Game Management Unit 40B
Species within this unit:
Bighorn Sheep, Javelina, Mule Deer, Dove, Quail, Waterfowl, Pheasant
Beginning at Gila Bend; westerly on I-8 to the Colorado River; southerly along the Colorado River to the Mexican border at San Luis; southeasterly along the border to the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge; northerly, easterly and southerly around the refuge boundary to the Mexican border; southeast along the border to the Tohono O’odham (Papago) Indian Reservation; northerly along the reservation boundary to AZ Hwy 86; northwesterly on AZ Hwy 86 to AZ Hwy 85; north on AZ Hwy 85 to Gila Bend; except those portions that are sovereign tribal lands of the Cocopah Tribe.
Overview: Bighorn sheep numbers have remained stable over the past 2-3 years, with a population estimate around 250 sheep. Bighorn Sheep in the unit are distributed throughout the mountain ranges, and their movements are highly variable. Hunting this unit can be quite a challenge. The rugged terrain and arid conditions will challenge even the best of hunters. When hunting this unit, knowledge of the area is paramount. Preparing well in advance and scouting the area prior to the hunt will pay off and make your hunt much more enjoyable. Quality optics and patience are a must. Rams in this area of the state will often have a unique red staining of their horns as a result of rubbing against the Limber bush that only occur there south of I-8 and west S.R. 85.
Areas: Unit 40B is broken into three hunt complexes for bighorn sheep. The three hunt complexes are: Mohawk-Copper Mountains, Gila Mountains north of Cipriano Pass, and the Tinajas Altas Mountains south of Cipriano Pass. A large portion of Unit 40B, including the above mentioned mountain ranges are located within the Barry M. Goldwater Range. To access the BMGR, individuals are required to sign a hold harmless document and obtain an access permit good for one year. Access permits and maps can be obtained from Yuma Range Department (MCAS-Yuma) (928) 269-7150. Note: all off-road vehicles are required to meet street legal requirements prior to entering the range. Entry into portions of this unit maybe subject to military closure; some areas may be restricted to weekend hunting only. Four wheel drive vehicles are recommended.
Mohawk and Copper Mountains: Both of these mountain ranges can be accessed by exiting south off Interstate 8 at Avenue 40E (Tacna exit). Once you are off the highway, several routes can be used to access either mountain range. Access on the East Side of the Mohawks is limited and controlled by Luke Air Force Base and special permit is required for access.
Gila Mountains (North of Cipriano Pass): To access the Gila Mountains, exit off Interstate 8 at Avenue 29E (Wellton exit) and travel north to highway 80. On Hwy 80, head west to Ave 25E. Turn south on Ave 25E, the pavement will end and the road becomes the El Camino Del Diablo. The Gila’s are on the West Side of the Camino.
Tinajas Altas Mountains (South of Cipriano Pass): To access the Tinajas Altas, the directions to access the Gila Mountains can be followed. The Tinajas Altas are the next mountain range south of the Gila’s, approximately 15 miles south of I-8.
If drawn for one of these “hunts of a lifetime”, it’s recommended that you attend the Fall sheep clinic held each year in Phoenix and sponsored by Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, ADBSS. Wildlife biologists will be on hand to answer questions in person and representatives from various government agencies, which administer the land your hunt is on, will also be present. Good luck!
Overview: Javelinas occur in very low numbers in this unit. Arid conditions and limited habitat make most of the unit undesirable for Javelina. When scouting for Javelina, pay special attention to washes and areas along the base of mountains, as these are common areas to locate Javelina. Javelinas are rarely seen in this unit but they have been observed in the Tinajas Altas Mountains during aerial surveys and by individuals visiting the area. Javelinas have also been reported in Fortuna Wash along the West Side of the Gila Mountains.
