Game Management Unit 30A
Species within this unit:
Antelope, Black Bear, Javelina, Mule Deer, White-tailed Deer, Dove, Quail
Beginning at the junction of the New Mexico state line and U.S. Hwy 80; south along the state line to the U.S.- Mexico border; west along the border to U.S. Hwy 191; northerly on U.S. Hwy 191 to I-10 Exit 331; northeasterly on I-10 to the Bowie-Apache Pass road; southerly on the Bowie- Apache Pass road to AZ Hwy 186; southeasterly on AZ Hwy 186 to AZ Hwy 181; south on AZ Hwy 181 to the Rucker- Turkey Creek cutoff road; southerly on the cutoff road to Rucker Canyon road; easterly on this road to the Tex Canyon road; southerly on this road to U.S. Hwy 80; northeast on U.S. Hwy 80 to the New Mexico state line.
Overview: Pronghorn Antelope in Unit 30A are found only in the San Bernardino Valley. These animals prefer a flat open grassland habitat. They can be found throughout the valley south of Highway 80 and north of Geronimo Trail.
Area: The San Bernardino valley is a mixture of private property and State Trust land. Access is limited so be sure to contact as many ranchers as possible for access opportunities. Ranches in which antelope can be found include the Geronimo Ranch (formerly the Snure Ranch, Lazy J, and Kimble Ranches), the Ranch10X (former IV Bar), Krentz Ranch, and the McDonald Ranch. The BLM has good maps of the area which provide a good description of where private property boundaries are. Hunters should be aware that access into the north half of the Valley is no longer allowed through the Skeleton Canyon Road. There are no public access routes off of Highway 80, although you may access on foot onto State Trust land. Public access north off Geronimo Trail is limited to the McDonald Ranch and the Snure Ranch Road. Pre-scouting cannot be over emphasized for this hunt. By pre-scouting a hunter can talk to area landowners and be familiar with areas that they can and cannot hunt.
Overview: Most of 30A is not typical black bear habitat so the department has combined units 30A and 29. Although, the best areas to hunt in 30A are located in the Peloncillo and the Pedregosa Mountains.
Bear hunts in this state are set up to try and minimize the take of females (sows). For this reason there is a Female Harvest Objective for each unit every year. All hunters should pay very close attention to the characteristics of bear to distinguish between boars and sows. Also, all bears should be watched for some time to be absolutely sure that there are no cubs around. Cubs don’t always stay close to their mother.
Older boars generally have greater skull mass than do the sows and have a wider eye set. Male bear muzzles tend to be wider, giving the animal a “short snout” appearance. The female nose conversely seems longer and pointy. Chest depth of course, is better for males displaying a wide view from the front and more of cylindrical body side profile. When seen from the side, sows appear funnel shaped, with the small end of the triangle toward the head. These characteristics vary considerably in young bears but hold fairly well for mature animals.
Area: Black Bear in this unit will typically occupy National Forest Service lands. A US Forest Service map will be extremely useful to find access roads and trails. Access to the Pedregosas is available from the east off of the Dangerous Road (From HWY 80) and access is also allowed from Rucker and Tex Canyon Roads. The Peloncillo Mountains along the New Mexico border can be a good area to glass up Fall bears.
Overview: Javelina are found throughout the unit and provide good hunting opportunities. Areas within the unit that usually hold Javelina are the west side of the San Bernardino Valley, Perilla Mountains, and Pedregosa Mtns. These locations have historically been productive for Javelina. Also, an often-overlooked area is the agricultural fields and orchards near the Kansas Settlement. Farmers will usually let hunters on their property, but always ask for permission first.
Area: To get to the San Bernardino Valley take 15th street east from Douglas. This road becomes the Geronimo Trail. Follow the Geronimo Trail into the valley and hunt the lower elevations of the Peloncillo Mountains and Malpai Hills of the San Bernardino Valley.
Access to the Perilla Mountains can be done by two different ways. The first being the Geronimo Trail east of Douglas. Hunters can now travel through the Rocker M Ranch, but must sign in. It is very important for hunters to sign in for continued access into the area. Secondly, you can park your vehicle on Hwy 80 at the rest area at approximately mile post 375.5, from this location you can hike east on foot into the red hills (Be sure and look at land ownership and topographical maps to avoid hunting on private lands).
