So You Want to Hunt?
Are you interested in hunting but don’t know where to start? Do you want to harvest your own food? Are you interested in personal challenges and developing your outdoor skills? Hunting offers this and more. For those of you who already know how to hunt, but are new to Arizona, the information below will help you get started.
Arizona offers some of the best hunting in the nation thanks to an extreme diversity of landscapes, extensive public lands, and many types of animals that provide extraordinary hunting experiences, challenges and are delicious and healthy.
Like any new hobby or activity, getting started can sometimes seem overwhelming. But once you learn the basics found here, you’ll have the confidence and basic knowledge to take to the field. While there are a lot of aspects to hunting—seasons, rules, regulations, areas you can hunt, using a firearm, what you do after you take an animal—with a little practice, these become second nature.
These events are conducted by experienced and passionate conservationists dedicated to sharing their knowledge, expertise and passion for hunting and wildlife conservation in a safe environment.
The events also cover wildlife biology, habits, ecology, stewardship, ethics, conservation, recreational shooting, wildlife viewing, camping, and more. Even if you’re not quite ready to hunt, just contact the camp host and consider a visit, it’s a great way to get connected.
These events are made possible by an extensive partnership between the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Arizona’s dedicated conservation community.
Video: Mentored Hunt Camp – Spring Turkey 9 mins.
Video: Mentored Hunt Event – Dove at Robbins Butte 7 mins.
Video: Women’s “Learn to Hunt” – Dove in Yuma 3 mins.
Video: Mentored Hunt Camp – Ducks in Cibola 7 mins.
This webpage is designed to give you a simplified and logical learning approach to hunting in Arizona. Whether you’re brand new to hunting, just moved to Arizona, or want to expand your existing skills, this page will help you on your path to our great outdoors.
Work through the page from start to finish to get a comprehensive lesson on hunting in Arizona, or jump to a topic listed below. Additionally, we encourage you to do your own research and outreach. Check out YouTube videos, read articles, contact local conservation organizations, or ask a fellow outdoorsman or woman to take you along on their next outing. Every experience will get you one step closer to confidently going on your own outdoor adventures, and hopefully one day passing on that knowledge to someone else!
Good luck, be safe, and happy hunting!
How to Hunt in Arizona: the details
What you need to know.
Why hunt? is it okay?
Let’s have a real conversation about how you ended up here. In some way, shape or form you’re interested in learning about hunting. For many, it’s an eye-opening and life-changing experience.
Our goal is to give you practical information, answer questions, dismantle myths and provide you with resources that will help get you started on your hunting and conservation journey.
First, is hunting okay? Yes.
Hunting is only allowed for certain species and it is highly regulated—with licensing, seasons, harvest limits, legal methods of take, fair chase, rules, laws and ethical requirements.
Important to know, is wildlife populations are actively monitored and managed for sustainable use to assure all species remain healthy and abundant.
Personally, hunting is a physically and mentally engaging activity, the game meat is a healthy food source, and it teaches skills, character and more.
Another fact most people don’t know is that hunters and hunting conservation groups actually give back more to wildlife conservation than they take. They contribute extensively on habitat projects, landscape improvements, fundraising and advocacy for wildlife.
Lastly, Arizona Game and Fish and most other state wildlife agencies don’t get any general tax dollars to manage all the publics’ wildlife. They are primarily funded by the sale of licenses, tags and stamps as well as federal excise taxes on much of the equipment used by hunters in these recreational activities.
What to hunt in arizona
Arizona offers some of the best and most unique hunting opportunities in the nation. The state has 10 huntable big game species and 18 huntable small game species, along with waterfowl and abundant furbearer and predator game species. Arizona hunters have a vast amount of opportunities and pursuits throughout the year.
Each animal offers unique challenges and will take you to different places in the state in their pursuit. Not to mention, each one is an excellent food source and a culinary experience of wild game that most will never experience in their lifetime.
