Game Management Unit 24B
Big Game Species within 24B: White-tailed Deer, Mule Deer, Javelina, Bighorn Sheep, Black Bear, Mountain Lion
Other game species within 24B: Dove, Quail, Rabbits
Note that the boundary for Unit 24B has changed due to the creation of new Metro Units (25M and 26M).
Beginning on U.S. Hwy 60 in Superior; northeasterly on U.S. Hwy 60 to AZ Hwy 188; northerly on AZ Hwys 188 and 288 to the Salt River; westerly along the Salt River to the Tonto National Forest boundary near Granite Reef Dam; southeasterly along the Forest boundary to Forest Route 77 (Peralta Rd.); southwesterly on Forest Route 77 (Peralta Rd) to U.S. Hwy 60; easterly on U.S. Hwy 60 to Superior.
Overview: The upper elevations of central and eastern Unit 24B contain low to medium densities of black bears. These areas typically consist of oak or conifer woodlands mixed with chaparral, and are often located in rugged or mountainous terrain. Moist, cool canyons are a very important component for bear habitat in 24B. These provide good cover, food, and travel ways for the bears. A large part of the bear habitat is within the Superstition Wilderness. Since bear numbers tend to be low in the unit, a short hunting season and a one female harvest objective are in place. For Bear season dates refer to the current Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations for season dates, bag limits and other rules.Even at 5,000 feet or above, temperatures can still be hot in 24B.
Areas: The upper drainage systems of Campaign Creek, Pine Creek, and West Fork of Pinto Creek contain bear habitat. These areas are located within the Wilderness. Outside of the Wilderness, the country west and northeast of the Pinto Valley Mine also has a few bears.
Overview: Javelina occur throughout most of Unit 24B. They can be found on the lower desert flats all the way up to the oaks and pines of the higher elevations of the unit. They are most easily hunted in the intermediate desert and grassland habitats. In these areas the terrain tends to be fairly open, and numerous ridges and canyons provide excellent glassing opportunities. The average size for javelina herds in 24B is about eight animals.
The majority of 24B javelina habitat is on public land – either the Tonto National Forest or State Trust Land. Written permission (i.e. a permit) is required to be on state land, but if you are legally hunting, your hunting license is considered to be your permit. Private lands exist around the mining areas of Globe and Pinto Valley. The lands are usually posted as to whether or not hunting is allowed. The Superstition Wilderness comprises about one-third of the unit. The Wilderness is closed to all vehicular and mechanized travel, but it is open to hunting. The Tonto National Monument near Roosevelt Lake is closed to all hunting. A Tonto National Forest map will help to identify roads and trails, as well as land ownership topographical maps will provide information about the terrain.
Areas: Some of the more popular areas to hunt are listed below. While they may be of a general description, they can provide you with a place to start looking for javelina.
State Trust Land: This area is located in the southwest portion of the unit and is characterized by fairly level terrain consisting of Sonoran desert scrub. There are many roads within this area, and major access points are the Camino Viejo, and Queen Valley Road. There are several herds of javelina in this portion of 24B, but the relatively flat land makes it difficult to locate the herds. If you hunt in this part of the unit, concentrate on the major washes and drainages. These areas will provide good cover for javelina, and their tracks will be easier to find.
Queen Valley to Superior: Located in the south-central portion of the unit, this area varies in terrain from rolling desert ridges to steep mountains and canyons. A variety of habitat types also occur here, including upper Sonoran desert, desert grassland, and chaparral. This area provides good opportunities for glassing with binoculars, and several roads provide for good access throughout much of this area. Popular access routes to hunting areas include the Hewitt Canyon/JF Ranch (FS 172), Happy Camp (FS 650), and Silver King (FS 229) Roads. There are many other roads which branch off these main access routes.
Globe Vicinity: Northwest of Globe, Devore Wash (FS 344) and Gerald Wash (FS 225) provide access into country with javelina. Southwest of Globe, the Pinto Valley area also contains javelina habitat. Access is through the Pinto Valley Mine, which can be confusing. Routes through the mine continually change, but they are usually marked for public access.
