Arizona Game and FIsh Department - Managing Today for Wildlife Tomorrow: Arizona Game and Fish Department

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Hunting in Arizona

Arizona offers some of the best hunting in the nation. If you have hunted in Arizona before, you know of the diversity of wildlife and habitat that provide extraordinary hunting opportunities. If this is your first time hunting in Arizona, you are in for a memorable experience.

Whether you bag a 6x6 bull elk, a spike deer, a limit of dove, or go home empty-handed, the times spent in the field with your friends and family are some of the best times you will ever have.

However, we believe that the future of hunting, as well as the conservation of natural resources, is irrevocably tied to the recruitment of our youth to these time-honored traditions. And if you’re lucky enough to go on a hunt with your children, and sleep out under the stars together, the experience will provide lasting memories. What better way to know your children than around a campfire with none of the distractions of our daily lives.

Below you will find the information needed to start planning your next hunting adventure.

JUNIOR / YOUTH HUNTERS: The Arizona Game and Fish Department supports and promotes introducing children to the American tradition of hunting. It is important that the next generation learns how hunting plays a significant role in the conservation and management of wildlife. The Department offers a wide variety of juniors-only hunting and shooting programs. These programs are designed to get children in the field with a parent, guardian, or mentor who can focus completely on the child, and provide the guidance needed to teach the next generation of hunters and stewards how to be responsible and ethical conservationists.

SMALL GAME HUNTING: Arizona is also recognized for its abundant small game species. Upland hunters can pursue three species of quail (Gambel’s, scaled and Mearns’), mourning dove, white-winged dove, Eurasian collared-dove, band-tailed pigeon, blue grouse, five types of squirrel, cottontail rabbits, as well as ducks and geese. Open country provides endless field time for hunting predators and fur bearing mammals as well. A general hunting license is typically all that is required, with exception to any appropriate stamps for migratory and waterfowl species.

BIG GAME HUNTING: Arizona is well known throughout the country and abroad for it's quality big game hunting opportunities. There are 10 big game animal species in this great state, all of them accessible through public land pursuit. Game species include antelope, black bear, buffalo, desert bighorn sheep, elk, javelina, turkey (Merriam's and Gould's), mountain lion, mule deer, and white-tailed (Coues') deer. The country where these species can be found also runs the spectrum, from the dry rugged Kofa Mountains to the world renowned Kaibab Strip and all the country in between. Arizona offers every variety of hunting condition.

HUNTER SAFETY: Hunter education is not mandated in Arizona, with one exception for youth ages 10 through 13, who are required to have a valid hunter education certification from Arizona or other approved program to participate in a big game hunt (10 is the minimum age to hunt big game).

However, all hunters are encouraged to wear “hunter orange” in all hunting situations - except spring turkey season - and to remember Arizona’s safe hunter’s slogan: tab plus one (T.A.B. +1):

Treat every gun as if it were loaded; Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction; Be sure of your target and beyond; +1 Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. Safety is no accident.


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ETHICAL OUTDOORSMAN RECOGNITION: This program provides outdoorsmen and women the opportunity to recognize their peers for responsibile stewardship of Arizona's public and private lands, ethical behavior in the outdoors, or selfless acts of sportsmanship.

WHAT IS THE DRAW?: The draw is a lottery-style process for allocating the limited number of Arizona big game and other limited species hunt permit-tags to applicants. The department typically receives far more applications than there are available permits. Permits available per species are determined and adjusted annually from the results of science based studies, surveys, and management goals for maintaining healthy, sustainable wildlife populations and habitats.

To apply for a hunt permit-tag, an application must be submitted during the "Draw". Refer to the current hunting regulation for hunt numbers, application procedures and more. All current regulations are downloadable from the right side column on this page.

