Game Management Unit 34B
Species within this unit:
Antelope, Javelina, Mule Deer, White-tailed Deer, Cottontail Rabbit, Dove, Quail
Beginning at AZ Hwy 83 and I-10 Exit 281; easterly on I-10 to the San Pedro River; south along the San Pedro River to AZ Hwy 82; westerly on AZ Hwy 82 to AZ Hwy 83; northerly on AZ Hwy 83 to I-10 Exit 281.
Overview: The antelope in this unit are found on the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. This area is rolling desert grasslands with some breaks off to the east. During the hunt, antelope will be in the rut or beginning the rut. Some hunters have been successful using decoys to lure bucks within shooting range.
Archers may have a difficult time stalking herds out on the open grasslands. It may be worthwhile to look at some of the country in Road Canyon or to the east of the southern entrance to Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. This country is more broken and will help provide the hunter a better opportunity successfully stalk wary pronghorn herds.
Area: The Las Cienegas National Conservation Area is located in the southwest corner of the unit. There are two distinct entrances. The first entrance is on Highway 83 in- between mile marker 40 and 41. This entrance will take you through some antelope country. By and large the herd is concentrated more towards the south. The quickest access is to take Highway 82 east from the town of Sonoita until you reach the southern entrance to Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. The south access road takes you into the heart of the antelope herd and good hunting opportunities exist to the east and west of the road. A Bureau of Land Management (Fort Huachuca or Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Access) map will help you locate roads and access. Also be aware of rules and regulations applicable to BLM Lands, and any posted private property in the area.
Overview: Javelina are found throughout the unit with several notable areas. The east side of the Whetstone Mountains has good javelina densities along the entire east side. They will range out onto the flats near the foothills and all the way up the side of the mountain.
Area: Access to some of the better canyons is from Highway 90 south of I-10. One area to look at is from Middle canyon south to Dry Canyon. There are several herds that use this area. There is a good opportunity to glass for herds by getting up on the east facing slopes. In addition vehicular access is limited to the area, which may provide the hunter with a more secluded experience which means hiking is a must. Herds are also observed up on the slopes so keep your eye open for fresh sign.
Another good area is on the east side of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Spring water Canyon and the area surrounding it is a likely location.
Another area with good numbers of javelina is west of Cienega Creek from the area west of the Narrows heading south to Forty-nine wash. Hunt between the Empire Mountains to Cienega Creek. Try glassing the hillsides in the morning and afternoon.
Overview: The mule deer population in the unit has declined sharply. Consult current year Arizona Hunting and Trapping Regulations for exact season dates.
Area: The Empirita Ranch area is where most of the mule deer in GMU34b can be found. To get there drive east on I-10 to the Empirita exit. Turn south for one mile until you hit the power line road. You can hunt south from there by foot on State land or contact Pima County Natural Resource Department and obtain an access permit.
Another area that has a small number of mule deer is on the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. To get there, take Highway 83 south from I-10 approximately 18 miles. The turnoff is well marked on the east side of the road. The country east of highway 83 to the El Paso natural gas line and from the entrance road north to Forty-nine Canyon is good for mule deer. The area east of Cienega Creek from Mud Spring to Mattie Canyon is also good. Pick up a U.S. Forest Service or a Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Access map to help you with the road system. They are very helpful.
Overview: The majority of the whitetail population is in the Whetstone Mountain range with dispersed groups in outlying areas.
Area: One of the main problems hunters encounter in this hunt unit is access. The Cottonwood and Wakefield Canyon areas are locked off at this time. This means that the north side of the Whetstones does not have legal vehicular public access. Hunters need to plan their hunt accordingly and look at alternative areas. Access may be granted by contacting the local ranchers and obtaining permission. Be aware that you must abide by their rules while on their land so be respectful of their wishes.
The area known as Ricketts Mine has also been locked off. This will prevent vehicular access to McGrew Springs, Middle Canyon, and Guindani Canyon.
French Joe and Middle Canyon can both be accessed from F.S. road 369 at milepost 300 on Hwy. 90.
For those hunters wanting a little more seclusion and fewer hunters I would suggest the west side of the Whetstones. You can access those areas either through the Las Cienegas National Consevation Arera off Hwy 83 or from F.S. road 779 off Hwy. 82 east of Sonoita. The area from Bear Springs north to Apache Canyon has some nice whitetail. Be prepared for some dense brushy areas in some spots and also some steep canyons.
Hunters may also want to try the south end of the Whetstones in Mine and Dry canyons. To get to Mine Canyon take the Sand Ranch Road from Highway 82 and follow the road west to Forest Service property. The road turns north just east of the ranch and onto Forest Service property. Remember that any land not on forest is private in this area and obey all postings unless you obtain permission from the rancher. Approximately one (1) mile past the Forest boundary there is a primitive cut across road that will take you east around the base of the mountain over to Dry Canyon. Dry Canyon can also be accessed off of State Highway 90.
Along the Cienega Creek can also be a good area for whitetail. In general the whitetail densities are low and the vegetation is thick, which makes it a challenging hunt. Archery hunters frequent this area in the winter.