Apache Trail: There are a few roads off the Apache Trail between Apache Junction and Globe that provide access for javelina hunting. These include the Horse Mesa Dam Road (FS 80), Tortilla Ranch Road (FS 213), Reavis Trailhead Road (FS 212), Davis Wash, and Two Bar Road (FS 49). Campsites tend to be limited along these routes, but developed campsites are located at Tortilla Flat and Burnt Corral (at Apache Lake).
Roosevelt Lake: Located along the northwest portion of the unit, this area can be accessed from Highway 88. Popular hunting spots near Roosevelt include Two Bar Ridge (FS 83) and Campaign Creek (FS 449). These areas are comprised of a variety of habitat types, ranging from flatlands and rolling country to steep mountains, all of which contain javelina herds.
Goldfield Mountains: This is the western-most portion of the unit and is located west of the Apache Trail and north of Saguaro Lake and the Salt River. It is comprised mostly of rugged, mountainous terrain of volcanic origin. There are several small valleys or basins that contain javelina and are not too difficult to hunt. Javelina can also be found in the more rugged areas as well, but the terrain can be tough to negotiate in many areas. Vehicular access into a large portion of the Goldfields is managed by the Tonto National Forest as part of the Bulldog Canyon recreation area. Bulldog Canyon has locked gates at the access points which require a permit. Permits are free and can be obtained from the Mesa Ranger District. Combinations to the gates are provided with the permits.
Superstition Wilderness: Don't overlook hunting in the Wilderness area. It has a well –developed trail system that can take you into the backcountry – far away from roads and vehicles. Popular trailheads are located at First Water, Peralta, and Reavis (near Apache Lake).
Overview: Historically desert bighorn sheep occupied many of the mountain ranges around the greater Phoenix area. Most of the sheep disappeared at the turn of the century with the arrival of settlers and livestock. A viable bighorn sheep population has been restored in the Superstition Mountains. Restoration efforts began in the early 1980’s and concluded in 2002 with the first desert bighorn sheep hunt offered in the area. Desert bighorn sheep are managed to allow for a harvest of 15-25% of the estimated Class III and IV rams each year. Sheep are now regularly observed in the areas of Fish Creek Canyon/Horse Mesa, Canyon Lake, Superstition Mountain, Hewitt/Millsite Canyon, State Trust lands surrounding Tule and Whitlow Canyon, Coffee Flat Mountain, and the Goldfield Mountains.
Unit 24B bighorn sheep offers a unique, close to the Phoenix metropolitan area, wildlife viewing opportunity. The best time to see these magnificent animals is in early July from a boat off of Canyon Lake. You may even see large rams butting heads and it is the best time for wildlife photography and pre-season scouting if you are lucky enough to draw a permit.
A Tonto National Forest map will help to identify roads, boundaries, and land ownership. Topographical maps will provide information about the terrain. For hunting and wildlife watching, good quality binoculars and spotting scopes are essential.
Areas: A few of the core areas where bighorn sheep can be found are listed below. Although this is not a comprehensive list it will give hunters and/or wildlife watchers a place to start.
Canyon Lake: To observe sheep from Canyon Lake, take US 60 Freeway east to Apache Junction. Turn north on Idaho Road, then east on State Route Highway 88 to Canyon Lake and Apache Lake. You can rent boats at both lakes or bring your own boat. Access for the most part is via boat only.
Fish Creek Hill: The area around the top of Fish Creek Hill is excellent habitat for bighorn sheep. A herd is usually present and can often be glassed up from the viewpoint before the road descends into the canyon.
Hewitt Canyon: Access to Hewitt Canyon is along FR172, Hewitt Ridge and Coffee Flat which lie to the west of FR172 are core areas for the bighorn population in 24B.
Overview: Mule deer can be found throughout much of Unit 24B in areas that are generally below 4,500 feet in elevation. Such areas tend to provide the more open habitats that mule deer prefer. Typical mule deer habitat in 24B includes desert scrub in the peripheral portions of the unit, as well as the higher desert and grassland vegetation found within the mountainous interior portions of the unit. Due to the variety of habitat types found in Unit 24B, it is common for mule deer and whitetail deer to be found in the same areas. This requires careful identification by hunters.
