Hunting In Arizona

Well, you’re in for a treat! Arizona offers a diverse range of hunting experiences that cater to both seasoned hunters and newcomers alike.

We’ll cover essential topics like hunting regulations, licensing, game species, and seasons to ensure you have all the information you need to enjoy your time in the great outdoors.

We’ll also discuss the limited big game hunting and permit application in Arizona. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a trophy buck or just looking for a fun day out with your trusty shotgun, we’ve got you covered.

Get ready to explore the exciting world of hunting in Arizona! You’ll have all the information you need to plan your own unforgettable hunting trip by the end of this article. Let’s get started!

Arizona Hunting Seasons

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) curates these seasons to promote sustainable hunting, provide hunters with exciting and ample opportunities, and boost conservation funding.

Here are the hunting seasons open in the state:

Big Game Hunting Seasons

Deer HuntingGeneral Season: Late October to late December
Archery: Mid-August to early September; Early to late December
Muzzleloader: Late October to late December
CHAMP: Mid-September; Late October; Mid-November (all for a week)
Black Bear HuntingEarly August to late December
Elk HuntingLate September to early November.
Javelina HuntingGeneral Season: Year-Round
Archery: Early July to late December
Mountain Lion Hunting Mid-August to late May
Bighorn sheep HuntingEarly October to late December
Bison HuntingEarly November to late December
Pronghorn AntelopeLate September to early October.

Other Game Hunting Seasons

Aside from the big game, the state also opens hunting opportunities for Arizona hunters by curating exciting and thrilling hunting seasons.

Here’s the rundown of other hunting seasons in Arizona:

Wild Turkey HuntingGeneral Season: Late September to early October
Archery: Mid-August to early September
Upland Game Bird HuntingDove: Early October to early February.
Quail: Early November to late January.
Pheasant: Mid-October to late April 
Waterfowl HuntingDuck, Coot, and Goose: Early October to late January
Snipe: Late October to mid-February
Small Game Hunting Rabbit and Hare: Year-Round
Tree Squirrel: Early October to late December
Ground Squirrel: Mid-May to mid-June; Late September to late December
Predator HuntingCoyote: Year-Round
Bobcat and Fox: Mid-October to the end of February
Raccoon: Mid-October to the end of January

While it’s true that many of the state’s big game hunts are through lottery permits, those lucky enough to be drawn can look forward to a wide variety of hunting experiences. Like Nevada, Arizona offers diverse, unique, and exciting hunts for those who dare.

Here is the overview of popular hunts you can expect when exploring the wilderness of the Grand Canyon state:

Deer Hunting

Arizona is home to both mule deer and Coues white-tailed deer. The state’s diverse habitats and large deer populations make hunting popular.

Hunters highly value Arizona’s Coues deer due to their elusive characteristics and the fact that they prefer challenging terrain.

If you plan to hunt deer, it’s important to note that rifles, muzzleloaders, and archery equipment are all viable options. However, it’s crucial to ensure that you have the appropriate equipment and adhere to the regulations for each hunting method.

Black Bear Hunting

Black bear hunting in Arizona allows daring hunters to chase after and hunt down these elusive animals.

In Arizona, one way to hunt black bears is by spotting them from a distance and then approaching them on foot. This method can be challenging and thrilling, requiring patience, skill, and a good understanding of bear behavior.

Unlike deer hunting, hunters who wish to hunt black bears can purchase a hunting permit and tag over the counter. Meaning black bear tags are not subject to a lottery draw.

Elk Hunting

Interested in hunting elk in Arizona? You’re in for a treat!

Arizona is known for its incredible elk hunting opportunities, boasting some of North America’s largest and most majestic elk.

The state’s diverse habitats and careful wildlife management have helped produce world-class, trophy-quality elk.

You’ll need a valid hunting license and an elk tag to hunt elk in Arizona. Elk tags are awarded through a lottery draw system, so apply before the deadline.

Javelina Hunting

Javelina, or collared peccary, is unique to the southwestern United States, and hunting them can be an enjoyable and memorable experience. They can be found across various habitats in Arizona, from grasslands and deserts to oak woodlands and pine forests.

To hunt javelina in Arizona, you need a valid hunting license and a javelina tag. The availability of tags depends on the hunt unit and season, with some obtainable through a lottery draw system and others available for purchase over the counter.

Bison Hunting

Due to its rarity, size, and historical significance, bison solidifies itself as a popular hunting species in Arizona.

