James Schulz came to Arizona to hunt trophy mule deer & his father, Kurt, eagerly joined his son on this trip. Being prepared is everything when it comes to the ultimate bowhunting challenge & James proved he was up for this test!
On the second day of we glassed up a group of deer & finally picked out an old trophy mule deer. James & the crew made their move after the big buck & does shaded up for an afternoon nap. As they approached the last known location of the bedded deer they found themselves at less than 15 yards from some of the does. The old buck slipped through an opening, but James was already drawn back. James made a great decision to step to his right & made a solid archery shot at just over 30 yards!
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.