Unit 24B is one of many units that experienced a decline in mule deer numbers over the past twenty years due to inconsistent rainfall patterns. Despite the lower numbers of permits, there are still some nice mule deer bucks to be found, but pre-season scouting will be very important since deer densities are lower. Check for water sources such as springs, pools in drainages, stock tanks, and livestock troughs. Scouting for water prior to the hunt will still be important, since small, localized sources may disappear during the normally dry season during October and early November.
The majority of Unit 24B is public land – either Tonto National Forest or State Trust Land. Written permission (i.e. a permit) is required to be on State Trust Land, but if you are legally hunting, your hunting license is considered to be your permit. Large amounts of private land exist near Globe and also around the Pinto Valley Mine. These lands are generally posted as to whether or not hunting is allowed. About one-third of 24B is comprised of the Superstition Wilderness which is located centrally within the unit. The Wilderness is closed to all vehicular or mechanized travel, but it is open to hunting. The Tonto National Monument near Roosevelt Lake is closed to all hunting. A good set of maps will prove very useful while scouting or hunting. A Tonto National Forest map will help to identify roads as well as land ownership, and topographical maps will provide information about the terrain.
Areas: Some of the more popular hunting areas are listed below. They can provide you with a place to start if you are not familiar with the unit.
State Trust Land: This area is located in the southwest portion of the unit and is characterized by fairly flat terrain consisting Sonoran desert scrub. There are many roads within this area, and major access points are the Camino Viejo and Queen Valley Roads. Deer can be difficult to locate out in these flats, but some large mule deer bucks have been taken over the years in this area.
Queen Valley to Superior: Located in the south-central portion of the unit, this area consists of mountainous desert habitat types with considerable changes in elevation. This area provides good opportunities for glassing with binoculars. Popular access routes to hunting areas include the Hewitt Canyon/JF Ranch (FS 172), Happy Camp (FS 650), and Silver King (FS 229) Roads. There are many other roads which branch off these main access routes.
Goldfield Mountains: This is the western-most portion of the unit and is located west of the Apache Trail (Highway 88) and south of Saguaro Lake and the Salt River. It is comprised mostly of rugged, mountainous terrain of volcanic origin. There are several small valleys or basins where mule deer occur, however their numbers are fairly low. Mule deer can also be found on the mountains themselves, but the terrain is very rough. Vehicular access into a large portion of the Goldfields is managed by the Tonto National Forest as part of the Bulldog Canyon recreation area. Bulldog Canyon has locked gates at the access points which require a permit. Permits are free and can be obtained from the Mesa Ranger District. Combinations to the gates are provided with the permits.
Apache Trail: There are a few roads off the Apache Trail between Apache Junction and Roosevelt Lake that provide access to mule deer hunting. These include the Horse Mesa Dam Road (FS 80), Tortilla Ranch Road (FS 213), Reavis Ranch Trailhead Road (FS 212), Davis Wash, Pine Creek, and Two-Bar Road (FS 49). Campsites tend to very limited along these roads, but developed campgrounds are located at Tortilla Flat and Burnt Corral (at Apache Lake).
Roosevelt Lake: Located along the northeast portion of the unit, this area can be accessed from Highway 88. Popular hunting spots near Roosevelt Lake include Two Bar Ridge (FS 83) and Campaign Creek (FS 449). These areas are comprised of a variety of habitat types, ranging from flatlands and rolling country to steep mountains. Don't overlook the flatlands. While they may be difficult to glass and hunt, they do contain decent numbers of deer, including some very nice bucks.
Globe Vicinity: Northwest of Globe, Devore Wash (FS 344) and Gerald Wash (FS 225) provide access into mule deer county. Southwest of Globe, the Pinto Valley area also contains mule deer habitat. Access is through the Pinto Valley Mine, which can be very confusing. Routes through the mine continually change, but they are usually marked for public access.
