoth
TurkeyBonus PointBoth

How to build points

Points are acquired through draw applications for respective species.

Tags, Licenses, and Pricing

A valid hunting license is required for all Arizona draws, including for purchasing points only via the draws. An application fee is applied per species applied for. If purchasing points only, the point fee is the same as the standard application fee. Because of this, and since Arizona uses a bonus not preference system, there is little reason not to apply for an actual tag unless you will be unable to hunt that season.

ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Combo Hunt & Fish License$57.00$160.00
Application Fee (per species)$13.00$15.00
Bonus Point (per species)$13.00$15.00
ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Elk Tag$135.00$650.00
Deer Tag$45.00$300.00
Pronghorn Tag$90.00$550.00
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Tag$300.00$1,800.00
Desert Bighorn Sheep Tag$300.00$1,800.00
Turkey Tag$25.00$90.00
Bear Tag$25.00$150.00
Javelina Tag$25.00$100.00
Bison – Bull/Any Tag$1,100.00$5,400.00
Bison – Cow/Yearling Tag$650.00$3,250.00
Bison — Yearling only Tag$350.00$1,750.00
Raptor Tag$13.00$190.00
Sandhill Crane (3 tags)$30.00$30.00

Arizona Hunting Regulations

Hunters Education

  • Hunters Education is required for individuals under 14 years of age.

Age Restrictions

  • Hunters must be 10 years of age.

Archery Limitations

  • Mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks are allowed.
  • Draw weights must be 30 pounds or greater.
  • Crossbows are not allowed in archery seasons, except with a disability permit.

Trail Cameras

  • As of 2022, trail cameras are prohibited for use in the aid of taking game.

Group Hunting

Arizona allows parties of up to four hunters to apply together for deer. Residents and non-residents can join groups together. Bonus points are averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number, and the group application will receive tags if the group is drawn and there are enough available for all members. Non-resident hunters should be aware of tag quotas when considering a party application, as a group application with both residents and non-residents is treated as a non-resident application.

Arizona Hunting FAQ

How to I get a loyalty bonus point in Arizona?2024-01-02T15:42:32+00:00

In Arizona’s hunting draws, participants are eligible to accumulate an Arizona Loyalty Bonus Point for each species included in the draws. These points are distinct to each species and particular draw. An individual gains these points by consistently submitting a valid application for a hunt permit-tag or a bonus point for a specific species every year over a continuous five-year span. Once a loyalty bonus point is earned, it is maintained by the applicant as long as they continue to apply at least annually for that species. Importantly, even after a tag is drawn and the standard points are reset, the loyalty bonus point remains with the hunter.

How do I get a hunters education bonus point in Arizona?2024-01-02T15:44:16+00:00

Arizona offers a permanent Hunters Education bonus point to hunters who have completed the requirements to obtain it. By completing the requirements, detailed below, the hunter gets an additional point added to each entry in the draw, for any species or draw they apply for. If successful in a draw, the hunter will have 1 point already after point clearing.

There are two methods to obtain the Arizona Hunters Education Bonus Point.

  • Take a Hunters Education Course sanctioned by Arizona, including the onsite field day for the course. While the coursework can usually be performed online, out of state hunters must travel to the state to perform the field day.
  • Take the new Ethically Hunting Arizona online course and complete the tests successfully. This course allows the hunter to gain the permanent bonus point. However, it is not a hunters education course, so the hunter must already possess a valid hunters education to be eligible to hunt. This course costs $300 for nonresidents.

Only one permanent hunters ed bonus point can be acquired, even if both methods have been completed.

How does the Arizona Draw Process work for Big Game Hunts?2023-12-29T21:49:24+00:00

The Arizona draw process for big game hunts is a multi-phase system that offers hunters a fair chance to secure permits for various species like deer, antelope, elk, turkey, javelina, and bear. Here’s a breakdown of how the Arizona big game draw works:

Three Phases of the Drawing

The draw consists of three passes or rounds – the bonus point pass, the first-second choice pass, and the third-fourth-fifth choice pass. Each application goes through a random number generator program before each pass, which are reset and rerun after each pass.

Random Number Generation

For every application, a random number is generated, and additional random numbers are added for each group bonus point, including Hunter Education and Loyalty bonus points. The lowest random number for an application is used in the drawing. New random numbers are generated for each pass.

Group Bonus Points

Group bonus points come into play when 2 to 4 applicants apply on a single hunt application. These points are calculated by adding the general bonus points, loyalty bonus point, and hunter education bonus point for each applicant and dividing the total by the number of applicants. The average number of bonus points in the group is used in the draw.

Checking for Permit Availability

When an application is reviewed, the system checks for available permits in the chosen hunt. There must be enough permits for all applicants on the application, including non-resident caps. If not, the application is passed, and the next one is reviewed.

The Drawing Phases

First Pass (Bonus Point Pass)

In this pass, up to 20% of authorized hunt permit-tags are issued for various species. Applications are first sorted based bonus points, starting with maximum bonus and proceeding with fewer points after. Within each point grouping, e.g. holders with max points, applications are then sorted by the random number generated prior to the round, with lowest number being prioritized first. Applications from the prior ordering are then reviewed in order, and if permits are available, they are issued. In this round, only first and second choices are considered. The process continues with lower bonus point categories until the allocated permits are issued or all applications with bonus points are reviewed. Nonresidents are limited to 10% of total tags across all rounds. It is possible that this 10% limit is reach in the first pass, which means tags for that unit are no longer available to nonresidents, in any round. Applications with zero bonus points are not eligible in this round. Functionally, this proceeds as a preference based system.

Second Pass (First-Second Choice Pass)

Applications that didn’t succeed in the bonus point pass receive a new random number for the second pass round. This pass of the draw proceeds similar to a standard bonus point system, where each bonus point held improves the odds of receiving a low number in the number generation process. Applications are then reviewed in order of lowest number. For each application, if the first choice hunt is available, it is awarded. If it is not, the second choice is reviewed and awarded if available. If not, the system continues on to the next application. If the nonresident cap for a unit has been meet prior to a nonresident application, the unit will no longer be available to the applicant.

Third Pass (Third-Fourth-Fifth Choice Pass)

For applications unsuccessful in the first two passes, new random numbers are generated, and the system reviews applications in the same method as the prior pass, but considering third, fourth, and fifth hunt choices.

Awarding Bonus Points

After the third pass, the drawing concludes, and applicants who did not receive permits are awarded an additional bonus point for each species they applied for. These points are reset to zero for species where they received permits.

Are trail cameras legal in Arizona?2023-04-18T01:05:39+00:00

As of Jan. 1, 2022 trail cameras are no longer legal for use in hunting. Specifically, they are prohibited “for the purposes of taking or locating or aiding in the take of wildlife,” according to new rule R12-4-303. A. 5.

Waiting Periods

Youth Hunting

Landowner Tag Options

Weapon Restrictions

Return / Transfer Tags

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