Best Arizona Mule Deer Units in 2015!

Big Kaibab Mule Deer taken by Max Nicholas.
Big Kaibab Mule Deer taken by Max Nicholas.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Over-the-Counter Archery Mule Deer Hunting
Over-the-Counter Archery Mule Deer Hunting

Best Arizona Archery Mule Deer Hunts:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Feel free to contact us with any questions!

 

Archery Mule Deer Hunt Success

Arizona Over-the-Counter Archery Mule Deer taken with guide Lee Murphy.
Arizona Over-the-Counter Archery Mule Deer taken with guide Lee Murphy.

It was day three of Brad’s six day Arizona archery mule deer hunt. We had glassed and Brad had stalked the same mule deer buck twice, during the first two days of his guided mule deer hunt. We estimated the mule deer buck to be over 180 inches, but after some close calls, the mule deer had moved into some less desirable glassing and stalking terrain, so we decided to try a new piece of country.

Within just a few minutes, I had located two different groups of does that each had rutting mule deer bucks. Patiently, we watched the groups of deer as some smaller bucks pushed the does around.  We kept glassing as a large mule deer buck got up and moved into view to check the does. With all the mule deer rutting activity, we decided to see if we could get closer.  We carefully laid out an approach route and 45 minutes later we were creeping up to our marker bush.

The timing could not have been better, we didn’t even have time to get excited or an arrow nocked as the big mule deer was pushing the smaller 24” 3 x 3 right toward us and away from the does. The bucks were preoccupied with the does on their mind and didn’t notice as Brad nocked an arrow. Then, as we sat frozen behind the little bush the bucks passed by 30 yards from us.

I gave out a “BLAT” and Brad let his arrow fly.

It was now nearly noon the next cold and crisp day.  We had been searching for any sign of the big mule deer buck all morning. The light skiff of snow which covered any tracks or deer sign was now melted. Brad’s arrow had hit just a little farther back than he wanted it to.  I knew Brad was getting discouraged and we were both starting to have doubts about recovering his mule deer buck. We decided to split up and Brad was up high on the ridge glassing and looking for any sign of the buck, while I continued searching for the bucks tracks.

The tight and rocky ground made it hard to track, even before the snow hit. I had trailed the buck for 2 1/2 miles the evening before and it was now extremely slow. I patiently scrubbed the ground back-and-forth back-and-forth trying to see any hint of the buck’s last tracks. Then…. there it was, a set of hardly visible tracks that had been snowed on.

The tracking pace now had picked up.  20 minutes later I was pretty sure it had to be the buck’s tracks but still had my doubts.  Finally, I found the bed that he had laid in and there was a small amount of dry blood.  With my eyes glued to the ground looking for any part of his tracks, I nearly tripped over the big old mule deer buck.  He was DOWN!

The big Archery Mule Deer buck laying as guide Lee Murphy found him.
The big Archery Mule Deer buck laying as guide Lee Murphy found him.
Persistance and effort helped find this big Archery Mule Deer buck on the ground.
Persistance and effort helped find this big Archery Mule Deer buck on the ground.
Brad with his well deserved archery mule deer trophy.
Brad with his well deserved archery mule deer trophy.

We hope you enjoyed this short Archery Mule Deer Hunt story, please feel free to check-out our Archery Mule Deer Guided Hunt Page.