Areas in the Pedregosa Mtns. that will provide good hunting are South Canyon, Walnut Canyon and Indian Creek. To get there; follow Hwy 80 from Douglas to the Boss-Husted Ranch.
Like all hunting, scouting is very essential to your success. Good optics and knowledge of javelina habitats will improve your odds of having a successful hunt in the spring.
Methods used in locating javelina include glassing areas early morning and evening. Knowing where to look will also be helpful. Try locating bed grounds, areas that have been used for feeding (rooting) and tracks.
To access the Dos Cabezas Mountains take Hwy 186 from Willcox toward the town of Dos Cabezas. Access is limited as only a few roads access this area, the Collins Farm Road and the 7VT Ranch Road. Pre-season scouting is very important to learn these roads and obtain permission where needed. Hunters can also enter the Dos Cabezas from the east off of Apache Pass Road at the Happy Camp Road or the Page Ranch Road off Interstate 10 exit 344 in Willcox. Once again avoid trespassing in this area.
To get to Kansas Settlement, take I-10 east from Tucson to Willcox and get on Hwy 186 south to the Kansas Settlement Rd. To get to Elfrida, take I-10 east from Tucson to highway 191which is before Willcox, Take it to the town of Elfrida and go east on many of the roads. Hunting in these agricultural areas can be very rewarding for javelina hunters. Javelina in this area tend to weigh more because of the abundance of the agricultural products they eat. Farmers in these areas mostly refer to javelina as a nuisance so they would like to see hunters be successful. Like in all other areas be sure to get permission before hunting agricultural areas because they are private property. Also, farmers are a good source of information about where to find javelina since they’re always out working.
Mule deer are located in all mountain ranges and lower valleys within the unit. Be sure that you secure access to hunt in this unit before you apply. Right now the biggest barrier to hunting mule deer in 30A is securing access in a good area so be sure and scout the area well.
Selection of a good area is one step to improving your success. You must be able to locate deer and familiarize yourself with their habitats. Use of good optics and some pre-season scouting will increase your odds of being successful.
This unit contains a lot of private property so if you plan to hunt these areas obtain permission from landowners! Access conditions in Unit 30A change from year to year so be sure and scout out your area and talk to landowners even though you’ve been granted permission in the past. One major change is access into Skeleton, South Fork of Skeleton, and Starvation Canyon will no longer be allowed.
Area: Areas that should be productive are the San Bernardino Valley, Pedregosa Mountains and the Dos Cabezas Mtns.
To get in the San Bernardino Valley, take I-10 to Hwy 191, south to Douglas. Travel East on 15th Street, which becomes the Geronimo Trail. Follow this into the valley. Areas between Douglas and the San Bernardino Valley should not be overlooked. This includes the south end of the Perilla Mountains and the area between the Geronimo Trail and Arizona/Mexico border.
The Pedregosa Mountains are located northeast of Douglas. To get there, take Hwy 80 from Douglas to the Boss-Husted Ranch and Dangerous Road (Shipping Corrals Road). These roads will access the East Side of the range. Areas to scout include; South Canyon, Indian Creek, Walnut Canyon and the Half-moon Valley.
Overview: The unit contains isolated populations of whitetail within certain mountain ranges. Areas that should be productive are the Peloncillo Mtns, south side of the Dos Cabezas, and the Pedregosa Mountains. Like any hunt, scouting before the season starts should be included in your plans. Plan on beginning your hunt early in the morning and hunt until late evening. Good optics and patience while hunting this species of deer is a must. Find a good vantage point and glass areas for long periods of time.
Areas: To access the Peloncillo Mountains take I-10 to Hwy 191 south to Douglas, follow 15th Street, which becomes the Geronimo Trail. Take Geronimo Trail road into the mountain range located on the Arizona/New Mexico border. Areas include Cottonwood Canyon, Estes Canyon, Miller Springs and Outlaw Mountain. Because of the proximity to New Mexico, be sure of the location of the state line. One major change in access is Skeleton, South Fork of Skeleton, and Starvation Canyon is no longer available.
