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.
The public process used by the Department to develop this system contributed to a “Showcase in Excellence Award in 2008” from the Arizona Quality Alliance – the organization that recognizes total quality management principles and organizational excellence.
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 countrries 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. 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.
Examples of ideas from the guideline process that have been incorporated include:
- “Have the draw earlier for antelope & elk hunts”
- “Create a bonus point system for the draw”
- “Increase juniors-only hunting opportunities”
- 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 2022 – Initiate hunt guidelines review process; Informal public input via news releases, website and publications|
|Feb-May 2022 – Collect public input; Agency Review Team evaluates comments|
|June 2022 – Present draft guidelines and potential changes via a webinar and public meetings across the state|
|June 2022 – Commission provides direction on proposed guidelines|
|July 2022 – Formal public comment on proposed hunt guidelines|
|Late August 2022 – Release final proposed hunt guidelines for Commission and public review|
|September 2022 – 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. This is done three times a year, starting with the main fall Arizona Hunting and Trapping regulations, followed by the Spring Turkey, Javelina, Buffalo and Bear supplement and then the Pronghorn Antelope and Elk supplement. Each of these regulations contains 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 occurs 3 times a year for each of the 3 hunting regulation booklets – The main Arizona Hunting Regulations in June; Spring turkey, javelina, buffalo and bear supplement in October; and the pronghorn antelope and elk supplement in January.
Fall Hunting Regulation Recommendations
Once annually, the Department hosts a webinar and public meetings to solicit input on all hunt recommendations and hunt guidelines.
|February – Department regional staff begins formulating recommendations based on game surveys, hunter questionnaire data and the hunt guideline package|
|Late March – Release final draft recommendations to the public and Commission for review. Comments welcome via AZHuntGuidelines@azgfd.gov|
|Mid April – Final recommendations presented to the Commission for approval – public input is permitted via blue slip|
|Late April – Final Commission approved Recommendations are incorporated into the Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations and posted on the Department’s website|
|Mid May – Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations available at Department offices and license dealers statewide|
|June – Application deadline is anticipated second Tuesday of June|
Spring Hunting Regulation Recommendations
|June – Department regional staff begins formulating recommendations based on game surveys, hunter questionnaire data and the hunt guideline package|
|Late July – Release final draft recommendations to the public and Commission for review. Comments welcome via AZHuntGuidelines@azgfd.gov|
|Early August- Final recommendations presented to the Commission for approval – public input is permitted via blue slip|
|Late August – Final Commission approved Recommendations are incorporated into the spring regulation supplement and posted on the Department’s website|
|Mid September – Spring regulation hunt draw information booklet available at Department offices and license dealers statewide|
|October – Application deadline is anticipated second Tuesday of October. *Note – To date public meetings have not been offered for the spring recommendations|
Pronghorn Antelope & Elk Hunting Regulation Recommendations
|Department regional staff begins formulating recommendations based on game surveys, hunter questionnaire data and the hunt guideline package.|
|Release final draft recommendations to the public and Commission for review. Comments welcome via AZHuntGuidelines@azgfd.gov|
|Final recommendations presented to the Commission for approval – public input is permitted via blue slip.|
|Final Commission approved Hunt Orders posted on the Department’s website.|
|Pronghorn and Elk regulation hunt draw information booklet available at Department offices and license dealers statewide.|
|Application deadline is anticipated second Tuesday of February.|