When most people think of Big Mule Deer in Arizona they think of the Arizona Strip (Units 13A & 13B), the Kaibab (Units 12AW & 12AE) & Unit 12B. These units are known for great genetics, but these popular mule deer areas typically take multiple decades to draw or LOTTERY winning type luck to obtain a mule deer tag!
Arizona Mule Deer units south of the Grand Canyon hold some GREAT opportunity to hunt desert & rocky mountain mule deer without waiting decades, in fact some hunts can be drawn the first year you apply. If you hunt with US, trophy quality mule deer of 160-180 inches is extremely doable & occasionally, some of these areas will hold mule deer bucks in the 190 inch plus range!
Check-out the video below of EPO client/hunter, Ian Chappel, taking his first mule deer, while hunting with us in 2016!
Chris was a very lucky hunter to draw a 2016 Arizona Rifle Elk tag! Chris booked his elk hunt with us & came to Arizona wanting to better his biggest bull elk. On the second day of his Arizona elk hunt, Chris had the chance to take a big bull we called “SiX”.
After several days of hard bowhunting in Arizona, Troy Seward was able to wrap his over-the-counter archery mule deer tag around an old desert buck we called Shovel Beams. This was Troy’s biggest archery mule deer to date & 2nd archery mule deer in 2 years of archery mule deer hunting with us.
The 2016 Arizona Archery Mule Deer rut was very dull & sporadic as compared to years past. We were able to find multiple bucks throughout the archery hunt, but most of the bigger mature mule deer were very inconsistent in courting does. One day you would find a big mature mule deer buck rutting, while the next day he was disappear & go off by himself. This made for tougher than normal archery mule deer rut hunting conditions, but was still a very enjoyable hunt for all of our 2016 bowhunters.
Lee & Troy found Shovel Beams late on the afternoon of the 4th day, but they were hunting a bigger mule deer buck. In fact, Troy had the bigger buck within bow range for several minutes but the wind swirled before the bedded buck presented a shot. The big desert mule deer blew out just before dark, thus a plan was formed to try & relocated the buck the next morning.
The next morning Troy & Lee glassed for their big buck, while Craig & Logan Knopp glassed for Shovel Beams. Shovel Beams showed up while in the middle of a mule deer rutting frenzy. Meanwhile, the big buck the other crew was searching for slipped off in some mule deer black hole. A plan was launched for both Troy & Logan to pursue Shovel Beams as he was intensely searching for more does.
Shovel Beams was zigging & zagging for almost an hour, before Troy was able to release a single deadly arrow at 60 yards. The big old Arizona desert mule deer buck literally fell to his death just 30 yards from Logan while he was waiting with a knocked arrow!
Check-out some live & dead video of the Shovel Beams: