As we evaluated the 2015 Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Hunting Units, we wanted to break it down into the 2 sub-species, so we would be comparing apples-to-apples. Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep are classified into Mexicana and Nelsoni sub-species. Typically, Mexicana rams don’t flare out wide, but tend to hold their mass throughout their horns and on average score better. Nelsoni rams tend to be all over the map with regards to horn structure, but they are most known for being wide, long and flared out.
With out taking Arizona bonus points into consideration, here are our Top 5 Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep(Nelsoni)Units for 2015 with the 2 year average score & age class:
Unit 15DN (163″ 8 years)
Unit 15DS (160″ 6.85 years)
Unit 16A (165.5″ 8.35 years)
Unit 15CS (165″ 7.25 years)
Unit 13BN (160.5″ 7.25 years)
honorable mentions: 15CN & 15BW
As we broke down the Southern & Central Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Units, we discussed it with our good friend Jay Scott at Colburn & Scott Outfitters. Jay knows many of these units extremely well and after talking with him and analyzing the Arizona Game & Fish Department’s desert bighorn sheep reports, here is our Top 5 Arizona (Mexicana) Desert Bighorn Sheep Units for 2015 with the 2 year average score & age class:
So what are the best Arizona Mule Deer Units or Hunts for 2015?
As many of you know Arizona is completely a draw state for the best rifle mule deer hunts. If you are a resident you have a shot at any of the best mule deer units, because 80% of the tags will be awarded in the 2nd pass or random draw. If you are a non-resident you are currently limited because only 10% of the best mule deer tags are awarded to non-residents and this percentage is typically met in the max bonus point pass. The max bonus point pass is where 20% of the top mule deer tags are awarded and you must have max bonus points to be eligible for this draw. Basically, that takes 10+ years of applying to reach those max bonus point numbers.
With that said, here is our list without thought to bonus points or the draw process:
Best Arizona Rifle Mule Deer Hunts:
Unit 13B (Strip) November Mule Deer– Best genetics and age class in the state. The majority of 13B has received good precipitation this spring, which will equal great nutrition for antler growth.
Unit 13A (Strip) November Mule Deer– Great genetics and age class, but less deer habitat than 13B. 13A has actually received better precipitation than 13B this spring and is also a full blown rut hunt (starts a week after 13B). If there was more deer habitat, it would be our #1.
12AW (Kaibab) Late November Mule Deer– Solid Genetics with lots of deer. Age class isn’t as good as the strip. This hunt is a full blown rut hunt and with the good spring rain, the bucks should reach their potential this year.
12AE (Kaibab) Late November Mule Deer-basically the same as 12AW, just not quite as many deer or as much country to hunt.
honorable mentions: 12B late, 12BW late, 8 late & 17B late
Best Arizona Archery Mule Deer Hunts:
Unit 13B Archery Mule Deer-Best genetics and age class in the state. The majority of 13B has received good precipitation this spring, which will equal great nutrition for antler growth. If you it’s dry during the hunt, hunters and guides camp on water and tend to take bigger bucks.
Unit 13A Archery Mule Deer-Great genetics and age class, but less deer habitat. 13A has actually received better precipitation than 13B this spring, so antler growth will be the best in the state. 13A has 5 more archery tags than 13B, but some of the big bucks that rut on the Grand Canyon National Park and in 13B often summer in 13A.
Early Over-the-Counter Central Arizona Mule Deer Units– Mule Deer densities are similar to the strip, but the age class and genetics are not as good. Some of the bigger bucks will expose themselves while chasing grass feed from the monsoon season.
Late Rut Over-the-Counter Arizona Mule Deer Units– The mule deer rut for deer south of the Grand Canyon typically goes from mid-December to late-January. Mule Deer living in the higher country, which is located North of the Mogollon Rim tend to rut a little sooner. Desert Mule Deer located South and West of the Mogollon Rim tend to rut harder after Christmas through late January.