Overview: Whitetail deer may be found throughout much of Unit 24B. A general rule of thumb is that they occur in brushier habitats above 3,500 feet in the unit. However, whitetail have been showing up in the past few years at elevations of about 2,500 feet in what would usually be considered as mule deer habitat. The more typical whitetail habitat is located from the central to the eastern portion of the unit, and is comprised of chaparral, oak woodland, and conifers. Whitetail are also found on most of the mountain ranges in the western portion of the unit as well. These habitats are primarily high desert or chaparral and may also contain mule deer.
Whitetail in 24B were not as severely affected by the recent long-term drought conditions as mule deer. Permit numbers for whitetail have remained relatively stable for the past ten years.
Practically all whitetail habitat in 24B is located on public lands of the Tonto National Forest. A small amount of whitetail habitat is on private land owned by mines near Globe and Pinto Valley. These lands are usually posted as to whether or not hunting is allowed. A large portion of whitetail habitat is within the Superstition Wilderness. The Wilderness is closed to all vehicular or mechanized travel, but it is open to hunting. The Tonto National Monument near Roosevelt Lake is closed to all hunting. A Tonto National Forest map will help to identify roads, boundaries, and land ownership. Topographical maps will provide information about the terrain.
Whitetail can be found throughout the unit. The locations listed below are simply larger areas of whitetail habitat. If you already know how to look for whitetail, take some time to explore other parts of the unit, and you will discover pockets of whitetail habitat just about anywhere that is above 3,000 to 3,500 feet in elevation. Also consider backpacking or going horseback into the Wilderness. December can be a great time for a pack-in hunt in 24B.
Areas: Some of the more popular whitetail hunting areas are listed below. If you are not familiar with the unit, these may provide you with a place to start.
Superior: North of the town of Superior you will find extensive whitetail habitat around Iron Mountain (FS 172), Montana Mountain (FS 650), and Fortuna Peak (FS 342). Expect to encounter other vehicles along the way, but don't let that discourage you – there is plenty of room to hunt away from the roads. Portions of the Fortuna Peak area were burned due to a lightning-caused fire during the summer in 2005. Isolated patches of habitat remain untouched in some of the drainages, and forage has returned in the burned areas. If you plan to hunt this area, it would be especially important to do some pre-season scouting to determine habitat conditions and deer activity.
Globe: In the Globe vicinity, Pinto Valley provides access into whitetail country. You must drive through the Pinto Valley Mine, which can be very confusing at times. Routes through the mine change continually, but they are usually marked for public access. North of Globe, the area around Webster Mountain has whitetail habitat also.
Roosevelt Lake: South of Roosevelt Lake good whitetail habitat may be found in the areas of Two Bar Ridge (FS 83) and Campaign Creek (FS 449).
Reminder: Whitetail can be found throughout the unit. The locations listed above are simply larger areas of whitetail habitat. If you already know how to look for whitetail, take some time to explore other parts of the unit, and you will discover pockets of whitetail habitat just about anywhere that is above 3,000 to 3,500 feet in elevation. Also consider backpacking or going horseback into the Wilderness. December can be a great time for a pack-in hunt in 24B.
Overview: Since there are no agricultural areas in Unit 24B, most dove hunting in this unit takes place around desert stock tanks. This has its advantages and disadvantages as far as hunting is concerned. The obvious disadvantage is that you will not encounter the number of doves that are found in some of the agricultural areas. The advantage is you won't have to get up quite as early in the morning to hunt. Doves typically leave the roost a little before sunrise and fly out to feeding areas. After feeding, they fly to water sources before resting during the mid-day. In desert habitats, a common practice is to locate one or more stock tanks (or other water sources), and wait there for the doves to come in for a drink. Activity around these desert waters usually picks up about an hour or two after sunrise – in some locations it may be as late as two-and-a half hours after sunrise before the hunting gets good. In the afternoon, doves will again visit these water sources prior to roosting. This activity usually takes place just before sunset. Another hunting method is to locate local flyways that are used by doves during the morning or afternoon flights. Look for doves following major washes or crossing over ridgelines.
