The antelope and elk permits have already been issued for 2014 and those lucky hunters who drew a tag already have a week or two in the fall set aside for the pursuit of big game.
The next lottery drawing is for deer, turkey, fall javelina, sheep and buffalo. Hunting these animals is by permit only, designated by specific hunting units throughout the state. I am still waiting for that almost impossible sheep tag.
The application process must be completed and returned to one of the seven department offices by 7 p.m. on June 10, which isn’t far away.
Online applications can be completed by going to azgfd.gov and clicking on big game permits. Paper applications can be obtained at most sporting goods stores and mailed in, provided they are in the Game and Fish office by the deadline date and time.
Last-minute applications can be hand delivered to one of the regional offices. Mesa, Flagstaff and Pinetop are within two hours of driving time for those last-minute hunters who may have procrastinated a bit in filling out the application or don’t trust the Internet process.
Choosing a unit to hunt deer is often a pondered and studied question.
A general rule-of-thumb approach is to make the first choice the dream hunt that you have been waiting to draw for years, while the second pick is a hunt unit where the odds favor drawing a tag by the lottery. Oftentimes, the third choice should be a unit where the odds of drawing a tag are close to 100 percent. This information can be obtained by going to pages 46-47 in the newest hunting regulations booklet.
The drawing odds and hunter success are both given for each of the specific units within the state. It is important to note many of the units will have several hunts for either whitetail or mule deer and may have numerous weeklong hunts. Careful study is needed in picking the right unit and hunt number which will avoid making a mistake and placing the wrong hunt number on the application.
If you have a youngster in your family who wants to try big game hunting, there are several opportunities in the fall in the juniors only season for deer in many units throughout the state. The youth deer hunt is also a lottery drawing, with the season being a week or two prior to the general hunt. If a young hunter between the ages of 10 and 17 is drawn, he or she must have completed the national firearms safety course prior to the hunt.
Junior hunters also have the opportunity to hunt wild turkeys in early October by purchasing an over-the-counter tag for a specific number of areas, the closest being unit 23, which is just a few miles east of Payson. It can be a great family experience of scouting, camping and spending quality time with your children or grandchildren. The Arizona outdoors can be a real teaching lesson in zoology and botany for a young hunter in the field accompanied by their parents or another adult.
Take your time when filling out the application and double check all the information before sealing the envelope or pressing complete on the Game and Fish Web page. The most common errors for rejection of an application are not signing it, failure to check either resident or non-resident, or putting an incorrect amount on a check. It may be wise to have another person double check your application.
Good luck in the drawing and all applicants should know by early August if they drew that special tag they have been waiting for. I know I am hoping this is the year for that desert bighorn permit.
Enjoy the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.