Areas: A large portion of Unit 40B is located within the Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR). BMGR access is subject to military operations/closure and requires an Access Permit through the iSportsman program at: www.luke.isportsman.net. Unit 40B on BMGR-West is open to hunting as permitted under R12-4-304 and R12-4-318, except in the Restricted Areas which are closed to all public recreation. For BMGR-East, only hunters with a current Desert Bighorn Sheep tag and their specified participants may access designated BMGR-E areas to hunt in Unit 40B, or transit to Units 46A or 46B, and only after receiving a Special Use Permit (SUP) issued by Luke AFB. No other hunting or access is permitted in Unit 40B on BMGR-East lands. Hunters in BMGR-East Unit 40A (east of SR-85) require only the iSportsman Access Permit, but must also avoid Restricted Areas. It is the sportsman’s responsibility to know his/her location and remain clear of unauthorized areas. For additional information, contact Luke Air Force Base for BMGR-E: 623-856-7216 or 623-856-1758; or Marine Corps Air Station Yuma for BMGR-W: (928) 269-3115.
Overview: Mule deer occur in very low numbers on the West Side of unit 40B. Arid conditions and marginal habitat limit deer numbers in the Unit. Because mule deer densities are low in this unit, hunters should plan on a hard hunt. When scouting or hunting, be sure to work the washes and along the base of the mountains. Washes are good places to cut sign. Hunters may also want to find a high point and let your binoculars or spotting scope do your walking. The portion of the unit (40BW) along the Mohawk Mountains along the western side is probably your best bet to find deer. This area tends to receive more precipitation than other areas in the unit. As always, patience and work are key.
Areas: Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR) access is subject to military operations/closure and requires an Access Permit through the iSportsman program at: https://luke.isportsman.net/. Unit 40B on BMGR-West is open to hunting as permitted under R12-4-304 and R12-4-318, except in the Restricted Areas which are closed to all public recreation. Deer hunting is not allowed in BMGR-East areas of Unit 40B. Transit through BMGR-East to Units 46A or 46B is not authorized for deer hunting. Hunters in BMGR-East areas of Unit 40A (east of SR-85) require only the iSportsman Access Permit, but must also avoid Restricted Areas. It is the hunter’s responsibility to know his/her location and remain clear of unauthorized areas. For additional information, contact Luke Air Force Base for BMGR-East: 623-856-7216 or 623-856- 1758; or Marine Corps Air Station Yuma for BMGR-West: (928) 269-3115.
Mohawk Mountains: Exit off I-8 at Avenue 40E (Tacna exit) and go south. Several roads will take you to the Mohawks; probably the easiest route would be to use the frontage road heading east along Interstate 8. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. This area is on the BMGR.
40B is split east and west of the Mohawk Mountains. 40B on the east side of the Mohawk Mountains consists of only tactical ranges and no access will be granted unless you have official business, hunting is prohibited except by special permit issued only to sheep hunters. Hunting opportunities in 40B east for mule deer are limited to the surrounding Ajo area. Ajo is located 40 miles south of Gila Bend on S.R. 85.
Overview: It’s no secret that this unit provides some of the best dove hunting opportunities in the state. If you haven’t hunted the area before, be prepared for some fast shooting and plan on sharing the field with other hunters. Mourning dove makes up the majority of the harvest but, depending on the weather, white-wings may be plentiful. The most productive areas are typically those adjacent to agricultural fields (namely grain and citrus) which provide food and roosting sites. However, grain crops in the Yuma Valley are not as common as they once were during the dove season. Areas providing excellent hunting one year may not be as good the next because the fields are farmed differently. A little pre-season scouting can pay off big. Also keep in mind that houses tend to “spring” up from one year to the next and it is unlawful to shoot within a quarter mile of an occupied structure. Be sure to obtain landowner permission prior to hunting on private land.
A good strategy is to scout the areas you are thinking of hunting prior to opening day. You’ll be able see where the dove are and (if you get out early enough) see what routes the morning flights take. It will also help to prevent you from driving around at o’dark-thirty opening morning, trying to find a good place to set up.
Areas: Yuma Valley: Concentrate your efforts around citrus groves and agriculture lands. Keep in mind areas along the Colorado River as dove often water at the river after feeding and frequently roost in the riparian vegetation.
Hunters should be aware of the Cocopah and Quechan Indian Reservations within the Unit and, if hunting nearby, where the reservation boundaries are. For more information, contact the Cocopah Tribal Police Department at (928) 627-8857 or Quechan Tribal Fish and Game Office at (760) 572-0544.
Yuma Mesa: As with the Yuma Valley, concentrate your efforts around the citrus groves and agriculture lands as dove usually occur in higher densities in these areas. This area has a lot of birds, which should provide excellent hunting.