The North American bison is the biggest land mammal in the region and is known for its size and strength. It is a challenging and impressive target for hunters, especially since a mature bull can weigh over 2,000 pounds.

Like the majority of big game hunts in the state, bison hunters must apply for a lottery-based permit application. Obtaining a bison hunting permit is highly competitive due to the limited number of tags available for distribution.

Top Hunting Spots in Arizona

Arizona does not just boast scenic landscapes for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the state’s wilderness. The state also offers a wide variety of hunting locations, each with distinct features and opportunities for exploration.

Here’s a list of some top hunting spots in the state and the reasons why they stand out:

Kaibab Plateau

The Kaibab Plateau is a raised area of land in northern Arizona, bordered by the Grand Canyon to the south and the Utah state line to the north.

The plateau is home to the Kaibab National Forest, which offers a diverse ecosystem with lush meadows, dense forests, and abundant wildlife.

In addition to mule deer and bison, the area is also home to elk, turkey, and small game species like squirrels and rabbits.

White Mountains

The White Mountains span eastern Arizona, encompassing parts of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. This picturesque region features vast forests, alpine meadows, and numerous lakes and streams, providing ideal elk, mule deer, antelope, and turkey habitats.

The area also offers opportunities for small game and waterfowl hunting.

Santa Rita Mountains

The Santa Rita Mountains, part of the Coronado National Forest, are located in southern Arizona.

The mountain range features steep, rugged terrain and dense vegetation, providing ideal habitats for Coues deer and other wildlife such as black bears, mountain lions, and javelinas.

Sonoita-Elgin Grasslands

The Sonoita-Elgin Grasslands in southern Arizona provide excellent chances for upland game bird hunting, especially for Gambel’s quail and mourning doves.

The area features rolling hills covered in grasslands, providing ideal game bird habitats.

Cibola National Wildlife Refuge

Waterfowl hunters highly regard the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona as an exceptional location along the Colorado River.

The refuge’s wetlands, marshes, and backwaters attract a wide variety of waterfowl species, including ducks, geese, and sandhill cranes, making it an excellent spot for waterfowl hunting.

Hunting License

First things first, you’ll need a valid Arizona hunting license to hunt within the state. The state offers various selections of hunting licenses to promote inclusiveness for this exciting activity.

Licenses can be purchased online, at AZGFD offices, or from authorized license dealers. Here’s the rundown of the available hunting license in the state:


Adult HuntersHunting Only: $37.00
Hunting and Fishing:
Youth HuntersHunting Only: $5.00
Hunting and Fishing:
Pioneer Hunters
65 years and older
Arizona resident for 25+ years
Disabled Veteran Hunters
With 100% service-connected disability


Adult HuntersHunting Only: $160.00
Hunting and Fishing:
Youth HuntersHunting Only: $5.00
Hunting and Fishing:
Short-Term Non-ResidentAdult: $20.00 per day
Youth: $5.00 per calendar year

Hunter Education

Arizona requires hunter education for all hunters born on or after January 1, 1967. This helps ensure that hunters understand ethical hunting practices, wildlife conservation, and hunting safety.

Many states reciprocate Arizona’s hunter education requirements, so if you’ve completed a course in another state, it may also be valid in Arizona.

Big Game Hunting Application

Arizona uses a draw system to allocate hunting tags for big game species, which helps manage populations and maintain a sustainable hunting experience.

This system also improves the quality of hunts, limiting the number of hunters and allowing game populations to thrive.

Here are the application dates to hunt your desired species:

Game SpeciesApplication PeriodDraw Result
Elk and PronghornLate January to early FebruaryMarch
Deer, Bighorn Sheep,
Bison, and Fall Turkey
Mid-April to mid-MayJune
Spring Javelina, and TurkeyMid-September to mid-OctoberNovember
Spring BisonEarly October to early NovemberDecember
Kindly be informed that the given timeframes are estimates and may vary annually.

For the latest and precise information regarding application dates, deadlines, and other requirements, please refer to the AZGFD’s website or the latest hunting regulations booklet.


Hunting in Arizona may take luck, especially for big game species, but all are worth it if you’re selected. The state boasts a thriving wildlife population and a vast expanse of hunting lands for hunters to explore the hunting opportunities that await.

If you’re looking to explore hunting opportunities in the United States, we have just the guide for you. Our comprehensive hunting guide is thoughtfully sorted by state, making it easy to find the information you need.