Arizona Mule Deer - Archery

HuntingNomad

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Dec 23, 2021
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California
Hi there everyone been following the posts on this site for a while for helpful tips and was hoping on getting a little advice regarding AZ's OTC archery hunt. I'm planning a trip during the first week of January and was wondering if I should be looking at the Northern or Southern part of the state for Mule deer rut activity during that time. I'm moving to AZ at the end of January for work and figured this hunt was my first chance to expose myself to the state before work. Also totally not asking for anyone's honey hole but if someone would be willing to recommend units with a beautiful/appealing landscape I would greatly appreciate it; I'm in pretty good shape and usually hike about 15-20 miles a day when hunting in Northern California so feel free to recommend some areas that require some hiking in to get into some country to myself. Thanks in advance and for anyone taking advantage of AZ's January hunt best of luck!
 

svivian

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Mar 16, 2016
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Colorado
If you are moving there why not just pick a spot within an hour or two of where you’re going to live and give it a try?
 
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wildwilderness

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Eagle River, AK
I recommend being more specific in your pleas for help. For example pick a unit or two max. Then ask specifically about an area you have researched like X or Y trail head. Or Z wilderness area how the drought has been etc.
 
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HuntingNomad

HuntingNomad

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Dec 23, 2021
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California
I recommend being more specific in your pleas for help. For example pick a unit or two max. Then ask specifically about an area you have researched like X or Y trail head. Or Z wilderness area how the drought has been etc.
Thanks for your reply! So far I'm looking at units 15A/B (AZFGD mentions peacock and music mountain), 16, and possibly 19A for the northern part of the state and read up on some other units in the southern part of the state but since I plan on hiking in and being in the field for a week I thought the northern part of the state might have units with easier access to surface water.
 
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HuntingNomad

HuntingNomad

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If you are moving there why not just pick a spot within an hour or two of where you’re going to live and give it a try?
Hey Svivian,
Thanks for the reply, my game plan was to start in the units around the area ill be living in (bullhead city) and move around from there since I have about a week in total. Following the recommendations made by AZFGD, planning to get up high and glass with my scope to at least identify an area holding deer just wondering if those northern units would have experienced their rut already.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

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Oct 8, 2019
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If you decide to hunt up north, do not underestimate weather in northern AZ during the winter months especially since you are planning to hike in.

Glass the entire day; dawn to dusk. Pay close attention to elevation bands that mule deer prefer to be in. If you’re seeing Coues then you’re too high (excluding transition zones).

Buy a lion tag.
 
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HuntingNomad

HuntingNomad

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Dec 23, 2021
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California
If you decide to hunt up north, do not underestimate weather in northern AZ during the winter months especially since you are planning to hike in.

Glass the entire day; dawn to dusk. Pay close attention to elevation bands that mule deer prefer to be in. If you’re seeing Coues then you’re too high (excluding transition zones).

Buy a lion tag.
Thanks a lot for the advice, its greatly appreciated! I can say after underestimating just how cold nights in the wild can get my first few seasons I wont be making the same mistake again haha. Ill be wearing layers for this and using my cold weather gear from a January hunt I did in Nebraska last year. Definitely buying a mountain lion tag; sad to see the negative effects of that hunt being cancelled in California have had on the deer populations. During the last year or so having spent about 40 days in the woods I came across 3 cats which is excessive to say the least.
 

Blackcats06

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Jul 13, 2019
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There are just not a lot of deer in that part of the state compared to other areas. Still some deer but I would look more south of Kingman and closer to Prescott.
 
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HuntingNomad

HuntingNomad

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There are just not a lot of deer in that part of the state compared to other areas. Still some deer but I would look more south of Kingman and closer to Prescott.
Really appreciate the advice, I was actually thinking about some of the areas around flagstaff as I was just there last week taking my engineering exam at the NAU. Are you familiar with units 19a or 22 by any chance? As long as I'm in a unit where they actually exist I'm more than happy to do the work and hike but would really prefer some nice land to hunt on. As much as I love bringing some meat back home I see it as an added bonus to the experience unique landscapes across the U.S. I've been seeing varied reports of harvest statistics of what's reported on the AZFGD and sites like GoHunt but some units that keep coming up are 19A, 22, 29. (20 and 27 seemed to do so good in previous years that they removed them from OTC). The reason I bring up unit 22 is from other posts but the suces s rate in the unit seems to be consistently low. AZ Archery late season.PNG
 

bowuntr

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Prescott, Az
Unit 22 is next to Phoenix... there's 6 million people in the Phoenix valley... there's a reason for the low success. The higher elevation units are supposed to get a considerable amount of snow next week... something else to consider when making your decision. Ed F
 

Blackcats06

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Really appreciate the advice, I was actually thinking about some of the areas around flagstaff as I was just there last week taking my engineering exam at the NAU. Are you familiar with units 19a or 22 by any chance? As long as I'm in a unit where they actually exist I'm more than happy to do the work and hike but would really prefer some nice land to hunt on. As much as I love bringing some meat back home I see it as an added bonus to the experience unique landscapes across the U.S. I've been seeing varied reports of harvest statistics of what's reported on the AZFGD and sites like GoHunt but some units that keep coming up are 19A, 22, 29. (20 and 27 seemed to do so good in previous years that they removed them from OTC). The reason I bring up unit 22 is from other posts but the suces s rate in the unit seems to be consistently low. View attachment 359962
Part of the reason 22 is so low for coues is there are not many there. Parts yes but not the majority of the unit like the other ones on that list.

I think the best advise for January is to pick a unit with a lot of public land and just go hunt. As for once you move here, you could spend time in the bullhead area but you'll soon be driving to units with more deer. I don't know how many deer you see in California but parts of Arizona have very low numbers.
 

Aimsmallmissmall

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Aug 1, 2020
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Basically anywhere you go in January is going to be flooded with hunters, but it can be fairly easy to get away from them hiking in deep usually helps
 
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HuntingNomad

HuntingNomad

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Dec 23, 2021
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California
Basically anywhere you go in January is going to be flooded with hunters, but it can be fairly easy to get away from them hiking in deep usually helps
Thanks! my last hunt was B zone in northern California (border of Oregon and California on the coast); I started my hunt by hiking in 13 miles and set up my tent. Woke up the next morning to the thickest fog and rain I have ever experienced in Cali thinking ill just wait this out. That went on for about 4 days and after walking my rifle some 40 miles I decided it was time to go home haha. Did see a good number of does on my walk but I'm sure bucks in those woods are smarter than to come breaking through the fog to identify what that humany smell was haha. That being said definitely willing to take a long walk to find some space to call my own.
 

tradman

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Jul 8, 2019
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Anyone on here tried unit 9 OTC in recent years? Headed there January 10-15th
I was just up there. Saturday I seen 2 nice bucks. Lots of crunchy snow. All was good until I blew 2 tires. Made it out of there around 2300 Saturday night. Last year 01 Jan 2021 I tagged out a nice buck with my longbow.
 

RidgeReaper97

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Feb 4, 2020
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N. Arizona
I was just up there. Saturday I seen 2 nice bucks. Lots of crunchy snow. All was good until I blew 2 tires. Made it out of there around 2300 Saturday night. Last year 01 Jan 2021 I tagged out a nice buck with my longbow.
Sucks about the tires but good news on the bucks! Thanks
 
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