Desert Areas: If you choose to get away from the crowds, some of the desert washes and other areas providing water and/or roost sites can also reward you with a productive flight and fewer hunters to contend with.
Hunters should be aware that a large portion of Unit 40B is located within the Barry M. Goldwater Range. Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR) access is subject to military operations/closure and requires an Access Permit through the iSportsman program at: https://luke.isportsman.net/. Unit 40B on BMGR-West is open to hunting as permitted under R12-4-304 and R12-4-318, except in the Restricted Areas which are closed to all public recreation. Note all off-road vehicles must meet street legal requirements prior to entering the range.
Be sure to pick up a copy of the current Migratory Bird regulations and update yourself on season dates, bag and possession limits, and legal shooting hours prior to going into the field. Packing out all litter, including spent shell casings, is not only the right thing to do, it’s the law. By taking the time to bury feather piles and remove a little of the trash that was already there, we can help to maintain the hunting tradition, serve as good role models for young hunters, and help to ensure that we’re welcomed back when hunting private lands.
Overview: Gambel’s Quail concentrations in the unit can be highly variable. As with many desert species, quail populations are dependent on annual rainfall. Better rainfall will generally equate to better quail populations. Agricultural areas and areas with/around water would be good places to start. If you hunt in the desert, concentrate your efforts in and around washes as these areas typically provide good cover and food supply. Walk the washes looking for tracks and keep your ears open as you may hear quail before you see them. Often a quail call can allow you to get the birds to give away their position. A good dog can be helpful, especially after a covey has broken up.
Hunters should be aware that a large portion of Unit 40B is located within the Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR). Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR) access is subject to military operations/closure and requires an Access Permit through the iSportsman program at: https://luke.isportsman.net/. Unit 40B on BMGR-West is open to hunting as permitted under R12-4-304 and R12-4-318, except in the Restricted Areas which are closed to all public recreation. Note all off-road vehicles must meet street legal requirements prior to entering the range.
Hunters are reminded to pick up a copy of current hunting regulations to check bag and possession limits and season dates before going into the field. Be sure to obtain landowner permission prior to hunting private land.
Areas: The Yuma area has an abundance of agricultural fields. The fringe habitat surrounding the fields usually holds good concentrations of quail. Hunting this area with or without a dog should pay off.
Hunting along the Colorado River should be good as well. Much of the river parallels farm fields, providing excellent habitat for quail. Dense brush and stands of salt cedar in these areas are also good places to find quail.
Hunting the desert country should provide for good hunting as well. Areas along the Tinajas Altas Mountains and the Copper Mountains are good locations to try. If you find water, you should find quail. Hunters are reminded that quail may be widely dispersed so don’t limit your efforts to just these mountain ranges, if hunting these areas doesn’t pay off try some off the others areas on the range.
Overview: Depending on the time of year, and the weather up north, waterfowl hunting in the unit can be productive. There are not a lot of good feeding areas through this reach to hold the birds for extended periods, but on any given day you may find quite a few using the backwater areas or sand bars as resting sites.
Areas: Mittry Lake is a common area for waterfowl hunters. Hunters should be aware a portion of Mittry Lake is closed to entry/hunting from November 15 through the second Monday of February. This area serves as a resting area for waterfowl. Hunters should refer to current regulations for specific information regarding the closed area.
The Colorado River below Laguna Dam to Mexico is also an area to consider. There are access points above the confluence with the Gila and some backwaters below Gadsden that can sometimes be hunted effectively with a shallow draft jon-boat or canoe and a small decoy spread. Hunting with a trained dog is recommended to aid in retrieving birds from the heavy cover found in these areas. Pay close attention to your location here as portions of the river flow through Reservation land and along the International Border with Mexico, and California.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the current season regulations and practice your waterfowl ID skills, as the bag and possession limits vary by species. Hunters are reminded not to shoot within 1/4 mile of an occupied structure or within city limits.
Overview: Yuma is unique in that it has one of the only existing wild populations of pheasant in the state. It is the only open permitted hunt and if you are lucky enough to get drawn you could be in for quite an experience. This hunt is a sub-unit in the extreme southwest corner of 40B composed largely of agriculture. Hunters are allowed two roosters per day during the limited weapon-shotgun shooting shot hunt. The limited weapon-shotgun shooting shot season begins on September 1st and runs for two weeks. The archery only season begins on October 16 and runs through February 7.
