Hunt Guidelines and Hunt Recommendations Process
The Arizona Game and Fish Department follows a multi-tiered process for setting hunting season structures, hunting season dates, hunt permit allocations, and other controlling elements for regulating hunting of game animals.
The Department’s big and small game program’s are responsible for this task and their mission is to protect and manage game wildlife populations and their habitats to maintain the natural diversity of Arizona, and to provide game wildlife oriented recreation opportunities for present and future generations. This is done by using science-based methods to assure wildlife is managed within the biological limits of each species, management strategies are also developed to consider social acceptability and responsibilities.
That process includes:
- Hunt Guidelines – which are set every five years
- Survey & field data – hunter harvest reporting & game surveys (collected annually)
- Hunt Recommendations – which happens three times annually
- Commission Orders – approved by the Commission and published in the hunting regulations
While this is no simple task, a guiding principle requires continually refining the process through better science-based management and extensive public involvement.
Public involvement is critical for two reasons. In North America, wildlife is held in the public’s trust and belongs to all citizens, unlike in other countries where access is restricted by financial or social class. Law regulates hunting and that too is a public process – both are core principles of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model, founded by hunters and conservationists more than 100 years ago.
It all starts with the Hunt Guidelines. Every five years, the department revises the guidelines for the Commission to approve. The public’s input is encouraged and valued. The Hunt Guidelines provide the biological and social parameters that make up the “recipes” used by wildlife managers to formulate the annual hunt recommendations (season dates, permits allocated, etc.) in which sportsmen participate. The Commission approves the guidelines at its public meetings.
- Article – Changing Seasons, Hunting seasons, that is by Jim Heffelfinger & Brian Wakeling
Guidelines Process Timeline & Public Involvement
|Annual – Public outreach on hunt guidelines and hunt recommendations|
|Anytime – Collect and compile comments from the public for the next hunt guidelines or hunt recommendation cycles.
|Jan 2027 – Initiate hunt guidelines review process; Informal public input via news releases, website and publications|
|Feb-May 2027 – Collect public input; Agency Review Team evaluates comments|
|June 2027 – Present draft guidelines and potential changes via a webinar and public meetings across the state|
|June 2027 – Commission provides direction on proposed guidelines|
|July 2027 – Formal public comment on proposed hunt guidelines|
|Late August 2027 – Release final proposed hunt guidelines for Commission and public review|
|September 2027 – Final proposed hunt guidelines presented to the Commission for adoption at its public meeting
– public input accepted via blue slips
– Commission approved hunt guidelines posted on Department website
With the guidelines in place, and survey data in hand, wildlife managers and game specialists propose the permit allocations on a unit-by-unit basis resulting in the proposed Hunt Recommendations. After the public comment period and once approved by the Commission, the recommendations are incorporated into the hunting regulations. The hunting regulations contain all the information needed for applying for a hunt permit-tag through the draw, what hunts are over-the-counter nonpermit-tags, open areas and season dates, and youth hunting opportunities.
Hunt Recomendations Process Timeline & Public Involvement
The hunt recommendations process now occurs during 2 cycles every 2 years. The approved hunts are then published in the 3 hunting regulation booklets – The main Arizona Hunting Regulations in June; Spring turkey, javelina, bison and bear supplement in September; and the pronghorn, elk and fall turkey supplement in January – February.
Once annually, the Department will host a webinar and public outreach to solicit input on game species management, all hunt recommendations and hunt guidelines.