Big Game Draws Completed; But Options Remain

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department has concluded the drawing procedure for big game. The draws for elk and antelope were held in the spring. The recently completed deer and turkey hunts for the fall in the Rim Country were very popular among Arizona hunters.

The chances of getting drawn for some of these hunts in the local units is about 50 percent, so if you didn’t get a tag, there are some other options.

There are 4,300 tags available for whitetail and mule deer, which still offers the opportunity to hunt in Arizona this fall. The majority of these units are in the southern half of the state in excellent deer country. There is one exception, that is area 24B which is just southwest of Roosevelt Lake and extends to the Globe-Miami area. It is rugged, high desert country with a few mountain peaks at 5,000 feet and brushy draws which hold the very secretive whitetail deer. This area only has 30 tags, which are available for the second draw.

Hunters tend to get familiar with a unit, if they have had some success, and continue to make the area the top choice for their lottery drawing. There is always some disappointment when not drawn for these familiar favorites, but there are plenty of favorable options. Because I like to hunt, I have had to apply for some of these leftover tags in southern Arizona in previous years. I was amazed at the number of deer I saw and I soon realized these were great hunting units with plenty of whitetails.

If you have that desire to be on a mountainside glassing the surrounding canyons, with rifle in hand, then the southern Arizona units are the perfect option.

The success rate in bringing the venison home ranges from 25 percent to 40 percent, which is better than most management areas in the state. These areas are the mountain ranges of the Chiricahuas, Dragoons, Galiuros and others, which may not be household names to the local Rim Country hunter.

With the wide-open spaces, mountains and deep canyons the extensive use of optics will make a deer hunt even more enjoyable, even if it wasn’t one of your early choices.

All the information on leftover tags for the fall deer hunts is available by going to azgfd.gov or visiting a local sporting goods store that sells licenses. It is also valuable to have the fall hunting regulation booklet, which has detailed maps of all the hunting units in the state of Arizona.

These permits will be accepted only by mail and cannot be received before Aug. 2, 2010 by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. It is a “first come, first served” process, so start planning now by filling out the application. By placing the permit in the mail Aug. 1, 2010, it should arrive at the perfect time for a deer tag.

There are also more than 900 turkey tags available with the greatest number being on the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon. This area has one of the healthiest turkey populations in the state of Arizona, which often goes unnoticed by most hunters because its famous deer herds receive top billing.

If you missed the drawing deadline for deer and turkey or did not obtain a tag in the first drawing, then this is your chance! Be adventurous, hunt a new area of the great state of Arizona, and learn some new “hot spots” for future hunts.

This weekend, explore Arizona — God’s creation.

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