Overview: Cottontail rabbit numbers are average in the unit this year. The best numbers are found on the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
Area: To get there, go down I-10 to State Highway 83 and turn south. The entrance to the Ranch is approximately 18 miles south and is well marked. Stop at their ramada on the way in and pick up a copy of their regulations. Follow the main entrance road in past the headquarters. Hunt any of the drainages from the road east to Cienega Creek. Pick up a U.S. Forest Service map to help you with the road system on the ranch and the entire unit. Decent numbers of rabbits are also in Mine, Dry, and French Joe Canyons in the Whetstone Mountains. You can get to Dry and French Joe Canyons from State Highway 90. To get to Mine Canyon take the Sand Ranch Road from Highway 82. Remember to go past the ranch and onto Forest land before you hunt. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the Hunting Regulations before you go and remember to maintain your ¼ mile distance from occupied structures while hunting.
Overview: Dove populations in unit 34B are above average this year. There has been good winter and summer moisture and there will be significant amounts of water spread throughout the unit. There are good numbers of dove on the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and on the east side of the Whetstone Mountains. Remember to pick up a copy of the Dove Hunting Regulations before you go. The migratory Bird Stamp is required. The stamp can be purchased at any license dealer.
Area: To get to the Las Cienegas Conservation Area, turn south on State Highway 83 from I-10. The turn-off to the ranch is approximately 18 miles south. It is well marked with a BLM sign on the west side of the highway. The stock tanks in the area and the major drainages have good flights of mourning and white wing dove (a Forest Service map will help you with the road system on the ranch and with the location of stock tanks). Stop and pick up a copy of the BLM regulations at their ramada on the way in.
To get to stock tanks and flight areas east of the Whetstone Mountains turn south on State Highway 90 from I-10. There are numerous tanks on both sides of the highway from milepost 300 and south. Refer to the Forest Service map for locations, as there are too many to list. There are also a couple tanks north of Highway 82 east of Whetstone. The State land in the area has good pass shooting for mostly mourning dove with a few white wing. Doing some pre-season scouting will vastly improve your chances to limit out. Remember to pick up your shell hulls, to leave at least one fully feathered wing attached, and to maintain a ¼ mile distance from any occupied structures while hunting.
Overview: Gambel’s and scaled quail can both be found in low densities throughout the unit. The Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, owned by the Bureau of Land Management, is a good location to hunt. Coveys have been observed near Cienega Creek. In addition the area west of Whetstone and north of Highway 82 may produce some decent hunting opportunity.
Area: To get to the Ranch turn south from I-10 onto State Highway 83. The well-marked turn-off is approximately 18 miles south of I-10. Turn east into the National Conservation Area. Stop by the BLM ramada and pick up a copy of their regulations on your way in. To find fair numbers of Gambel’s, hunt the large mesquite river beds down close to Cienega Creek. Hunting is a little tough in these areas due to the dense growth. Fair quail numbers are found in the Mattie and upper Wood Canyon and along Gardner Canyon (Pick up a U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management map before you go. It will show you the road system on the National Conservation Area). You will find some Scaled quail on the south end of the Las Cienegas in the more open grassland country. Later in the season when dove season opens for the late hunt, you can have a good combination hunt.
Primary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s) Antelope August/September Mule Deer August-January White-tailed Deer August-January Javelina January-March Average # permits in past 5 years Antelope 6 Mule Deer 81 White-tailed Deer 530 Javelina 600
Month Avg. Temp Avg. Rainfall January Max 60°/Min 32° 1.35″ August Max 89°/Min 64° 4.27″ September Max 86°/Min 59° 1.60″ October Max 79°/Min 50° 1.16″ November Max 68°/Min 39° 0.58″ December Max 60°/Min 33° 1.51″
Other Pertinent Climate Information
This unit is subject to severe summer and winter storms, particularly in the Whetstone Mountains. Temperature fluctuations can also be severe during these storms. The storms affect roads and can cause problems for the unprepared recreationist.
Cities, Roads & Campgrounds
Major Cities and Towns in or Near Game Management Unit and Nearest Gas, Food, and Lodging
Sierra Vista, Benson, Tucson, Sonoita
Major Highways and Roads Leading To
From the East: State Hwy 90
From the West: State Hwy 83
From the North: I-10
From the South: State Hwy 82
Empire Cienega Ranch – located on the ranch; sites begin approximately 1/2 mile east of the ranch Headquarters. Entrance is between mile markers 39 and 40 on State Highway 83.
Brief Description of Terrain, Elevation, and Vegetation
This unit is extremely diverse in its variety of species and landscapes. There are mesquite bosques along the banks of the San Pedro River on the unit’s east side; pronghorn inhabit desert grasslands on the Empire Cienega Ranch, oak chaparral choked canyons and highlands, and Sonoran desert. There are several riparian corridors including French Joe Canyon and Cienega Creek. Access is fairly limited into this area and a Forest Service, or better, a topographic map should be acquired prior to entering the unit. Elevations start at about 2,500 feet and go up to 8,000 feet in the Whetstone mountains. The area is used by all types of recreationists including field trial dog trainers, hunters, mountain bikers, hikers, bird watchers, campers, off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, and equestrians. Camping is limited to primitive camping.
Government Agencies and Phone Numbers
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region V – (520) 628-5376
Bureau of Land Management-Safford District – (928) 348-4400
USDA Forest Service-Sierra Vista – (520) 378-0311
Arizona State Land Department – (520) 628-5480