Check out the ‘Game Species’ page on the Arizona Game and Fish Department website to learn more about these individual species, their life history in Arizona, hunt history, distribution, biology, and more! Learn more
Check out the Sportsmen’s Value Map to view highly valued wildlife habitat areas of huntable Arizona species.
When to hunt in Arizona
In addition to considering what animal you might be interested in hunting, you should also consider what time of the year hunting seasons are open for those animals. From hunting doves in September, deer in October, javelina in February, or turkey in May, Arizona offers a year-round calendar of hunting opportunities.
Check out the “Hunting Seasons at a Glance” calendar to get a general idea of when hunting seasons are open in Arizona. This calendar is a general outlook of seasons, and specific dates are subject to change.
However, some animals require a special hunting tag issued through an application and drawing process (called “the draw”) that happens well before the season dates. There are three draw cycles throughout the year.
February: pronghorn antelope, elk
June: deer, fall turkey, fall javelina, bighorn sheep, fall bison, sandhill crane
October: spring javelina, spring bear, spring turkey, spring bison
For a detailed calendar of hunting seasons and dates, refer to the appropriate regulation booklet for the animal of interest.
where to hunt in arizona
The good news is more than 50% of Arizona is public land and with a few exceptions, hunting is permitted throughout. You can have confidence that there’s a place for you to hunt, camp, recreate and explore.
Deciding where to hunt in Arizona will be dependent on the species you choose to pursue and the habitat they inhabit. Time of year, weather, elevation, ruggedness, season dates, distance from home, and animal populations can factor into your decision-making as well.
There are six US National Forests, four US Wildlife Refuges, extensive Bureau of Land Management lands, extensive State Trust lands, and many Arizona Game and Fish wildlife management areas that offer endless hunting opportunities and experiences.
For wildlife management reasons, Arizona Game and Fish organizes the state into six Regions, and within those regions are smaller numbered areas called Game Management Units (GMUs). There are about 77 different GMUs.
Each unit has a detailed webpage with ‘species information’ sections that offer specific location recommendations on where to find certain species in the unit, a map, boundaries, climate information, campground information, and government agency contact information. These are great starting points for scouting an area or finding new places to hunt. Of course, the best way to get information on a prospective hunting area is to get your boots on the ground, explore, take notes, and inventory your hunting spots!
How to hunt in arizona – regulations
Well, we’ve made it to the “How” section of the webpage which really brings us full circle to why most of you are here. The short and vague answer of how to hunt in Arizona is, it depends. Hopefully by this point you have an idea of the type of hunting you’d like to do, including species type, weapon type, terrain type, weather type, proximity to home, wild game harvest type, and much more.
Some beginners and those new to the state sometimes struggle with navigating the hunting regulations. In Arizona, because the demand for many big game hunts exceeds the number of permits available, many of the hunts require a lottery-style application drawing process – called the Draw.
Because of that, we have 1) more regulation booklets and 2) more information within those booklets because of the Draw.
Let’s start with the regulations. Arizona has seven regulation booklets/ pamphlets. They include season dates, bag limits, hunt types, open areas, rules, regulations, drawing application details, and other requirements for hunting. The seven booklets/pamphlets are:
- Arizona Hunting Regulations – These are the main hunt regulations covering nearly everything for most species. For those not listed see the following supplements below. Deadline to apply for drawing for tags is in June.
- Pronghorn and Elk Hunt Draw Information – Deadline to apply for drawing for tags is in February.
- Spring Turkey, Javelina, Bison, Bear and Raptor Capture Hunt Draw Information – Deadline to apply for drawing for tags is in October.
- Arizona Dove and Band-tailed Pigeon Regulations
- Arizona Waterfowl and Snipe Regulations
- Arizona Reptile and Amphibian Regulations
- Arizona Trapping Regulations
How to hunt in Arizona – hunting methods & approaches
Below are some general guidelines for hunting different types of species in Arizona. Remember, this is just the start. Continue to do your own research, ask questions, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department website, watch videos, and get outdoors.
