It is that time of year again to start the process to secure next fall’s antelope and elk permits for the state of Arizona. The booklets and application envelopes are at most major sporting goods stores as well as the local Walmart. This drawing is early for Arizonans in order to aid hunters in planning fall hunts in state so that there is no overlap with the more popular deer and turkey seasons.
When the drawings were all at the same time, it was common for a person to have an elk tag and a deer permit for the same time frame. This dilemma forced hunters to make a choice on which species of big game to pursue in the weeklong season or to minimize their time to three or four days per animal.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is accepting applications now; the deadline to apply is Feb. 9 in the department offices located throughout the state.
There is plenty of time to use the mail, that is, if you don’t delay and begin the simple paperwork process. The permit applications can be hand delivered to any of the regional offices with the Mesa branch at 7200 E. University Drive being the closest for Payson hunters.
The cost of an elk tag is $121.50 and an antelope permit is $85 — if the applicant is successfully drawn in the lottery. Those who fail to be drawn are reimbursed the cost of the permit minus a $7.50 processing fee on each species applied for.
Take time in filling out the application, making sure all questions are answered so that it is not rejected prior to the actual drawing. I have made some of these mistakes in prior years and know it can certainly be disappointing to an outdoorsman planning a hunt.
Before choosing the unit where one might like to hunt, it would be valuable to study the drawing odds chart in depth. The application for each species has a three-choice format which can improve the chances of hunting big game in the fall. A first choice can be the unit and time for that dream hunt where the odds may be tough to get a tag, then a second or third choice could be a less popular unit where the odds of securing a tag are much improved.
All permits and refunds will be mailed out by April 23 which will allow for individuals to plan for other big game hunts in Arizona as well as in other states in the West.
I believe this is an improved system that can benefit the outdoorsman with more days in the field if a little homework is done prior to mailing that application.
Good luck in the draw for that antelope or elk tag. This weekend, enjoy the wet Rim Country, God’s creation.