The Pedregosa Mountains are located northeast of Douglas. To get there; take Hwy 80 from Douglas to the Boss-Husted Shipping Corral Road (Dangerous Road). Areas include Walnut Canyon, Upper Indian Creek and Half-moon Valley areas.
To access the Dos Cabezas Mountains take Hwy 186 from Willcox towards Dos Cabezas. Access is limited with only a couple roads available, the Hurtado Ranch Road and the Mascot Mine Road are currently closed. Hunters can enter the Dos Cabezas from the west on the Collins Farm Road, or east off of Apache Pass Road at the Happy Camp Road or the Page Ranch Road off Interstate 10 exit 344 in Willcox. Pre-season scouting is very important to learn these roads and obtain permission where needed.
Obtain US Forest Service maps and topographical maps to familiarize yourself with the areas. Learning the terrain and its characteristics will greatly improve your success.
Overview: Both species of dove occur, but the majority of the harvest opportunities will be for mourning dove. The Kansas Settlement and Elfrida area will provide hunting in September around the agricultural areas. Geronimo trail, east of Douglas is another area for great wing shooting opportunities. Many of the stock tanks and ponds have good numbers of dove. Hunters should be sure of the land status of the water sources that they are hunting. Both of the areas listed above vary yearly. Scouting the location will be a good idea and make your hunt more enjoyable. Last winter groups of dove could be found throughout the unit in unusually high numbers. The mild winter could have been the reason for doves to stay in the area instead of migrating further south.
Area: To get to the Kansas Settlement area, take Hwy 186 south of Willcox to the Kansas Settlement road. Follow the Kansas Settlement road and locate roads on the east and west sides that travel into the agricultural areas and the bordering desert. This is a populated area so care must be taken when choosing hunting areas. Also, it is necessary to obtain permission from landowners in the farming areas.
Good dove hunting can also be found east of Elfrida in the desert that borders the agricultural areas. To get there, take Hwy 191 South to the Rucker road, go East for approximately 3 miles. Anywhere in this area should provide some shooting. Hunt the desert area around the stock waters and the areas that border the fields.
With dry conditions, it is important to scout out the watering areas for doves. It is also important to remember that dove will water after they feed, so they may not fly into the waterholes until a little later in the morning. They will seek the cut grain agriculture fields to feed on first thing in the morning.
Quail hunting in the unit should be average to below average due to the continual drought conditions. Hunters need to be willing to hike as the quail coveys may be spread out and in isolated pockets where more rain has fallen. Three species of quail occur in the unit; Gambel’s, Scaled and Mearns’. The limit is 15/day, 8 of which may be Mearns’; 30 in possession after opening day. As with any hunting, pre-season scouting will always increase your chances of a successful hunt.
Area: Gambel’s and Scaled quail can be located in the lower elevations. Areas such as the San Bernardino Valley, Pat Hills, Elfrida, Kansas Settlement, McNeal and areas south of Bowie should provide some hunting opportunities this year.
To get to the San Bernardino Valley take I-10 to Hwy 191 south to Douglas. Take 15th street East from Douglas. This becomes the Geronimo Trail. Follow the Geronimo Trail into the valley. Hunt along the drainages and grassland areas. Both species of quail inhabit this area.
Elfrida is located approximately 40 miles south of I-10 on Hwy 191. Follow Hwy 191; scout the farming areas on both sides of the road. Also hunt surrounding deserts where water is located. McNeal is located about 10 miles south of Elfrida on 191.
To get to the Kansas Settlement take Hwy 186 from Willcox to Kansas Settlement Road, follow this road and hunt areas east and west of the Road. This is a populated area so care should be taken when hunting. Always obtain permission to hunt on private property and do not hunt or scout within 1/4 mile of occupied residences.
To get to areas south of Bowie, take the Apache Pass road south of Bowie, AZ. Bowie can best be accessed from I-10. Hunt along the foothills near Happy Camp, Sheep, and Long canyons.
The Unit provides good opportunities for hunting of Sandhill Cranes. Cranes can be difficult to pattern where they will be so scouting before the season is crucial. The hunt includes several different units so hunters may also want to scout in the surrounding units as well. Cranes will typically roost at night at either the Department’s Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area or on the Willcox Playa Wildlife Area. At first light the birds will leave their roost sites and go to feed. Typically Cranes will feed on cut corn fields but will often be found on alfalfa fields and the surrounding desert feeding on insects.