DRAWING SCHEDULES: The department conducts three (3) big game 'Drawings'. The application deadline dates are set each year by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, however they typically occur as follows:

February – for pronghorn antelope and elk;
June - for fall hunts of deer, turkey, javelina, bighorn sheep, buffalo, bear and mountain lion;
October – for spring hunts of turkey, javelina, buffalo and bear;

NONPERMIT TAGS: There are many opportunities to go hunting that do not require hunters to submit an application for a hunt permit-tag via the Draw.

Referred to as over-the-counter tags, these permits are available for purchase from department offices and in many cases from license dealers.

Species and hunts available are: archery-only deer (some unit restrictions); limited opportunity elk; mountain lion; bear; archery-only javelina and juniors-only turkey (shotgun only).

TAG TRANSFER PROGRAM: Under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S. 17-332), there are circumstances where a big game hunt permit-tag can be transferred. Should you be unable to use your big game tag, the Department is unable to reimburse you for your fees or reinstate your bonus points.

Circumstances where a tag can be transferred or donated are:

Transfer from a parent, grandparent or guardian to their minor child or grandchild. A parent, grandparent or legal guardian holding a big game tag may allow the use of that tag by their minor child or minor grandchild pursuant to the following requirements:

  • The minor child is 10 to 17 years old on the date of transfer;
  • The minor child has a valid hunting or combination license on the date of transfer;
  • A minor child less than 14 years old has satisfactorily completed a Department-approved hunter education course by the beginning date of the hunt;
  • The parent or guardian must accompany the child in the field or, if a grandparent allows a minor grandchild to use the grandparent’s permit or tag, the grandparent, parent or the child’s guardian must accompany the child in the field. In either case, the adult must be within 50 yards of the child when the animal is taken.

Note: There is a $4 fee for the big game tag transfer to cover the administrative costs for processing the transfer and producing an additional tag. See more info. Once a tag is transferred at a Department office, the original permittee may no longer use it.

Donation to a qualifying organization for use by a minor child with a life-threatening medical condition or permanent physical disability. You may donate your tag to a qualifying nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides hunting opportunities to children with life-threatening medical conditions or qualifying permanent physical disabilities. There is no tag transfer fee for making the donation. Please contact the organization directly to arrange for a donation.

Some organizations include:

New in 2014: Donation to a qualifying organization for use by a military veteran with a service-related disability. A tag transfer to a disabled veteran’s 501(c)(3) organization requires a big game tag transfer affidavit of voluntary donation and the tag. Contact the individual 501(c)(3) organization to obtain the transfer affidavit. There is no tag transfer fee for making the donation.

A U.S. veteran of the Armed Forces who has a service-connected disability is defined in law as one who has "a permanent physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities requiring the assistance of another person or a mechanical device for physical mobility."

The following organization is a qualifying organization for disabled veteran tag transfer:

We are currently working with other organizations and will post the names of those organizations as they become available.

NORTH AMERICAN WILDLIFE CONSERVATION MODEL: Regardless of whether one chooses to actively participate in hunting or angling, people interested in wildlife and its future should understand the conservation role sportsmen play.

Hunting and angling are the cornerstones of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. These activities continue to be the primary source of funding for conservation efforts in North America. Through self-imposed excise tax on hunting, angling and shooting sports equipment, hunters and anglers have generated more than $10 billion toward wildlife conservation since 1939.

Arizona's 7-Core Concepts of Conservation

  1. Wildlife is Held in the Public Trust
  2. Regulated Commerce in Wildlife
  3. Hunting and Angling Laws are Created Through
    Public Process
  4. Hunting and Angling Opportunity for All
  5. Hunters and Anglers Fund Conservation
  6. Wildlife is an International Resource
  7. Science is the Basis for Wildlife Policy

EVOLUTION OF HUNTING LAWS, ENFORCEMENT AND THE COMMISSION SYSTEM: Members of the public often express an interest in Arizona’s hunting laws and how they were developed, how violations of wildlife laws are enforced, the tradition of outdoor ethics, and how the Arizona Game and Fish Commission system came into being and what role it plays today.



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