Learning to hunt is an ongoing journey for hunters ranging from novices to seasoned pros, where every exposure will give you a little more experience and direction. Most importantly, enjoy the process. Reap the rewards of being outdoors, spending time with friends and family, procuring your own wild game, connecting with nature, and so much more! Have fun, be safe, and happy hunting!
**This is in no way intended to be a complete list of information required to hunt the species below. These are general guidelines to get you started. For a full list of rules and regulations, read the Arizona hunt regulations.
Species types – Cottontail rabbit, tree squirrel, migratory game birds, and upland game birds
License required – To hunt small game, typically only a valid Arizona hunting license (or combination hunting/fishing license) is required. For migratory birds you will need a migratory bird stamp.
Gear basics – Shotgun, boots, shells, hunter orange (hat or shirt – recommended, not mandatory), eye and ear protection, game bag, cleaning knife, ziplock bags, water.
Common strategies – Wingshooting, jump shooting, spot and stalk, dogs
Species – Black bear, bighorn sheep, bison, deer (mule and white-tailed), elk, javelina, mountain lion, pronghorn, and turkey.
License required – To hunt big game, you will need a valid Arizona hunting license (or combination hunting/fishing license) and a big game hunt permit. Most Arizona big game hunts require a permit to be obtained through the big game hunt draw. Learn more
Gear basics – Rifle/shotgun/archery, ammo/arrows, camouflage, boots, binoculars, backpack/hunting pack, cleaning knife, game bags, water.
Common strategies – Spot and stalk, glassing, sitting on water tanks, blind/tree stand sitting, calling setups.
Species – Coyotes, skunks, foxes, raccoons, bobcat, ringtail, weasel, and badgers.
License required – To hunt predators in Arizona, you will need a valid Arizona hunting license or combination hunting/fishing license. To trap predators in Arizona, you need a valid Arizona trapping license.
Gear basics – Rifle, predator calls, traps, cleaning knife.
Common strategies – Calling setups, spot and stock, sitting on water tanks, trapping.
Species – Ducks, geese, coot, snipe, moorhens.
License required – To hunt waterfowl in Arizona, you need a valid Arizona hunting license (or combination hunting/fishing license), a migratory bird stamp, and a federal migratory bird hunting stamp.
Gear basics – Shotgun, non-toxic ammo, chest waders, decoys, duck/goose calls, cleaning knife, ziploc bags. Common strategies – Decoy setups, calling setups, jump shoot water tanks, pass shooting.
That’s completely up to you! Listed below are just a few tips to getting started.
Continue to check out the Arizona Game and Fish Department website. Read through the Arizona hunting regulations. Consider joining an Arizona conservation organization – we have tons of great ones!
Online video sources. The content is endless, but make sure to select the videos that best fit your needs, i.e. “Learn to ______”, “Beginner ______”, etc.
Know someone that hunts? Ask them questions! Most sportsmen and women are happy to share their knowledge and passion with new hunters, but YOU have to make the ask.
Research animals’ biology, behavior, habits, and habitat.
Check out the Outdoor Skills Network website to see if there’s a Learn to Hunt Event that is right for you.
Take a Hunter Education course and learn lots of other great information.
Have a question that isn’t answered here? Just email us, we’re happy to help!
volunteer to be a hunting mentor or teacher
If you’re an experienced hunter and you found this page, we can use your help. All the events offered through the Outdoor Skills Network are made possible by dedicated, volunteer sportsmen and women like you. We always need mentors to keep these events going and growing each year. Did you know one of the main reasons new people don’t go hunting is they don’t know how to get started and need a teacher—but are afraid to ask? We break down those walls with organized events hosted through the Outdoor Skills Network throughout the year that connect beginners with teachers. We will connect you with the groups doing events, so it’s safe, easy and organized for you to join in at whatever level you’re comfortable with.
Douglas A. Burt
Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation (R3) Manager – Hunting, Fishing & Shooting
Want to Go Hunting in Arizona?
Find ways to experience big game and small game hunting or find a mentored hunt camp.