Most of 24B is located on public land – either the Tonto National Forest or Arizona State Trust Land. Written permission (a permit) is required to be on state land. If you are legally hunting, your hunting license allows you to be on state land.
Areas: Doves can be found throughout most desert areas of the unit. If you are looking for a place to try some desert hunting, start with the State Trust Land in the southwestern part of the unit between Apache Junction and Queen Valley. This area is relatively flat, has good access, and there are several water sources to attract doves. The lower desert between Queen Valley and Superior would also be another area to look for hunting spots. Located on the Tonto National Forest, it also has several roads and is well watered.
Reminder: Legal shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. Practice good sportsmanship and hunting ethics while in the field. Observe areas that are posted, hunt away from roads, corrals, and livestock. Pick up all litter, this includes empty shotgun shells.
Overview: Hunters can find cottontails just about anywhere in the unit, the deserts in the southern portion of the district will have higher densities of rabbits. The northern area of the district does have rabbits but the dense underbrush may keep the hunter from being successful. Keep in mind that the following areas are recommended areas to scout and do not guarantee success.
Areas: A couple of suggestions in the desert include the area between Gold Canyon and and Superior and the Bulldog Canyon Recreation Area, these areas should provide the hunter the best chances to take some rabbits home. There is no agriculture in unit 24B to speak of and therefore, one cannot look for these areas to hunt. As always early mornings and late evenings provide the best time to see and harvest rabbits.
Overview: Unit 24B has a robust population of mountain lions since much of the unit is considered excellent mountain lion habitat. The rough canyons and ridges within the chaparral vegetation zone and upper Sonoran desert provide mountain lions all they need. The intense heat, the ruggedness and lack of snow cover over most of the unit make it difficult to hunt using hounds, but some with good dogs can do quite well. The majority of the total yearly harvest comes from hunters using hounds. The remainder of the yearly mountain lion harvest comes from, deer hunters who spotted a lion while on their hunt, and some hunters who were predator calling. If you do draw a deer tag or go bear hunting in Unit 24B, you would be wise to get a mountain lion tag before you head out into the field. Additionally, if you decide to hire a guide be sure to get references and talk to them about their hunting experiences in 24B or similar terrain before hiring anyone. Some guides are definitely better than others at helping you fill your lion tag.
Areas: As stated earlier, much of the unit is considered excellent mountain lion habitat. Most rugged areas with good deer, or javelina populations will also support mountain lions.
Overview: Gambel's quail are the only species of quail that are hunted in 24B. They are found throughout the unit primarily at elevations below 5,000 feet. In the lower desert areas, look for quail along mesquite-lined washes or arroyos. Another desert plant species that indicates good quail habitat is the desert hackberry. In the mid-elevation areas of the higher desert or grasslands, cover is again important. Concentrate on hunting around drainages that have mature vegetation. Quail also occur in the higher oak or juniper portions of the unit, but the larger trees and thicker vegetation make for difficult hunting conditions.
The outlook for quail season in Unit 24B is dependent on winter rainfall. Ample winter rains between January and March provide the necessary green-up that is required for good quail reproduction. It is this type of feed that influences breeding behavior and clutch size for quail. Simply put, the more winter rain there is, the more birds there will be the following fall, and conversely, the less rain, the fewer quail.
Cholla is very common throughout much of the lower desert in 24B, and it can be quite a problem for bird dogs. In general, the greatest amounts of cholla are found at lower elevations on the south side of the unit between Apache Junction and Superior. Cholla can also be problem in some areas south of Roosevelt Lake
Hunting access within 24B is very good since most of the unit is on public land – either the Tonto National Forest or Arizona State Trust Land. A permit is required to be on state land, but if you are legally hunting, your hunting license serves as that permit.
Areas: On the south side of the unit, major access roads into quail hunting areas include the Queen Valley Road, FS roads 357, 172, 650, 8, and 229. On the north side of unit, FS roads 49, 83, and 449 will take you into some good areas to hunt.
Theodore Roosevelt Lake
Usually called Roosevelt Lake, sometimes Lake Roosevelt, is a large reservoir formed by Theodore Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River in Arizona as part of the Salt River Project (SRP). Located roughly 80 miles northeast of Phoenix in the Salt River Valley, Roosevelt Lake is the largest lake or reservoir located entirely within the state of Arizona (Lake Mead and Lake Powell are larger but both are located partially within the neighboring states of Nevada and Utah respectively). Both the reservoir and the masonry dam that created it, Roosevelt Dam, were named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt who dedicated the dam himself in March 1911.
Roosevelt Lake is a popular spot for waterfowl hunters. Many species of both diving and puddle ducks call this lake home during the winter. Some of the more common waterfowl at Roosevelt include Northern Shovler, Mallard, American Widgeon, Gadwall and Teal. The lake is also home to wintering flocks of Canada Geese with occasional Snow, Cackling and Ross visiting as well. The ducks and geese typically begin showing up as soon as the weather starts cooling quite a bit, especially in States to our North.
Pre-scouting areas prior to any hunting trip is always a good recommendation and waterfowl hunting is no exception. Finding areas where the birds are congregating is what you’re looking for but can vary year to year. The water in Roosevelt Lake can fluctuate greatly with some of your favorite coves you hunted last year no longer existing this year. But with a little homework places with good hunting can always be found.
Most hunters focus their efforts on both the Tonto and Salt arms of the lake but coves in the main body of the lake offer good hunting also. Boats are required to hunt some of the areas on the lake but walk in shore hunters can do well also. Using decoys and calling seem to produce the best results although pass shooting can also be effective on either of the arms of the lake for those who do not have decoys. Portions of the lake are included in the Roosevelt Lake Wildlife Area and have seasonal hunting and access restrictions that occur during waterfowl season. The Roosevelt Lake Wildlife Area was created to give wildlife a place to be undisturbed during this time of the year. See the information below for maps and area restrictions. Roosevelt Lake closure map
|Primary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)|
|Deer (Mule, White-Tailed)||August-January|
|Secondary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)|
Average # permits in past 5 years
|Month||Avg. Temp||Avg. Rainfall|
|January||Max 61°/Min 30°||0.69"|
|February||Max 66°/Min 33°||0.41"|
|September||Max 93°/Min 61°||1.12"|
|October||Max 83°/Min 49°||0.61"|
|November||Max 70°/Min 36°||0.35"|
|December||Max 61°/Min 48°||0.79"|
Other Pertinent Climate Information
Weather within the unit varies greatly by elevation and season. Temperatures range from summertime highs of 110° in desert areas to winter lows of -5° at higher elevations. Weather conditions change rapidly in the mountains, where falling temperatures coupled with high winds and precipitation pose dangers of hypothermia to the unprepared. In the desert, high temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion.
Cities, Roads & Campgrounds
Major Cities and Towns in or Near Game Management Unit and Nearest Gas, Food, and Lodging Apache Junction, Superior, and Globe/Miami
Major Highways and Roads Leading To
From the East: U.S. 60, U.S. 70, Hwy 88
From the West: U.S. 60, Hwy 88
From the North: Hwy 88, Hwy 188, U.S. 60, Hwy 77
From the South: U.S. 60, Hwy 79, Hwy 177
Lost Dutchman State Park, Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat Campground, and Burnt Corral Campground (Apache Lake), all located on Hwy 88 between Apache Junction and Roosevelt Lake; Parker Springs and Schoolhouse campgrounds at Roosevelt Lake.
Brief Description of Terrain, Elevation, and Vegetation
The unit is characterized by great diversity in elevation, terrain, and vegetation. Elevations range from 1,600" to 6,300". Terrain varies from desert plains in the southwest, to steep rugged canyons and mountains in the west and central portions, to a mountainous region in the east. Vegetation includes lower Sonoran Desert and desert grassland, interior chaparral, encinal woodland, pinyon-juniper, and ponderosa pine stringers.
Government Agencies and Phone Numbers
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region VI – 480 981-9400
Tonto National Forest – 602 225-5200
Tonto National Monument – 520 467-2241