Be sure you are familiar with areas on and around the Willcox Playa and Whitewater Draw Wildlife Areas that are closed to Crane hunting. For the Willcox Playa, the closure is: beginning at Willcox; southeast on AZ Hwy 186 to the Kansas Settlement Road; south on the Kansas Settlement Road to Kimzey Road which runs west from K-S Store (formerly Brown’s store) and the cotton gin at the northeast corner of Section 11, Township 16 South, Range 25 East; west along this road alignment to AZ Hwy 191; north on AZ Hwy 191 to Interstate 10; northeast on Interstate 10 to Willcox (see Map). For the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, please see the attached map for areas closed to Crane hunting.
The sandhill crane hunting closure in the Whitewater Draw area is within the following described boundaries: beginning at the junction of Coffman and Davis roads; south on Coffman Road to Bagby Road; west along the Bagby Road alignment to the intersection of Bagby and posted portions of the Alamo Ranch; north to the boundary with that portion of the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area in Section 30, Township 12 South, Range 26 East; west along the posted portion of the Wildlife Area to Frontier Road; north on Frontier Road to Davis Road; east on Davis Road to the point of origin.
Areas: Due to the large number of farm fields it can be difficult to predict where the birds will go to feed. One way to locate areas is to follow birds as they leave the roost to fields where they are currently feeding. Once their feeding locations are determined, get permission from the landowner to hunt the field then set up in that field before dawn the following morning. A good landownership map can also be useful in locating state land sections on the edges of farm fields. Local Wildlife Managers do not keep a list of the landowners that provide access as these can change from year to year and it is the hunter’s responsibility to obtain landowner permission prior to hunting on private property. Some Cranes will also roost on stock tanks after feeding and before returning to their night-roost sites so some hunters have found success in “puddle jumping” the tanks or setting on those tanks waiting for them to come in. This style may also provide hunters the opportunity to take other waterfowl.
|Primary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)|
|Secondary Game Species/Hunting Month(s)|
Average # permits in past 5 years
|Month||Avg. Temp||Avg. Rainfall|
|January||Max 64°/Min 29°||0.65″|
|February||Max 66°/Min 32°||0.58″|
|September||Max 88°/Min 57°||1.26″|
|October||Max 82°/Min 43°||0.23″|
|November||Max 72°/Min 43°||0.31″|
|December||Max 63°/Min 29°||1.10″|
Other Pertinent Climate Information
Hot summers, pleasant fall and spring weather, mild winters. Snowfall is rare at higher elevations. Most of annual rainfall comes in July, August, and September.
Cities, Roads & Campgrounds
Major Cities and Towns in or Near Game Management Unit and Nearest Gas, Food, and Lodging
Willcox, Douglas, Rodeo, NM, Portal, Sunizona
Major Highways and Roads Leading To
From the East: I-10, State Hwy 80
From the West: I-10
From the North: State Hwy 191
From the South: State Hwy 80
Rucker Canyon Campground in the Coronado National Forest and several privately-owned campgrounds in Sunizona, Willcox, and Douglas.
Dispersed camping is allowed on public lands throughout the unit. Check with the BLM or Forest Service for specific locations. Be sure to obtain a land status map before heading into the unit. Much of the land is private property and access may be limited.
Brief Description of Terrain, Elevation, and Vegetation
The lower elevations (4,000′) along State Hwy 191 are mixed farmland and Chihuahua Desert scrub. In this area, most of the countryside that isn’t farmed is covered with creosote bush. The higher elevations in the Swisshelm Mountains (7,184′) and the Peloncillo Mountains (6,447′) have pinyon/juniper vegetation. In the San Bernardino Valley east of Douglas, desert grasslands stretch for many miles.
Government Agencies and Phone Numbers
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region V – 520 628-5376
Coronado National Forest, Douglas Ranger District – 520 364-3468
Bureau of Land Management, Safford District Office – 928 348-4400
Douglas Chamber of Commerce – 520 364-2477
Willcox Chamber of Commerce – 520 384-2272