Areas: This sub-unit is defined as the Yuma Valley bordered on the East by the East Main Canal, on the West/North by the Colorado River bordering California and Mexico, and to the South by the International Border of Mexico.
This area is primarily made up of agricultural lands in varying stages of crop growth. The most productive hunting crops are always heavy cover crops such as cotton or Sudan grass. This time of year during the hunt is a transition in harvesting the cover crops and planting of produce such as lettuce. The difference between one weekend season and the next could mean a complete change in location hunters may find pheasant due to crop rotation.
Because of the crop rotation hunters are urged to do some scouting very close to the time of their hunt. Finding where the cover crops are will yield the best chances of finding pheasant. During later hunts cover crops may be nearly absent and hunters may have to change strategies in order to find birds. If crops do not provide cover, hunters should consider moving closer to the Colorado River or the grass cover bordering the drainage canals throughout the Yuma Valley.
Access: Since most of this area is in agriculture most of the land is private and hunters should respect all sign postings when around the fields. Help ensure continued access by not leaving trash in the field and obey all closures of land as posted.
This hunt is typically most successful with the aid of pointing dogs however when produce (row) crops are in production dogs are not allowed in or near the fields. If you are a hunter that prefers to use a dog and no cover crops are around you may want to find an area near the drainage canals or river that has high grass or weeds that the pheasant will use as cover.
|Primary Game Species/ Hunting Month(s)|
|Secondary Game Species/Hunting Month(s)|
Average # permits per year in past 5 years
|Bighorn Sheep||8 (Gila Mtns, Mohawk and Copper Mtns, Tinajas Atlas|
|Mule Deer||450 (Combined 39, 40a, 40b)|
September (limited weapon), October-February (Archery only)
|Month||High/Low Temp||Avg. Rainfall|
|January||Max 69°/Min 36°||0.50″|
|February||Max 74°/Min 40°||0″|
|September||Max 102°/Min 69°||0.40″|
|October||Max 91°/Min 55°||0.30″|
|November||Max 78°/Min 42°||0.30″|
|December||Max 68°/Min 35°||0.40″|
Other Pertinent Climate Information
Extremely hot, dry summers; mild winters. Intense rainstorms of short duration come from the south during July-September. Occasional high winds with blowing dust can make travel hazardous. Winter storms come from the west and are less intense.
Cities, Roads & Campgrounds
Major Cities and Towns in or Near Game Management Unit and Nearest Gas, Food, and Lodging
Yuma, Wellton/Tacna, Dateland, Gila Bend, Ajo
Major Highways and Roads Leading To
From the East: I-8
From the West: I-8
From the North: State Hwy 85, U.S. Hwy 95
From the South: State Hwy 85
Darby Wells Rd. in the Ajo area is the only county maintained road in the unit. All other roads are unimproved dirt or gravel two-tracks. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.
Caution: Barry M. Goldwater Gunnery Range encompasses much of the unit. Access east of the Mohawk Mts. to Hwy 85 is restricted. No access allowed except for official business. Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR) access is subject to military operations/closure and requires an access permit through the iSportsman program at: https://luke.isportsman.net/
Numerous commercial RV parks in Yuma, Wellton, and Dateland. The Why Water Company manages the Coyote Howl Campground in Why; no hook-ups, but water, restrooms, and showers are available.
Camping is allowed on BLM-administered public lands in the Ajo area.
Brief Description of Terrain, Elevation, and Vegetation
Elevation ranges from approximately 200′ to 3200′. Terrain consists of broad alluvial valleys and low rolling slopes cut by large desert washes. North/south running mountain ranges composed of granite and volcanic rock rise abruptly from the desert floor. Vegetation is characteristic of Lower Sonoran Desertscrub: creosote/bursage, paloverde/ironwood, cacti.
Government Agencies and Phone Numbers
Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region IV – 928 342-0091
US Marine Corps Air Station – 928 269-3115
BLM Yuma Field Office – 928 317-3200
BLM Phoenix Field Office (for lands in Ajo area) – 623 580-5500
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge – 520 387-6483
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – 520-387-6849