Arizona’s Best Late Season Mule Deer Units-Hunts
Arizona has some great top tier mule deer units & here are the best Arizona Rifle Mule Deer Rut Hunts for the 2023 season:
Unit 13B (Arizona Strip) Dates: 11/10-19 *Best mule deer genetics in the state of Arizona. Most serious hunters will hunt for 190+ bucks with a handful of bucks being taken over 210″. Moisture for the winter & spring has been above average, so scores could really jump up this year. There are 65 tags being given (-15 from 2021 & -5 from 2022) & the dates will allow for the pre-rut but the rut could be on during a wet year like 2023.
Unit 13A (Arizona Strip) Dates: 11/17-11/26 *Great genetics but not as much deer habitat as you would think for a unit of it’s size. Most serious hunters will hunt for 190+ bucks with a few bucks being taken over 200″. Moisture for the winter & spring has been above average, so scores could really jump up this year. The dates are in a great spot to hit the rut in full swing & there are only 35 tags this season (-15 from 2021 & -5 from 2022).
Unit 12AW (Kaibab) Dates: 11/24-12/4 *Great genetics & age has bumped up just a touch when compared to last season. You will see a lot of deer on this hunt & it’s a full blown rut mule deer hunt. Very fun hunt with 50 tags (+10 from 2022) that can yield bucks well over 200″ but most serious hunters will be foolish to not shoot a buck in the 190’s. Moisture for the winter & spring has been above average, so scores could really jump up this year.
Unit 12BW Dates: 11/24-12/4 *Good genetics in this area which is less popular when compared to the above units. 180+ mule deer is a solid expectation for the more serious hunters but 190+ may be possible. Moisture for the winter & spring has been above average, so scores could really jump up this year. Last season a major storm pushed deer out of Utah into 12BW & some big bucks hit the dirt. There are 55 tags this season & the hunt dates put this hunt in the middle of the rut, so older bucks will be more vulnerable.
Unit 10 Dates: 12/15-12/31 *Solid genetics & age class can make this hunt good with only 15 tags. Mule Deer SOUTH of the Grand Canyon rut later than the deer North of it, so the December dates are right during the middle of the rut! 180″ bucks will be great for this hunt with the possiblity of a few 190+ bucks. The biggest issue with this hunt is the OTC archery deer hunt can add pressure if it is still open. Also, don’t expect to see a lot of deer as the numbers are extremely low.
Unit 3A & 3C Dates: 12/15-12/31 *Solid genetics in this unit & some good bucks have been taken in the past. Mule Deer SOUTH of the Grand Canyon rut later than the deer North of it, so the December dates are right during the middle of the rut! HEAVY snow can be an issue with these dates & unit. 180+ is a solid buck on this hunt with only 10 tags being offered. Also, don’t expect to see a lot of deer as the numbers are low.
Unit 12AE Dates: 11/24-12/3
Unit 12B Dates: 11/24-12/3
Unit 27 Dates: 12/15-12/31
Antler Growth in the Desert
Arizona has received better than average precipitation from December ’22 thru April in 2023. Currently (May), we are experience a low pressure system which is producing isolated showers across much of that state which is EXTREMELY rare for Arizona. The desert in years like this can really produce some big mule deer because they simply get vegetation/nutrition they don’t often get to consume. We have seen bucks put on 40 inches or more during years like this!
Things to consider if you have under 10 bonus points & you will be satisfied with a chance to hunt bucks in the 160-180″ range.
- Are you ever going to catch MAX points to get one of the best tags?
- Would you rather hunt the desert multiple times or wait for that one special tag?
- Are you familiar with units south of the Grand Canyon?
- Do you have a quality Muzzleloader?
A couple SLEEPER hunts south of the Grand Canyon in Arizona for desert mule deer:
Units 35A & 35B Muzzleloader Hunt Dates: 12/15-12/31
Units 39, 40A, 40B, 41 & 42 Muzzleloader Hunt Dates: 12/15-12/31
Private Land Archery Mule Deer Hunts
If you don’t draw a tag or if you are a bowhunter looking to hunt archery mule deer you need to contact us about our Private Land Archery Mule Deer Hunts. These hunts are managed for quality, thus we have very limited spots each year.